Fantasy and Symptom/Sinthome

March 25, 2009

As some of you may recall, I have been toying with the idea that the sinthome is in some way related to the formula for fantasy:  $-a; that is, the formula for fantasy represents a symptomal knot (sinthome) which substantializes the noumenal Thing (this last point may be a bit contentious, but I’m sure discussion will ensue on it).

Here’s a quote from Mladen Dolar’s article, “Beyond Interpellation” (I can bring copies to the next meeting…  this is a must read!), which gives credence to what I propose:

The Lacanian formula for fantasy “correlates the symbolic subject (the one not based on recognition, the empty space that Lacan marks $) and the objectal surplus (objet a); these are the two entities not covered, I think, by the mechanism of interpellation…  The two are also connected in the symptom, although in a different way – Lacan gives it much thought in his last phase through the notion of sinthome.  Symptom and fantasy are two ways to establish a link between the $ and the objet a…” (Beyond Interpellation, p. 91).

This also helps to understand why, in The Parallax View, Zizek conceives $ and a as two sides of the same entity:  $ is the empty place in the Symbolic, and a is the excessive object without a place in the Symbolic.  They are the same entity viewed from two different positions in a ‘parallax view’.  One is subject, the other is substance, but there is a speculative identity between the two:  ‘substance as subject’.  However, they cannot be perceived simultaneously:  “They form a conceptual pair, both opposed and complementary” (Beyond Interpellation, p. 91).  I would argue, then, that symptom and fantasy share a similar relation, which is why analysis focuses on fantasy (dreams and hallucinations, for instance; or, the subject’s sense of ‘reality’) and symtpoms/sinthomes (nervous ‘ticks’; hysterical outbursts, etc. etc.).

The only thing that might discredit this claim is that, in some places, Zizek links the idea of sinthome to the Master-Signifier.  However, I would still argue that fantasy/sinthome occupies the Void of the empty Master-Signifier, thus maintaining my point and linking it to the Master-Signifier.

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One Response to “Fantasy and Symptom/Sinthome”

  1. The Universal Singular said

    “The fetish is effectively a kind of envers of the symptom. That is to say, the symptom is the exception which disturbs the surface of false appearance, the point at which the repressed Other scene erupts, while the fetish is the embodiment of the lie which enables us to sustain the unbearable truth” (In Defense of Lost Causes, p. 296).

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