A and ‘petit a’

February 18, 2010

Ah, I found the reference to the A and a, Matt. Yes, it’s Seminar XX and yes, page 83 is definitely it. And I even have a note about this difference in my book.

My understanding of Lacan’s differentiating of the A from the a, where the A is “what is of the symbolic,” while the a is “what is of the imaginary”, is that the A is the Autre (Other) and the a is the fantasy.

Since woman-as-lack is Other (A) in the sexual relationship, she has a special relation to Other (A). Her relationship to the Other as jouissance is signified as A-barred.

The a, as the objet a, is the fantasy which rests on the feminine (non-phallic) side (Diagram p. 78.)

Thanks for reminding me about this, Matt.


3 Responses to “A and ‘petit a’”

  1. psyuml said

    In Lacan’s model, the grand Autre is the field of language, organized like a cloth, being a collection of signifiers. Metaphor and metonymy are operations on this mathematical set.
    Instead, the petit a object is what remains in the real (the signified), each time a subject is divided and becomes involved into the symbolic and associated to a signifier.
    In other words, the petit a object is the body, while the signifiers are always immortal.
    Anyway, the barred subject is the subject represented by a signifier to other signifiers.
    Hope this helps.

    • cncetta said

      Thanks, yes, this does help. Would you be able to send references to some points in your post? I have a few specific questions. If Autre is the field of language, what do you mean by the fact that “metaphor and metonymy are operations on this mathematical set”? I’m confused about what I should understand as a “mathematical set”.

      Also, how is the petit a object a “body”: that is, we know the petit a is of the symbolic order (the fantasy,) so when you write ‘body’ are you referencing the representation of body or the body that “remains in the real”? I don’t understand how the body remains in the real. Do I misunderstand that the petit a is not more than the fantasy of the barred subject’s relation to the real?

      And just a thought: if the barred subject is the subject represented by a signifier to other signifiers, then is the barred A the signifer of the Autre to the woman as barred to herself as Other (Autre)? Just wondered if there was an equation swimming around here but I don’t think i’ve got it.

      If you can’t find references, elaboration would be great.

      • psyuml said

        Thanks for reading me. You are perfectly right about the topics you use.
        In my opinion, the thought of Lacan is widely misunderstood. However, in my opinion too, it is very simple.
        I have been reading Lacan for a lot of years. Since I am a computer engineer too, I wrote my understanding of Lacan by creating a model and describing it with a modeling language UML which is widely used and simple to study. This model is a collection of drawings, like the mathems of Lacan also were.
        My model is freely available on my web site on WordPress. Sorry, it’s written in french, but, since the core of the model is based on diagrams, I suppose it is easy to read as well for english people.
        Probably you can find answers to your questions in the diagrams of the model, which I think is a translation of Lacan’s theory.
        In lots of sentences, Lacan tells us that the petit a object is what cannot be represented in the symbolic world, and that’s why the subject remains unsatisfied because the language will never be able to help him to describe the signified part of himself.
        The question is always about the body, one’s body and the bodies of others.
        I would like this model could be read and discussed by as many specialists as possible.
        Please, let me know if you have any more questions.

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