Lacan’s Objet Petit (a)

Time for another installment in our series “Psychoanalysis and You.” Arcane or seemingly hermetic concepts made simple and understandable…

Lacan’s Objet Petit (a).

I am throwing Logan his Frisbee as usual. I sail the disk over a wide strip of ground in the backyard and he makes the snatch with sublime acrobatic grace. It is a transcendent process, a few formulas from the mathematics of nature writ down in a series of perfect acts.

Ike is feeling better now that he’s on pain medication. He has the energy this morning to descend the stairs from the porch into the backyard and sniff out a place to perch and poop. I stop throwing for a moment to watch. We have been encouraged to monitor his pooping. A soft pudding is extruded. Not great, but no spewing. It holds its shape and coils into a neat pile that glows brownish-green in the morning sunshine. Ike serenely moves on in search of tasty weeds to chew.

The process of Frisbee throwing is now complicated. Logan will run anywhere to make his catch. He certainly wouldn’t put on the brakes to avoid stepping in a pile of Ike’s poop. I don’t want him stepping into it and trailing residue all over the porch, so I have to throw to an area of the backyard where he will not run that risk. Every time I prepare to throw, I locate the pile, its color making it easy to see in the yard, and I launch the disk. I have to factor in the pile before each throw. The pile controls certain aspects of this activity that were free and open-ended (from my point of view) before. One could even say that the pile is now the only real thing in view and that I ignore it at my peril.

Such is the place of the (a) in the subject’s unconscious. It is the thing around which all movement is negotiated and orchestrated. It, once lodged into place, is never not taken into account. It’s effect as a noxious bodily remainder is significant. An actual encounter with it would be unacceptable, but its existence is influential and holds a place perpetually in perceptions and the shaping of intentions.

This is very basic stuff. Carry on.

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