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The Radiance of Object Petit a

The radiance of object petit a
Facilitated by Hilda Fernandez

Date: To be announced.

Where: SFU Woodwards

I am about to start a session when I receive a call from my sister who tells me that my mother passed away in the hospital. I hear the news, and something invades my mind and my body. Overwhelmed with mental fog and sluggishness in the body: I cannot cry, speak or think. 

In a psychoanalytic conference in New York, a mature man describes a dream in which he is laying in a bed with his penis connected, through a strange tubular mechanism, to a dog under the bed, who sucks up his semen. That night I had a paradigmatic dream that untied a sexual conundrum of my symptom.

On a sunny afternoon, wandering around the MUPE (Museum of Perfume) in Mexico City I saw, among many colorful glass bottles, a square glass container with the sign “Calandre by Paco Rabanne”, a perfume I used stealthily only a few times when I was around 13 and read “La Calandria” de Rafel Delgado, a reputed melodrama of the late 18th century, the precursor of the current Mexican telenovelas. At the sight of the bottle and the presence of the signifier “Calandre,” I surprisingly could remember, or invent perhaps, a vague sweet aroma, the novel, and my young self. Such was an embodied evocation of the once I was.

One stumble, get surprised, fascinated or terrified by the Lacanian object petit a. Its tangible but inapprehensible presence constitutes a crucial moment in the analytic process. It seems to have the property of radiating its powerful negativity on the body, but how?

When I thought about how objet a radiates with an unparallel intensity, I did not remember what Lacan said in Seminar 10, a propo: 

“we really must prompt afresh what this year is all about namely, the subtle locus, this locus that we are trying to circumscribe and define, this locus that has never before being mapped out in anything of what we might call its ultra-subjective radiance, this pivotal focus of the pure function of desire, so to speak, this locus is the one in which I want to demonstrate for you how the a takes shape – a, the object of objects. (08.05.1963)”

I invite you to read the following texts by Freud and Lacan and join me and others to discuss, undogmatically, questions about this ultra-radiancy. Some of my questions are: how and when does object petit a manifest? What is its connection to memory? Is objet a shaped by language or the other way around? What is the relationship to the phallus? Bring your questions and your radiance.

Suggested readings:

Freud, S. (1925/1973). A note upon the ‘mystic writing-pad’

Freud, S. (1899/1973). Screen memories. 

In J. T. Strachey (Ed.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud: Vol III. Hogarth Press.

Lacan, J. (2014/1962-63). Session No. 23 of 19.06.1963. The seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book X: Anxiety (J. A. Miller, Ed., & A. R. Price, Trans.). Polity.