Objet petit a
The object of desire which we seek in the other
May 3rd, 2009
Via Wikipedia: "In the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan, objet petit a (object little-a) stands for the unattainable object of desire. It is sometimes called the object cause of desire. Lacan always insisted for it to remain untranslated 'thus acquiring the status of an algebraic sign.' (Écrits).
In 1957, in his Seminar Les formations de l'inconscient, Lacan introduces the concept of objet petit a as the imaginary part-object (see Melanie Klein), an element which is imagined as separable from the rest of the body. In the Seminar Le transfert (1960-1961) he articulates objet a with the term agalma (Greek, an ornament). Just as the agalma is a precious object hidden in a worthless box, so objet petit a is the object of desire which we seek in the other. [...]
Slavoj Žižek explains this objet petit a in relation to Alfred Hitchcock's MacGuffin: '[The] MacGuffin is objet petit a pure and simple: the lack, the remainder of the real that sets in motion the symbolic movement of interpretation, a hole at the center of the symbolic order, the mere appearance of some secret to be explained, interpreted, etc.' (Love thy symptom as thyself)."