This meditation on the event of 9/11 emerges from a certain perplexity on my part concerning an elision on Lacan's part regarding the materiality of vision as developed in Seminar XI (The Four Fundamentals of Psychoanalysis). Many cinematic theoreticians and art historians have returned again and again to his discussions, "Of the Gaze as Object Petit a," to establish the definitive distinctions between the look and the gaze. To briefly recap this well-known territory, the look is attributed to 'natural' perception. That is, to the initiative and power of the subject as moi. This means the ability to place people and things at a proper distance from the self, constitute them as objects at the ego's disposal. The ego (as moi) has the capacity to continually misrepresent and deceive itself. The look more properly belongs to the working of the spectacular imagination and not the Imaginary which, for Lacan, always implies a framing by the limits of perception itself, by that which threatens the very stability of the ego. We can never occupy this zone outside framed perception, or "true infinity" in Hegel's terms. We can only perceive the illusionary false infinity of geometrical space. The Imaginary presupposes the inclusion of a screened nonspectatory dimension which Lacan attributes to the unconscious Real, specifically naming it object a, a skewing of geometrical space into non-Euclidean possibilities of ex-imate space/time. The imagination remains confined to the preconscious cognito (I think) whereas Descartes' cogito (I am) is rendered as the subject of the unconscious. The je, becomes the 'true' subject of the symptom.
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