V – The common, the complex, the imaginary object

Text in pdf : Clémence Ortega Douville – Hermeneulogy – V – The common, the complex, the imaginary object


‘Qu’exprime donc le langage, s’il n’exprime pas des pensées ? Il présente ou plutôt il est la prise de position du sujet dans le monde de ses significations. Le terme de « monde » n’est pas ici une manière de parler : il veut dire que la vie « mentale » ou culturelle emprunte à la vie naturelle ses structures et que le sujet pensant doit être fondé sur le sujet incarné. Le geste phonétique réalise, pour le sujet parlant et pour ceux qui l’écoutent, une certaine structuration de l’expérience, une certaine modulation de l’existence, exactement comme un comportement de mon corps investit pour moi et pour autrui les objets qui m’entourent d’une certaine signification. […] Cet acte de transcendance [du corps humain] se rencontre d’abord dans l’acquisition d’un comportement, puis dans la communication muette du geste : c’est par la même puissance que le corps s’ouvre à une conduite nouvelle et la fait comprendre à des témoins extérieurs. Ici et là un système de pouvoirs définis se décentre soudain, se brise et se réorganise sous une loi inconnue du sujet ou du témoin extérieur, et qui se révèle à eux dans ce moment même.’ In Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phénoménologie de la perception, « VI. Le corps comme expression et la parole », Ed. Gallimard, 1945 (2005), p. 235

As we have studied before with the definition of the trauma, there is no relation between individuals through language and its cultural rules if there is no object between them. The knot of their relational contract relies on the possibility to introduce a distance between the bodies and between the souls, that is the moral integrity of the person. There is a capacity to isolate the relation to this object from the rest of the world, that makes the elaboration of this kind of relation possible and sustainable : objects made both alien to us and yet an extension for it.

This, as we introduced the principle of attention in the last article, is the property taken from the principle of uniformity. The capacity to create this isolation and to artificially maintain the isolated relation to the object enables the subject to create a distance to it from the context, which is verified and secured by the principle of unity. We are not only finding objects in the world, we are creating the world of another kind of objects meant to maintain a closed and uniform relationship with – and then, to combine them up together.

This capacity can be stimulated either by the desire to it or the restraint imposed by the context. There, the role of the traumas in the generation of restraining conditions in the moral topology of the subject turns important. In any case, it creates a tension, which is mainly the fear of losing the thread. We are pushed to be both aware of what is going on outside around us and to be able to still focus on the object of the maintained relations.

The uniformity of these relations allows and involves the unity and stability of the context, which stability allows in its turn the crack, the opening of and to the discontinuity. The entropy of uniformity’s inertia makes the turn in fact inevitable, unless the ability to breathe properly and drive physiological stability at balance.

Connector and complex object

We would like then to introduce some new objects to the analysis of the subject and mind’s workings. First, what we would call the connector, that it also the tensor described in the structure of the mind (see last article). It keeps the latter up from breaking off the seek for objects that drives the uniformity to relation. This connector is the physiological and sensorimotor capacity to hold relational drive in order to assign it to the first reliable object of thought.

The mind is in fact always open to new objects (or taken as new) to maintain a relation to, enveloping the motions of uniformity, unity and discontinuity successively and altogether. Then, it can be led to either real objects, or imaginary objects, in the short or long term. Still needs to be determined is what they are.

The common object of relation is a place in the relational structure, that can be either occupied or left vacant. If occupied, it is worked out by the subject(s) involved. If vacant, the subject is always in need for one to connect to and looks for it actively, unless the mind is turned off.

Then the same object (a shoe for example, worn by someone on the metro) is a complex object. On the perceptive, relational and symbolic level, it is complex, that means, if we take from Mathematics again and complex numbers, that it can be either real or imaginary ; or somewhere in between. What we need here is to define what would be the real side of the object and what would be then its imaginary side.

The common object of intention can be articulated in discourse between the subject and another subject (for instance, I start to comment something on the shoes of the person on the metro with them) : in such a case, the object shows on its real and scalar side, that you can divide up between the parties through language-based behaviour. This is the participation of the other subject that confirms the reality for all of the object that is common to both parties. It establishes the co-woven, contextual, the entangled and intersubjective meaning of the object born by the enactional investment of the subjects.

But it can also be contemplated on its potential interest for all whom are close to its influence circumference, the phenomenal environment, yet as an unidentified and discovered object : it is then perceived on its imaginary aspect that is polar, cyclic. The object itself is emitting its own possibilities and its own potential to awaken interest. There is then here a higher degree of incertitude and impredictability to the object that comes as a side effect of the relational expectation to it. The latter is imprecise, approximate. This is the gap in the identification of the object, that necessarily makes it partial.

The object becomes real then when it is articulated, when it ceases to be defined only by its own inertia ; but when it starts carrying a meaning that the subject can relate through to someone else, to unvail the common interest to it with another subject.

Otherwise, the object is only unacheived, potential, that is imaginary. Provoking only image, the invisible that can only be seen. From imaginary to real, we get from expectation to relation, and we make the object common to the others. Language and its creativity, according to the attention principle we put forward, weave the objects in and with the contextual meaning they are creating as well in a circling movement. We create a world for meaning that is another world corresponding to the first one.

For example, the relation maintained to the activity of thinking is connecting attention to the one common and elementary object that stands between me and the flow of thoughts, the limit and possibly untied point that is : the room, the space itself opened in the mind’s place for thinking, the distance created from the background of reality. This connector we proposed here as an image introduces the uniform distance from the sollicitations of the surrounding environment. That is necessary to occupy the mind on thinking, to find itself objects to be maintained on.

Then the maintained uniform relation to this opened space is in the activity of thinking the very imaginary object that may open in its turn to its weaving in context. The latter context becomes the ‘third-person phenomenon circuit’ described by French philosopher Merleau-Ponty in Phenomenology of perception1. We hear somebody – that is no one – speaking those words in their own fashion, where the style and behaviour of speech, ‘the stand of the subject in the world of their meanings’ is relevant as this place taken by the voice inside of a certain social, moral, symbolic and imaginary context.

There the sequences of speech, arrangement of words and sequenced chains of meaning create the elaboration of the discourse, that is a series of moves enveloped in the unity of a teleological intention. The aim is the object, or ‘I refer to the word like my hand inclines towards the point on my body that one stings’.2 Which means that the important is the relation I am making to my own seek for a relation – the space, the tension in-between.

When psychoanalyst Darian Leader analyses today the necessity to occupy our hands permanently, it is but only that : the gap, the distance and the lag created by this neural distance. This connector which we believe came from the sensorimotor paradox of the hand itself, left us with a room for objects to manipulate that is always still or at least partly vacant.

To Merleau-Ponty, ‘we have to admit that « to seize » or « to touch », even for the body, is something else than « to show »‘.3 If you are pointing out an object, you are opening a space that was imaginary, a potential space for discourse (we don’t say through what kind of language), to the capacity to seize the same object together, to create meaning to this object, for the body or for the mind – hopefully for the soul, that is the unity of both and the person beyond the subject.

The loss of objects

What is important then to analysis is what happens when objects are lost, become symbolically forbidden to use and thoughtfully handle. What does happens when the prohibition of key objects in the individuals’ inner life, that has to do with trauma and unconscious wounds ?

Actually, the connector is still looking for objects anyway to occupy, so it will take substitutes for those it is forbidden to use. Somehow it will trust the relations the subject is allowed to tend to when expecting what is hidden – even from themselves – in what they can more freely or immediately aim the spotlights on.

The force that is driven by the resistance may produce matter – speech matter, behaviour matter, art matter, concrete matter – more easily but in vain. By contrast, when produced an effort in a resisting milieu, the same force engaged in a more open one would prove apparently easier and lighter. In fact it is not adequate at all. Yet it finds objects that are more easily consumed, without finding plain meaning – maybe an enough, contextual but partial meaning instead.

One of the tasks of psychoanalysis seems then to be drying off the daisy land where gravity is low, and get by the deep waters where the pressure is high. To give effort its real value, force its concrete support.

One can’t properly do that without being aware that all that rely on a distance to one’s own ability to think. Work on the common object. The imaginary is too potential. The real depends on the other party.

In any situation, to be in the safest place, you would only have to reach to the untied point of your mind – that ultimately is where beauty lies.

1Op. cit., p. 214.

2Ibid., p. 220.

3Ibid., p. 133.

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