The Restlessness of the Imaginary

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Psychoanalysis has always been based on the eclipse of the visual and on the primacy of speech: this is evident in any clinical experience where the patient lies on the couch and never looks the psychoanalyst in his/her eyes. The work of Jacques Lacan though, is strangely full of references on the visual field and on images: from the text on the “mirror stage” in the Forties to the elaboration of the visual dimension of objet petit a (gaze) in the Sixties. As a consequence, a long tradition of film studies made reference to Lacan and used psychoanalysis as a tool in order to explain the inclusion of the subject of the unconscious in the experience of vision. What is less known is how the late Lacanian reflection on the topic of analytic formalization opened up a further dimension of the visual that goes beyond the subjective experience of vision: not in the direction of a mystical ineffable (the Real-as-impossible) but rather toward a subtractive mathematization of space, as in non-Euclidean geometries. The outcome sounds paradoxical but it can have major impacts on the way we understand the visual field and we represent it in visual studies: sometimes abstract formalization can help us looking at the space even better than our eyes.





Bianchi, Pietro (2019). The Restlessness of the Imaginary. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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