chapter  3
The cause of desire and the object a
WithBogdan Wolf
Pages 17

In the second part of Seminar X, Lacan moves for the first time beyond the articulations about love as imaginary, and beyond the dialectic of love and hate. The former, as he says throughout Seminar X, revolves around the i(a). Let’s recall that i(a) forms an instance of miscognition and of what will have always been miscognised in the Other, i.e. where the signifying elements fail to catch the object a. Thus i(a) forms the real image of the object, which is neither the lost object nor the object cause of desire, but the object searched for. For this reason, Lacan places i(a) in his optical schema – the real object as the one that touches the body or the image of the body part of which the object a is the real remainder. What is caught instead of a is the mirage, i(a), the deceiving yet irresistible image of the impossible object, like the one at the very centre of the Moby Dick novel around which the narratives, the pursuit, the bodily obsessions of captain Ahab revolve. Yet, when the subject is in the place of a he is at the point of the most helpless, Hilflosigkeit, for whom the Other’s demand is beyond reach at this instant. It would not be far-fetched to suggest that captain Ahab finds himself as helpless and hopeless in his voyage as if he was the one who is chased and the only way for him to realise this is to catch his illusive tormentor.