Patricia McCarthy – The Heart of the Matter – more Topological Considerations on the Subject

THE LETTER 12 (Spring 1998) pages 14-24


It is interesting that it was toward the end of his seminar for 1960-61 on the transference that Lacan first introduced the (o) object. This seminar on Transference had been largely devoted to Socrates address to and about Alcibiades’ quest for the agalma. It would appear that from then on Lacan turned away from any further ‘mythification’ about the (o) object which was what the agalma represented. From then on he seriously began to describe a science of the (o) object as material cause of truth for the subject. This necessitated an engagement with arid and peculiar looking shapes from the world of topology, a branch of mathematics. These included the moebius strip, the torus, the Klein bottle and the cross-cap which he claimed held the key to understanding what is unrepresentable about analysis.

It is at the level of the (o) object qua object which falls from the apprehension of knowledge that we are, as men of science, rejoined by the question of truth.

Through looking at the sphere and the cross-cap in particular, this presentation attempts to examine the limits of our apprehension of knowledge when it comes to the question of the truth of the subject in analysis.


I want to begin this presentation by talking to you about the sphere and the cross-cap. For Lacan these had become essential spatial references in his theorisation about the (o) object from 1961, from the end of the Seminar on Transference on. I expect that most of you know what a sphere is. I also…


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