Given that reality constitutes us, that is, that we are shaped by the perimeters and communities around us, how should we respond?
In order to answer this question, I want to draw attention to the relationship of the analyst and the patient that Lacan reflects upon in the community of psychoanalysis. Both the patient and the analyst desire something. The patient desires for the analyst to know and define his/her case and issue; conversely, the analyst desires for the patient to communicate to him/her his issues and concerns. Either way, both are caught in this web of desires. However, what should be noted is that the role of the analyst and patient is one of reversal that can be perceived and defined in many contexts. One of the best examples of the terms’ dual nature, meaning, and functionality is offered in a description of a dream and the subject’s transformation into butterfly.
The dream that Lacan describes on pg.76 of his text tells of a patient who re-counts a dream in which he is transformed to a butterfly. Lacan argues that the patient seeing himself as butterfly is really a metaphor for the gaze, which I will discuss later. Lacan probes “what are so many figures, so many shapes, so many colors, if not this gratuitous showing, in which is marked for us the primal nature of the essence of the gaze…In fact, it is when he is the butterfly that he apprehended one of the roots of his identity—that he was, and is, in his essence, that butterfly who paints himself with his own colors—and it is because of this that, in the last resort, he is”.
Let’s think about both the patient and the butterfly as subject—the same individual just a different manifestation of the subject as an object (butterfly). It is this precise moment of recognition when the patient becomes aware and conscious of himself as butterfly that he “apprehends one of the roots of his identity, that the butterfly paints himself [the patient]”. In other words, in becoming aware of his transformation the patient oscillates between roles of the patient and analyst. The butterfly is a metaphor for the analyst because it suggests something about the subject. In the context of the gaze, the patient and the analyst become one and yet they were never different but were always distinct. What is important here is to realize that it is through the gaze that the patient becomes aware of the analyst, namely his desires and himself.
Like the dream and as Lacan points out, though his reference to Merleau—Ponty, “we are beings who are looked at in the spectacle of the world. That which makes our consciousness institutes us by the same token as speculum mundi…The spectacle of the world, in this sense appears to us all-seeing”—74. In this quote, Lacan implies that we are constantly being defined by the world around us, the gaze. The gaze shows aspects and portions of us that would not otherwise appear to be known if it wasn’t for the reflecting “seeing”. This hypersensitivity to that which defines us is what allows for us to be defined—to become object. Lacan wants us to allow these different objects, communities, and images to awaken us to recognition of ourselves—to become conscious of our existence within “the other”.
Instruction 2: Pick a book, movie, or TV show that you watched when you were a child a write a brief 300 word response detailing how this object has had an impact on your character and being consider your moral, social, and ethical beliefs.