books, quotes

You see that can?

Sometimes there are so many things to say that you don’t know where to start.

I’ll say this: I’ve been reading Jacques Lacan for a book club, and here is my favorite anecdote so far.

I was in my early twenties or thereabouts – and at that time, of course, being a young intellectual, I wanted desperately to get away, see something different, throw myself into something practical, something physical, in the country say, or the sea. One day, I was on a small boat, with a few people from a family of fishermen in a small port. At that time, Brittany was not as industrialized as it is now. There were no trawlers. The fisherman went out in his frail craft at his own risk. It was this risk, this danger, that I loved to share. But it wasn’t all danger and excitement – there were also fine days. One day, then, as we were waiting for the moment to pull in the nets, an individual known as Petit-Jean, that’s what we called him – like all his family, he died very young from tuberculosis, which at that time was a constant threat to the whole of that social class – this Petit-Jean pointed out to me something floating on the surface of the waves. It was a small can, a sardine can. It floated there in the sun, a witness to the canning industry, which we, in fact, were suppose to supply. It glittered in the sun. And Petit-Jean said to me – “You see that can? Do you see it? Well, it doesn’t see you!”

He found this incident highly amusing – I less so.

– Jacques Lacan, The Line And Light, “Of the Gaze as Objet petit a,” THE FOUR FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTS OF PSYCHOANALYSIS