In ‘Lacan and Gestalt Theory, with Some Suggestions for Cultural Studies’ Ian Verstegen makes the following points considering Lacan’s theory of Mirror stage:
  • Within the Imaginary, the child learns that demand cannot be satisfied; learn the sameness and difference when viewing a mirror.
  • The gaze for Lacan encapsulates human subjectivity; it is always a personal construction.
  • A relationship of subjects to one another, or to groups, and can change in different contexts.
  • Acknowledged Lacan’s correction that properly speaking the gaze is not visual, it is not directly about looks but it is about relationships that include looks.

In ‘Lacan on Gaze’ Yuanlong Ma extends the interpretation of the gaze and other:
  • The Other is understand as “my permanent possibility of being-seen-by-the–Other”.
  • It is on the very moment when I get self-consciousness that I am reduced to an object of the other.
  • The split of the gaze from the eye is, in the final analysis, the split of the unconsciousness from the consciousness.
  • The objet a is both inner and outer, both indispensable and impossible, both derives from symbolization and resists symbolization.


In ‘The Surface Effect. The screen of fantasy in psychoanalysis’ André Nusselder talks about Lacan’s concepts of desire, fantasy and the representation of reality:
  • Fantasy is neither in the product (object) nor in the act of imagining (subject). It is in the intricate connection of subject and object of desire. Fantasy is like a window both connecting and separating inside and outside.
  • In the first phase of his thinking, until the end of the 1950s, Lacan focuses on the concept of alienation. The multivalent notion that ‘desire is the desire of the Other’ summarizes this tendency.
  • For Lacan, the real is the order of things that is beyond our ability and capability to perceive directly, and for that reason it is traumatic.
  • Someone who endlessly tries to think out who he is, or who tries to objectify himself completely (for instance, by ceaselessly staring into the mirror) may get to a point where he no longer knows who he is.
  • Lacan, inspired by the cogito of Descartes, located the position of the subject in the state of jouissance by stating “I am there where I do not think”. The object a is that from which the organism must separate itself to constitute itself as a subject.
  • According to Lacan, there is a special relationship between vision and the unconscious. Our vision, Lacan claims, is animated by desire. It also makes the desiring subject already an object, an object in the gaze of the Other. The fact that we are seen by the Other turns us into an object. And it is through fantasy that we identify ourselves with the object that we imagine to be in the eyes of the Other.
  • The aim of “the window of fantasy” is to enable the subject . . . to see himself seeing himself, to fix, in his own field of vision, the gaze of the Other and to “synchronize” his consciousness with it.


In ‘Real Gaze’ Todd McGowan explains the difference between the cinema of fantasy and the cinema of desire:
  • The fantasmatic dimension of the cinema allows it to stage the impossible objet petit a in the form of the gaze. The gaze is a disturbance in the normal functioning of reality. Instead, reality exists as something seen, something that we ourselves constitute through the act of seeing; in consequence, our seeing itself is included within our reality as the gaze. They [films] focus on disturbing spectators with moments of too much satisfaction rather than reminding spectators of their dissatisfaction.
  • The desiring subject emerges through its entrance into the social order, its submission to the demands of a symbolic law, a process that constitutes the subject through lack. Unlike need, which can be directly satisfied through obtaining its object, desire orients itself around the Other and what the Other wants.
  • Because it sustains desire— and thus dissatisfaction— in the spectator, the cinema of desire is not often a popular cinema. Fantasmatic cinema allows spectators an experience of the gaze (even if this experience is traumatic), but a cinema of desire never grants the possibility of this type of enjoyment. To experience the cinema of desire is to experience what one doesn’t have.
  • The cinema of desire manifests itself most directly in the revelation of the gaze through the absence of the object that would satisfy desire. Films— and narratives in general— engage us because they trigger a desire to experience what comes next. Narrative cinema relies on the introduction of absence to the spectator, convincing the spectator that the film itself conceals a secret, that there is some piece of knowledge yet to be revealed.
  • The cinema of integration is the predominant cinema in the world today. The cinema of integration rarely avoids altogether the trauma of the gaze; instead, it utilizes the gaze in order to incite the desire of the spectator. This type of cinema allows us to believe that we can actually integrate the gaze successfully into our world without any of its disruptive effects. In the cinema of integration, even the gaze— the object that stains the field of the visible and disrupts our vision— becomes an ordinary object that fits into our world of representation and meaning. For the cinema of integration, there is trauma in its filmic universe, but one can always find a way of resolving this trauma. And when we can resolve a trauma, trauma loses its ability to shake us loose from our immersion within ideology.




McGowan, T 2007, Real Gaze, SUNY Press, Ithaca, US. Available from: ProQuest ebrary. [12 November 2016].

Nusselder, A 2012, The Surface Effect, Routledge. Available from: ProQuest ebrary. [14 November 2016].

Verstegen, I 2015, Lacan and Gestalt Theory, with Some Suggestions for Cultural Studies, Gestalt Theory, Vol. 37, No.3. Available from: [18 November 2016].

Ma, Y 2015, Lacan on Gaze, International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, Vol. 5, No. 10(1). Available from: [18 November 2016].

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