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Kunkle, S. (2000). Lacan's Life, the Universe, and Vincenzo Natali's Cube. Am. Imago, 57(3):281-297.

(2000). American Imago, 57(3):281-297

Lacan's Life, the Universe, and Vincenzo Natali's Cube

Shelia Kunkle

Ontology, for Lacanians, is not an easy thing to explain. Terms of being, time, and space are not used as physical coordinates the same way that physicists and cosmologists use them. Rather, in Lacan a certain logic of temporality and spatial orientations depicts a reality that may at times become unhinged from its familiar moorings. In Lacan's universe, one's sense of reality has a constitutive connection to language, for we become subjects locatable in space and time only through our existence in language, as subjects of the unconscious. A subject of language, for example, may find herself “de-ontologized” if she loses her integrating fantasy, if she somehow drops out of the play of the signifying chain or becomes stuck in a repetitive loop therein. As such, she may come to dwell in an “in-between” state where jouissance takes hold. A person may be “de-ontologized” both at the moment of bliss during the sexual act, and at the loss of a sense of self in psychosis, for these states are “impossible” to name with a signifier in Lacan's thought. The world of the human is structured in logical time and spatial orientations vis-à-vis other humans, and through language, the network of signifiers, which constitutes Lacan's Symbolic register. Any Symbolic order, life we know it, erupts out of the many possible worlds of the Real.1

In Lacan's last years, before the effects of serious illnesses began to show, he took his theory of psychoanalysis onto a different playing field; that is, he went from a linguistic-enhanced neo-Freudian view, to the creation of mathemes in the 1950s and the introduction of topological shapes in the 1960s, to an obsession, in the 1970s, with the properties of paradoxical knots.2

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