View Full Version : Point de Capiton

02-10-2007, 10:04 PM
Lacan says there are some terms in the fields of the signifiers that pin
together whole regions of significance. Slavo Zizek discusses these Points de Capiton (upholstery tacks?) in his article "Che Voui?" in vol III of his
source texts on recent Lacanian Cultural theory.

Naturally, Zizek thinks these are "ideological"...but then most people who want to use Lacanian methods these days think that everything is "ideological"...

I'd always thought (based ultimately on Althusser and Levi-Strauss) that these would occur in areas of social contradiction -- kinship, incest-prohibition and various types of exchange and the representation of the origin of exchange and the social order, but it looks to me as though the term "writer" is somewhere near one of these nodal points or points de capiton.

This has given us a rare chance to observe one of these elusive points de capiton "in the Wild" so to speak. The indicators of this rare and strange function for the term "writer" are roughly what you would expect for a culturally significant term that has to at least appear to work in many contradictory contexts: the meaning of the term appears to be trivial or easily pinned down, and yet it oscillates between signifying some specific desire and indicating some indefinite social value, and yet the more you examine it, the less it seems to mean -- the place where the term exists seems to be full of straw men, empty simulacra who fail to adequately portray anyone's ideas about what the term means, and the more people think about the term the more they think they are looking into their navels...which are, of course, the singular points on the body where the whole non-orificial skin is articulated as if by a pinning mechanism and in fact it does represent the point at which one's being was formerly nourished by a specialized extention of the still-developing body: the place where one joined a very indefinite Otherness that was in fact part of you...a part that is now gone.

02-10-2007, 10:16 PM
I like that formulation. It allows for multiple layers of meaning piled on top a working, everyday definition.