Her or: The Lost Object
a film project.

Alan Fair


Text: "Sublimation raises the object to the dignity of The Thing."
SCREEN (The images will be laid over by distress marks. They will not always be easily "readable)
SOUNDTRACK ( All speech will be from the position of a man spoken by a woman. Throughout, except at the point after END, the music will be After Requiem by Gavin Bryars.)


Plasma Fractal (c)

Ecrits pg. 121-123 The thing speaks of itself. This should last three minutes and is designed to make the audience uncomfortable but attentive

A body (torso) on which a figure is being drawn. (Lacan's 'L' Schema)

Day 1. She Has Gone

Day 2. It is all my fault

Day 3. She Has Left me

Day 4. I have lost HER

Day 5. It is all my fault

A dry brick wall... slowly rain falls on it until it is saturated.

Day 46. The rain saturates me. I think of HER inside listening to its beat, watching it run down the panes, my tears. Her face is absent, I cannot recall the message it sent to me, there is just form, there is no expression. I am lost. Directions for thinking are blocked by memories that can not be fully recalled. What was time like before I met her? How did days pass here? What tunes were hummed on those spring mornings when trees were green? My head fills with the sense of her presence absent, desire for that which is lost to me consumes my vision. I only see that I cannot see her.

An Empty room. The camera moves through 360o There is a mirror attached in front of the lens at an oblique angle

Day 52. In Toni Morrison's Beloved the desire to retrieve the love for the child results in a spectre, the spectre appears, is this a reincarnation, a return, the effect of desire? The Thing that which is within and without finds a way of making itself known, the lack is manifested through the effects of the desiring machine of literature, of love, the Thing is the starting point or the end result, it baffles me, it confuses me, it fuses with me and yet is more than me, it is a spectre. A spectre of me? Is my love for HER me or is it her? The object of my desire is that which blocks the fulfillment of desire, the subject of my desire is that Thing which I lack. I catch myself, catch my breath whenever a thought, emotion interrupts the repression that I attempt. I walk in this environment of empty trees, and beckoning winter gravel paths that lead to bleak red buildings, I am consciously not thinking of her and yet it is all I can do. In the act of not thinking of her I think of her even more. I want to phone her, speak tenderly with her, but fear the consequences of her rejection, a rejection that I already suffer. When I was a child and my father beat me, did I feel rejection? I don't remember anything but fear, is this the same fear I have now, the silent, creeping fear that every thought of her inaugurates.

A torso on which the 'R' schema is being drawn

"In order to talk about desire, one notion in particular came to the fore, the libido. Is what this notion implies adequate to the level on which your action takes place....Desire is a relation of being to lack. This lack is the lack of being properly speaking. It isn't the lack of this or that, but lack of being whereby the being exists.
This lack is beyond anything which can represent it. It is only ever represented as a reflection on a veil." Lacan Seminar Book 11, pg221/223

A field with a tree- 'washed out colour'

Day 45. I search out HER face everywhere. I sit in the large dining area and look for the fall of her hair, the glide of her hand through the air. I am disappointed, desolate, she is not there. There are no signs of her presence except around every corner behind every blocked view. Yes she walked through this place, she sat in that chair, she smiled at me from over there.

An empty road, the camera travels down it.

"With those affected by melancholia, primary identification proves to be fragile, insufficient to secure other identifications, which are symbolic this time, on the basis of which the erotic Thing might become a captivating Object of desire insuring continuity in a metonymy of pleasure. The melancholy Thing interrupts desiring metonymy, just as it prevents working out the loss within the psyche. How can one approach the place I have referred to? Sublimation is an attempt to do so: through melody, rhythm, semantic polyvalency, the so called poetic form, which decomposes and recomposes signs, is the sole 'container' seemingly able to secure an uncertain but adequate hold over the Thing." Julia Kristeva, Black Sun pg.14

A Supermarket

Day 12. A small child stands in the centre of a crowded supermarket surrounded by reflective surfaces, glaring colours. The meat is cut so as not to resemble the animals it was cut from, the fruit is polished and waxed to efface the nature of its being in the world, the artifice of her reflection stuns her into a recognition that she is alone. There is a look of bewilderment on her face. She struggles for a sight of the familiar and realises she cannot find her father, she has lost him, he has lost her. The look of bewilderment turns to panic, she cries out. He emerges a look of agitation in his eyes marks him as anxious amongst the throng of shoppers. They see each other... recognition... they run toward each other and embrace...gone...come back....both are party to a dangerous game.

An empty classroom

Day 44. This is the first day of teaching a new year. I am paralysed with a sense of loss. I can only think of HER. I want to call her and can not. I want to hear her say that she loves me and she will not. I know that I will never hear her say that to me again. I sit in my office and try to distract myself by watching 'thirty two short films about Glenn Gould', yet while I am doing this I long for the telephone to ring and to hear her voice. The world is grey, monochrome, it has lost its variations, its differences, the semiotic has dried up, the pitch of the world has flattened and so I seem to only walk through the environment rather than experience it. They are all so far away.

An empty bench upon which letters are placed. O>L>I>V>E> these go through a series of positions (stop motion) until they read
Then slowly the letters disappear until we are left with 'I'

"Who, if not us, will question once more the objective status of this 'I', which a historical evolution peculiar to our culture tends to confuse with the subject? This anomaly should be manifested in its particular effects on every level of language, and first and foremost in the grammatical subject of the first person in our languages, in the 'I love' that hypostatizes the tendency of the subject who denies it. An impossible mirage in linguistic forms among which the most ancient are to be found, and in which the subject appears fundamentally in the position of being determinant or instrumental of action." Ecrits pg23

A telephone is in the distant corner of a room, it is ringing slowly the camera zooms in until it is in extreme close up... it stops ringing

Day 57. During the night there is a phone call, I am asleep and am awakened by the final two rings. Today I wonder who called so late, I torture myself with the idea that it was HER, I imagine her as me, sitting late into the night smoking cigarettes thinking of me. She rings me I cannot answer, my dreams deflect a response, in my dreams she becomes other things, an immediate presence not like the disembodied voice of the telephone. She signs nothing, there is no representation she becomes the noise of the telephone that wakes me, transformed into the sound of an unheard communication. This ring, this noise speaks her to me, loudly in the night.... I can not remember my dream.

Close-up an arm. someone goes through the process of injecting heroin

Day 47. When I was a heroin addict I could not be without it. My addiction was a failure of renunciation. The liquid flowing from the glass vessel into my arm was an act of self fulfillment. In order to achieve this act of non renunciation I had to renounce the social. I turned in on myself. The heroin ghosted me, I became spectre, a chimera of emotional response. I became caught in a melancholia that was an other world of one dimensional emotion, greyness, an existence that slowly slid toward oblivion. I can not be without HER. Her inside me makes me renounce the world. It is she who is inside me, it is her that is consumed and is consuming and yet, it is me. She is not here. It is an act of self fulfillment to seek out the places where her presence is so intensely absent.

A torso upon which is being described the schema from The Four Fundementals

Music track.

A grave stone in an empty cemetery, the camera moves slowly amongst the headstones

Day 60 . In a film by Abel Gance, there is a battlefield upon which is strewn the cadavers of soldiers, mutilated, abandoned. They are twisted, defeated, slowly through the mists of gunsmoke they rise. They form a throng returned to admonish the living, they accuse the living of life. They return like memories to haunt those who have...in the fullness of time.....forgotten. They are the lost of history, written out of the human equation, they represent the presence of the violence of the past. Like the film itself they possess a spectral presence from which the living shrink, unable to come to terms with the truth of their actions, their in-actions are written onto the body of the film, onto the body of the dead, these traces of the past burn into our presence pointing out the future. The film articulates this absence of time, of memory, of history, by resurrecting the dead memories of Europe, that which refuses representation rents the real, causes the wound of collective memory to inscribe itself as art in this last moment of the century. The object of contemplation becomes the rendition of the lost that resides in us all.

A circle in red on a red field.

" You will not be surpassed if I tell you that at the level of the vorstellungen, the Thing is not nothing, but literally is not. It is characterized by its absence, its strangeness." The Ethics pg. 63.

A carpet with an intricate pattern

Day 59. I read in a short piece of fiction by Henry James, " a mistake in a man may often be a felicity in a woman". I was also reading in a novel by Don DeLillo " The world is full of abandoned meanings". Are these connected by their fin de siecle timing? Have we all moved from the misrecognition of others and ourselves to utter abandonment. In the mis-recognition a communication takes place, in HER I mis-recognise myself, see who I am not which is me in her without me or what makes me...I am abandoned, abandoned to me, abandoned to be without meaning for without seeing her lacking I cannot feel my own lack which causes me to desire the lack in her which is me. Abandonment is too final, it empties out the semiotics of communication, it forestalls any communication at all. Her truth is my mistake, my mistake is her truth, I take what she misses, I miss what she takes, which is her truth.

The alphabet travels across the screen.

"Desire, a function central to all human experience, is the desire for nothing namable. And at the same time this desire lies at the origin of every variety of animation. If being were only what it is, there wouldn't even be room to talk about it. Being comes in existence as an exact function of this lack. Being attains a sense of self in relation to being as a function of this lack, in the experience of desire. In the pursuit of this beyond, which is nothing, it harks back to the feeling of a being with self-consciousness, which is nothing but its own reflection in the world of things. For it is the companion of beings there before it , who do not in fact know themselves." Seminar 11 pg223/4

Video snatch of cosmonaut talking (no sound)

Day 51. A cosmonaut speaks with an impassioned clarity of homesickness. We have to learn to live without things he says. That word "without", resonates, outside of, with an absence of, I have a profound sense of his humanity, it touches me.... I understand.....It is easy, he says, to distract oneself with labour. But, he adds, the emotions keep creeping into the psyche, we cannot be ...without...I remember HER, the memories will not obey my will, they insinuate themselves into my consciousness, they tease me with an alarming regularity, it is as though my being is split. I try to forge new paths only to find myself on the same worn stretch of experience. The cosmonaut looks like an ordinary bloke and yet what he says of his life is extraordinary, Oh what it means to experience life when one is without.

A hand.

Just music

A mouth speaks but we hear no sound from there. The text being mouthed is Wallace Stevens' 'The Idea Of Order at Key West'

"The human object always constitutes itself through the intermediary of a first loss. Nothing fruitful takes place in man save through the intermediary of a loss of an object".. " Desire always becomes manifest at the joint of speech, where it makes its appearance, its sudden emergence, its surge forwards. Desire emerges just as it becomes embodied in speech, it emerges with symbolism." Seminar 11 pg136/234

A nude male stands in a room the camera travels over the back. The word No is crossed out in the centre of the back.

Day 58. I talk to an old friend, he tells me of a similar incident. A woman he loves leaves him without any warning. He spends a year sleeping on the floor downstairs, headfirst in a bottle of Johnnie Walker. I ask him "how long" he says " 2 years" I say, "I haven't got that long" I ask how does he feel now he says "totally cold" he has no feelings toward her. I think to myself that I don't want that to happen to me, not loving HER will be the same as not loving myself. I am myself in her, without her, even the idea of her, the image of her, where she is in me and more than me I am without myself. She is in(scribed) in me, written large and written by me. She does not write to me, I write to her. Her letter is like mine -'A'- mine reaches her, why doesn't she write to me? Two notes, a clumsy explanation and a birthday card, neither signed. This lack of her, of her inscription causes me deep sorrow. I sat yesterday and listened to Billy Valentine sing "The heart is a house for love" and cried for the sharing of its poignancy.


Just the music track.

The torso upon which a schema is drawn, the schema is the one found on pg 198 of the 4 fundamentals.
The erogenous zone

The subject
(nothing ) The unconscious
(field of the other)

Day 60. How strange, in this silence, to say "I love you". In the saying of it I separate HER from me, the verb interrupts close proximity and so we fly off into the vortex of signification. The impossibility of language to hold us together is here in this seeming bind. The syntax of love divides us precisely at this point of being one where we cannot be. In space as in language I miss you, my soul aches from this need as I represent it to myself as an image of you, I fall from grace into the abyss of my being where there is no longer you .

A small piece of rock in a field in long shot, the light changes the camera moves around it in concentric circles, it spirals in until the rock fills the screen.

Day 65. Is the act of writing this a production of the sublimation I engage in? Is she in these words, in the excess of this utterance? Does she (dis)appear in the production of language, here at a comma, is her being my grammatical hesitation? This weekend I never spoke of HER and yet she seemed everywhere in my speech, marking each syllable with an expressive force. In Edinburgh large rocks rise from above a tenement, I imagine its rising, breaking the earth forcing itself into view and yet impervious to the gaze. It is there and cannot be ignored, it demands attention and of course everyone imagines what the view would be like from there. What would it be like to be there and to look down to the place where we are not? The reduction of ourselves to an imagined space. To look out. To look in. The very force of this rock beckons, to stand up there to plunge into the depths, sailing for a few seconds the wind rushing, howling in the ears, the mouth agape, astonishment on the face. What does a face look like when it embarks on such a plunge? Even in this moment of cancellation is there still a narcissistic self struggling to recognise itself from another place?

A white image, at the end of the shot, almost imperceptibly, the letter 'A' appears.

"And this is important with regard to art. Because I think in modern art there is a so called crisis of representation which is a crisis generally, and more commonly, of visual representation. The breaking of the image, abstract art and so on. From this point of view you could say that modern art is a sort of elaboration of this narcissistic and pre-narcissistic dynamic, where the figure is not yet constituted as one, as a coherent figure; where hearing, skin, taste and so on enter into account. That's why it's important for me to stress the previous-to-the-mirror-stage development that I called in different elaborations that are not in this book but other books the (la)semiotic variety of meaning in order to differentiate it from the symbolic variety of meaning which will be more connected to a coherent and full image, and to the verbal sign which always refers to objects which are total and not split." Kristeva Desire pg. 23

The camera travels through an empty building.

Day 67. When my daughter was born I couldn't see her, more properly I couldn't Other her. I was perplexed by this phenomenon, I would look at her, adoringly I suppose you say, but couldn't quite see her, she was too close, too much of me. I wonder about this phenomenon now she is nearing four, now I see her. This child who I witnessed being born, this small fragment of humanity. Of my humanity? Now we talk, she tells me about school, she calls me dad and uses that term as a punctuation, "and dad".... "and dad". Is this what it is like, that transition where the imaginary is laid over by the symbolic? Was my desire to see her, my desire to symbolise her for myself, was this the inauguration of a narcissistic desire, did I desire to see her or myself in that place where she finds me..dad? To know ourselves, to know an other who hails us as we hail them, both of us searching for our rightful place. When there is a dislocation in that placing we become unhinged, the buttons pop off the sofa, we feel as if we were floating free and yet this free floating is like a prison, we look for the place of capture, we desire in the other the captivating return of the glance, the recognition in them of us.
She had a red jumper, I remember HER through the agency of this jumper, I can see the colour, its relationship to the colour of her hair, this image, this thought has a physical effect upon me as I write it, what is the relationship between this thing representation and this word representation. What cathexis is it that tightens my scrotum, is it the cathexis of the memory or the cathexis of me representing the thing to myself through language, can I have access to her only by way of speech, is this why I speak of her so much and yet do not remember ever dreaming of her since she left? Do I dream of her as other things as bits of memory or do I dream of her and repress the pleasure/pain of bringing her to mind?

The camera travels through an empty building. A number of mundane household items are slowly panned over.

Day 72. And words do not spoil the silence for those who have ears to hear what is left unsaid. Speaking is to fill the void, to avoid the primary loss, the more I make words the more I cover the silence unless I can learn to hear the silence in these words, the absence that they make presence. Language begins to unravel for me, the thread of meaning becomes a slow spiral towards the silence that is the truth of speech. I sit in my room and if someone were to come along and photograph me from a particular angle I would in that representation be alone but I am not. At the far end of the room obscured by a coffee table is my daughter asleep on a pile of cushions strewn on the floor. I sit and read in the silence that is engendered by her sleep. I hear her dream murmur, it relaxes me she fills the room with her dreaming self.

A piece of crumpled paper on which is the poem "The Sunlight on the garden" It floats on dirty water.

"It is the abyss opened up at the thought that a thought should make itself heard in the abyss that provoked resistance to psychoanalysis from the outset." Ecrits 170

A red screen, at a given moment the word..(w)hole flashes on the screen.

Day 73. Language is material, it has an intimate connection with the body. Language is an aspect of corporeality, it is the speech of the body. So what is the connection between the signifier of subjectivity and the sense I have of myself? Is it that language articulates what it misses, the truth of the absence or the excess, the soul, the spirit, the void beyond language? Silence is what exceeds language and to get to it we just might access the truth of its absence. Language seeks to fill in the void of the lost object which is silence. A fool's errand, speech chases along the metonymic chain that which it can not articulate, a substitute for desire. Language approximates desire, "I did my bliss, when I did silence, break" Traherne writes and in writing folds back on his utterance forever enfolding his discourse about the black (w)hole of his truth ~ silence. And yet my body feels this absence of HER. I cry, I sob, my stomach cramps, the body is marked by the loss, the trauma finds its articulation across the contours of my skin. The body is a convenience for thought, for philosophy, for yearning, for longing, for desire, sexuality. Speech passes through the body and leaves its residue there, that is to say everything that is not silence in language is the grammar of human society, it languishes in our communication. I can not speak what is lost and yet feel compelled to attempt this course. I lose weight, my body dissipates in a foolish anticipation.

Water, blue.
Water, red.
Water, black.
Water, yellow.
Water blue.
Cut to black.


Day 79. The desiring subject wishes the gaze of the lost object to return to him. To become an object of desire for another desiring subject who will in the return of the gaze fulfill the desire to be in the place where he is not, in the eyes of the other. The eyes of the other become not the windows of the soul but the mirror of desire for the subject who wishes to be desired. In a sense we are blinded by the gaze of the other, blind love, love is blind, love is blinding.
You are a metaphor for me, the metonymy of my desire rushes toward you and where you are is love, the sublime of myself. This is outside of narrative, beyond desire, narrative can only locate where I am and am not, it cannot put me where I am in the metaphor of you. But you are not where I am, my metaphor of the invisible you, language becomes flesh in the metaphor where I disappear. (Endlessly I circle around the language of my lost self, rediscovered in you, appearing to me in the prosody of limits that forces me to recall the shadows of us.
I must re-enter the world of the other, dance myself into the laocoon where image meets symbol, in life, in love.)

The screen goes to white... on the soundtrack The mighty Diamonds sing There's No Me Without You.