Comment on post Seminar VII : 3rd February 1960 : p129 quoting Seminar VII : 27th January 1960 : p121(vases)

by Owen Hewitson on September 7, 2013

Note: This is Owen Hewitson’s response to Julia Evans asking him to check the accuracy of the post – Seminar VII : 3rd February 1960 : p129 : Discussion of ‘function of sublimation with reference to the Thing.’  Or here  -, 5 months after Owen had made the comment in a reading group!

Note 2: The ‘Comments’ facility has been turned off due to enormous quantities of spam material.

Owen Hewitson writes on 9th February 2014:

Hi Julia, yes my memory is a little hazy too but as luck would have it I’ve been reminded of this just this afternoon in connection with something I’ve just finished writing on my blog –

I think in the reading group I might have been referring back to remarks that Jacques Lacan makes in the previous chapter (On creation ex nihilo, I think [JE notes: Seminar VII : 27th January 1960 : see below for quote]) where he talks about making something from nothing. He gives the examples of the pot and the vase, and how both are defined by the emptiness they have at their centre, and that this is the only way the Thing can be represented.

I notice in the passage that you quoted from he mentions ‘emptiness’ no less than five times.

The idea of emptiness is interesting to me and I was looking up other references to it today that I quoted, along with the stuff from Seminar VII, in my post – here

I also found some beautiful remarks by Éric Laurent [‘From saying to doing in the clinic of drug addiction and alcoholism : 2000’, which is in Almanac of Psychoanalysis – Issue 2 – Psychoanalytic stories after Freud and Lacan, p.138-139] about how the psychoanalyst should be like a tornado – with an emptiness at his/her centre – and how psychoanalysis aims at “the verification of the colour of emptiness surrounding the human being”.

One day I’ll find the time to properly dive into Lacan’s ideas about topology, which is probably what all this stuff about emptiness is leading up to. [JE: I am starting to build up references to ‘Lacan and Topology’: here] Anyway, thanks for letting me know about your post. Your site is always a great resource for finding references and links to Lacan’s/Lacanian works.


1)  Quote: Seminar VII : 27th January 1960 : p121 : Note there are many references to vase(s) in this session. The choice of the following quote is arbitrary:

… Nothing is made from nothing.

The whole of ancient philosophy is articulated around that point. If Aristotelian philosophy is so difficult for us to think, that is because it must be thought in a style that never omits the fact that matter is eternal, and that nothing is made from nothing. In consideration of which, it remains mired in an image of the world that never permitted even an Aristotle – and it is difficult to imagine in the whole history of human thought a mind of such power – to emerge from the enclosure that the celestial surface presented to his eyes, and not to consider the world, including the world of interhuman relations, the world of language, as included in eternal nature, which is fundamentally limited.

Now if you consider the vase from the point of view I first proposed, as an object made to represent the existence of the emptiness at the centre of the real that is called the Thing, this emptiness as represented in the representation that is called the Thing, this emptiness as represented in the representation presents itself as a nihil, as nothing. And that is why the potter, just like you to whom I am speaking, creates the vase with his hand around this emptiness, creates it, just like the mythical creator, ex nihilo, starting with a hole.

Everyone makes jokes about macaroni, because it is a hole with something around it, or about canons. The fact that we laugh doesn’t change the situation, however: the fashioning of the signifier and the introduction of a gap or a hole in the real is identical.

2)  Additional note: Jacques Lacan uses ‘pots’ in Seminar VII: 25th November 1959 : p19. Notes are available on this Notes on p19-27 of Seminar VII: 25th November 1959: Reading Group of 27th October by Julia Evans on October 27, 2012 or here

3)  A note has been prepared on Seminar VII : Session of 13th January 1960 : p91 : What is the reference to ‘Communicating Vases’? & should be posted shortly….

4)  There is also Jacques Lacan’s use of vase in the ‘Mirror Stage’ which is commented on in Seminar VI & Seminar X (reference to be checked) : Chapter XVIII : 15th May 1963 : p166 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation


To access posts by this group, go to and look in the category  ‘Posts for the “A. Reading Seminar VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis”’ category or here

A number of the references commented on by Jacques Lacan are available at Seminar VII: The ethics of psychoanalysis: 1959-1960: Jacques Lacan or here

Posts for the “Lacan Jacques” category : Available here

Posts for the “Freud Sigmund” category : Available here

For other texts by Éric Laurent see here