The Imaginary

A grand metaphor to explain how a work of art may be a masterpiece rather than junk touches on the theories of Jacques Lacan, the French

In the latest International Journal of Psychoanalysis (volume 94, 1215-30) Judy Gammelgaard argues that the traumatic event in many stories and films determines how Images, Words and Reality work together. All three start off linked and an unexpected trauma may cause the Imaginary to slip away while Words and Reality stay together.

She says you can see examples in James Joyce’s novels and von Trier’s films; these artists knot Words to the Reality without fantasy.

th-6  220px-Ulysses_(1967_film_dvd_cover)         220px-Larsvontrierantichristposter

To help understand this, Gammelgaard compares these three factors, Image, Word and Reality, to Borrowmean Rings.

rings_a Three rings are linked together and cannot separate.

rings_b  – another arrangement allows one ring to slide away –       hopfo

Gammelgaard suggests that a fourth ring representing the artist’s Ego may link to the slipped Imagination:


After a trauma the Word might be a working-out of the Real without the intervention of the Imaginary. In a masterpiece, the artist holds it all together

If you need help with this, you know where to go.