Le point de capiton

Point de Capiton or “quilting point” “anchoring point” is the interaction of the signifier and the signified which they are knotted together, fixed and stablized. In the daily symbolic world of discours, the continuous unstable sliding of the signifier is separated from that of the signified. If not with the point de caption, there would not be a fixed position to situate the dissemination of meanings. On those quilting points, the meaning is distributed, disseminated and stablized just like an upholstery button stitching on the material.

“It’s the point of convergence that enables everything that happens in this discourse to be situated retroactively and prospectively.” (Lacan, Seminar III, 267-8)

Lacan has a strong resistance to be categorized as structuralist in the sense that psychoanalysis, although it has stressed on signification process, is not only a problem of linguistic operation. Point de Capiton illustrates a possible materiality of the signifier
that its meaning is resistant to symbolic process. This point can be a signifier entering into the realm of the Real.

Zizek has used the point de capiton to illustrate the operation of ideology. Any particular signifier such as “democracy” or “freedom” could mean very different depended on the situation it is being pinned down. The meanings are disseminated, radicalized or doubled and means more than it should have. A signifier acts more than the function of that signifier but becomes a kind of icon. He argues that freedom can mean free action and non interference of economic decision in right wing while the same signifer may mean the freedom from control of capitalism to the right wing.

It seems that Zizek has used Lacan’s concept to build a political interpretation creatively, but at least we understand that to Lacan this Point is validated by its own materiality. In Hong Kong, the highly sensitive discussion about upcoming election with Anson Chan,
ex-chief secretary joining the run with pro-Beijing Regina Ip, the discussion about election has pinned down our fixed but contradictory meaning of democracy. The discussion of democracy raised a never ending dissemination of the meanings. Its meanings are nothing more than the operation of the master discours, not the signifier itself.

There is no point to keep finding the meaning of the signifier within, but to the encirclement of the externalities of the situation that the signifier is being used and positioned.

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2 thoughts on “Le point de capiton

  1. […] the institution that protects them. Nowhere is the operative ideology more evident than at the two points-de-capiton that bring us here: Interpretation and […]

  2. […] ‘progress’ and ‘community’, and the role these values play–as what Jacques Lacan may term les points de capiton or ‘quilting points’–in joining the material and intellectual ideals of the dominant forces […]

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