The Other is always lacking

Having made the point that we can only know the other person through the order of the symbolic, that is to say within practices of language, it is important to stress that for Lacan the symbolic order, the Other, is always lacking. When we enter the symbolic we lose something of our being, something of our pre-symbolic existence. Language can never quite capture what we want to express.

Art in Education: Identity and Practice, Dennis Atkinson (2002), p117, my emphasis.



According to Saussure, meaning is possible…because of the difference between linguistic signifiers which can be combined in the process of signification to form meaning. Derrida drew on this idea but also combined it with the idea of deferral, that is to say, with the idea that meaning is never final.

Art in Education: Identity and Practice Dennis Atkinson (2002), p44, my italics.

‘You can’t fence anything with wings’

In keeping with the nature of creative experience, art-based research may sometimes encourage immersion in the uncertainties of experience, ‘finding’ a personally fulfilling path of inquiry, and the emergence of understanding through an often unpredictable process of exploration.

Art-Based Research, Shaun McNiff (1998) p15

Title – ibid. p17


The world of our experience is, indeed, continually and endlessly coming into being around us as we weave. If it has a surface, it is like the surface of a basket: it has no ‘inside’ or ‘outside’. Mind is not above, nor nature below; rather, if we ask where mind is, it is in the weave of the surface itself.

The Perception of the Environment: Essays in livelihood, dwelling and skill, Tim Ingold, 2000