Published on January 28, 2008
Jacques Lacan & Elizabeth Bishop: Jacques Lacan & Elizabeth Bishop Displaced Identities and Love Outline: Outline Summary: Key Ideas General Questions Three Stages of Psychic Development; Mirror Stage ,Questions and Examples Oedipal Stage Gender Difference & Language: Questions Gender Difference Insatiable Desire * Questions: about Lacan’s views of love E. Bishop’s Poetics of Displacement Next week Summary of Key Ideas: Summary of Key Ideas Chap 3: pp. 61-; chap 4 161- (The Unconscious as language and Sexual development) The unconscious is structured like a language. a constantly moving chain of signifiers (sliding of signifying chain. The three-part personality (order): The Real, the Imaginary and the Symbolic, in which we have needs, make demands, and “Desire.” Development and splitting of self –mirror stage, self-Other and subject position, fragmented body. Gendering process (chap 4) and phallus and love: The Name of the Father, General Questions: General Questions Your questions? Your Examples? Do you agree that the Father’s authority is associated with language and interdiction(禁止)? Do you agree that our learning of language is a process of castration and fragmentation (splitting)? And that our desire is drifting from one object to the next, and that ultimately we desire a kind of pre-Oedipal unity? Why are there only ‘signifiers’(意符 [roz]) but not signified (意旨[the concept of rose]) in the unconscious? The orders of human existence: the Imaginary, the Symbolic & the Real: The orders of human existence: the Imaginary, the Symbolic & the Real (chap 3: 62-63; chap 4: 164-65) The Real – pre-linguistic ‘pure plenitude’ (no subject-object distinction); beyond the Symbolic order (cannot be talked about). The imaginary (centering around the Mother) –from bits and pieces to a sense of unity; (mis)recongnition of one’s self through an external image; illusory unity with the mother split from her; fragmentary sense of self The Symbolic (intervention of the Name of the Father) – entry into language (a world of difference) a loss of wholeness, a split in the speaking “I” and spoken “I” The orders of human existence: the Imaginary, the Symbolic & the Real: The orders of human existence: the Imaginary, the Symbolic & the Real The Real – oneness and jouissance (undifferentiated unity of the mother, objects of love, or objet a). The imaginary (the mirror stage) – two together and then separate (Baby and the Mother) The Symbolic – three: the Father, the (M)other, and Self The Mirror Stage: The Mirror Stage (chap 4: 165) The baby (with its fragmentary sense of self) identifies with an external image (of the body in the mirror or through the mother or primary caregiver) have a sense of self (ideal ego). Split: 1) In the self: experiences fragmentation but sees wholeness; 2) From the self: sees loss in the mirror image Split Identity in Language: Split Identity in Language Against Cartesianism (rational consciousness) and humanism (free will). “Unconscious is the language of the Other.” Language speaks us. I think where I am not . . .(Ego alienated, not the center of one’s identity. Ideal ego (mirror image) ego ideal (role model) Review Questions: Review Questions Do you agree that our identity is fragmentary and why? Which of the following do you agree with? "I think, therefore, I am," "Where I think, there I am," or "I think where I am not, therefore I am where I do not think." What are the three phases of psychic development according to Lacan? What is mirror stage? Why is it an important stage in child development? Mirror & Identity: Some examples: Mirror & Identity: Some examples Vanity: In classical paintings & fairy tales (actually it implies patriarchy’s repression of female subjectivity) e.g. Venus at her Mirror by VELÁZQUEZ, Diego Rodriguez de Silva y (b. 1599, Sevilla, d. 1660, Madrid) Uses of Mirror: Some examples: Uses of Mirror: Some examples The return/assertion of the repressed: Alter ego (or double) Mirror image as deeper levels of self, or ideal ego. e.g. 1. 19th century women in Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea (textbook chap 4 166-69) – alter ego e.g. 2. chap 4 (176-77)The Awakening; “The Yellow Wallpaper” Mother and Daugher in The Piano Uses of Mirror: Some examples: Uses of Mirror: Some examples 3. Looking at the mirror: changing one’s ideal ego or discovering one’s selves. (Piano/French Lieutenant’s Woman) Mirror Image & Double: extensions: Mirror Image & Double: extensions We—esp. women-- are always conscious of our mirror images, or looking for screen images for self-identification. What’s projected on the mirror: The Other, either ideal ego or the repressed. e.g. Jane/Antoinette; movie stars as the phallic symbol The magical and the “uncanny”? “Mirror, Mirror on the wall” psychological roots: the strangest // the most familiar (homely, unhomely) The Oedipal Stage and the Symbolic Order: The Oedipal Stage and the Symbolic Order Second-stage split desire for the mother sublimated into desire for the unattainable “Other” Recognize the Name of the Father. (textbook chap 3: 63; chap 4: 164) Language as a system of difference (with no essential or unchanged meanings) (chap 4: p. 171-73; e.g. “woman” =femininity, fertility, lady, …etc.—all signifiers) the signified get repressed beyond recognition S-ier ------ S-ied The self, the other, the Other(Lacan’s Schema L –revision of F’s triangle): The self, the other, the Other (Lacan’s Schema L –revision of F’s triangle) Imaginary relation The unconscious 2. Interactions of different forces in the psyche 1. From The Mirror Stage to Oedipal stage and after the Other: the Other The Other is embodied in the figure of the symbolic father. Its major signifier: the phallus . . . stands for language and the conventions of social life organized under the category of the law. (source) (different from “the [feminine] Other”—which is the feminine space on the margin or outside of the Symbolic– Cf. chap. 4.) II. Questions: II. Questions Why is gender definition slippery? What is phallus to Lacan? Why is it “transcendental signifier”? Do you agree our desire centers around “being” or “having” phallus? Why is the unconscious structured like language? Causes of Gender Fluidity and Unstable Self: Slippery Chain of Signification: Causes of Gender Fluidity and Unstable Self: Slippery Chain of Signification Meaning of a sign is not in it; rather, it resides in its difference from the other signs. (textbook chap 3: 62; chap 4: 169) Sign = signifier (form) + signified (concept; usu. more than one) To determine its meaning（黃﹚, we need to look at its context (its differences from and relation to the signs around it 黃帝、黃禍、黃狗). Transcendental signifier: absolute sign whose meaning(s) does not change in its context; who fixes the chain of signification. (chap 4: 173) Gender Difference: Gender Difference Lacan’s analogy of the restroom signs: (chap 4: 171-72) Arbitrary meaning structure determine gender difference Slippery chain 3. It speaks man Phallus vs. Woman as Other: Phallus vs. Woman as Other (chap 4: 172-73) In the Symbolic Order, phallus = wholeness and power; wholeness hole, in fact, nobody owns the phallus/power. Women as Lack, or ‘Other’ which can move outside of language and be in “jouissance” (transgressive pleasure) the unconscious-- structured like language: the unconscious-- structured like language supported by F’s view of repression (ideas repressed as codes) evidence from Freud’s language of Dream (condensation, displacement, symbolization); S/s : / = the barrier between the conscious and the unconscious, which resists being represented; / = the phallus. We are conditioned by the Symbolic order. movement of our desire –like metonymy. (Cf. chap 4: 172) Insatiable Desire: Need, Demand, and Desire (1): Insatiable Desire: Need, Demand, and Desire (1) (chap 3: 62) A child develops from need to demand and desire.// its movement from the Real, to the Imaginary and Symbolic. Need – requirements for brutal survival. (e.g. biological need for milk) absence of the mother the baby’s social, imaginary and linguistic functions evolve. Effects of the three orders: Need, Demand, and Desire (2): Effects of the three orders: Need, Demand, and Desire (2) Demand: need formulated in language (with meanings; e.g. need for breast as good or bad). -- Demand has two objects: one spoken, the other unspoken. -- verbalization of imaginary subject-object, self-other relations. 66 (Grosz pp. 59 - 67) Desire: primally repressed wishes [for unity with the Mother or for self-confirmation] reappear in and as unconscious desire. -- insatiable; characterized by lack. (Grosz pp. 59 - 67) Desire: expressed as: Desire: expressed as Demand of Different Objects (e.g. pacifier, receiving blanket, the mother’s handkerchief, etc.) The conflict or gap between one’s demand and need. The connection of the desired object and the demanded: metonymic connection = whole and parts, or continguity (鄰近). Questions III: Questions III Lacan thinks that both our desire and demand (for love) are insatiable, because there is always an otherness to it which cannot be represented in language, or because we ultimately desire an impossible unity with the lover/Mother. Do you agree? Lacan’s Views of Love (1): a Mirage to Hide the Impossible: Lacan’s Views of Love (1): a Mirage to Hide the Impossible Why is there love? Because there is no sexual relationship. Love is the mirage that fills out the void of the impossibility of the relationship between the two sexes. Why impossible? Unity with the other and in one’s self. Demand = a demand for the unity of the self and the other “Love consists in a series of …demands for the proof of the other’s commitment. The proofs sought from the other are impossible, imaginary tests of love.” (G 132) The obstacles of love is actually internal, a fact which courtly or romantic lovers cannot face. Lacan’s Views of Love (1): the Impossible: Lacan’s Views of Love (1): the Impossible Examples: Woman: conflict between being a sexual object and a subject demanding recognition. As a sexual object, she “paints/shaves/dyes/diets/exercises her body, and clearly derives pleasure from compliments about her looks. Her whole body becomes a phallus to compensate for a genital ‘deficiency.’ (G 133) As subject, she ‘demands’ the man, his attention, affections, and his capacity to give her identity… Lacan’s Views of Love (1): the Impossible: Lacan’s Views of Love (1): the Impossible Examples: Man: conflict between desire and affection. When desiring a woman, he “explores, conquers and appreciates” her enigma as a phallus, which, once unveiled, is a lack and confronts the man with his own castration. After a period of familiarity, the mystery is gone and the sexual partner becomes more an object of affection than of desire. The man then turns to another woman for her recognition of his having a phallus. Note: Having phallus and being phallus, places in the circuit of exchange. Lacan’s Views of Love (2): paradoxical fulfillment : Lacan’s Views of Love (2): paradoxical fulfillment For Lacan, love’s sublime moment occurs when the beloved enacts the metaphor of love, when he substitutes his position of the lover for that of the beloved object and starts to act in the same way the lover has so far acted. . . .it occurs when the beloved returns love by giving what he does not have. Beloved, realizing the real object-cause of the other’s love does not reside in me beloved object (metonymy; what he does not have; lack) can only return “love” (Bozovic 69; 77) Elizabeth Bishop : Elizabeth Bishop A victim of her loss & displacement, Or one who is able to turn it into art? Elizabeth Bishop: A Life of Displacement : Elizabeth Bishop: A Life of Displacement Displacement in Life: born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1911; her father was dead when she was 8 months old, and her mother institutionalized when she was five. Spent her childhood in Nova Scotia with her grandparents; (clip: 13:40) Forced to move to Boston, MA to live with her paternal grandparents. Later rescued by her aunt. Bishop traveled extensively in Europe and lived in New York, Key West, Florida, and, for sixteen years, in Brazil Ref. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SJEylT-4GI 2:50; 5:24 “In the Village” –the scream: “In the Village” –the scream A scream, the echo of a scream, hangs over that Nova Scotian village. No one hears it; it hangs there forever, a slight stain in those pure blue skies, skies that travelers compare to those of Switzerland, too dark, too blue, so that they seem to keep on darkening a little more around the horizon-or is it around the rims of the eyes?-the color of the cloud of bloom on the elm trees, the violet on the fields of oats; something darkening over the woods and waters as well as the sky. The scream hangs like that, unheard, in memory-in the past, in the present, and those years between. It was not even loud to begin with, perhaps. It just came there to live, forever-not loud, just alive forever. Its pitch would be the pitch of my village. Flick the lightening rod on top of the church steeple, with your fingernail and you will hear it. Elizabeth Bishop: Style : Elizabeth Bishop: Style Highly crafted Displacement as a major theme. e.g. “One Art” (clip: 11:50) and “Sestina” objectifying her losses and turn them into recognizable aesthetic forms (repetition, sestina, metaphor and metonymy). aestheticization or distanciation as a way of displacement. This displacement is actively done, but not permanent. e.g. the scream “Flick the lighting on top of the church steeple with your fingernail and you will hear it.” Cf. textbook (pp. 39 - ) Elizabeth Bishop: a Psychoanalytic Reading : Elizabeth Bishop: a Psychoanalytic Reading Cf. textbook (pp. 39 - ) distance and absence disturbs “the child’s sense of boundaries between subjectivity interiority and objective exteriority, so that many of the child’s observations are characterized by crossings—of perceptual and actual realms, of modes, of being, of metaphoric qualities… Displacement works along a “metonymic pathway” From displacement to self-healing e.g. “Sestina” images of pain, human interactions and transformation of these images? Sestina: Sestina Sestina: six elements changing positions—house, grandmother, child, stove, almanac, tears. Metaphoric/metonymic chains grandma’s: tears equinoctial(晝夜平分時的 ) tears almanac tea as dark brown tears; [moons fall like tears] sings to the stove (besides housekeeping) Child’s: teakettle’s small tears Marvel Stove rigid house, a man with buttons like tears [moons fall like tears] inscrutable house Red Stove and Flowers The inscription: May the Future's Happy Hours /Bring you Beans & Rice & Flowers / April 27th, 1955 / Elizabeth. “In the Waiting Room” : “In the Waiting Room” What kind of identity is constructed by this a six-year-old girl? How does she establish her identity? What do the images of volcano and African natives, as well as all the other images on National Geographic mean to her? How about the adults around her? And her aunt? What is the “big black wave” she is sliding beneath? “In the Waiting Room” : “In the Waiting Room” Thesis: the poem records the speaker’s uncertain entry into society (and its symbolic order) as a one marginalized because of her gender and her insecurity. Not sure about her self; (too shy to stop; dare not look at herself, cannot look higher); simultaneous self-identification and self-questioning Three-stage identification: internalize the aunt’s pains; Unable to identify with “the phallus” or symbols of power—boots, trousers, hands. Objects of identification—her aunt and hanging breasts “In the Waiting Room” : “In the Waiting Room” The self-construction is uncertain and retains traces of the maternal Other moving from the exterior to the interior, pushed back to the exterior only to get back in; Moving between social order and the black wave Social order represented by Clear demarcation of place and time; clothing and boots, Lamps and magazines; Social hierarchy implied in the magazine; The black wave Unnamed; Close to the darkness and coldness outside “In the Waiting Room” : “In the Waiting Room” traces of the maternal Other displaced by the social and historical world. Signs of the maternal: The aunt in the clinic; her voice heard (scream)—a voice that could have got louder and worse Family voice black wave vs. what’s seen by Elizabeth and the date of the first World War Martin & Osa Johnson : Martin & Osa Johnson movies of Africa, Borneo, and the South Seas Reference: Reference Elizabeth Grosz Jacque Lacan: A Feminist Introduction The Other (with a big O) http://www.mii.kurume-u.ac.jp/~leuers/Lacother.htm Lacan and Love New Formations 23 (1994). Next Week: Next Week Wide Sargasso Sea (excerpt) by Jean Rhys Re-read chaps 3 & 4 for quiz 1 (due before class).