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Is What You Want Something You Can Discuss?

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Abstract

Be forewarned. This is all going to end very badly, and with a horrible play on words, a play perhaps all the more horrible for being indebted to a few notorious Lacanian slogans but intended to reveal what Lacan considers horrible, even fatal, about words themselves: namely, the way they sustain themselves by murdering what they name (Lacan writes that the linguistic symbol “first manifests itself as the killing of the thing, and this death results in the endless perpetuation of the subject’s desire” [Écrits 262]), and, correspondingly, the way they endlessly perpetuate desire and impel us to play our parts (at least in part) by forbidding us “to play” (Lacan writes that “jouissance is prohibited to whoever speaks, as such” [Écrits 696]). The word jouissance (from the French jouir, which means “to play,”or “to come”) signifies in Lacanese no simple pleasure but rather an excessive “form of enjoyment so intense as to be barely distinguishable from suffering and pain” (Dean, Beyond Sexuality 271), a self-shattering sexual ecstasy cum trauma that signification itself both prohibits to the speaking subject and protects that subject from ever “really” experiencing, ever directly experiencing as (or in the) real. For Lacan, that is, the signifier “saves” the subject from encountering “the traumatic real of sex” (Beyond 109), but at the same time the very imperative to signify—emerging as language’s law, scissoring word from thing—cuts or tears whomever speaks as such out of the formless fabric of immediately lived experience and “verifies the structure of the subject as a discontinuity with the real” (Ecrits 678). In this sense, making “symbolic” sense allows the subject to take its “meaningful” (i.e., properly sexuated) place in social “reality” but also makes making or being in “real” love impossible.

Keywords

Meta Phor Sexual Relation Front Door Symbolic Order Queer Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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© Calvin Thomas 2008

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