Wednesday, October 18, 2006

On Jouissance

"But sometimes desire is not to be conjured away, but appears as here, at the centre of the stage, all too visibly, on the festive board, in the form of a salmon. It is an attractive-looking fish, and if it is presented, as is the custom in restaurants, under a thin gauze, the raising of this gauze creates a similar effect to that which occured at the culmination of the ancient mysteries.

To be the phallus, if only a somewhat thin one. Was not that the ultimate identification with the signifier of desire?"

From Jacques Lacan's "Direction of treatment and principles of its power" in Écrits: A Selection (Tran. Alan Sheridan, 1977), 262.


Anonymous Anonymous:

Well. The ancient mysteries. I already thought yesterday afternoon, where the word Jouissance was in play, that the transported state, the out-of-one's-self ecstasy that was being alluded to throughout that thread, had for me an irreducibly pagan quality. My first reaction was an Hebraistic one, to stay within Arnold's terminology.

I'm not happy to leave it there. I don't care to think of myself as a Puritan, even if for me the ancient mystery, beneath a veil, is the Levitical one, redolent as I think of it of my reading the bible in bed as a pre-teen. And in the holy of holies, at the center of the tabernacle behind many a curtain, entered after purification once a year, by one man, is what? There is no mystery not known to all the people: the ark, the ten commandments, themselves a reproduction by Moses after dashing the God-given ones. No transfiguration, no out-of-body experience, in fact a prayer of intensified self-consciousness.

Pulling in the other direction, a desperate need, is to escape the self. Just now my guide, the one from my own tradition who can speak to me familiarly, my Virgil, is D.H. Lawrence. I'm starting a read of his non-fiction, including the Italian travels where he grappled with this very thing. But I'm not ready to be pulled into the pool just yet.

10/19/2006 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger Marilee Scott:

But jouissance and ecstasy and transcendence and the sublime are all versions of an impossible-to-reach limit. You're always either projecting it forward in fantasy or projecting it backward in memory.

It's interesting that you should bring up the Levitical meaning, in that keeping the holiest thing hidden does indeed have a social organizing purpose. (Burke went off about this in his Essay...Sublime and Beautiful)

10/19/2006 05:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous:

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11/01/2006 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger Marilee Scott:

Oh my! Thanks, Anonymous.

11/04/2006 04:10:00 PM  

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