The Abyss of Mind and Matter: Sexuality on its Edge


Vortrag von Juliet Flower MacCannell, Irvine/KalifornienLacan elegantly distilled Freud’s extensive studies of how the erotic body is built this way: «Language – the word implies it – carves up [the] body.»[1] The resulting mutilated body is no longer animal in character, but instead re-shaped by a non-natural, non-organic logic.[2] Natural satisfaction lost to this ‘language’ does not stay banished; it returns to haunt the body in phantom form, as fantasies of a satisfaction exceeding the limits of any possible natural satisfaction. Hyperenergized appetites return as unconscious drives that settle in to the areas we delimit as the erogenous zones: the edges, the rims of a body’s natural apertures, its openings, its holes.
But this is, after all, Lacan’s distillation of Freud, and lacks the incredible richness of Freud’s long journey of understanding. Some Lacanians simply accept his dictum reductively, assuming ‘language’ is just shorthand for the symbolic order imposed over and regulating the natural, animal body. But they forget that Lacan, who was deeply faithful to Freud, used ‘language’ not as an abstract system of grammar and rhetoric, or rules of order, but as a system of «signs» that cannot be detached, as Saussure put it, from their social context: Saussurean linguistics we should not forget was for him «the science of signs in society.»
Let us instead treat Lacan’s dictum not as the final word, but as a new beginning, a clue that re-opens access to the immense fertility of Freud’s original insight into what spurs the fantasies of the infantile imagination. Let us follow precisely how Freud locates the process of structuring the infant’s consciousness – and its unconscious, and thus its erotic body – in its social, symbolic surroundings – the human space into which it is born. Already in The Project (1895), Freud demonstrated that the Aufbau of the mind begins with the infant’s apprehension of das Nebenmensch: the neighbor, the surround, the setting. There must be some Other, some Thing, the Mother, that is contiguous to the infant to set off the process of mentation. We will also look at Freud’s «Infantile Sexuality» (1905), his «Formulations on the Twin Principles of Mental Functioning» (1911) and finally, a much-neglected essay on «Civilized’ Sexual Morality and Modern Nervousness,» (1908).
MacCannell, Juliet Flower, Prof. em. Für Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft an der University of California, Irvine sowie Honorary Fellow an der School of Advanced Study, Institut für Germanistik und Romanistik, Universität London. Derzeitige Schwerpunkte zum Beispiel in den Bereichen psychoanalytischer Theorie und Politik, «räumlicher» Psychoanalyse, Krieg und Kapitalismus. Ausgewählte Publikationen: The Hysteric’s Guide to the Future Female Subject (2000), The Regime of the Brother (1991), Figuring Lacan: Criticism and The Cultural Un-conscious (1986), und, gemeinsam mit Dean MacCannell, The Time of the Sign (1982).
Der Vortrag wird auf Englisch gehalten. Eine deutsche Zusammenfassung wird aufliegen.

[1] (Television, p. 6)

[2] The animal enjoyment lost to such carving returns to haunt the body, not in natural, but in phantom form, attaching itself to areas delimited as erogenous zones.