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From a Hierarchy of Desires to an Equivalence of Jouissances. Perversion and Perversity in Contemporary Love. Perversion Since Freud?

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Perversion in the 21st Century: A Psychoanalytic Conundrum. Queer Theory, Sexual Difference and Perversion. Neither Loss nor Mourning, but Perversion. Perversion and Sublimation. The Piano Teacher. Narratives of Perversion in the Time of the Psychoanalytic Clinic. Back Matter Pages Topical and controversial, academics and students of psychoanalysis, critical and cultural theory, and media studies will find this collection invaluable. In providing cutting edge theoretical debate, the book will also be attractive to practising and training psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists.

For example, he is able to throw off the punning baggage of Irish-English. And here, when he translates back into English, there are often many more puns in the text : there is no "bone to pick with graveyards" at the start of Premier Amour. Yet at the same time the Christianity of Dublin, in altered form, continues to pervade these texts. Like Belacqua in More Pricks than Kicks the narrator here thinks that he is outside Christian discourse.

Unlike Belacqua, there is some for his so thinking. In "First Love" he meditates on burial and is able to wittily dismantle the Christian rhetoric surrounding death :. And nearly always that charming business with the dust, though in my experience there is nothing less dusty than holes of this type, verging on muck for the most part, nor anything particularly powdery about the deceased, unless he happened to have died, or she, by fire.

No matter, their little gimmick with the dust is charming The untying of this rhetoric is accomplished with great ease, the narration takes it in its stride. Yet it is just this unselfconscious ease.

The 16th century

Near the beginning of "The Expelled", after the narrator has been thrown out of an unspecified public institution, his hat is returned to him : "They were most correct, according to their god. They could have kept this hat, but it was not theirs, it was mine, so they gave it back to me. I left the matches, they were not mine. There are numerous other examples in Four Novellas of this kind of reduplication of the minutiae of Christian discourse by one who at first sight seems outside it, and it would be tiresome to mention them all.

Here are some examples :. I must have read somewhere, when I was small and still read, that it is better not to look back when leaving It is important, here, to remember that the narrator is never describing actual events as they happened but is inventing his stories - the process of narration is constantly foregrounded - thus here, again, his discourse is constituted by Christianity. More importantly, however, beyond such minutiae, these novellas expose whole networks of discourse, models of self- and world which, often taken as divided from or even opposed to Christianity, turn out to have profound connections with it.

One of these is Marxism. Never explicitly dealt with again by Beckett, it is worth quoting the appropriate section at length :. One day I witnessed a strange scene For some time past a sound had been scarifying me. I did not investigate the cause, for I said to myself, It's going to stop.

French literature - The 16th century |

But as it did not stop I had no choice but to find out the cause. It was a man perched on the roof of a car haranguing the. That at least was my interpretation. He was bellowing so loud that snatches of his discourse reached my ears. It was all Greek to me All of a sudden he turned and pointed at me, as at an exhibit. Look at this down and out, he vociferated, this leftover. If he doesn't go down an all fours, it's for fear of being impounded. Old, lousy, rotten, ripe for the muckheap.

And there are a thousand like him, worse than him, ten thousand, twenty thousand -. A voice, Thirty Thousand. Every day you pass them by, resumed the orator, and when you have backed a winner you fling them a farthing. Do you ever think? The voice, God forbid It never enters your head Take a good look at this living corpse. You may say it's his own fault. Ask him if it's his own fault.

The voice, Ask him yourself. Then he bent forward and took me to task Do you hear me, you crucified bastard! Then I went away He must have been a religious fanatic. I could find no other explanation. Perhaps he was an escaped lunatic. He had a nice face, a little on the red side As the narrator observes, this man, "a little on the red side", is performing just like a lay preacher, the young Ian Paisley say 25 : "He must have been a religious fanatic. Similarly, Beckett's Marxist exhibits a neo-Christian sense of hierarchy which places man intelligent being above the brute.

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Reference to animality is made with detestation : "If he doesn't go down on all fours, it's for fear of being impounded. Krapp meditates on a bench by the weir in the minutes following his mother's death :. All over and done with, at last. I sat on for a few moments with the ball in my hand and the dog yelping and pawing at me. Her moments, my moments. The dog's moments If this is funny — which it is — this is because of the erosion of that hierarchy which would exclude the dog's moments ; a hierarchy which is here present only as a shadow by dint of the second pause.

Beckett's suggestions here are in line with the thought of the Rumanian anthropologist Mircea Eliade who, in The Myth of the Eternal Return, also proposes that there are deep connections between Marxism and Christianity. And both, in the final analysis, require faith. Finally, the Beckett passage wonderfully captures the Marxist attitude to suffering : this is never arbitary, never an accident, but is a direct result of International Capitalism.

If one fails to see the truth of Marxism suffering is what results. Any move against or in ignorance of Marxism — such as the narrator's in accepting charity, which is in turn an acceptance of the status quo — comes to be seen as producing suffering. We can get a good idea of just how far some Marxists are prepared to take this argument by considering Raymond Williams' Modern Tragedy.

The book begins with Williams meditating on everyday suffering, the "accident", such as "a mining disaster, a burned-out family Such events, Williams observes, are omitted from the conventional bourgeois idea of the tragic and his own more inclusive notion of this ultimately stresses the need to see tragedy as revolutionary : one moves through suffering — not bourgeois "tragic" suffering but the everyday unremarkable evils committed against the working citizen — to a new society, one where the capitalist production of suffering will be eliminated.

But how can "a smash on the road" be eliminated in this kind of way? This supposition that the Marxist Way can banish suffering altogether is idealistic. It is quite unlike Beckett's treatment of suffering.

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Beckett — as we have seen in our analysis of "Dante and the Lobster" — attributes much suffering to Christianity. Yet at the same time it is crucial to stress that, for Beckett, there are two kinds of suffering : that which is produced, and that which is natural. That created by language is, of course, of this former kind — this, at least potentially, can be removed. Yet there are other modes of suffering, limits we must put up with, which cannot be removed ; we are trapped in the body, for example : like a clown and the plank, man has his aspirations but the universe is intractable to these.

Similarly, we're on earth : there's no cure for that. It is crucial to be aware of these two kinds of suffering. Ultimately, Marxism's self-appointed authority in the field of suffering, its use of suffering, properly understood, is very close to Christianity's interpretation : suffering as the result of sin, caused, in other words, by an infringement of God's will. Any infringement of the teleological goal of Christianity results in suffering.

Similarly, any infringement of the teleological goal of Marxism results in suffering. Beckett, in places, tries to carve out a space for suffering where it is beyond use, where it simply is. The following from M alone Dies, coming after a passage where McMann has been entangled in the vicious circle created by the Christian idea of suffering as sin "And it was often in fear and trembling that he suffered, saying, This will cost me dear 29 " , illustrates the point :.

And just as an hour before he had pulled up his sleeves the better to clutch the grass, so now he pulled them up again the better to feel the rain pelting down on his palms And in the midst of his suffering, for one does not remain so long in such a position without being incommoded, he began to wish that the rain would never cease, nor consequently his sufferings or pain, for the cause of his pain was almost certainly the rain, recumbency in itself not being particularly unpleasant, as if there existed a relation between that which suffers and that which causes to suffer.

For the rain could cease without his ceasing to suffer, just as he could cease to suffer without the rain's ceasing on that account McMann enjoys this because suffering seems to be caused just by the rain, and seems entirely disconnected from the network of Christian discourse. And in the final sentence even this causality is called into question : a self-contained, liberating, free-floating suffering emerges.

Beckett and the Bible. Beckett's last published play "What Where" is, on first encounter, one of his most baffling. Yet there are several clues to interpretation which, once followed, begin to open things up. Barn's voice "V" comes from a megaphone outside the main scene of action and, as far as it can, directs and controls that action. And if any voice in the play approaches omniscience it is this — Barn's voice.

Might we connect this voice "V" with the voice of God? Clearly one has to be careful when making such identifications in Beckett — an interviewer enquiring about the identity of Godot was referred to a French cyclist of the same name — yet here the identification if not with God at least with what the world for a long time has taken God for seems justified and necessary.

There are other clues which support this : the voice of Bam is the voice of approval, uttering the word "good" "and God said that it was good" thirteen times in the play, and is also the controller of light "And God said, Let there be light : and there was light". Further, these clues suggest that the scene is connected with the creation.

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Yet how does this tally with the play's opening line "We are the last five"? What I would suggest is that the play takes place at the scene of the creation, in Eden in other words is inscribed within the Genesis story , but that it is not simply a retelling of this as in Ted Hughes' Crow, for example but that we have moved back there ; we are presented with the last five people on earth, and God's task is to prevent the end of his world, to start the creation all over again.

In the play Bam a being of flesh and blood, not to be confused with "V", the voice of Bam, whom I shall also take to be a god-like figure : God's earthly incarnation if you like successively sends earth's remaining inhabitants. What are "the works"? We don't know, but various possibilities suggest themselves : Beckett's own work, "the works" as a routine of torture, and most obviously perhaps, God's own work, his creation. Bam, then, sends the other characters off stage to see God's creation - it's significant that the scene of God's creation is placed offstage by Beckett as if, as in an Aeschylus tragedy, it were some horror which our eyes should not be subjected to - and what Bam wants to extort from the characters is a name.

Before the creation can really get underway again Adam's act of naming must be repeated. I'd like now to look at some of these "naming" scenes in greater detail. Here is the second of them where Bam sends off Bim to give Bom the works :. Take him away and give him the works until he confesses. As in the joke "Constantinople is a very long word, how do you spell it? Once the "what" is extracted, naming will have taken place, and the creation can run its course. But the effect of literalization, as in the Constantinople joke, threatens, for God, of course, cannot produce the referent himself : all depends on his creatures' willingness, and ability, to name, to play the creation game.

For if this is Eden, the scene of the creation, the "it" doesn't refer to anything outside itself unless Bim comes back with a referent — and here is the. If the referent is not supplied God's works will have been dismantled. When Bim later returns, without the desired referent, he is accused of lying like his predecessors. Bam is sure that he does know. The following passage is particularly revealing :.

When Bim asks "Where? It's the first time the word "where" appears in the play, and Bim wonders what Bam is getting at. They think they've caught Bim off his guard and found an indication that he knows the desired referent, the "what", the "where", and so he will be sent off for torture in his turn. In short, God gives us our fears, our guilts : the most powerful image of this in the play being, simply, the fusion in the words "the works" of God's creation and the round of torture we see enacted.

The concept of "mercy" evoked by Bam, and other words like "hope" are also instilled in us by God. In relation to the latter it's worth noting Beckett's translation of Sebastien Chamfort's maxim :.

Hope is a knave befools us evermore, Which till I lost no happiness was mine. I strike from Hell's to grave on heaven's door : All hope abandon ye who enter in There's a perfectly serious suggestion here, or so it seems to me, that any real heaven would be, precisely, hope-less. Before we can be in any way free, there's a need to abandon the kind of false hope God would have pinned on heaven's door, and stare the world as we see it in the face.

It's this kind of abandoning of hope that I imagine to be central to the experience of those taken off-stage to be given "the works". If they're being subjected to torture they can't fail to see how this suggests that if they supply the desired referent and let the creation go ahead God will only repeat his past cruelties : the sodomites will be killed with hails of rocks from heaven, the world will be flooded and only Noah saved, Job will be made to suffer as a proof of God's powerfulness.

Seeing this, they abandon hope in God, choosing rather to follow the advice of Job's wife : curse God and die. Finally, then, despite "V'VGod's efforts Ah! You know the referent , God's creatures refuse to repeat Adam's act : it's the "I. And the same goes for the play's title "What Where". The obvious question — and as we have seen it is God's question — is what "what"? What "where"? Yet the action of the play keeps the emptiness of the title — an emptiness which is threatened by God, just as literalization threatens God's plentitude — intact.

What we are left with is a void, the void of the opening of Genesis, and it's a void which represents a freedom from God. The possibility of freedom is usually evoked ironically in Beckett "The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. Murphy sat out of it as if he were free.

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Ultimately, however — and this is one of the triumphs of the play — Beckett's characters, in not naming, in refusing to repeat Adam's act, do show themselves to be free. The function of the word, a referential function, is removed a language, we might note, needs at least two units before it can make sense e.

Wordlessness may be the goal of the play but, this being a goal which must be endlessly deferred, the profoundly anti-theological activity of Beckett's text is to be found in the way it uses or, better, doesn't use language. If at times in Beckett it's as if all language comes from God, what should be stressed, finally, is that it is in and through language that the resistance to God can best be forged. And "What Where", I think, latches on to that point in Genesis, the "naming", where language is least controlled by God.

As Beckett once put it : "it is explicity stated that the choice of names was left entirely to Adam, so that there is not. That is, the text has no core of meaning, all its meanings are on the surface, to be picked up and "run" by the reader. Another way of putting this might be to say that here the kind of process described by Roland Barthes in his essay "From Work to Text" is enacted — the use of the word "work" in "What Where" seems especially to invite the comparison.

That is, language is used in such a way that "Over against the traditional notion of the work, for long — and still — conceived of in a, so to speak, Newtonian way, there is now a new object, obtained by the sliding or overturning of former categories. That object is the text Why should the word be identified with the thing, with the grass, with the object that it signifies? Is the thing master of the word? The word is a Psyche. The living word does not signify an object, but freely chooses, as though for a dwelling place, this or that objective materiality, some beloved body.

And around the thing the word hovers freely, like a soul around the body that has been abandoned but not forgotten Abandoned but not forgotten. The "body" may not be "beloved" for Beckett, but one thing which it's crucial to notice about "What Where" and we might, I think, say the same of Worstward Ho — again, a kind of decreation is that Beckett is working within a framework which comes from God : the story of Genesis. As with the encounter with Dante we have looked at, Beckett dismantles the discourses of by the use of the language of that heritage itself.

The Poetics of Perversion. In a letter of Beckett asked : "is literature alone to remain behind in the old lazy ways that have been so long ago abandoned by music and painting? Is there something paralysingly holy in the vicious nature of the word that is not found in the elements of the other arts 37? Yet the force of Beckett's writing is such that this paralyzing holiness of the word is punctured. Christianity, in other words, is resisted in and through words, the way in which Beckett writes being the centre of any anti-theological activity.

It is thus that we see the inseparable connection, in Beckett's. It is for this reason that so much of Beckett's writing is, on one level, about its own coming into being : think of the reference to Beckett's own "work" in "What Where" ; the way in which, throughout the Trilogy, the motion of a pen moving across paper — one which, in the end, is held by Beckett himself — is continually foregrounded. In "What Where", as we have seen, the word "work" suggests Beckett's own work but also, and predominantly, refers in the first instance to God's "works".

It is only after these meanings have been taken away and after we have moved from "work" to "text" that Beckett's own "work" text comes into being. For Beckett, the possibility of writing and the possibility of dismantling the Word are one. Hence Beckett's work can best be described as a "poetics of perversion" where "perversion" is precisely the opposite of "conversion". The Bible tells us : "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord Your God which I command you This, I think, is crucial to a full understanding of Beckett's poetics.

In Dante and Proust, as in Beckett, the goal of the work is also inseparable from the writing. In Dante, the journey of the soul towards God is tied in with the voyage to the point from which writing can begin. In Proust, while we are given a portrait of the artist's own life, the story of his own life, it is one of the most striking features of A la recherche du temps perdu that this life does't exist until the work is written. Proust, as it were, writes himself towards full consciousness of self, the self is discovered in the writing.

In both cases, Proust's and Dante's, we say that the writer comes into fullness of being with the writing of the work. And the reader too knows more about himself, or herself, having read the work. As Proust puts it :. In reality every reader is, while he is reading, the reader of his own self. The writer's work is merely a kind of optical instrument which he offers to the reader to enable him to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have perceived in himself Now, with Beckett, quite a different process is at work. Just as words, for Beckett, are hazardous not because they are "meaningless" but because they mean too much, so identity seems to be overdetermined.

Beckett comes from a strong Christian family and environment, and his own life, at times, seems the very image of a scene from the Old Testament : turning his back on his family and a promising academic career ; escaping from the Gestapo by a matter of minutes ; knifed outside his own flat in Paris. The effect of Beckett's writing, its completion, the completion of each individual work, far from bringing the writer to a fullness of selfhood, entails the loss of selfhood.

Just as "What Where" entails a diminishing of the wor l d, so the movement of the writing, in terms of selfhood the most obvious paradigm in the novels is the second part of Molloy , is one of loss. And this goes for the reader too. A journey away from "identity" rather than towards it : not a poetics with a goal, not, like Dante's, a "poetics of conversion" to use Freccero's phrase : a poetics of perversion. What matter who's speaking, someone said what matter who's speaking. That Belacqua remains oppressed, and that this oppression has much to do with an unexpressed hostility, is suggested by the way he sears the wallpaper with the toaster : "This was hooliganism pure and simple.

What the hell did he care? Was it his wall? Hooliganism, more often than not, is a displaced act of violence, precipitated by the inability to express a genuine hostility in a direction which would act directly against the oppressor. Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, trans. Sheridan, Harmonds worth, , 3. One of the pictures reproduced in Discipline and Punish shows a subjected prisoner, in his cell, kneeling at prayer before a central inspection tower — which more than hints at the deep connection between the offended state, and God.

In "Love and Lethe" he makes a suicide pact with Ruby — suicide is forbidden by God — yet just at the crucial moment, as Belacqua puts it : "the finger of God" an obscene pun is intended steps in : they make love instead. Again, Belacqua is sad as a result : post coitum Spivak, London, , xviii. Josipovici, London, , Graver and Federman, London, , Note Beckett's translation of Apollinaire's "Zone".

In this poem cars seem old, but Christianity that which some might say the C20th has finished with is new : it still has a strong and insidious control over life which prevents the narrator and others from living.