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Lacan: The Love of Femininity

 

 

Éric Laurent


Femininity, understood as that which pertains to the feminine object, is precisely what obstructs any Zeitgeist, any spirit of the times. It stumbles upon a description of womanhood. It can only express it in a form that always eludes, escaping the description which, overwhelmed by its object, turns into defamation, as Lacan wrote, dit-fâmmer. Femininity poses a speci? c objection to the spirit of each era. The femininity that Freud encountered was embodied by Queen Victoria, de? ning her era and the end of the long nineteenth century as the Victorian era. The regime of jouissance established under this banner was a mixture of prohibitions, idealiza-tions, and misunderstandings that would provoke Freud’s in-surrection based on a radically new decoding of femininity. Lewis Carroll captured this regime’s irony with sharp wit in his Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, depicting the Queen’s capriciousness as an erratic Terror: “O? with their heads!”


Lacan’s era breaks away from the Victorian one. The emancipation of women facilitated by the carnage of the Great War opens a new era, giving rise to a completely new fi gure of femininity. Attempts were made to name this fi gure as the garçonne, the suff ragette, the fl apper, representing dif-ferent facets of the object that fascinated new loves. When Lacan reaches adulthood, he is contemporary with the vital provocations of Dada, the mad love of the surrealists, Georg-es Bataille’s inner experience, and Zelda’s magnifi cent mad-ness. Lacan’s originality lies in not succumbing to any ide-alization. He remains faithful to the attitude he defi nes in his letter to his father, which Lacan Redivivus has brought to our attention: “My personality consists in absolutely refusing to let my head be fi lled with nonsense. Following the scientifi c method, I fi rst observe what the phenomena are, then I study the laws they obey; only then can I consider modifying them, if it is in my interest.”2 He examines not the idealizations of mad love, but the precise functioning of feminine madness in action. This will be his psychiatric thesis that leads him towards psychoanalysis, as well as his own analysis...

 

 

 

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