Tuesday , November 27, 2012
Charles Atlas, still from Turning with Antony and the Johnsons,2004
How We Live Our Bodies in the 21st Century 
A Lacanian Perspective
In the American Presidential campaign, the question of a woman’s right to decide over her body was central and linked to the preoccupations of health politics. Should abortion be excluded from Medicare? Should it be reimbursed? Will women have an effective and substantive right over their bodies with regards to contraception, abortion and births? The question of homosexual marriage and homosexuals’ right to parenthood is now also at the heart of the election. President Obama has spoken in favour of gay marriage and homosexual parenthood, values that are shared by democratic America.
In short, the right over one’s body and one’s sexual identity has become a major element in politics in American society. Argentina has gone further still, legalising the right to change one’s sex, from the first name to the civil status.
There is thus, from the point of view of morals and opinions – and that at a global scale – a disappearance of the old norms reflected in the Freudian Oedipus myth.
How can subjects orient themselves and live their body and sexuality in a world where the weight of opinion, the images on the internet, and other mass communication push towards enjoyment of the subject’s body, his image and his drives without any points of reference?
Medical technology then serves to adjust recalcitrant bodies to each one’s ideal image, through aesthetic surgery, cosmetics and even sex change operations.
Psychoanalysis started when Freud dealt with the hysterics who suffered in their body. Freud was the first to discover the rim between body and language, and that language, when used in a special setting, appeases the suffering body and soul, and that as a reverse, as he put it, “the bodies of the hysterics speak”. Freud gave this rim a name: the unconscious.
How do we nowadays deal with the subjects who no longer have the symbolic markers of Freud’s time at their disposal, but who sufficiently believe in the unconscious to take their body to the analyst’s consulting room (or to his office in an institution) to try out the analytic experience?
How in particular, do we take account of the beyond of the Oedipus, which is to say, the fact that sexual normativity no longer functions as an ideal?