They had just made love. Kichi returns from the bathroom. Sada takes him in her hand and says,
—As soon as you finish you are ready to start again—
Who is Sada talking to, her look certainly not directed toward Kichi but to “whom” she holds in her hand? Kichi answers,
—It is as if he was yours—
Kichi’s part-body detaching, Sada finds the image of what she desires in the body of whom she loves. Yet the part that gets detached is not just any part. What gets detached, already an image, is the phallus—an image of the penis—still a signifier, a lack. “The organ actually invested with this signifying function takes on the value of a fetish.”1 Says Sada,
—Yes, he’s mine… Tell me why that it always becomes so hard so quickly?—
She may want to deprive him of what he has, but what she really wants is that it be her own…again she wants it to be herself…she wants to be the phallus—a feminine one. But that part also enjoys, much as the subjects resulting from the copulation of the signifiers enjoy. “A kiss they call it,”2 Says Kichi,
—Because it is really you who desires it—
Who is you? The desiring you, made out into a craving geisha, may well allude to Lacan’s supposed Other, Sada relating to the signifier of that Other when saying,
—I want it again—
The very dramatic issue in The Realm of the Senses3 is the fact that it is a true story. Sada is a prostitute and now she works at an inn where Kichi is the owner, the headman and her boss. They get involved in a love affair and have to run away from Kichi’s wife in order to live their passion. A breathless passion, at the outmost point of infatuation Sada will strangle Kichi after his own instructions. —If you start don’t stop in the middle, it hurts too much. Once dead she will cut out his penis and testicles. The movie ends with Sada wondering in a park, out of her mind, the parts still bleeding within her hands and fingers.
Lacan comments on the movie, this is 1977. He walked out dumbfounded. Pondering over the power of Japanese culture, he points to feminine eroticism pushed to such an extreme: Woman in her fantasm wants to kill man. And the case with Sada is that she didn’t get enough by doing so. She kills Kichi and still wants more. Now Lacan asks himself, why did she have to cut him up after killing him, how come she didn’t do it before? Thus he will finally conclude about the incident in the movie that castration is not the fantasm.
What is castration in this context? Contradictorily, what is the case with criminal fantasy when it comes to immolate woman? Offense somehow assigned to the signifier, “…a woman can but be excluded by the nature of things, which is the nature of words;”4 let’s say that Willem de Kooning paints the ramble of her mutilation and Jacques Lacan will tell the story.
De Kooning’s series of paintings Woman 1, Woman 2… fairly depict the process by which Lacan’s woman is systematically dismembered as she gets deprived of yet another part. So she reaches the point of annihilation. Formerly the love object—obscure cause of the desire—a lost object, she’ll walk throughout seminar XX in a not-whole, nonexistent apparel. Again she will at once be the symptom, and so will the analyst.
But what is it to be the symptom where it partakes of the cause of the desire? If symptom is the single way each one happens to enjoy his/her unconscious framework, symptom is as well what you structure your life around.
Love and desire foregoing, the emergence of jouissance will spell. Woman the symptom of man is a hole. Let woman lend her body for the man to enjoy it, she will all along not be herself, only the very intrinsic attributes—mother, prostitute, wet-mother—she comes to embody. A social bias to the symptom, the fact won’t prevent it from being distinguished throughout a particular lucubration—not in that it stands for an exception, but in that it comes from anyone. Say the case is a boy inflamed by the baby sitter who happened to remove her hosiery while he pretended to be asleep; say that it is a president getting the intern to give him a blow job in the White House oval room; say that it is an anonymous King at the sado-masoquist Online Chateaux seducing women into becoming their slaves in writing. The far fetched memory in the fanciness of an outworn significance will return because it bears the mark.
When man enjoys, it’s the jouissance of his organ. The phallus, an image of the sexual organ, moreover a representation of the certain image, is nevertheless a lack—of the organ itself. The signifier will bring up the erotic, and in this sense it precedes ejaculation, male’s extrinsic jouissance, of the body… And phallic jouissance will also determine woman, her ex-sistence: the jouissance of the Other is off language, off the symbolic. But the terms are not equal; man is not the given symptom of woman. From this perspective the symptom of woman is also woman. How so?
To answer with Lacan castration cannot be deduced from development alone, since it presupposes the subjectivity of the Other as the place of its law. Still there are phallic women, and in this sense woman is prone to define herself in terms of man, in parity with the phallus, her place in the Other to remain ambiguous. “Man here acts as the relay whereby the woman becomes this Other for herself as she is this Other for him.”5
…to play the part of the man (faire l’homme), as I have said, being thus hommosexuelle themselves…they love each other as the same (elles se mêment) in the Other.6
Woman conflates “man and homosexual: she loves men, she loves like a man, and her desire is structured in fantasy like his.”7
Should Greta Christina, Queen of Norway befit the personage, she may in turn evince the Spinozian rule in contemporary culture. An this is Slavoj Zizek’s theory “You can get whatever you want but with the substance removed: coffee without caffeine, cigarettes without nicotine…” for the case, sex without penetration.