JOUISSANCE:MY PERSONAL CONSTRUCT WITH EXAMPLES.BY STEVEN BENSON

Reading Edelman(“No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive”, 2004)is like putting together the pieces of an elusive jigsaw!My experience of working with critical theory is that a PERSONAL CONSTRUCT you build up,around a certain train of critical thinking, helps(a lot!) to frame/understand the concepts in personal terms. Jouissance is a concept in point!

………………………………………….

Ok, Lacan says there is an opposition(or, later, a combination) of pain and pleasure principles at work in the creation of jouissance(for which word there is no exact English equivalent, the nearest being “ecstasy”, or in Forsters phrase, “capering on the summit”):

1. the “pleasure principle” acts as a “limit” to enjoyment.Simultaneously, the subject(individual) constantly attempts to TRANSGRESS the prohibitions imposed on their enjoyment, ie. to go BEYOND the pleasure principle(Lacan “The Ethics of Psycho-analysis”,1959-60). However, the EFFECT of transgressing the pleasure principle is NOT “mere” pleasure but PAIN{because pleasure has a limit; but where does this leave multiple orgasms-possible in men as well as women, with the right technique!}since there is only a certain amount of pleasure a subject can bear{I would ask why CAN’t we endure more than a certain amount and why?And I give examples-of different forms of jouissance- later which would counter-act this premise} . Beyond this limit, according to Lacan again, is pain; this is the “painful principle”; and, strangely, it is this principle that Lacan calls Jouissance!

I can see the logic pertaining to one instance: sado-masochistic sex and sado-masochistic behaviour or just the sado or the masochistic!Here enjoyment goes BEYOND pleasure (to pain) and I can see the Lacanian application of the word Jouissance. This may sometimes be true, in relationship to s and m sexual activity, as an instance in itself;but much s/m sex would seem to me to be self-evidently,( psychologically) an ENACTMENT or manifestation of unresolved psychological masochistic/self-sabotaging urges or sadistic ones.

Well, as for Lacan, he goes so far as to say that the Jouissance IS the suffering (alone)….

In “the Other Side of Psycho-Analysis”(1969-70), Lacan introduced the concept of “plus-de-jouir”(lit. surplus jouissance), ie an EXCESS of Jouissance which has no use value and persists for its OWN sake of, in Lacan’s framework, pain/suffering.

Zizek confined his, later, analysis of Jouissance mainly to orgasm; and Cicoux, relating it to womens’ experience(though we can extrapolate it to men, albeit  that was not her remit),designated it as a {woman’s} pleasure that combines the

mental

physical

potitical

spiritual;

thus bordering on

mystical communion(however you personally define that!)

Other feminists have argued that Jouissance is a transcendent state representing freedom from oppressive, horizontal/linear modes of being(patriarchal/normativizing/hegemonic); as opposed to, counter-hegemonically, COMBINING various forms of Jouissance which they determine as, for instance, intellectual with friendship jouissance,which is vertical/contrapuntal(as opposed to linear).

Ok this is a very selective precis(not unindebted to Wikipaedia-I confess!)to the critical/theoretical background to various differing concepts and interpretations of Jouissance and what it is.

PERSONAL EXAMPLES OF JOUISSANCE

(Do not fret: I am not going to tell you about the nature/longevity of my orgasms!)

1.Spiritual, emotional, intellectual communion(or a selection thereof ) with a lover/partner/friend; again what Forster called “capering on the summit”, (though I think he meant this in a purely intellectual sense); ie. a buzzy, intellectually or emotionally driven and challenging/intense conversation, a true dialogical inter-action, a meeting of minds and/or hearts/spirits; it could be free-flowing; it could be structured. It would lead to a feeling of (sometimes intense)well-being/enjoyment/pleasure(I do not see any pain principle here: one can have a plethora of inter-actions which INCREASE the “pleasure principle” exponentially!Pain would only arise from an {irreconciled} argument, a different point).

2. Being in a PLACE(geographically)where the above is more likely to happen, because there is a charged atmosphere already, which may be the catalyst or a place/space where a number of like-minds may gather:eg, in my experience, Laurieston Hall, some intellectual debating groups.

3.Collecting stuff: a sense of achievement(completism), even though it could be been as mere aggrandisement, eg the complete recordings of Michael Ponti; everything Sebald wrote or is written about him(in English).:biblio/audio psychogeography!.

4. Intellectual Jouissance, like now, at making a personal construct extrapolated from theories;towards an intellectual Utopia, a becoming-intellectual-Utopia to paraphrase(affectionately!)Deleuze and Guattari

5. MUSIC- at its height of intensity; or just the sheer joy of exquisite camp music. An example of the former is the end of the Benedictus from Elgar “Te Deum and Benedictus”, with its exhilerating, rapt, transcendental apotheosis; though here I am actually WITH Lacan because the startlingly massive bass drum strokes at the end are a mixture of intense pleasure AND pain, though they ARE possibly MEANT to represent this admixture of opposed feelings one would experience at seeing the Christian God, fleetingly so,( as in Gerontius’ brief sight of God in “The Dream of Gerontius”{also Elgar}, where he sings “Take me away… “;he cannot bear it and you can hear the pain in Heddle Nash’s strained voice).

I find these concrete, if subjective, examples more helpful to define/re-create the feeling of Jouissance than various critcially theoretical defintions; BECAUSE I have got there through my OWN personal construct and experience; then sort of working backwards towards the theories. But I am not trying to set up a false binary: art, literature, critical theory, philosophy all work best when they are vitalized by our own experience and/or dreams; hence the importance I attach to subjective, (at least) semi-Death of the Author thinking, reader response theory etchttps://towardsutopia.wordpress.com/2012/08/04/reparative-gay-readingnothing-to-do-with-gay-reparative-therapy-the-word-has-been-twisted-to-mean-its-opposite-subjectiveidentifying-with-the-characters-reading-and-deconstructionist-reading-co/

Well, I WOULD say all this, because I am towards a relativist……

——————————————————————————–

I fear Edelman is going, ultimately, to link Jouissance with pain/negativity/the death-drive; or perhaps I am (still!) missing the point..I shall see.. nearly finished chapter one!If that DOES happen, lets see if I can work THROUGH/BEYOND that – and come out the other end!Otherwise, I am just acting out some masochistic, sublimated urge, unknown to myself, by persisting in unentangling his concepts; but they are fun, and stimulating so it is not, by any means, all pain lol

{more to come, hopefully!]

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About decayetude

ENTHUSIASMS: CLASSICAL MUSIC, ESPECIALLY OBSCURE ROMANTIC COMPOSERS; BACH/HANDEL LITERATURE, ESPECIALLY THOUGHTFUL, WELL-WRITTEN(STYLISTICALLY)NOVELS W G SEBALD WALTER BENJAMIN THEODOR ADORNO(JUST BEGINNING!) AESTHETIC PHILOSOPHY GAY MEN'S WRITING;QUEER THEORY STIMULATING DISCUSSIONS(EMOTIONALLY AND INTELLECTUALLY) GOOD RICH THICK ESPRESSO MICHAEL PONTI SPRITUALITY/LIFE'S "AURA"(BENJAMIN), WHATEVER TRANSCENDENTAL THING YOU WANT TO CALL THIS MEMORY-the elusiveness thereof. LOST TIME AND AN ATTEMPT AT ITS REDEMPTION(NON THEISTICALLY/RELIGIOUSLY)
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