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Das Unbehagen im Spiegelbild - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
Das Unbehagen im Spiegelbild
From Sigmund Freud, "Fetishism" --
It is not true that the child emerges from his experience of seeing the female parts with an unchanged belief in the woman having a phallus. He retains this belief but he also gives it up; during the conflict between the deadweight of the unwelcome perception and the force of the opposite wish, a compromise is constructed such as is only possible in the realm of unconscious modes of thought -- by the primary processes. In the world of psychological reality the woman still has a penis in spite of all, but this penis is no longer the same as it once was.

Something else has taken its place, has been appointed its successor, so to speak, and now absorbs all the interest which formerly belonged to the penis. But this interest undergoes yet another very strong reinforcement, because the horror of castration sets up a sort of permanent memorial to itself by creating this substitute. Aversion from the real female genitals, which is never lacking in any fetishist, also remains as an indelible stigma of the repression that has taken place. One can now see what the fetish achieves and how it is enabled to persist. It remains a token of triumph over the threat of castration and a safeguard against it.

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schencka From: schencka Date: April 6th, 2006 05:50 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
In my one experience of Freud in the original German, I was struck by the logical progress of his argument, which seems lost in some translations. The words are sandpaper instead of slate.
Gufuhl oceanische!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: April 6th, 2006 02:12 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I agree completely. The introduction of those silly Latin terms in the English couples with the difficulty of translating German to make Freud seem way kookier to us than he seems to your average German.
elizabeg From: elizabeg Date: April 6th, 2006 06:45 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
1. On translation's internal cuts: "so to speak" was one of my favorite indirection-tags in Austerlitz but we couldn't always figure out what was pointing the translator in that direction away from his German. A fetish for something not there?

2. The only thing I will remember from 4-Calypso in Joyce: "gray sunken cunt of the world."

3. Medusa's head must be somewhere if I just keep reading.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: April 6th, 2006 02:13 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Interesting. I love the medusa reference, given the nature of this photograph. There be snakes ahead.
tommix From: tommix Date: April 6th, 2006 07:19 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I love you, disavowal. You register AND repudiate. So conflicted. You're much more complex than plain-old repression and sublimation.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: April 6th, 2006 02:13 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
You and I have a lot in common. And I love you too. . . disavowal.
tommix From: tommix Date: April 6th, 2006 07:24 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I never would have guessed that Freud watched "Boogie Nights."
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: April 6th, 2006 02:14 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
So spot on!
From: e4q Date: April 6th, 2006 01:47 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)


as far as i can read lacan, which is not as far as i can throw him, mind, his take on man having phallus/woman being phallus was very simple and visual - after all, sexually women are much more visually about the whole body. maybe i am missing something cos scholars never talk about this. i am coming to the conclusion i have not got an intellectual bone in my body. but i just thought i would throw this at you and see if it fits with anything, though it is probably off topic for all i know...
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: April 6th, 2006 02:09 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: lacan

I think that's right. This was one of my collages, not seen in months, whereby I try to bring word and image into conversation with each other through violent juxtaposition. I love Freud's account of the fetish and see all sorts of ways it applies to my own life in an abstract sense, especially coupled with Marx's account. But there's tension in the contrast for me because I believe -- am sure, even -- that Freud's analysis is too narrow and doesn't do a good job of suggesting how fetishism plays out over time. I'm pretty confident in stating that women who encounter male genitals for the first time are as likely to demonstrate an "aversion" as men encountering female genitals for the first time. To suggest that either aversion endures, though, as Freud seems to here for the male, raises all sorts of problems. For my part, I'll confess to being overwhelmed by my first encounter with the vagina in real life, despite coming into the experience with a woman-positive attitude abetted by extensive reading in Our Bodies, Ourselves an American feminist classic. And I did have a retroactive feeling of aversion walking home afterwards. But I was over that by the next day and have never felt that sensation again, despite the fact that I'm extremely fetishistic in my relation to the object world. I suppose if we made the leap to complicating Freud's male-centered, sexual development-focused account of the fetish quoted from here by overlaying it with his account in Beyond the Pleasure Principle of the child's playing a game of fort-da to imaginatively compensate for his mother's absence, then our understanding of the fetish would be richer and more flexible. There are other losses besides the loss of the penis invoked by the specter of castration. Then again, to come back around to your comment, I suppose you could argue that Lacan's equation of woman and phallus actually works pretty nicely for explaining the multi-layered account of fetishism I just proposed. The loss of mother is as traumatic as the loss of the penis, perhaps even more so. Since girls fear to lose their mothers as much as boys do, though, the male-centeredness of Freud's account in "Fetishism" proves distressingly limited.
From: e4q Date: April 6th, 2006 02:29 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re:fetish and time

fetish, as i understand it, really depends on time, so i think you are right, but with freud i always think his theories are inevitably incomplete. he was breaking so much new stuff. i like the idea that fort da is sexual, the sex act itself can be very much like that!
i think that women's bodies are percieved as providing multifariously, being a geography of provision, whereas the phallus is powerful in and of itself, a complete integral package. this is not exactly a new opinion, but i am always amazed that it's not the way that lacan's take is interpreted.
you have to let freud off a little, he did, after all, namecheck the unconscious for us, and give us lots and lots of leads. and he was really restricted by the times he lived in and the selection of nutty ladies and ratty men he based his writings on...
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