Session 9: Cross-Disciplinary Conversations 2
Chair: Jodi O’Brien
Little Love Affairs
Department of Cultural Studies, Bath Spa University, United Kingdom
Traditionally at least, psychoanalysis as a discourse has not been particularly vocal about the question of love, concentrating instead on attempts to understand desire and sexuality in their various intertwined (and pathological) formulations. Indeed, many of Freud’s critics critiqued (and continue to critique) him as being ‘obsessed’ with sex, ignoring the ways in which both the theoretical and clinical aspects of Freudianism work together to undermine and challenge the conception of sexuality as being ‘about’ sex in the generally accepted genital meaning of the term.
However, on closer reading it is clear that psychoanalysis is in fact, all about love, from the first manifestations of subjectivity as narcissistic to the ‘love affair’ of transference that dominates the analytic situation.
This paper will take up the question of the role and function of sexual love in Lacanian psychoanalysis. Lacan argues that love ‘touches the other in the Real’. This does not mean however, that for Lacan love has a ‘true’ reality, on the contrary he means that it is something always tantalisingly beyond our grasp as human subjects trapped within a world of symbols and words. Love, for Lacan, is the condition that reveals most about the ‘impossibility of the sexual relation’ insofar that it reveals both the desire to engulf and dominate the object into the self, and the ways in which the loved one can never ‘live up’ to the projected fantasy invented by the besotted lover. As Lacan puts it: ‘I love you, but because inexplicably I love in you something more than you – the objet petit a – I mutilate you.’ Here, love becomes inexorably bound not to any transcendent aspects of the loved one, but remains on the side of the ‘victim’ of the ‘sickness’ that Freud believed constitutes ‘falling in love.’ As Slavoj Zizek puts it: ‘…man’s love for a woman – his very ‘spiritual’, ‘pure’ love as opposed to sexual longing – is a thoroughly narcissistic phenomenon: in his love of a woman, man loves only himself, his own ideal image.’
These examples illustrate a masculine relationship to love within a Lacanian framework; the paper will conclude by explicating the different relations of the masculine and the feminine to the paradox of love
Best of Friends? Workplace Friendships of Gay Men and Straight Women
Southampton Solent University, United Kingdom
No abstract is presently available