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CHAPTER NINE: The perverse domination of the fascist and the Sadean master

Lisa Downing Karnac Books ePub

Antonios Vadolas

Introduction

What is the relationship between fascism and perversion? Interwar Fascism, with Nazism as its dominant expression, has been frequently linked to the notion of perversion and its multi-faceted synecdoche. Texts from discourses belonging both to “popular” and “high” culture emblematize this link: cinematography, social theory, political history, and psychoanalysis. The films of three eminent directors—Luchino Visconti (The Damned/La Caduta Degli Dei, 1969); Liliana Cavani (The Night Porter, 1973); and Pier Paolo Pasolini (Salò or the 120 Days of Sodom, 1975)—all illustrate the proximity between fascism and extreme sexual deviation. In the field of socio-political discourse, compelling analyses of fascism have been offered by thinkers in the Frankfurt School (see Horkheimer & Adorno, 1973) and philosopher Hannah Arendt (1958). For more recent accounts, one might turn to works by Slavoj Zizek (1989, 2000) and Juliet Flower MacCannell (1996). Furthermore, psychoanalytic clinicians and theorists, such as Ernest Jones (1974) and Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel (1985), have produced narratives that posit a connection between fascism and perverse sexuality. These texts all share a “macro-structure”. They are narratives produced by and dependent upon a dianoetic context enveloping a message that links fascism to perversion in either its sexual or non-sexual conception.

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CHAPTER ONE: Perversion, perversity, and normality: diagnostic and therapeutic considerations

Lisa Downing Karnac Books ePub

Otto F. Kernberg

What follows is an overview of my current efforts to develop a classification of the broad spectrum of disorders traditionally grouped under the heading of sexual perversions, and now referred to as paraphilias. I hope to provide a diagnostic frame helpful both in establishing prognosis and in developing guidelines for treatment of these patients. Because of space limitations, I must present my views in brief, and, at times, categorical ways, in spite of which I hope to convey my conviction that this field is still wide open in terms of our contemporary knowledge and therapeutic approaches.

The problem of “normality” in the sexual realm

It is practically unavoidable that culturally determined value judgements and ideological cross-currents influence our evaluation of human sexual life. When the concept of “normality” is considered to be equivalent to average or predominant patterns of behaviour, treatment may become a matter of promoting “adjustment”, and we lose the usefulness of normality as a standard of health. On the other hand, if the concept of normality refers to an ideal pattern of behaviour, we run the risk of imposing ideologically motivated measures. If, in ideologically motivated opposition to conventional notions, we proclaim the equivalent nature of any and all manifestations of human sexuality, we may miss significant, even crippling, limitations of sexual enjoyment and of the integration of eroticism and emotional intimacy. An “objective”, “scientific” view would appear as ideal, if the human sciences were not, in turn, contaminated by cultural biases and conventionality.

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Medium 9781855757028

1. From Kantian Ethics to Mystical Experience: An Exploration of Jouissance

Dany Nobus Karnac Books ePub

Dylan Evans

I. Introduction

No survey of Lacanian terms would be complete without a discussion of jouissance.1 And yet, as more than one commentator has pointed out, jouissance is certainly among the most complex and ambiguous terms in the Lacanian oeuvre.2 The problem begins with translation. The closest literal translation is ‘enjoyment,’ both in the sense of deriving pleasure from something, and in the legal sense of exercising certain property rights. But while jouissance is often rendered simply ‘enjoyment’ in many English works on Lacan, this obscures the directly sexual connotations of the French term, which can also mean ‘orgasm.’3 In order to escape these difficulties of translation, most have opted simply to retain the French term, thus consolidating the tendency of many anglophone Lacanians to intersperse their discourse with the ocassional French word.4

The difficulties of finding an appropriate way of rendering the term in English are matched by the complexities of its conceptual references. During the course of Lacan's teaching, jouissance is used in a series of different contexts, in each of which it acquires a different nuance. The first step, then, in examining this term, must be to examine these different contexts in order to unravel these various nuances. Only then will it be possible to examine and assess the clinical and cultural applications of the term.

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CHAPTER TEN: The feminist ethics of lesbian sadomasochism

Lisa Downing Karnac Books ePub

Mandy Merck

When, in her influential 1980s account of feminism’s “sex wars”, B. Ruby Rich assigned “political correctness” the role of casus belli, she matched it with an equally notorious opponent. “Nowhere”, she argued, “has this Manichean struggle between updated bourgeois respectability and its opposite become more attenuated than in the debate over lesbian sadomasochism” (Rich, 1986, p. 529). As Rich herself notes, that sexuality is a rather odd choice for the “bad girl” part in these conflicts. Heterosexual sadomasochism seems a far more prominent practice, and lesbian feminists have been outspoken in its condemnation, seeing in it the inherent condition of all heterosexuality.

Nevertheless, the perception of some intimate connection between feminism and lesbian sadomasochism persists, posed in terms of their successive historical emergence, unacknowledged ideological complicity, or, in the psychodynamics of feminism, as a family romance. Rich, for example, employs all three explanations to describe lesbian sadomasochism as part of a “daughters’ revolt” against the sexual legislations of their feminist predecessors, but enacted within understandings of subjectivity, fantasy, and “health” shared by both sides.

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CHAPTER SEVEN: Birth, death, orgasm, and perversion: a Reichian view

Lisa Downing Karnac Books ePub

Nick Totton

“Why do you have to talk like that?” she asks me. “Talk like what?” I respond. “Speak to them, for them,” she answers. I have fielded this question many times. This time I try to keep it simple: “I am one of them,” I answer. Unsatisfied, she retorts, “But why must your language be so theoretical, so inaccessible?” Finally, I arrive at the answer I should have made long ago: “I like theory,” I tell her, “it is a kind of fetish for me; it turns me on.” [Hart, 1998, p. 13]

A term to get rid of?

There is no getting around it: the word “perversion”, by etymology and usage, is clearly both normative, implying that there is a straight path to which this crooked one is opposed, and punitive, a stamp of disapproval upon those perceived as bad and/or inadequate. What is more, there is not even any agreed and solid definition of “perversion” in psychoanalytic terms. The word can be, and is, used in very different ways, and some of the definitions on offer beg the question of aetiology completely. For example, Stoller (1975) chooses to define perversion as sexually aberrant behaviour based on hatred, thus eliminating all possibility of counter-examples to his hypothesis that this is in fact what perversion signifies.

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