Friday, November 14, 2008

The Search to Be Whole in a System Full of Holes

Ah-ha note the subtle double-entendre of that title. Completely unintentional.

I couldn't be more grateful for Ms. Shelden's post considering she hammered out a major point of my final paper. Particularly the issue concerning sexuality and identity.

As far as Mantissa goes there are very evident connections to be made. First one can connect the sexual connection between Miles and Erato. Particularly in Parts III and IV where they discuss their sexual activity as the culmination and endpoint in their joint creative process. The scene where she reappears in human form and the wallss of the hospital room turn to glass would be considered, pun intendend, the climax of the novel (if one could be pinpointed). It is interesting because at first, when reading the guest post, I felt that Fowles' followed the pattern of Lacan's thinking by creating the image of the mirror stage in the first section of the novel, changing Erato's image, and in many ways transforming signifier to signifier without any real basis of stability for the reader. Yet, "When you consider the force of the death drive, and jouissance as the orgasmic shattering of the self for which the death drive aims, how might you read the first section of Mantissa?" makes me feel as though there is a slight deviation from Lacan's theory.. Fowles' introduces Miles as the unidentified 'it' until he processes through the mirror stage (which we have discussed in blogs and in class so I won't go through it again) but then ends section one with the creative unconscious awakening through the orgasmic experience: his sexual peak results in the creation of the novel. This pattern continues throughout the novel and it makes me wonder if Fowles' thinks of the moment of jouissance as a moment of the 'real' occuring within the illusion.

Hear me out: the world we live in, according to Lacan, is a world of signifiers which develop several illusions. Most importantly, the way we understand the world and the ways in which we self-identify are through language which is completely unstable because there is no central or absolute referent. Throughout life we spend our time continuously searching for the real within the illusion but we're trapped because the only way we know how is through a system that is constantly falling to pieces and has no real stable truth anyway. If the moment of jouissance and the death drive are the things that "...always threatens to undo one’s sense of self" does it mean that at that point, in that peak, we are no longer contained within the constructs of the language system (in other words, we are outside of the way we usually understand ourselves 'to be') so we are existing within a realm of real. Again, this is not to suggest that we all just need to get off all day to identify with ourselves, but within that moment are we, to some degree, because we are outside of the structure/illusion of our worlds, for the slightest moment real?

I could be taking the notion out of context or manipulating the idea to an unnecessary degree but it does make some sense. Plus, that's pretty great, no?

Peace and Jouissance to all!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I've Got an Itch to Scratch, I Need Assistance


I would like to touch back on an interesting point we discussed in class. It was noted that Fowles' overt usage of terms and examples from different literary theories (most notably feminist and psychoanalytic theory) are examples of his criticism of the use of theory. That isn't to say he is anti-intellectual, nor anti-theory for that matter. It says that he is calling into question how we apply theory.

Which leads me into another point. Does Fowles apply humor as a critical theory? I do not have the authority to say but I will note that in recent history humor has become the major form in which we understand much of the 'literature' that we consume. There is an overwhelming amount of negative or problematic topics that are covered through humor. A great example would be that of this past election. Instead of coming out and making certain claims about certain candidates (Ahem...Sarah Palin), each week people looked forward to their local paper and Saturday Night Live for a commentary on the social implications of candidates. I'll probably return to this point in the future because it intrigues me so.

In class there was also the argument about the decline in quality of theory and academia when accessibility, to a theory for example, is promoted through popular culture. The argument was raised in the case of Baudrillard's theories used in The Matrix. Though it represents some ideas from Baudrillard and even quotes from his work, the message is not the same.
(I'd also like to add that I think Fowles representation of the theories which he mimics/mocks in Mantissa also has to do with his frustration with the decline of creative understanding. People are wrapped up in trying to figure out what he is showing through the theories without acknowledging the nature of the creative writer. If that makes sense.)

That was brief and probably just served as a apologies

As seen in previous posts, a note on the title: If you haven't seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show, I would advise that you do so.