The jouissance of transgression
THE BARRIER TO JOUISSANCE
THE RESPECT OF THE IMAGE OF THE OTHER
SADE, HIS FANTASM AND HIS DOCTRINE
ME TI PSEM US
FRAGMENTED AND INDESTRUCTIBLE
I announced that I would talk about Sade.
It is not without some vexation that I take up the subject today because of the break for the vacation, which will be a long one.
I would like at least during this lecture to clear up the misunderstanding that might occur because we are dealing with Sade, and it might be thought that that constitutes a wholly external way of looking upon ourselves as pioncers or militants embracing a radical position. Such a view implies that, as a result of our function or profession, we are destined to embrace extremes, so to speak, and that Sade in this respect is our progenitor or precursor, who supposedly opened up some impasse, aberration or aporia, in that domain of ethics we have chosen to explore this year, and that we would be well-advised to follow him.
It is very important to clear up that misunderstanding, which is related to a number of others I am struggling against in order to make some progress here before you.
The domain that we are exploring this year isn't interesting for us only in a purely external sense. I would even say that up to a certain point this field may involve a certain degree of boredom, even for such a faithful audience as you, and it's not to be neglected - it has its own significance. Naturally, since I am speaking to you, I try to interest you; that's part of the deal. But that mode of communication which binds us together isn't necessarily calculated to avoid something that the art of the teacher normally proscribes. When I compare two audiences, if I managed to interest the one in Brussels, so much the be<a></a><a></a>tter, but it isn't at all in the same way that you here are interested in my teaching.
If I adopt for a moment the point of view of what one finds in the situation, not so much of the young analyst, as of the analyst beginning his practice - and it's such a humanly sensitive and valid position - I would say that it is conceivable that what I am attempting to articulate under the title of the ethics of psychoanalysis comes up against the domain of what might be called analysis's pastoral letter.
Even then I am ascribing to what I am aiming at its noble name, its eternal name. A less flattering name would be the one invented by one of the most unpleasant authors of our time, "intellectual comfort." The question of "How does one proceed?" may, in effect, lead to impatience and even disappointment, when one is faced with the need to approach things at a level, that, it seems, is not that of our technique on the basis of which a great many things are to be resolved - or such at least is the promise. A great many things perhaps, but not everything. And we shouldn't necessarily turn our eyes away from those things that our technique warns us constitute an impasse or even a gap, even if all the conseqùences of our action are in question.
As for this young person who is beginning his practice as an analyst, I would call what is involved here his skeleton; it will give his action a vertebrate solidarity, or the opposite of that movement toward a thousand forms which is always on the point of collapsing in on itself and of becoming caught up in a circle - something that a certain number of recent explorations give the image of.
It is, therefore, not a bad idea to expose the fact that something may degenerate from the expectation of assurance - which is doubtless of some use in the exercise of one's profession - into a form of sentimental assurance. It is as a result of this that those subjects whom I take to be at a crossroads in their existence turn into prisoners of an infatuation that is the source of both an inner disappointment and a secret demand.
And if we are to make any progress, this is what the perspective of the ethical ends of psychoanalysis, whose significance I am trying to demonstrate here, has to combat. It is something one encounters sooner rather than later.
Our path thus far has led us to a point that I will call the paradox of jouissance. The paradox of jouissance introduces its problematic in to that dialectc of happiness which we analysts have perhaps rashily set out to explore. We have grasped the paradox in more than one detail as something that emerges routinely in our experience. But in order to lead you to it and relate it to the thread of our discussion, I have chosen this time the path of the enigma of its relation to the Law. And this is something that is marked by the strangeness of the way the existence of this Law appears to us, as founded on the Other as I have long taught you.
In this we have to follow Freud; not the individual with his atheistic profession of faith, but the Freud who was the first to acknowledge the value and relevance of a myth that constituted for us an answer to a certain fact that was formulated for no particular reason, but that has wide currency and is fully articulated in the consciousness of our time - though it went unnoticed by the finest minds and even more so by the masses - I mean the fact we call the death of God.
That's the problematic with which we begin. It is there the sign appears that I presented to you in my graph in the form of S (O). Situated as you know in the upper left section, it signifies the final response to the guarantee asked of the Other concerning the meaning of that Law articulated in the depths of the unconscious. If there is nothing more than a lack, the Other is wanting, and the signifier is that of his death.
It is as a function of this position, which is itself dependent on the paradox of the Law, that the paradox of jouissance emerges. This I will now try to explain.
We should note that only Christianity, through the drama of the passion, gives a full content to the naturalness of the truth we have called the death of God. Indeed, with a naturalness beside which the approaches to it represented by the bloody combats of the gladiators pale. Christianity, in effect, offers a drama that literally incarnates that death of God. It is also Christianity that associates that death with what happened to the Law; namely, that without destroying that Law, we are told, but in substituting itself for it, in summarizing it, and raising it up in the very movement that abolishes it - thus offering the first weighty historical example of the German notion of Aufhebung, i.e., the conservation of something destroyed at a different level - the only commandment is henceforth "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
The whole thing is articulated as such in the Gospel, and it is there that we will continue on our way. The two notions, the death of God and the love of one's neighbor, are historically linked; and one cannot overlook that fact unless one attributes to everything that occurred in history in the JudeoChristian tradition as constitutionally just a matter of chance.
I am aware of the fact that the message of the believers is that there is a resurrection in the afterlife, but that's simply a promise. That's the space through which we have to make our way. It is thus appropriate if we stop in this pass, in this narrow passage where Freud himself stops and retreats in understandable horror. "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," is a commandment that seems inhuman to him.
Everything he finds objectional is summed up in this phrase. As the examples he cites confirm, it is in the name of the most legitimate [eudaimonia] on all levels that he stops and rightly acknowledges, when he reflects on the commandment's meaning, the extent to which the historical spectacle of a humanity that chose it as its ideal is quite unconvincing, when that ideal is measured against actual accomplishments. I have already referred to what it is that arouses Freud's horror, arouses the horror of the civilized man he essentially was. It derives from the evil in which he doesn't hestitate to locate man's deopest heart.
I don't really need to emphasize the point where I bring my two threads together to form a knot. Man's rebellion is involved here, the rebellion of Jederman, of everyman, insofar as he aspires to happiness. The truth that man sceks happiness remains true. The resistance to the commandment "Thou shalt love they ncighbor as thyself" and the resistance that is exercised to prevent his access to jouissance are one and the same thing.< Stated thus, this may seem an additional paradox, a gratuitous assertion. Yet don't you recognize there what we refer to in the most routine way each time we sce a subject retreat from his own jouissance? What are we drawing attention to? To the unconscious aggression that jouissance contains, to the frightening core of the destrudo, which, in spite of all our feminine affectations and quibbles, we constantly find ourselves confronting in our analytical experience.
Whether or not this view is ratified in the name of some preconceived view of nature, it is nevertheless true that at the heart of everything Freud taught, one finds the following: the energy of the so-called superego derives from the aggression that the subject turns back upon himself.
Freud goes out of his way to add the supplementary notion that, once one has entered on that path, once the process has been begun, then there is no longer any limit; it generates ever more powerful aggression in the self. It generates it at the limit, that is to say, insofar as the mediation of the Law is lacking. Of the Law insofar as it comes from elsewhere, from the elsewhere, moreover, where its guarantor is lacking, the guarantor who provides its warranty, namely, God himself.
To say that the retreat from "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" is the same thing as the barrier to jouissance, and not its opposite, is, therefore, not an original proposition.
I retreat from loving my neighbor as myself because there is something on the horizon there that is engaged in some form of intolerable cruelty. In that sense, to love onets ncighbor may be the cruelest of choices.
That, then, is the nicely whetted edge of the paradox I am asserting here. No doubt in order to give it its full weight, one should take it step by step, so that by understanding the way in which that intimate line of demarcation appears, we may not so much know as feel the ups and downs to be found on its path.
We have, of course, long learned to recognize in our analytical experience the jouissance of trangression. But we are far from knowing wLat its nature might be. In this respect our position is ambignous. Everybody knows that we have restored full civil rights to perversion. We have dubbed it a component drive, thereby employing the idea that it harmonizes with a totality, and at the same time shedding suspicion on the research, which was revolutionary at a certain moment in the nineteenth century, of Krafft-Ebing with his monumental Psychopathia Sexualis, or also on the work of Havelock Ellis.
Incidentally, I don't want to fail to give the latter's work the kind of thumbs down I think it deserves. It offers amazing examples of a lack of systematicity - not the failure of a method, but the choice of a failed method. The so- called scientific objectivity that is exhibited in books that amount to no more than a random collection of documents offers a living example of the combination of a certain "foolery" with the sort of "knavery," a fundamental knavery, that I invoked last time as the characteristic of a certain kind of thought known as left-wing, without excluding the possibility of its spreading its stain to other domains. In short, if I recommend reading Havelock Ellis, it is simply in order to show you the difference, not just in results but in tone, that exists between such a futile mode of investigation and what Freud's thought and experience reintroduce into the domain - it's simply a question of responsibility.
We are familiar with the jouissance of transgression, then. But what does it consist of ? Does it go without saying that to trample sacred laws under foot, laws that may be directly challengod by the subject's conscience, itself excites some form of jouissance? We no doubt constantly see the strange development in a subject that might be described as the testing of a faceless fate or as a risk that, once it has been survived by the subject, somehow guarantees him of his power. Doesn't the Law that is defied here play the role of a means, of a path cleared that leads straight to the risk? Yet if the path is necessary, what is the risk that is involved? What is the goal jouissance seeks if it has to find support in transgression to reach it?
I leave these questions open for the moment so as to move on. If the subject turus back on his tracks, what is it that guides this backtracking? On this point, we find a more motivated response in analysis; we are told that it is the identification with the other that arises at the extreme moment in one of our temptations. And by extreme here I do not mean it has to do with extraordinary temptations, but with the moment when one perccives their consequences.
We retreat from what? From assaulting the image of the other, because it was the image on which we were formed as an ego. Here we find the convincing power of altruism. Here, too, is the leveling power of a certain law of equality - that which is formulated in the notion of the general will. The latter is no doubt the common denominator of the respect for certain rights - which, for a reason that escapes me, are called elementary rights - but it can also take the form of excluding from its boundaries, and therefore from its protection, everything that is not integrated into its various registers. And the power of expansion is also seen in what I expressed last time as the utilitarian tendency. At this level of homogenization, the law of utility, as that which implies its distribution over the greatest number, imposes itself in a form that is effectively innovative. It is an enchanting power, scorn for which is sufficiently indicated in the eyes of us analysts when we call it philanthropy, but which also raises the questions of the natural basis of pity in the sense implied by that morality of fecling which has always sought its foundation there.
We are, in effect, at one with everything that depends on the image of the other as our fellow man, on the similarity we have to our ego and to everything that situates us in the imaginary register. What is the question I am raising here, when it seems to be obvious that the very foundation of the law "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" is to be found there?
It is indeed the same other that is concerned here. Yet one only has to stop for a moment to see how obvious and striking the practical contradictions are - individual, inner contradictions as well as social ones - of the idealization expressed relative to the respect that I formulated for the image of the other. It implies a certain continuity and filiation of problematic effects on the religious law, which is expressed and manifested historically by the paradoxes of its extremes, i.e., the extremes of saintliness, and moreover by its failure on the social level, insofar as it never manages to achieve fulfillment, reconciliation, or the establishment on earth of what is promised by it.
To emphasize the point even more strongly, I will refer directly to something that seems to be opposed to this denunciation of the image, that is to the statement which is always listened to with a kind of more-or-less amused purr of satisfaction, "God made man in his own image." Religious tradition once again reveals more cunning in pointing to the truth than the approach of psychological philosophy imagines.
You can't get away with answering that man no doubt paid God back in kind. The statement in question is of the same inspiration, the same body, as the holy book in which is expressed the prohibition on forging images of God. If this prohibition has a meaning, it is that images are deceitful.
Why is that? Let's go to what is simplest: if these are beautiful images - and goodness ouly knows that religious images always correspond by definition to reigning canons of beauty - one doesn't notice that they are always hollow images. Moreover, man, too, as image is interesting for the hollow the image leaves empty - by reason of the fact that one doesn't see in the image, beyond the capture of the image, the emptiness of God to be discovered. It is perhaps man's plenitude, but it is also there that God leaves him with emptiness.
Now God's power resides in the capacity to advance into emptiness. A11 of that gives us the figures of the apparatus of a domain in which the recognition of another reveals itself as an adventure. The meaning of the word recognition tends toward that which it assumes in every exploration, with all the accents of militancy and of nostalgia we can invest in it.
Sade is at this limit.
Sade is at this limit, and insofar as he imagines going beyond it, he teaches us that he cultivates its fantasm with all the morose enjoyment - I will come back to this phrase - that is manifest in that fantasm.
In imagining it, he proves the imaginary structure of the limit. But he also goes beyond it. He doesn't, of course, go beyond it in his fantasm, which explains its tedious character, but in his theory, in the doctrine he advances in words that at different moments in the work express the jouissance of destruction, the peculiar virtue of crime, evil sought for evil's sake, and, in the last instance, the Supreme-Being-in-Evil - a strange reference made by the character of Saint-Fond, who proclaims in The Story of Juliette his renewed but not particularly new belief in this God.
This theory is called in the same work the System of Pius VI, the Pope who is introduced as one of the characters in the novel. Taking things even further, Sade lays out a vision of Nature as a vast system of attraction and repulsion of evil by evil. Under these circumstances the ethical stance consists in realizing to the most extreme point this assimilation to absolute evil, as a consequence of which its integration into a fundamentally wickod nature will be realized in a kind of inverted harmony.
I am just pointing to something that appears not as stages of thought in search of a paradoxical formulation, but much more as its wrenching apart, its collapse, in the course of a development that created its own impasse. Can't one nevertheless say that Sade teaches us, in the order of symbolic play, how to attempt to go beyond the limit, and how to discover the laws of onets neighbor's space as such? The space in question is that which is formed when we have to do not with this fellow self whom we so easily turn into our reflection, and whom we necessarily implicate in the same misrecognitions that characterize our own self, but this neighbor who is closest to us, the neighbor whom we sometimes take in our arms, if only to make love to. I am not speaking here of ideal love, but of the act of making love.
We know well how the images of the self may frustrate our propulsion into that space. Don't we have something to learn about the laws of this space from the man who enters it with his atrocious discourse, given that the imaginary capture by the image of one's fellow man functions as a lure there?
You can see where I am taking you. At the precise point to which I attach our inquiry, I am not prejudging what the other is. I simply emphasize the lures of one's fellow man because it is from this fellow as such that the misrecognitions which define me as a self are born. And I will just stop for a moment and refer to a little fable in which you will recognize my personal touch.
I once spoke to you about a mustard pot. If I draw thrce pots here, I simply demonstrate that you have a whole row of mustard or jam pots. They stand on shelves and are numerous enough to satisfy your contemplative appetites. Note that it is insofar as the pots are identical that they are irreducible. Thus at this level we come up against the condition of individuation. And that's as far as the problem usually goes, namely, that there is this one, which isn't that one.
Naturally, the affected quality of this little trick doesn't escape me. But do try to understand the truth it hides, like all sophisms. I don't know if you have noticed that the etymology of the French word même (self) is none other than metitsemus, which makes this même in moi-même redundant. The phonetic evolution is from metipsemus to même - that which is most myself in myself, that which is at the heart of myself, and beyond me, insofar as the self stops at the level of those walls to which one can apply a label. What in French at least serves to designate the notion of self or same (même), then, is this interior or emptiness, and I don't know if it belongs to me or to nobody.
That's what the use of my sophism signifies; it reminds me that my neighbor possesses all the evil Freud speaks about, but it is no different from the evil I retreat from in myself. To love him, to love him as myself, is necessarily to move toward some cruelty. His or mine?, you will object. But haven't I just explained to you that nothing indicates they are distinct? It seems rather that they are the same, on condition that those limits which oblige me to posit myself opposite the other as my fellow man are crossed.
And here I should make my approach clear. Panic drunkenness, sacred orgy, the flagellants of the cults of Attis, the Bacchantes of the tragody of Euripides, in short, all that remote Dionysionism lost in a history to which reference has been made since the nineteenth century with the expectation of restoring, beyond Hegel, Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, the vestiges still available to us of the sphere of the great Pan, in an apologetic, utopian and apocalyptic form that was condemned by Kierkegaard and not less effectively by Nietzsche - that's not what I mean when I speak of the sameness (mêmeté) of someone else and myself. That is by the way why I finished the seminar before last with the evocation of the statement that is correlative to the rending of the veil of the temple, namely, Great Pan is dead.
I will say no more today. It's not just a question of my prophesying in my turn, but I will take an appointment with you for the time when I will have to try to justify why and from what the Great Pan died, and at the precise moment no doubt that the legend points to.
It is Sade's approach that concerns us now, insofar as it points the way to my neighbor's space in connoction with what I will call - thereby paraphrasing the title of the work of his that is called Ideas on the Novel - the idea of a technique oriented toward a sexual jouissance that is not sublimated.
This idea shows us all kinds of lines of divergence, to the point that it gives rise to the idea of difficulty. Consequently, it will be necessary for us to evaluate the scope of the literary work as such. And isn't that quite a detour, which will definitely set us back again, and haven't I been criticized for being slow for some time now?
To finish rapidly with this further refinement, I will nced to evoke several directions from which Sade's work may be grasped, if only to indicate the one that I am choosing.
Is this work a form of witness? A conscious or unconscious witness? Don't think in terms of the psychoanalytic unconscious here; I mean by "unconsious" here the fact that the subject Sade wasn't fully aware of the conditions in which he as nobleman found himself, during the period from the beginning of the French Revolution and down through the Terror, which he was to live through only to be banished to the asylum at Charenton, apparently at the will of the First Consul.
In truth, Sade seems to me to have been fully aware of the relationship of his work to the attitudes of the type I called the man of pleasure. The man of pleasure as such bears witness against himself, by publicly confessing the extremes to which he may go. The great joy with which he recalls the emergence of this tradition historically is a clear sign of the point the master always reaches when he doesn't bow his head before the being of God.
There is no reason to hide in any way the realistic side of Sade's atrocities. Their developed, insistent, extravagant character is so obvious and constitutes such a challenge to credibility that the idea that this is an ironic discourse becomes quite plausible. It is nevertheless true that the things involved are commonly found in the works of Suetonius, Dion Cassius and others. Read the Memoirs on the Greut Days in Auvergne by Esprit Fléchier, if you want to learn what a great Lord at the beginning of the seventeenth century could get up to with his peasants.
We would be quite wrong to think that, in the name of the self-restraint the fascinations of the imaginary impose on our weakness, men are incapable in certain situations of transgressing given limits without knowing what they are doing.
In this connection, Freud helps us out with that absolute lack of subterfuge, that total absence of "knavery" that characterizes him, when he doesn't hesitate to make the point in Civilization and Its Discontents that there is nothing in common between the satisfaction a jouissance affords in its original state and that which it gives in the indirect or even sublimated forms that civilization obliges it to assume.
In one place he doesn't disguise his view of the fact that those jouissances which are forbidden by conventional morality are nevertheless.perfectly accessible and accepted by certain people, who live under a given set of conditions and whom he points to, namely, those whom we call the rich - and it is doubtless the case that, in spite of obstacles that are familiar to us, they sometimes make the most of their opportunities.
To make things clear, let me use this passage to make an incidental remark, similar to the remarks Freud makes on the subject, but that are often omitted or neglected. The security of jouissance for the rich in our time is greatly increased by what I will call the universal legislation of work. Just imagine what social conflicts were like in times past. Try to find something equivalent nowadays not at the frontiers of our societies, but within them.
And now a point on the value of Sade's work as witness of reality. Shall we investigate its value as sublimation? If we consider sublimation in its most developed form, indeed in the fiercest and most cynical form in which Freud took pleasure in representing it, namely, as the transformation of the sexual instinct into a work in which everyone will recognize his own dreams and impulses, and will reward the artist for having given him that satisfaction by granting the latter a fuller and happier life - and for giving him in addition access to the satisfaction of the instinct involved from the beginning - if we seek to grasp the work of Sade from this perspective, then it's something of a failure. It's something of a failure, if one thinks of the amount of time poor Sade spent either in prison or interned in special institutions. As for the work itself, at least The New Justine along with The Story of Juliette had a great deal of success during his lifetime in an underground form, a success of the night, a success of the damned. But I won't insist on that here. If I refer to it, it is<so as="" to="" cast="" some="" light="" on="" those="" sides="" of="" sade="" that="" are="" worth="" illuminating=""></so>
Let us now try to see how we should situate Sade's work. It has been called an unsurpassable body of work, in the sense that it achieves an absolute of the unbearable in what can be expressed in words relative to the transgression of all human limits. One can acknowledge that in no other literature, at no other time, has there been such a scandalous body of work. No one else has done such deep injury to the feelings and thoughts of mankind. At a time when Henry Miller's stories make us tremble, who would dare rival the licentiousness of Sade? One might indeed claim that we have there the most scandalous body of work ever written. Thus, as Maurice Blanchot puts it, "Isn't that a reason for us to be interested in it?"
And we are interested in just that way here. I urge you to make the effort to read the book in which two articles by Blanchot on Lautréamont and Sade are to be found. They constitute a part of the material to be put in our file.
That is certainly saying a lot then. It seems, in fact, as if one cannot conceive of an atrocity that isn't to be found in Sade's catalogue. The assault on one's sensibility is of a kind that is literally stupefying; in other words, one loses one's bearings. As far as this is concerned, one might even say that the effect in question is achieved artlessly, without any consideration for an economy of means, but through the accumulation of details and perepetia, to which is added a whole stuffing of treatises and rationalizations whose contradictions are of particular interest to us and that we can analyze in detail.
It takes a crude mind to assume that the treatises are simply there to make the erotic passages acceptable. Even minds that are far subtler have attributed to such treatises, dubbed digressions, a loss of suggestive tension on the level that the subtler minds in question - I am thinking of Georges Bataille - consider to be that of the works' true value, namely, their power to open up the possibility of the assumption of being on the level of immorality.
That's a mistake. The real problem is something else. It is nothing else but the response of a being, whether reader or writer, at the approach to a center of incandescence or an absolute zero that is physically unbearable. The fact that the book falls from one's hands no doubt proves that it is bad, but literary badness here is perhaps the guarantee of the very badness or mauvaisité, as it was still called in the eighteenth century, that is the object of our investigation. As a consequence, Sade's work belongs to the order of what I shall call experimental literature. The work of art in this case is an experiment that through its action cuts the subject loose from his psychosocial moorings - or to be more precise, from all psychosocial appreciation of the sublimation involved.
There is no better example of such a work than the one which I hope some of you at least are addicted to - addicted to in the same sense as "addicted to opium" - namely, the Songs of Maldoror by Lautréamont. And it is only fitting if Maurice Blanchot combines the points of view he presents us with on these two authors.
But with Sade the social reference is retained, and he claims to valorize socially his extravagant system, whence his astonishing avowals that suggest incoherence and lead to a multiple contradiction, which one would be wrong to ascribe purely and simply to the absurd. The absurd has recently become a somewhat too convenient category. One respects the dead, but I can't avoid noting the indulgence shown by a certain Nobel Prize winner to all the mumbo jumbo on the topic.' That prize is a wonderful universal reward for "knavery"; its honor roll bears the stigmata of a form of abjection in our culture.
By way of conclusion, I will focus on two terms that point to the next stage in our proiect.
1 The reference is to Albert Camns, who received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1957.
When one approaches that central emptiness, which up to now has been the form in which access to jouissance has presented itself to us, my neighbor's body breaks into pieces. Proclaiming the law of jouissance as the foundation of some ideally utopian social system, Sade expresses himself in italics in the nice little edition of Juliette published recently by Pauvert, though it is still a book that circulates surreptiously: "Lend me the part of your body that will give me a moment of satisfaction and, if you care to, use for your own pleasure that part of my body which appeals to you."
We find in this formulation of the fundamental law, which expresses the side of Sade's social system that claims to be socially viable, the first considered manifestation of something that we psychaoanlysts have come to know as part object.
But when the notion of part object is articulated in that way, we imply that this part object only wants to be reintegrated into the object, into the already valorized object, the object of our love and tenderness, the object that brings together within it all the virtues of the so
called genital stage. Yet we should consider the problem a little differently; we should notice that this object is nocessarily in a state of independence in a field that we take to be central as if by convention. The total object, our neighbor, is silhouetted there, separate from us and rising up, if I may say so, like the image of Carpaccio's San Giorgio degli Schiavone in Venice, in the midst of a charnel house figure.
The second term that Sade teaches us concerns that which appears in the fantasm as the indestructible character of the Other, and emerges in the figure of his victim.
Whether in Justine itself or in a certain Sadean posterity that is less than distinguished, namely, that erotic or pornographic posterity, which recently produced one of its finest works, The Story of 0-, the victim survives the worst of her ordeals, and she doesn't even suffer in her sensual power of attraction, that the author never ceases evoking, as is always the case in such descriptions; she always has the prettiest eyes in the world, the most pathetic and touching appearance. That the author always insists on placing his subjects under such a stereotyped heading poses a problem in itself.
It seems that whatever happens to the subject is incapable of spoiling the image in question, incapable even of wearing it out. But Sade, who is different in character from those who offer us these entertaining little stories, goes further, since we see emerge in him in the distance the idea of eternal punishment. I will come back to this point, because it amounts to a strange contradiction in a writer who wants nothing of himself to survive, who doesn't even want any part of the site of his tomb to remain accessible to men, but wants it instead to be covered with bracken. Doesn't that indicate that he locates in the fantasm the content of the most intimate part of himself, which we have called the neighbor, or in other words the metipsemus?
I will finish my lecture today on a point of detail. By what deep attachments is it that a certain relationship to the Other, that we call Sadistic, reveals its true connection to the psychology of the obsessional? - the obsessional, whose defenses take the form of an iron frame, of a rigid mold, a corset, in which he remains and locks himself up, so as to stop himself having access to that which Freud somewhere calls a horror he himself doesn't know.
March 30, 1960<a></a><a></a><a></a>