Imagine There's No Woman: Ethics And Sublimation

Paperback | September 17, 2004

byJoan Copjec

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Jacques Lacan claimed that his theory of feminine sexuality, including the infamous proposition, "the Woman does not exist," constituted a revision of his earlier work on "the ethics of psychoanalysis." In Imagine There's No Woman, Joan Copjec shows how Freud's ragtag, nearly incoherent notion of sublimation was refashioned by Lacan to become the key term in his ethics. To trace the link between feminine being and Lacan's ethics of sublimation, Copjec argues, one must take the negative proposition about the woman's existence not as just another nominalist denunciation of thought's illusions about the existence of universals, but as recognition of the power of thought, which posits and gives birth to the difference of objects from themselves. While the relativist position currently dominant insists on the difference between my views and another's, Lacan insists on this difference within the object I see. The popular position fuels the disaffection with which we regard a world in a state of decomposition, whereas the Lacanian alternative urges our investment in a world that awaits our invention.In the book's first part, Copjec explores positive acts of invention/sublimation: Antigone's burial of her brother, the silhouettes by the young black artist Kara Walker, Cindy Sherman's Untitled Film Stills, and Stella Dallas's final gesture toward her daughter in the well-known melodrama. In the second part, the focus shifts to sublimation's adversary, the cruelly uncreative superego, as Copjec analyzes Kant's concept of radical evil, envy's corruption of liberal demands for equality and justice, and the difference between sublimation and perversion. Maintaining her focus on artistic texts, she weaves her arguments through discussions of Pasolini's Salo, the film noir classic Laura, and the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination.

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Jacques Lacan claimed that his theory of feminine sexuality, including the infamous proposition, "the Woman does not exist," constituted a revision of his earlier work on "the ethics of psychoanalysis." In Imagine There's No Woman, Joan Copjec shows how Freud's ragtag, nearly incoherent notion of sublimation was refashioned by Lacan to...

Joan Copjec is Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and Media Study at the University at Buffalo, where she is also Director of the Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Culture.

other books by Joan Copjec

Read My Desire: Lacan Against the Historicists
Read My Desire: Lacan Against the Historicists

Kobo ebook|Jun 9 2015

$15.39 online$19.95list price(save 22%)
Format:PaperbackDimensions:269 pages, 9 × 7 × 0.75 inPublished:September 17, 2004Publisher:The MIT PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0262532700

ISBN - 13:9780262532709

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"In this volume Joan Copjec expands and deepens the theoretical trajectory that she initiated in Read my Desire. One of the most striking features of this brilliant new book is its systematic exploration of the ontological implications of psychoanalytic categories. Following a rigorous and exhaustive discussion of Freud's and Lacan's texts, she shows how for Freud the theory of the drives occupies the place of classical ontology and how Lacan's ethics is grounded in his proposition that there is no 'whole of being'. This gives psychoanalysis a projection which far transcends any regional theorization. In the author's words: 'My arguments here are premised on the belief that psychoanalysis is the mother tongue of our modernity and that the important issues of our time are scarcely articulable outside the concepts it has forged.' Copjec's book is bound to have a deep and lasting impact on contemporary theory."--Ernesto Laclau, Department of Government, University of Essex