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'An-Other' Jouissance: Unmasking The 'Vamp-ire' and Marilyn Monroe

The Letter, Issue 33, Spring 2005, Pages 61 - 71


Eve Watson

According to Lacan, there is a fissure, an irreducible gap in the unconscious in the place of the absent signifier of woman and this is where feminine jouissance is located. Lacan also says that there is only one libido and that therefore there is no psychical representative of the opposition masculine/feminine. If woman functions as the Other and finds herself representing the phallic value, she comes to figure as the object of jouissance. The woman can be said to have access to 'an-Other' enjoyment. However, it is elsewhere that she poses the question of her own jouissance.[1] How is it that we can know about the operation of 'an-Other' enjoyment? It is by means of its failures that the phallic is revealed to be 'not-all.' Analytic experience indicates that the 'no!' of the hysteric is informed by a rejection of phallic enjoyment. The symptom of the hysteric often points to a denial of the role of the phallus.[2]

Why is it that women seem to have a greater access to the non- phallic realm, i.e. the area we designate as the feminine? While admittedly women have not made any better sense of the feminine, (think of Dora's contemplation of the 'Madonna'), the man, who is more wholly subject to the arena of the phallic has a tough task in forming for himself an assessment of that which lies outside of it. His enjoyment is generally speaking co-relative to the function of the signifier, whereas some of woman's enjoyment lies 'perversely' outside of the phallic realm. Woman, the 'not-all,' uses the phallus as the means of access to the Other for both sexes, i.e. the phallus, as imaginary object, attempts to bridge the gap between the two sexes. In other words, she unchains the Other's desire. We have only to think of 'Sugar Kane' Kovolcic, Marilyn Monroe's character in the film, Some Like it Hot, to consider how easy it is for a woman to unleash desire, to function as a sublime object a. Let us turn now to the idea of vamp and the vampire.

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