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Calliope’s Sc(D)ream: Feminine Jouissance in Aristotle’s Works on Language

The Letter, Issue 62, Summer 2016, Pages 37 - 64



Shirley Sharon-Zisser

This essay offers a reading of three major Aristotelian works on language – the Rhetoric, the Poetics, and the Sophistical Refutations – with the theorisations of sexual difference in Freud’s essays on the castration and Oedipus complexes and Lacan’s teaching from On a Discourse that might not be a Semblance to Encore. Nuancing Lacan’s criticism in 1978 of Aristotle in Aristotle’s Dream as believing in representation to the exclusion of the o-object, the essay shows that Aristotle’s treatments of language are intricated with treatments of sexual difference and feminine jouissance. This is manifest especially in the theorisation of the difference between simile and metaphor in relation to the difference between man and woman, and the treatment of poetic language that is outside sense as ecstatic. Forms of elision, most notably the enthymeme, whose theorisation Aristotle considers a major contribution of his Rhetoric, function as forms of enstasis or exclusory inclusion of ecstatic jouissance such as is forged in an analysis.

Keywords: Aristotle; Lacan; rhetoric; feminine jouissance; notall; castration; sexual difference

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