Performance/Panel: “The Ontology of the Rape Joke” with Vanessa Place, Jeff Dolven, Gayle Salamon, and Jamieson Webster

Rape is an act of physical and sexual violence; jokes are understood as a kind of psychic disruption, with humor forcing a release of pleasure. According to Freud, jokes can function as a shared victory over social repression, and “jokes that have a purpose run the risk of meeting with people who do not want to listen to them.” What is the purpose of the rape joke? Do we want to listen? And given that the ear is an orifice we cannot close, is it ever possible to consent to humor? Click here for audio courtesy of host Cabinet Magazine ABOUT THE PARTICIPANTS Jeff Dolven teaches poetry and poetics, especially of the English Renaissance, at Princeton University. A book of his poems, Speculative Music(Sarabande Books), came out in 2013. A new book of criticism, The Sense of Style, is forthcomin...Read More

Freud Out Loud: Civilization and its Discontents – A Marathon Reading

“The inclination to aggression constitutes the greatest impediment to civilization.” – SIGMUND FREUD, 1929 Why is the world so violent? Why can’t civilization contain it? Freud knows! Few thinkers understand human aggression as powerfully as the founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. His 1929 essay, “Civilizations and Its Discontents,” remains the definitive text on human destructiveness. As beheadings, school shootings, war, police brutality and sexual violence continue unabated contemporarily, its relevance is undeniable. “Men are not gentle creatures,” Freud wrote, “but … creatures whose instinct (is) aggressiveness.” Judson Memorial Church and New Books in Psychoanalysis will host a reading of Freud’s seminal essay to ring in 2015, organized by Tracy Morgan, Will Braun, ...Read More

Angelo Villa: Psychoanalysis and the Handicapped

“Over the last few years, definitions of handicaps and disabilities have multiplied themselves, either generating improbable neologisms or exploring language in search of an impossible formula which may combine the designation of a difference with its negation. The ensuing feeling of confusion has consequently increased. Words, the sea of words and of more or less politically correct linguistic inventions, go their way. Handicap is nailed somewhere else, like an obstinate, unemotional warrior observing the corpse of his enemy as it is washed to his feet by the flow of the river. The task that words are required to perform is that they may open and close, dilate and bend like rubber to the needs of reality, which literally looks incomprehensible and unbearable to the “normal” human be...Read More

Patricia Gherovici: Two Fund(a)mental Concepts of Lacanian Psychoanalysis – A Course on The Phallus and object a

Can psychoanalysis rethink sexuality without fully relying on the controversial and contested notion of the phallus? The simplest, schematic version of the Freudian Oedipal model offers a binary logic of having or not having it, of presence or absence: boys have it, girls don’t. For Freud, castration is a loss that women think they have suffered and that men fear. For Lacan, the phallus is clearly not the penis; for him castration is even a more fundamental loss affecting both sexes since both sexes are castrated. Nobody can have the phallus or can be it. In the mother’s body, nothing is missing. Lack is purely a logical limit—the mother is deprived of something she does not have. The phallus is the object that appears to veil a symbolic lack. It should not come as a surprise that Lacan’s ...Read More

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