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Unformatted text preview: [“x‘ European Journal of English Studies l382—5577/02/0603-343$16.00 If. S f 2002, Vol. 6. No. 3, pp. 343—359 ©Swets & Zeitlinger Ki Mind the Gap: Possible Uses of Psychoanalysis in the Study of English Literature. With an Illustration from J oyce’s “Eveline” Hedwig Schwall University ofLeuven 1. Introduction: Psychoanalysis and Literature The pertinence of Jacques Lacan’s work to the study of literature derives in large measure from the fact that it is more (and to some perhaps also less) than a kind of therapy: mainly informed by the quirks of language, it is an epistemology, a discipline which focuses on unconscious interac— tions, integrating bodily. pictorial and verbal expression. Concerned as it is with the rhetoric of the psyche, it has this in common with deconstruc- tive reading, that instead of discarding marginal and obscure passages, it concentrates on them: they could be ‘the navel’ of the text. In order to have as many ‘contexts’ at hand as possible, the analytic reader listens to other critics, just as analysts need to remain in supervision, to check regularly on the tendency of their own subjectivity. During the analysis, the details are framed and reframed, till that context is found which allows for the most consistent linkage of the greatest number of (structural) details. In his Clinical Introduction to Lacam'an Psychoanalysis,‘ Bruce Fink shows how, in its broad strokes, Lacan’s system of diagnosing is surpris- ingly simple. All human beings, in varying degrees of health, tend to neu— rosis, psychosis or perversion. In their tentative answers to the questions we all ask ourselves (What do the others want from me? What is my life for?), all develop a different relation to the Other (the unconscious and the language system, symbolised by respectively the Mother and the Name— of—the—Father). A neurotic person (e.g., the hysteric) will hold up her own Correspondence: Hedwig Schwall. Dept. of English, University of Leuven, Blijde-Inkomst- straal 21. B — 3000 Leuven, Belgium. Bruce Fink. A Ciinica! Introduction to Lacanian Psychoanalysis. Theory and Tech riqu (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press. [997). 344 HEDWIG SCHWALL imagined version of the Other, and by simultaneously prefiguring and thwarting her partner’s desires tries to keep herself in demand. The per- vert disavows the Other and singlehandedly dictates the latter’s desire. The psychotic person (e.g., the melancholic) has not distanced himself from the mother’s enjoyment, and if he lapses in a psychotic crisis, he feels the mother’s body enveloping him again. In this situation, the father’s function has failed: he has not introduced the child properly into the functioning of language, which must help the child to protect itself against too Oppressive (mater)realities. Lacanian psycho-theory is one thing, using it as a reading method in other media is another. For many, Slavoj Ziiek is the first to come to mind as one of those who have used the principles of analytic thinking to interpret literature, film and other arts, thus making Lacan‘s concepts more accessible to the wider (English—speaking) public. The senior in the field, hOWever, is Shoshana Felman (from the 19703 on); in her reader, Literature and Psychoanalysis. The Question of Reading: Otherwise, she gives a brilliant interpretation of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. 2 There, she avoids all the traps analysts may fall in: she does not go for an author-centred analysis, nor does she get stuck in character diagnosis, as her predecessors did. Indeed, there are many ways in which one could ‘translate’ or ‘transpose’ psychoanalytic thinking to the reading of litera— ture,3 but it is in approaches specifically attuned to the stylistic turns of the text that such transpositions have proved to be most fruitful. This is underscored by Peter Brooks, who claims that ‘narrative truth depends as much on the discourse of desire as on the claims of past events’." He maintains that readers should keep an eye peeled for ‘parts of the story of the past (which) may not ever be recalled but may nonethe— less be figured’.5 This focusing on the intensity and insistence with which 2 Shoshana Felman, ‘Turning the Screw of Interpretation”, in Literature and Psychoa- nalysis. The Question of Reading: Otherwise, ed. Shoshana Felman (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 197?.) Felman’s Jacques Lacan and the Adventure of Insight: Psychoanalysis in Contemporary Culture (Cambridge [Mass]: Harvard University Press, 1987) is still one of the best introductions to the discipline in its interaction with various other fields. Her Le scandale du corps parlant. Don Juan avec Austin ou la seduction en (lent languan (Paris: Le Seuil, 1980, translated in Eng- lish), focuses on Don Juan’s perlocutionary speech and broadens these considerations about modes of promising, so that literary criticism helps to elaborate psychoanalytic problems. 3 Meredith Anne Skura, The Literary Use of the Psychoanalytic Process (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1981). 4 Peter Brooks, Psychoanalysis and Storytelling (Cambridge [Mass] and Oxford: Black- well, ]994). p. 59. 5 Brooks, Psychoanalysis and Storytelling, p. 59. USES OF PSYCHOANALYSIS IN THE STUDY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE 345 words are used, may enable the reader to discern how ‘the present itself is shown to be the place of struggle.“ It is this Lacanian sounding 0f the libidinal flows that overdetermine the turns of the plot, the ‘interplay of form and desire’ .7 which I want to take up in a reading of Joyce’s ‘Eveline’ seen here below? 2. The human subject in Freudian and Lacanian concepts In his 1914 study, Remembering, Repeating and Working Through, Freud finds that the deeper layers of the psychic system are subject to the repeti— tion compulsion. This drive. which makes people repeat unpleasant expe- riences, proves to be stronger than the ‘pleasure principle’, which Freud initially had held to be the ruling principle of the healthy human being. He further differentiates between two kinds of drives, namely the Eros and the Thanatos drive: and their interaction will account for the different kinds of pleasure in ecstasy. which can lead to painful kinds of pleasure.9 Lacan’s rereading of Freud’s revised system renames the psychic system as the ‘R(eal)l(maginary)S(ymbolic)’ system and shows how it comes into being. At the moment of its birth, the human being is a split, or barred subject " Brooks. Psychoanalysis and Storytelling, p. 10. Brooks. Psychoanalysis and Storytelling, p. 28. In his article ‘Du paradigme freudien au paradigme lacanien’. Rene Major points out how both Joyce and Lacan focused on the gaps and chinks of discourse, and on the overdetermination of words. After Lacan had read F innegans Woke he concentrated more than ever (in the wild ‘faunétique‘, the phonetic aspect of language, and punned more than ever. But both Lacan and Joyce realised that constant foregrounding of the material aspect of language paves the way to a psychotic frame of mind. Rene Major, ‘Du paradigme freudien au paradigme lacanien’. in Actualite’ de l’hyste’rie. Monog- raphies o'e clinique psychanalyrlque. ed. Andre Michels (Ramonville: Editions Erés, ZOOI), p. 88. For details on the link Laean—Joyce, it is best to read Jacques Lacan, 'Joyce le symptome I, 11’, ‘Le sinthome’. in Joyce aver: Lacan, ed. Jacques Aubert, (Paris: Navarin. 1987). In view of both writers’ affinities, it is not surprising that many Joyceans are Lacanians. In the James Joyce Quarterly of 1991, a whole volume was dedicated to Lacanian readings, and ‘Eveline’ was the one story picked from Dublin- ers. Garry Leonard’s approach even focused on the same phenomenon as I do, only I think he left a few hiatuses. (Garry M. Leonard, ‘Wondering Where All the Dust Comes From: Jonissance in “Eveline”, The James Joyce Quarterly 29:] (1991). 23—42. In my reference to other authors I will not elaborate on my argument. as this would go beyond the scope of this article. As Paul Verhaeghe puts it, ‘Eros seeks fusion and thrives on a heightening of tension, while Thanatos aims at fragmentation and here, it is the zero level of tension. sleep, even death, which generates pleasure‘. Paul Verhaeghe, ‘Les deux théories freudiennes sur l’hystérie’. in Actuatire’ rte l’hysie’rie. Monogrophies ale clinique psychonalytique, ed. Andre Michels, p. 76. 346 HEDWIG SCHWALL (S): it is sexuated (i.e., symbolically castrated, given neither a male nor a female name) and mediated (from now on, the baby will be addressed and will have to address others to make his needs known). Yet, in the first months of its existence, the child is not aware of the subject—object differ- ence: it still thinks of itself as an extension of the mother. This experience of symbiosis sinks into the unconscious. Lacan calls this the dimension of the ‘Real’, as the world seems all-too—materially real. It is only at the time of weaning that it starts to dawn on the baby that it has lost some mythic completeness; mythic, because though the child has memories of full fusion with the mother, this was an illusory fusion, an impossible unity. The irony of the child’s history is that, while it experienced a kind of completeness, the child was still in the state of the ‘corps morcelé’, the fragmented body: it did not know that this foot and that arm belonged to him. It is only in the mirror stage or Imaginary stage, that the image in the mirror starts to work its ‘orthopaedic function’, giving the child another illusion of completeness as it notices its mastery of its own image. The narcissistic illusion of being able to possess and direct oneself will help the child to realise itself. Indeed, every subject needs to form a self-image, which is (more or less successfully) projected onto one’s own body. In the third, oedipal stage, however, the child has to accept the Name-of—the- Father, to enter the Symbolic order, i.e., the child has to acknowledge that it can only fully function if it can use language. So the subject is a split subject (S) because its perception is steered by the Real (early affects churning in the unconscious), the Imaginary (images strengthening the narcissistic ‘1’) and the Symbolic. These three aspects of perception have to be balanced as much as possible. This is not obvious, because the Symbolic system is deficient in (roughly) two ways: it cannot name that which is lost forever to a dark past, the illusory, pre-mediated unity, the monolithic experience of ‘the Thing’, as Lacan calls it, which keeps haunting every human subject‘s imagination. Nor can it name the subject’s destiny, or desire, because every signifier will turn out to be not quite what one had in mind. As a result, the language system, the Other, (l’Autre) is formulated as ‘the barred Other’, A. Yet because a tension remains between the nostalgia for the mythic, pre-sexuated wholeness on the one hand, and the in(de)terminable desire of the mediated subject on the other, the human being is susceptible to the ‘reminders’ which are left on the road which led from pre-castrated to castrated (i.e., oedipal, properly speaking) subject. These reminders are called objet petit a. These objects are linked to the consecutive stages in the child’s weaning from that mythi— cal unity (from oral to anal to oedipal stage): the breast, the anus, the mouth and the eye and their products (milk, faeces, voice and look). Because these USES OF PSYCHOANALYSIS IN THE STUDY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE objects are linked to rims of the body and to boundary lines in the psychic development, special power is ascribed to them. And indeed: the objects (little a), linked to the myth of an omnipotent Other (big A), turn up time and again in anaiysands’ stories, either in their most typical form or in a closely related, metonymical form. The effect of this ‘object a’ is usually fear—inspiring: it brings the immediacy of the Real back, a materiality which overwhelms and obliterates all ‘normal’, habitual perception. 80, between the ‘objects a’ and 2%, the subject has to follow up its desire, its destiny. But if desire is an energy linked with the Symbolic function, the ecstatic forces Freud discovered beyond the pleasure principle tend to be ruled by the Real, and Lacan renames the energy of these drives ‘jouis- sanc-e’. ‘Jouissance represents the paradoxical relation between pleasure and the death drive’.‘0 Lacan distinguishes between ‘phallic jouissance’, ‘jauissance of the Other’ and ‘jouissance of Being’ . ” To put it succinctly: phallic jauissance is the most common, linked with the phallic physical ecstasy of the coitus, and generated by an unconscious in which Eros and Thanatos are in balance; jouissance of the Other, or female jouissance, originates from a strong, insatiable Eros drive and is more diffuse; while jouissance of Being springs from a strong Thanatos drive, and aims at unification with the Thing. Nowjouissance is an energy that can to a certain extent be channelled by one‘s use of language. This brings us to the Name—of—the—Father, the last important term we must define before we can move to the literary field. The fact that not “the Father’ is the guarantee of the referential func— tion, but the ‘Name-of—the-Father’, indicates that not so much the parents but their speech is important, the way in which they situate children in the family, and the family in the wider world. The parents’ words are to instill the child with trust in the language system, to familiarize it with the possibilities of language, to promise, remember, represent — to keep one’s head in the perplexities of the enigma of the sexual difference, of absence, doubt, 1038, fear, desire. I used the expression ‘to keep one’s head” because it is also used in the ‘Eveline’ story; ‘the enigma of sexual difference’ refers to the castration 1“ In their article mButterflies caught in the network of signifiers”: the goals of psy- choanalysis according to Jacques Lacan’, Psychoanalytic Quarterly. LXX, l (200I), 201—230, Beatrice and André Patsalides briefly discuss the different kinds of jouissance (p. 205). Though their representation is rather concise, i recommend this article as a perfect introduction for any beginner in Lacanian thought. Lacan elaborates on the different kinds of ‘jouissance’ in his seminar Encore. Le sémi- flaire XX. 1972-1973 (Paris: Le Seuil, 1975): but for a systematized account of these concepts one should read Nestor Braunstein’s La Jouissance. Un concept lacam'en (Paris: Point hors ligne, 1992). El 343 HEDWIG SCHWALL phantasm or oedipal phase, in which the subject has to consciously accept its (fe)male role and explore its implications in a certain culture. The ‘Name-of—the-Father’ is the arch-metaphor, the instrument of mediation, of socialisation. If the Name—of—the-Father is rejected, the child will not be able to situate itself in the chain of generations, nor in its own sexual identity. It will not be able to distinguish between literal and metaphoric, and thus will lack all possibilities to symbolize, to represent, to mediate (psychic or material) realities. In other words, the child will be a poten- tially psychotic subject, i.e., vulnerable to the breaking in of ‘the object a’, followed by the invasion of the Real which interrupts the current of desire, carried by the signifiers of phantasms and tentative speech, with which the subject feels its way forward, and paralyses or ‘aphanizes’ the subject. In crisis moments, when one is hard put to the hardest questions (What do you want of me? What is my life for?), the subject is most vulnerable to the Real, which activates the death drive, i.e., the way back to the smothering, wordless Real. Lacan calls this situation the ‘fixation on the empty place of das Ding’.12 If those familiar with ‘Eveline’ will have recognized certain situations, that is certainly a bonus. Yet, we must keep in mind that a psychoanalytic reading does not primarily aim at finding neat illustrations, mere ‘appli- cation’ of theory. If we want to ‘reactivate‘ both literature and psychoa- nalysis, as Felman, Brooks et all. would have us do, we must focus on the stylistic peculiarities and try to see which words or word clusters may bespeak libidinal currents as yet uncharted. 3. Inhibited by habit, inhabited by inhibition In his essay ‘Dead ends: Joyce’s finest moments’, Seamus Deane looks for marginal but insistent details. Deane observes how ‘One of the most obvi— ous effects of Joyce’s elaborate stylizations is to convert or pervert stories of imagined adventure, escape, heroism or fame into studies in a cultural pathology’.‘3 About ‘The Dead’, Deane says, ‘The key to the journey is 12 Or to put it with Slavoj Ziiek: ‘the “drive potential of man“ consists of drives that are already denaturalized, derailed by their traumatic attachment to a Thing, to an empty place, that excludes man forever from the circular movement of life and thus ppens the immanent possibility of a radical catastrophe, the “second death”. Slavo} Ziaek, Looking Awry: an Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture (Cambridge [Mass]: MIT Press, 1991), p. '37. '3 Seamus Deane, ‘Dead Ends: Joyce’s Finest Moments’, in Semicoloniai Joyce, ed. Derek Attridge and Marjorie HoWes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), p.21. USES OF PS YCHOANALYSIS IN THE STUDY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE repetition It provides a safety net of correspondences into which any apparently random element might fall and find its place in the universal scheme. In all the stories in Dubliners other than ‘The Dead’, repetition has a critical and disturbing function.l4 Indeed I believe it is a good idea to start from ‘structural signifiers’, those which characterise the different psychic powers at play in this focal- iser and, through their repetition, mark the two main phases in the protago— nist’s development. Part one will focus on the dust in Eveline’s house, part two on the ‘foolish insistence’ of the mother’s voice. For readers who are not familiar with Joyce’s story. a kind of summary may be helpful 7 though the five pages of the story are so dense with ambiguous descriptions that this is a hazardous enterprise. So, in brief: at a vital moment of her life, Eveline is sitting at the window, reminiscing about the hardships and the more gleeful moments of her past life. She has to decide whether or not she will leave the house and follow Frank, a sailor whom she met, to Argentina. In the first part of the story, the father’s image dominates; in the second part, the mother’s voice becomes an overwhelm- ing presence. The whole short story seems to focus on two major signifiers: the dust in the first part. the mother’s nonsensical deathbed refrain in the second part. In the 2000 spring issue of EJES, Peter de Voogd maintains that ‘see- ing’ (and later showing) will be an important isotopy in this story.15 De Voogd further rightly argues that Eveline becomes more and more active as the story goes on, but this leads him to a surprising interpretation of the end, that Eveline acts the melodramatic part of the Victorian heroine: the phrase ‘She set her white face to him, passive...’ would ‘indicate activity and deliberation’.16 Activity and deliberation are not quite synonymous, and as I think this difference vital for a more plausible interpretation of the story’s end we will have to look into what Eveline focuses on, and how, and this not only in the optic, but also in the auditory and the tactile aspect of her perception. In brief, with my question concerning ‘Eveline’ — which factors in the psychic system steer her perception? — I hope to answer three important questions that have exercised numerous critics: What is the dust all about? Does Eveline act in a conscious or unconscious way? And what is the ‘meaning’ of ‘Derevaun Seraun’? I 4 Deane, ‘Dead Ends: Joyces Finest Moments”, p. 35. Peter de Voogd. ‘lrnaging “Eveline”: Visualised Focalisations in James Joyce‘s Dublin- err ', European Journal QfEnglish Studies 4:] (2000), 39-48. tie Voogd. ‘Imaging “Eveline”: Visualised Focalisations in James Joyce’s Dubliners’, p. 48. !5 if: 350 HEDWIG SCHWALL ‘Eveline’: part one In the first half of the story, we find a girl who loves daydreaming. She has even made herself a cosy private theatre: instead of looking out of the window, she retreats into the folds of the window curtain: ‘Her head was leaned against the window curtains and in her nostrils Was the odour of dusty cretonne’.” The scenes we see in that private theatre have four peculiar traits in common. First, we are told that ‘their little browu houses’ do not border on a street, or lane, but on nothing less than an ‘avenue’:18 the focaliser seems to make up for the banality of her house with an inclination towards self- aggrandizement. Second, the focaliser always turns to the past. After two lines about the changes in the area, Eveline moves back to her childhood, and the form in which this is represented also betrays an overwhelming tendency to stick to the past: the expression ‘used to’ is repeated five times, once stressed by the adverb ‘usually’.‘9 Especially the fact that ‘there used to be a field there’ (my italics) shows us, from the prologue of this invented past, in what way those reminiscences will be encapsulating: Eveline will not escape the playfield of her phantasms. Third, Eveline betrays that up to now, the moment of her vital choice, she has always felt a marked indifierence to her home: she ‘never found out the name of the priest whose yellowing photograph hung on the wall’ ,2“ nor does she ever specify who ‘the two young children’ are ‘who had been left to her charge’.21 All we know is that ‘She had hard work to keep the house together and to see that the two young children who had been left to her charge went to school regularly and got their meals regularly. It was hard work -— a hard life‘ (my italics).22 If we go by the repetitions, it is the regularity of the job which is the hardest on Eveline, and this irks her not only at home: ‘Of course she had to work hard both in the house and at business’.23 The "of coursc’ may raise the reader’s suspicion about the reliability of the focaliser, especially when we hear that Eveline does not only withdraw in her private theatre at home. At work, too, she is absentminded, as we ‘7 James Joyce, ‘Eveline’, Dubliners, ed. Terence Brown (Harrnondsworth: Penguin, 1992), p. 29. 13 Joyce, ‘Eveline’, p. 29 ‘9 Joyce, ‘Eveline’, p. 29. 2” Joyce, ‘Eveline’, p. 29. 2' Joyce, ‘Eveline’, p. 31. 22 Joyce, ‘Eveline’, p. 31. 23 Joyce, ‘Eveline’, p. 30. USES OF PSYCHOANALYSIS IN THE STUDY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE 351 hear from her boss : ‘Miss Hill, don’t you See these ladies are waiting‘?’.24 Likewise, her father who is the boss at home is reported to maintain ‘that she had no head‘; and when she has finally got the money to go to the shops he is irritated by her dazed state and asks ‘her had she any intention of buying Sunday’s dinner?‘.25 On the one hand Eyeline has bouts of indecisiveness or absentminded— ness; but on the other hand i and this brings us to the fourth ‘peculiarity’ of this focaliser — she seems to be a great one for ‘excitement’, and she SOunds really happy when she can go out. The oppositions between the slavey and the frivolous young girl are subtle, hidden in small words, lapses, which show us the focaliser’s unreliability. And, though Eveline maintains she had ‘a hard life’ she does have time to visit boarding houses where sailors are staying, she sits with her sailor—friend, Frank, in ‘an unaccustomed part of the theatre’ (my italics)?" eagerly watching her near—namesake Arline ~ the protagonist of The Bohemian. Girl — being kidnapped from her father‘s house by a group of gypsies, one of whom is really a nobleman. Frank is easily accomodated in the latter’s role. ‘First of all .it had been an excitement for her to have a fellow’,27 but now soon the story becomes even grander: the sailor who will take her with him to Buenos Aires ‘had a home waiting for her’: ‘People would treat her with respect then’ .28 Eve- line can already see herself as mistress of the house. Moreover, Frank is even more entertaining than her father in his best days. Though Eveline remembers her father acting as a female “putting on her mother’s bonnet to make the children laugh"29 and telling her ‘a ghost story’ when she was in bed, Frank has even more to offer in that department: ‘he told her stories of the terrible Patagonians’?" Eveline has a regular income of stories to feed her daydreaming, and so she could indeed present herself as the ‘Victorian heroine’ Peter de Voogd sees in this girl. Indeed, as the story’s focaliser, she Seems to aggrandize both the hardships and her own moments of glory: as a real hysteric, she sees herself cast in a drama, with a heroic role for herself. Yet, this manic trait which leads her to act the grande dame, the customer who has money to spend and returns ‘home late under her load of provisions”, ‘pleasantly confused’,31 sorely contrasts with Eveline in her role as the serVant in the 24 Joyce, ‘Eveline', p. 30. Joyce, ‘Eveline‘, p. 3i. 3" Joyce, ‘Eveline', p. 31. 17 Joyce, ‘Eveline'. p. 32. 2“ Joyce, ‘Eveline’. p. 30. 3“ Joyce, ‘Eveline’, p. 32. 3" Joyce, 'Eveline‘, p. 32. Joyce, ‘Evcline‘, p. 32. 25 352 HEDW'IG SCHWALL shop. There she needs to be admonished to look cheerful: ‘Look lively, Miss Hill, please’ .32 This melancholy will deepen as the evening proceeds, and the turning point from elegiac—nostalgic to melancholy mood and the bout of panic is very clearly marked. But let us first summarize what the first picture has shoWn us, as we go over one important isot0py of part one, which will lead us to the hinging point to part two. ‘[I]n her nostrils was the odour of dusty cretonne ... Eve— rything changes She looked round the room, reviewing all its familiar objects which she had dusted once a week for so many years, Wondering where on earth all the dust came from’.33 Though Garry Leonard focuses on this motif in his analysis of ‘Eveline’, and rightly notices that ‘the mother — is dust’,34 he does not situate this (repeated) observation (dusty, had dusted, dust) in the context of Eveline’s dream grammar. The ‘dust isotopy’ underscores all our previous observations. First, in her ‘wondering where on earth all the dust came from’, Eveline repeats a householder’s common saying, often meant as a rhetorical question, to vent the fact that dusting is not an interesting activity. Second, Eveline’s annoyance at this weekly task would underscore the fact that she hates regular work. Third, the possibility that she may not do her job properly (as Miss Gavan and her father implied ‘that she had no head’35), may account for the mass of dust. If dusting is only an alibi for Eveline to retract to her dreamworld, she will be doing it carelessly, which would again explain her indifference to the pictures she dusted every week. In other words, dusting may be a ‘screening activity’ to withdraw in her own theatre, just like Eveline seems to stage a lot of ‘screening memories’ on the stage of her phantasms.” 32 Joyce, ‘Eveline’, p. 30. 33 Joyce, ‘Eveline’, p. 30. 3" Leonard, ‘Wondering Where All the Dust Comes From: Jouisstmce in “Eveline’”, p. 24. 35 Joyce, ‘Eveline’, p. 31. 35 The story of the screening memories may lead us too far for the scope of this article, but if we are to follow up Terence Brown‘s suggestion that the title of this story could imply a reference to the Victorian pornographic novel ‘Eveline’, in which ‘the heroine has sexual intercourse with her father (among other members of her family), and Whose speciality is fellatio’, it is no wonder that ‘Eveline’ stages memories which are metony- mics of these events: the father who chases the children back into the house to keep the family secret, and his being repeatedly connected with the oral phase (him offering her stories and food, and the two of them bickering about it), would fit the ‘subterranean theme’ (Joyce, The Dead, ed. Brown, pp. 253-254). Moreover, the possibility of incest could be one way to account for the presence of the ‘two young children who had been left to her charge’ (Joyce, ‘Eveline‘, p. 31): all the other brothers and sisters have left or are dead. USES OF PSYCHOANALYSIS IN THE STUDY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE 353 When We look back on these observations, Eveline’s qualifications all make her fit the hysteric pattern. The ambiguous relation to the father is firmly implanted in the text, especially in Eveline’s hate of the family’s dysfunctional present, which she transposes into an aggrandized, dreamy past. Like all hysterics. she hates the routine of life and prefers to dwell in the Imaginary world of her own daydreams (like Anna 0.), where she can play a noble role.37 Another hysteric trait in Eveline is that she loves to make promises but finds it hard to make a final decision, and especially wavers in making up her mind in matters of sexual identity as we see in the blurred picture of her parents.” Though the father had been prominent in Eveline’s memories, we now notice that the mother’s presence lurks in the background: ‘...her mother was alive. That was a long time ago; she and her brothers and sisters were all grown up; her mother Was dead’.39 The mother is alive and dead within two sentences: this quick alternation will indeed prove to be confusing, as the mother will be a prevalent, threatening presence Eveline wants to escape: “She would not be treated as her mother had been’.“” Eveline: part two Her time was running out but she continued to sit by the window, leaning her head against the window curtain, inhaling the odour of dusty cretonne. Down far in the avenue she could hear a street organ playing She remembered the last night of her mother’s illness; she was again in the closc dark room and outside she heard a melancholy air ..."“ Later, she hears the dark boat which must bring her away, blowing ‘a long mournful whistle into the mist?“ For more details on this phenomenon, sec Lucien Israel. L'hystérie, [e sexe at [e me’decm (Paris: Masson. l976), Nestor Braunstein. ‘La jouiSsance dans l‘hyste’rie‘, in La jrmissam.=e. Un Concept lat-unfair, 201-229. Lucien Israe’l, La jouissancc d9 i'hyste’rique (Paris: Arcanes. 1996), Soshana Felman, Le scandach du corps parlant. Don Juan ovec' Austin (m In sédttction (an deux tongues. ln one of Eveline’s most cherished memories. the father is acting as the mother. This would not only account for the catharctic effect this had on Eveline, as it would appeal to what Paul Verhaeghe defines as ‘le fantasme unisexuel de l‘hystériqne'. ‘Les deux theories freudiennes sur l‘hystéric‘. p. 78, but it also reflects indirectly the conspiracy that parents in an incestuous family usually display. Joyce, 'Eveline‘. p. 29. Joyce. 'Eveline'. p. 30, Joyce, ‘Evcline'. p. 33. Joyce. Eveline-.1). 33. is TU -Hl 4| 4) 3S4 HEDWIG SCI-{WALL As Peter de Voogd pointed out, Eveline is indeed becoming more active: now she is even ‘inhaling’ the dust. Only, she does not do so delib— erately. If we remember that her mother is dust, it seems that the death— drive is manifesting itself here as a dust-drive. At first, Eveline could hold her mother’s haunting presence (literally) at arm’s length by dusting, and by talking about it (in the stereotype statements of the householder); but now she is drowning herself in the folds of the dusty curtains. It seems the dust in the house functions as the ‘object a’ which replaces the mother’s breast, about to choke Eveline. Later in the story, this ‘object a’ will lead to another such typical instance of the Real, that of the moth- er’s voice in its nonsensicality. Its ‘foolish insistence’, which interrupts the chain of linking signifiers with the mere materiality of the voice, is characteristic of the ‘object a’. At this moment where ‘the pitiful vision of her mother’s life laid its spell on the very quick of her being”, Eveline is hit by the Real, and the jouissance of Being invades her. The passage of Eveline’s ‘inhaling dust’ thus leads us to the famous ‘Derevaun Seraunl’ Derevaun Seraun!’ enigma. Philological explanations such as W.G. McCormack‘s, or alternative translations like Wim Tigges’s ‘I have been there; you should go there!’,43 do not seem particularly helpful here; nor Would I follow Jim LeBlanc, who reads a witty anagram into this ‘Joycean puzzle’. LeBlanc rightly underscores, though, that the mother’s ‘factual’ saying is irrelevant; and this is indeed confirmed in the style of Eveline’s response to it at this critical point of her existence.44 From the ‘Derevaun Seraun! Derevaun Seraun!’ passage on, where Eveline is under the spell of her mother’s life, dual repetitions begin to invade the text. ‘Escape! She must escape! Frank would save her. He would give her life, perhaps love, too. But she Wanted to live Frank would take her in his arms, fold her in his arms. He would save her’ (my italics).45 From here on, all direct speech is double too: ‘Come! . . . Come! . . . ‘Eveline! Evvy!’.“6 So we come to the final part of the story, where Peter de Voogd sees Eveline as a champion of ‘fine melodramatic acting’ who can ‘forcc her eyes to be absolutely blank’. In view of the fact that Eveline, as a real hysteric, is histrionic, and thus interested in acting, this is very plausible; only, since the ‘object a’ of the mother’ 5 voice has ‘laid its spell on the very “‘3 For the full discussion with quotes from McCormack see Wim Tigges, “‘Derevaun Seraunl”: Resignation or Escape?’. James Joyce Quarterly 31,1 (1994), 102- 104. Tig- ges confesses that in his account the dust passage remains ‘unaccountable’. 4“ Jim LeBlanc, ‘More on “Derevaun Seraunl‘", James Joyce Quarterly 35, 4 (1998), 849-851. 45 Joyce, ‘Eveline’, p. 33. 45 Joyce, ‘Eveline’, p. 34. USES OF PSYCHOANALYSIS IN THE STUDY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE 355 quick of her being’, the Real gains on the Imaginary aspect of perception, and the focaliser’s Unconscious is whipped into action. In this panic, the Eros and Thanatos drives are vying for power. We can actually foresee what the outcome of her struggle will be, if only we look more closely at the way in which Eveline uses language. What jumps to the eye immediately is that, in Eveline’s world, the Name—of-thevFather does not work. There is something seriously wrong with her use of names, which she uses as common nouns. Her brother Ernest is one who is too earnest to play; Harry is harried out of the house, Frank is frank. Her relation to her own name is peculiar too: she identifies with the christian name, Eveline (following in Eve’s line, situating her ‘real’ life in the evening, her dreamtime, when she can link her life up with that of Ariine, ‘The Bohemian Girl’). Yet in her very own patronym (the most literal meaning of ‘the Name—of—the—Father’), Hill, she is ambigu— ous, realising it by being ill. and simultaneously counteracting it by being ‘down’ most of the time — thus reflecting her final lack of choice: she will neither leave her father nor live with him, as she will be stuck in her cri- sis. As the story goes on and the power of the mother grows, the hys— teric traits are replaced by thOSe of the melancholic (‘melancholy air’, ‘a long mournful Whistle into the mist’“), which tends to be more liable to get caught in the psychotic’s hallucinations. Also, in this second part of the story the optical aspect is overruled by the tactile, which is more 'invading’, and more linked to the effect of the ‘object a’. Her mother’s dust and voice, and later Frank’s arms, will drown her, draw her into the indiscriminate origin of her being (‘where all the dust came from”), now symboliSed by ‘All the seas of the world‘: Eveline is drawn from her vac— illation between phallic and female jouissance into jouissance of Being, which indeed turns her into a monolithic thing, a white statue like Lot’s wife, who, trying to leave a city of forbidden forms of sexuality and con- fusion, longed too much to look back on her past, and turned around. One might argue then that there is a certain logic in the narrative technique to introduce another voice at this moment, where the focaliser is invaded by the indifferent Thing, cut off from intersubjective communication. Many critics have wondered whether Eveline was acting consciously or unconsciously at the end. It seems to me that from the moment the two ‘objects a” hit, the impact of the repetition compulsion overrules the Imaginary perception and Eveline’s private theatre is now staged by the principles of the primary system, which is the unconscious. From the 43 Joyce. ‘Eveline‘. p. 33. 356 HEDWIG SCHWALL ‘strange’ moment when the melancholy air, which was played before her mother’s death, is heard, Eveline’s memoried perception seems to change from “returns to’ the past to ‘retums of a past.48 Though the sheer form of the mother’s repetition (and the dual forms following in its wake) already shows that Eveline is in the grip of jouissance, rather than in that of her own desire, it is worth noting that all the interpretations of the mother’s ‘gibberish’ are connected with annihilation in madness or death. Wim Tig- ges’ translation ‘(some)one has gone there, (one must) go (back) there’49 Would most underscore the fact that the primary drives aim at recurrence. In the following passages, Eveline’s panic is alternately dictated by both the Eros and Thanatos drives: while the dust — or death drive — steered Eveline’s associations towards ‘her mother’s voice’, it is the eros drive which makes Eveline stand up ‘in a sudden impulse of terror’,50 to give way again to the death drive, reappearing in her wish to be ‘folded’ in Frank’s arms, from which again she will withdraw. This image of being lost in indecisiveness will indeed be the overpowering one, as Eveline comes to stand ‘among the swaying crowd’ at the station.51 In the problem of trying to distinguish between empirical and projected reality in Eveline’s focalising, an extra difficulty was signalled by several critics who remarked that any description of the way between house and harbour is curiously absent, which raises the question whether Eveline has left her home at all. I do not think we can decide on this question, but I do want to show how Joyce used all his mastership to limit the readers’ perception to that of the focaliser, thus frustrating them all the more, as he had given us ample scope in part one to notice that Eveline is unreliable. When we again look at the information we can gather from the style, we notice that the story has a circular structure. Indeed, the representation of the return of the repressed, or repetitive compulsion, would call for circu- larity. We see this first in the metonymies, used to describe Eveline’s body. Both at the beginning (‘Her head was leaned in her nostrils“) and the end (‘Her hands clutched Her eyes gave him no sign. . 353) panes pro rota function in such a way that we never get the whole person in view. What is striking here is that, at the beginning, Eveline is pictured with a typical hysteric ‘coupure’, whereby the head is seen I felt to be independ— ent of the rest of the body. At the end, ‘her head’ of the opening page is 43 Peter Brooks, Psychoanalysis and Storytelling, p. 119. 4° Wim Tigges, “‘Derevaun Seraunl”: Resignation or Escape?’, p. 103. 5° Joyce, ‘Eveline’, p. 33. 5' Joyce, ‘Eveline’, p. 33. 51 Joyce, ‘Evline’, p. 29. 53 Joyce, ‘Eveline’, p. 34. USES OF PSYCHOANALYSIS IN THE STUDY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE reduced to ‘her eyes’, showing how the girl even loses the possibility of imagining the hysteric is so good at: at the end, she is reduced to the mere taking in of horrifying scenes, like patients in a psychotic crisis. The descriptions of places at the beginning and the end also show curi— ous correspondences. One must allow for the fact that, at the beginning, optic impressions were more frequent (as they are what the Imaginary perception focuses on), while the auditory and tactile stimuli (belonging more to the hallucinatory perception of the Real) dominate at the end. So, the ‘black mass of the boat with illumined portholes’54 may echo the new housing estate opposite Eveline’s house, in which the lamps may be lit, now that evening has darkened to night. As for tactile impressions, we know that Eveline stood ‘among the swaying crowd in the station’,55 but is the crowd swaying or is this a projection of the speaker’s oncoming nausea? Later, she breaks out into a cold sweat: ‘She felt her cheek pale and cold She gripped with both hands at the iron railing Her hands clutched the iron in frenzy’ .5“ Is Eveline indeed holding iron or is this again a projection of her own feeling cold? Or, one step further: does her cold fear change the feeling of the window sill at home into cold material? By the end, Eveline’s perception is so blurred that she cannot distin— guish any more between exterior and interior reality. The bodily rigidity in such psychOSes reflects the dreamer’s impossibility to find a way out of his or her predicament: when words and images fail, the body is the last possibility to express the person‘s terror, the last link to be held on to for human communication. Yet, in this minimal, final act, Eveline expresses her problem: lapsing into paralysis, the daughter manages to avoid choos- ing, combining both imitation and refusal of the mother’s example in fulfilling her urge for self-sacrifice in not following Frank, and yet not coming back to the father. ‘Encore‘, she is speaking, but only mutely, through her body; ‘encore’, the female family fate is enacted; ‘encore’, an epiphany shows us a glimpse of Dublin’s underworld. a decisive impulse from beyond the pleasure principle.57 fi-‘l 55 5t) 57 Joyce, ‘Eveline’, p. 33. Joyce, ‘Eveline’, p. 33. Joyce, ‘Eveline’, pp. 33—34. The French ‘encore’, title of Lacan’s Encore. Le .s'e’minaire XX. 1972-1973, has many meanings. Eveline speaks still (‘encore’L but only through her body (‘en-corps’); her mother has touched her to the quick (‘in her core’l ‘en ccenr’) and in her frenzy, she partly re~enacts her mother’s fate again (‘encore’). in an acting inspired by the repeti- tion compulsion. 35 8 HEDWIG SCHWALL 4. Dialogue Over the last century, most critics have concentrated on the ways in which Eveline is oppressed: by the religious system, the social system, the culture of her time. While cultural studies and semiotics show, like in Katherine Mullin’s study, how Joyce’s style mocks nationalist propaganda.58 Other disciplines, like psychoanalysis, tend to focus more on the oppression in the family, which impregnates people’s perception. And if, according to Mullin, Joyce accomplishes his critique ‘by placing Buenos Aires in the center of his narrative’,59 her reading practice also confirms that it is us, critics, who put certain stylistic phenomena in the centre of our discussion. Whether the background against which we read is historical, sociological, linguistic, psychoanalytic, is not of the utmost importance, but the more Well—read we are the more the text will yield, provided we form a dialogue with the text, or in the case of a psychoanalytic approach, a ‘transference’, Which presupposes that we read ‘bifocally’, with a ‘docta ignorantia’. ‘Learned’, in the sense that you only recognise links between signifiers if you know of possibly underlying structures, ‘ignorance’, in the sense that we must try to read as much as possible against our own too quick projections: what we need is ‘a willing suspension of self—belief’. Or as the Dutch poet Rutger Kopland puts it: ‘One who found something has not properly searched?" So, like the analysis of an analysand, that of a text is in principle end- less. In order to keep away from ‘Imaginary’ interpretation, we must follow the other currents of language, those of the Real, which ride on strange uses of metaphor, homephony, punning. .. What the critic-analyst does then, is not so much to offer connaissance, knowledge, but savoir, the myths and structures which make one sensitive to the enigma of the text. If ‘reading a text is essentially constructive, a filling—in of gaps’ ,“ the analytic literary critic must first link the gaps, to get the negative picture, which slhe then slowly develops, according to the clues, key words, given in the text. By ‘minding’ the gaps, the critic is supposed never to refrain from reframing that which has been overlooked or obscured in more straight— 5“ Katherine Mullin, ‘Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina: “Eveline” and the Seductions of Emi- gration Propaganda’, in Semicotom‘al Joyce, ed. Derek Attridge and Marjorie Howes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 172-200. 5” Mullin, ‘Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina: “Eveline” and the Seductions of Emigration Propaganda’, p. 193. 5° ‘Wie wat vindt heeft slecht gezocht.’ Title of a volume by Rutger Kopland, Wie war vindt heeft slecht gezochr (Amsterdam: G.A.Van Oorschot, 1984). 61 Brooks, Psychoanalysis and Storytelling, p. 57. USES OF PSYCHOANALYSIS IN THE STUDY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE forward readings; focusing on marginal and connotational sideways, new paths to hitherto hidden, subterranean themes may be beaten; and as so many English and French studies on psychoanalysis and literature are published and further being developed, 1 hope this discipline will actively help to revivify texts, to revitalize English literature. Copyright© 2003 EBSCO Publishing ...
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