But 2) Insofar as the image is by its very nature and constitution inadequate to the drives it is intended to subdue and unify, it is continually beset by the remainders it doesn't contain, beset by the uneasily repressed, the finally irrepressable, that which wants to break free of the imposed false unity of the image, and which hates the ideal self both for its mocking unattainability and because it requires so much restraint of the drives. Thus the experience of the inadequacy of the Imaginary, ideal image to the Reality of the drives is always double, both shunned or repressed and sought or unconsciously desired. The name for that experience has come to be jouissance , a word that means first "enjoyment" in the sense of the pleasure of what turns you on, and is connected to "jouir," the ordinary French word for experiencing orgasm. But the word also means "enjoyment" in the sense of possessing or exploiting something, making use of it as one enjoys a right or a benefit, a piece of land or a sexual partner -- it feels good, perhaps but it also siezes you, whether you -- your ego -- wants it or not. Jouissance is the breaking through ego defenses of the drives, an ecstatic experience of breaking up or losing yourself , which can
LIT155H: The Horror Film T-Th, 1:30- 3:05 (lec), Wed., 7:10-9:30PM (film) Fall 2018 Leicester Social Sciences 1, room 110 (both) be felt as pleasure or as a kind of, well, let's call it "horror," the loss of the stability you identify yourself with. Julia Kristeva, in a book called Powers of Horror , calls this kind of unpleasant jouissance that breaks through the cracks in the ego abjection , the loss of self that occurs in such experiences as vomiting or -- if that's what turns you off -- the scraping of fingernails on a blackboard, the sight of people being carved up in a slasher movie. This whole way of imaging the ego and its situation has the advantage of stressing the positive as well as the negative aspects of failures of repression. It has the advantage, in fact, of making the source of what turns you on and what horrifies you the same thing, or rather the same dynamic, the same structure of events. It also has the advantage of defining these feelings as a relation to the body, that is, as consequences of having a body, without, as in conventional Freudianism, having to specify a relation to particular privileged body parts such as castration (which would raise the problem of why women feel horror, and necessitate, as it always has, a lot of fast talking). What this doubleness or indeterminacy in the basic bodily and involuntary affect itself, in jouissance , suggests, is that the basic affect evades representation except retroactively ( nachträglich , in fact). We are dealing with an experience whose ecstatic immediacy escapes determination and only gets itself called or constructed as "horror" (or pleasure, or funny or disgusting) after it has passed.
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