The maternal gestalt and sexual difference

Authors: Heidi Nast*, DePaul University
Topics: Cultural Geography
Keywords: Lacan, gestalt of the penis, the maternal
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: 8201, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper argues that the male bodily ego is striated by a peculiarly sexed trauma. Unable to identify itself in relation to the maternal, the egoic body without (particular) organs seeks completion through signifying-territorializing-productive exercises that are sexed-competitive in nature and driven by death. I make these arguments in part by pointing to Lacan’s (1953) troubled reliance on what is called, here, his gestalt of the penis. This comes up when he is speaking about the phallic gestalt of the ideal body and how, “the penis is dominant in the shaping [completing] of the body-image” (Vasseleu 1991). His desire to go beyond the signifier to assert bodily completion brings a different sense to his claim a year later that “the death instinct is only the mask of the symbolic order.”

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