Perversion and the Social Relation

sic IV

Book Pages: 240 Illustrations: 2 charts Published: May 2003

Cultural Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Theory, Theory and Philosophy > Psychoanalytic Theory

The masochist, the voyeur, the sadist, the sodomite, the fetishist, the pedophile, and the necrophiliac all expose hidden but essential elements of the social relation. Arguing that the concept of perversion, usually stigmatized, ought rather to be understood as a necessary stage in the development of all non-psychotic subjects, the essays in Perversion and the Social Relation consider the usefulness of the category of the perverse for exploring how social relations are formed, maintained, and transformed.

By focusing on perversion as a psychic structure rather than as aberrant behavior, the contributors provide an alternative to models of social interpretation based on classical Oedipal models of maturation and desire. At the same time, they critique claims that the perverse is necessarily subversive or liberating. In their lucid introduction, the editors explain that while fixation at the stage of the perverse can result in considerable suffering for the individual and others, perversion motivates social relations by providing pleasure and fulfilling the psychological need to put something in the place of the Father. The contributors draw on a variety of psychoanalytic perspectives—Freudian and Lacanian—as well as anthropology, history, literature, and film. From Slavoj Žižek's meditation on “the politics of masochism” in David Fincher's movie Fight Club through readings of works including William Styron's The Confessions of Nat Turner, Don DeLillo’s White Noise, and William Burroughs's Cities of the Red Night, the essays collected here illuminate perversion's necessary role in social relations.

Contributors. Michael P. Bibler, Dennis A. Foster, Bruce Fink, Octave Mannoni, E. L. McCallum, James Penney, Molly Anne Rothenberg, Nina Schwartz, Slavoj Žižek


“[T]his work represents an intriguing attempt to rethink social functioning and relationality in the light of perversion.” — Lisa Downing , Archives of Sexual Behavior

"[A] kaleidoscopic analysis of the perverse condition within cultural, ideological and social contexts. . . . [N]ine erudite essays. . . . This anthology can be seen as a noteworthy synthesis of Lacanian and Freudian views on the logic of perversion that would be essential for any neophyte in the field of Lacanian or cultural studies. . . ." — Antonios Vadolas, Journal of Lacan Studies

“The only true awareness of our subjection is the awareness of the obscene, excessive pleasure (surplus enjoyment) we get from it. This is why the first gesture of liberation is not to get rid of this excessive pleasure, but to assume it actively.” — Slavoj Žižek, from his chapter, “The Ambiguity of the Masochist Social Link”


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Molly Anne Rothenberg is Associate of English and Co-Director of the Literature Program at Tulane University. She is a practicing psychoanalyst and the author of Re-Thinking Blake’s Textuality.

Dennis A. Foster is Frensley Professor of English at Southern Methodist University. He is author of Confession and Complicity in Narrative and Sublime Enjoyment.

Slavoj Žižek is Senior Researcher at the Institute for Social Studies, Ljubljana, Slovenia. He is the author of many books, and editor of Cogito and the Unconscious, Gaze and Voice as Love Objects (coedited), and Tarrying with the Negative, all published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction. Beneath the Skin: Perversion and Social Analysis / Molly Anne Rothenberg and Dennis Foster 1

Fatal West: W. S. Burrough's Perverse Destiny / Dennis Foster 15

Perversion / Bruce Fink 38

“I Know Well, But All the Same . . .” / Octave Mannoni 68

Exotic Rituals and Family Values in Exotica / Nina Schwartz 93

The Ambiguity of the Masochist Social Link / Slavoj Zizek 112

Confessions of a Medieval Sodomite / James Penney 126

“As If Set Free into Another Land”: Homosexuality, Rebellion, and Community in William Styron's The Confessions of Nat Turner / Michael P. Bibler 159

Contamination's Germinations / E. L. McCallum 187

Works Cited 211

Contributors 217

Index 219
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3097-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3085-1
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