An atheist's guide to feminine jouissance: On Black Swan and the other satisfaction

Book chapter


Tyrer, B. 2014. An atheist's guide to feminine jouissance: On Black Swan and the other satisfaction. in: Piotrowska, A. (ed.) Embodied Encounters: New Approaches to Cinema and Psychoanalysis Routledge. pp. 131-146
Chapter titleAn atheist's guide to feminine jouissance: On Black Swan and the other satisfaction
AuthorsTyrer, B.
Abstract

Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky, 2010) presents a vivid staging of enjoyment, which takes us all the way round Lacan’s Graph of Sexuation: from the phallic jouissance of fantasy (desire, [dis]satisfaction) and the jouissance of the idiot (masturbation, idios) to the concomitant jouissance of the Other (who enjoys fully), and crucially feminine jouissance, or the experience of the body in extremis. The film thus offers the opportunity to move from the “good old Lacan” who declared “the unconscious is structured like a language” to another Lacan, who declares “being is the jouissance of the body as such” and who presents new possibilities for embodied encounters in the cinema. This chapter explores Nina and Lily as the two ways in which to read (and misread) the right hand side of the Graph and the structure of femininity.
Nina’s transformation is a cinematic depiction of another satisfaction: but not what Lacan calls the “satisfaction that answers to phallic jouissance” in a complementary way, nor a jouissance “beyond the phallus” (both of which would correspond to the Other satisfaction and coincide with the mystification of Lily, as the one who fully enjoys). Instead, I examine Nina’s experience in terms of the feminine jouissance that Colette Soler suggests can be felt in radical, corporeal disruption precipitated by extreme physical action, and demonstrate the ways in Nina moves – for fleeting moments – between the two poles of sexuation through her ballet.
This enjoyment is, then, necessarily contrasted with that of Lily’s jouissance. Lily, as absolute Other, is the one who – like Hadewijch d’Anvers or Saint Teresa, in Lacan’s examples – seems to have access to full satisfaction: figuratively fucking God, “the one who gets off” (i.e. Thomas). Black Swan lays bare this fallacy – the fallibility of phallic jouissance, as Bruce Fink calls it – by conflating this impossible satisfaction with death, by depicting the pursuit and realisation of this fantasy as the very destruction of the Subject. I suggest that, perhaps even contra Lacan (or pursuing a very precise reading of him), God – “the good old God of time immemorial” – has no place here (there is no transcendent jouissance beyond the phallus) and it is only the “atheist” that has access to a (bodily, immanent) feminine jouissance.

Middlesex University ThemeHealth & Wellbeing
Page range131-146
Book titleEmbodied Encounters: New Approaches to Cinema and Psychoanalysis
EditorsPiotrowska, A.
PublisherRoutledge
ISBN
Electronic9781315758541
Publication dates
Print23 Oct 2014
Publication process dates
Deposited12 Jun 2023
Output statusPublished
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315758541
LanguageEnglish
JournalEmbodied Encounters: New Approaches to Psychoanalysis and Cinema
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