Tuesday, October 25, 2011

masculine vs. feminine subjectivity or psychic bisexuality

Continuing the previous post, the contrast between narcissism and masochism or will, dominance, or power vs. love, devotion, or gift-giving can be further divided between active and passive:

The second of these three antitheses, loving—being loved, corresponds exactly to the transformation from activity to passivity and may be traced to an underlying situation in the same way as in the case of the scopophillic instinct. This situation is that of loving oneself, which we regard as the characteristic feature of narcissism. Then, according as the object or the subject is replaced by an extraneous one, what results is the active aim of loving or the passive one of being loved—the latter remaining near to narcissism. (instinct and their vicissitudes, p.133)

So we have devotion on one hand contrasted with being the object of other people's love or approval

Lacan notes how the same thing is at work in narcissism and how the masculine will becomes passive in being the object of the subject's (the person with power, will, dominance) desire. He writes of Dora

the problem of her condition is fundamentally that of accepting herself as a man's object of desire (Ecrits, Presentation on Transference, p.181)

In a sketch we can see these 4 positions taken up by the second generation gods in Greek mythology with the further division between body and mind in which the latter indicates a schizoid tendency to be more cathected to the mind and have more basic anxiety in the body.

In narcissism we have

subject: body: Ares the physically strong and competitive god of war
mind: Hephaestus the God of metalworking and stone masonry which shows intellectual dominance as opposed to the physical dominance of Ares. And, whose body is crippled.

object: body: Aphrodite the Goddess of beauty and sexual desire
mind: Athena the Goddess of handicrafts and wisdom which shows that her interest is in secondary finery as opposed to the physical embodiment of sexuality as seen in Aphrodite. Additionally, with the focus on the mind and the understanding of desire between people, as compared to Aphrodite who lives it out, you have the motivation for wisdom. This wisdom would be put to good use not just in unmasking potential rivals in love relationships but also in understanding the psychology of the enemy your state is at war with, and so I think Athena extends to the Goddess of war.

In masochism we have

subject: body: Artemis the goddess of childbirth and the hunt whose interests in the masculine occupation represents her identification with the man or beloved
mind: Hermes the messenger god of cunning wiles whose devotion is shown to an ideology or group as opposed to the identification with an individual illustrated in Artemis. He is also the psychopomp who delivers souls to Hades and this might bespeak a devotion to people over top of any group identification but this would bring in further fixation points; I just mention it to draw attention to Hermes helping others.

object: body: Dionysus the god of wine, parties, and festivals who in his merriment illustrates himself to be the cause of joy and love in others. I think most people know the outgoing social type who tells stories and makes jokes and though he talks a lot it isn't about how great he is (i.e. is narcissistic) but he's either endearing, exuberant, spontaneous, or fun. He's a 'people person' and Dionysus, in one facet, seems to manifest the archetype of the story-telling drunkard.
mind: Apollo or the god of music, healing, prophecies, and poetry who illustrates a more esoteric ability to gain the approval of others and touch something deeper in them than the Dionysian approach of merriment. Here we have someone who wants to know your birthday and tell you about your astrological sign or gain your approval or love through her song or some other way that touches your core. In contrast to Athena, and her wisdom through reasoning things out, Apollo is intuition and energies.

These gods, of course, are overdetermined and in this interpretation certain parts of their character are emphasized over others but this should help to illustrate the schema. I'll hopefully be able to cover other parts of their character in a future post. For example in Zeus's battle with Typhon Hermes shows up to help him retrieve the muscles which were taken from his hands and feet which illustrates Hermes having earlier anal fixations. Hermes also shows up in the myth of Perseus and we can take a look at that myth to develop some more of the phallic fixation.

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