Surplus Enjoyment, Violence, and Woman: Posthuman Feminism in Kathy Acker
|Keywords:||女人;現代性;暴力;後人類;剩餘蕩力;身體;死亡驅力;對立;woman;modernity;phantasmagoria;violence;posthumanity;surplus enjoyment;superego;body;death drive;antagonism||Issue Date:||2006||Abstract:||
The main concern of this dissertation is the relationship between woman and modernity in Kathy Acker’s novels. Modernity or capitalist society, for Marx, features the exchange value by virtue of which everything is commodified, and the human relationship becomes the relationship between things. Hence the alienation of modern people in capitalist society. For Benjamin, however, the experience of commodification or alienation can point to a new perception or a refiguration of subjectivity for modern people. For Benjamin, commodity fetishism constitutes the phantasmagoria of modernity in which commodification or objectification is implicated with revolution. The sexual revolution happening in the ’60 should be seen in the context of this ambiguity of modernity which commodifies and liberates woman at the same time.
The sexual revolution and the liberation of the female body amounts to the
commodification or objectification of the female body, which is why the prostitute can become a figure for modern women. The commodification of the female body can become a repressive violence on women or it can cause a female revolutionary violence by which the male-dominated sexual relationship and female subjectivity can be reformulated: modern women’s pursuit of bodily enjoyment may be repressive for them and causes guilt, alienation, or masochism in women when the female body is taken as an object; on the other hand, women’s pursuit of bodily enjoyment may become revolutionary when sexual relationship, the female body, or female subjectivity is redefined.
The sexual revolution and the liberation of the female body is the common theme of Acker’s novels. In Acker, most of the heroines either are prostitutes or act like prostitutes. Her earlier novels are informed by the connection between sexual enjoyment and the commodification of the female body or the sexual violence caused by man’s taking woman as a sexual object; her later novels features a posthumanity figured by the female motorcyclists and the pirate girls, a posthumanity which triggers a violence against violence of the human (man) and enacts a utopia or freedom through the violent transformation of the human into the inhuman (animal) or the inorganic object.
Benjamin’s theory of violence can help us understand the relationship between the two kinds of violence: repressive violence can be a transgression of the law and at the same time an accomplice of the law since law-preserving violence and law-making violence are implicated with each other, whereas revolutionary violence can really transcend the law and elevate the human to the level of the divine. And Lacan’s theory of surplus enjoyment can help us understand the different sides of enjoyment or transgression: the surplus as enjoyment in the law can be turned into the superegoic imperative to enjoy; on the other hand, surplus enjoyment can point to Freudian death dive and enact the refiguration of the subject.
|Appears in Collections:||外國語文學系|
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