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Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Ordinarily, these discourses only cross paths long enough for historicists to charge psychoanalysis with an indifference to history, but here psychoanalysis, via Lacan, goes on the offensive. From the Trade Paperback edition. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. More Details Original Title. Other Editions 7.
Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Read My Desire , please sign up. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Feb 06, Andrew Fairweather rated it really liked it Shelves: philorhetical-critical , non-fiction , psychology. Joan Copjec's book almost feels like a class in Lacan—using many of his key ideas to discuss stuff ranging from Bergsonian time, to utilitarianism, to vampires, to Judith Butler, to detective fiction and noir film, Lacan is championed as the savior of psychoanalysis, insisting that only the Lacanian psychoanalytic approach will acquaint us with our limitations, and the nature of our freedom as modern subjects.
And maybe because while I read, I nod and blink, I totally dig it Psychoanalysis is, Joan Copjec's book almost feels like a class in Lacan—using many of his key ideas to discuss stuff ranging from Bergsonian time, to utilitarianism, to vampires, to Judith Butler, to detective fiction and noir film, Lacan is championed as the savior of psychoanalysis, insisting that only the Lacanian psychoanalytic approach will acquaint us with our limitations, and the nature of our freedom as modern subjects.
Psychoanalysis is, according the Copjec, the way in which the subject comes to an understanding of themself, even if the understanding is more often a very crude one. So, why insist on such an unfashionable vocabulary?
Psychoanalysis insists on exposing the 'cruel enunciator, the sadistic superego', which speaks the moral law because it, '[ The principal of maximization of happiness on which the ethics of utilitarianism is based is a product of this disavowal; it is also responsible for some of the most violent aggressions against our neighbors.
It is the fantasy structure which allows for anything we may call an understanding. The instability of a system lies not in a Foucaildian power play, collisions, between an array of points of view, but is inherent to the point of view as such.
Here, the crucial tension is not within petty bickering between viewpoints so much as in any symbolic order, both the subject and the symbolic peerage remain incomplete.
Oh, and a much clearer read than Zizek! A total 4. I have read Read My Desire twice: the first time was in a rush, and I was unable to appreciate fully the subtlety of Copjec's arguments, while on the second reading I made sure to take more care to understand the precise outlines of her thesis.
It was worth the effort. Copjec's argument, as I see it, is not really with Foucault or the historicist's, despite the subtitle of the book, but with an erroneous assumption that all human desire can be rationalized and explained - historicism in particula I have read Read My Desire twice: the first time was in a rush, and I was unable to appreciate fully the subtlety of Copjec's arguments, while on the second reading I made sure to take more care to understand the precise outlines of her thesis.
Copjec's argument, as I see it, is not really with Foucault or the historicist's, despite the subtitle of the book, but with an erroneous assumption that all human desire can be rationalized and explained - historicism in particular seems to believe that, if there are gaps in this respect, it is only because we haven't looked hard enough.
I'm not at all convinced that this is Foucault's position, especially in light of his essay "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History," which does take into account the importance of contingency. In Lacanian psychoanalysis, by contrast, the subject is something that fails to come into discourse, that is detectable only by the hole that it leaves in language.
That is the essence of Chapter 1. Again, Copjec shows that this conception of the subject as the product of the gaze of the law means that the subject is located purely within the realm of the symbolic. Lacan's theory of the gaze, by contrast, is instructive here, for there the gaze is defined not by what it sees, but again by a certain kind of failure remember in Seminar XI, when the tuna can "sees" Lacan in the boat?
It is this failure, this absence, that once again defines the subject's place at the intersection of the real and symbolic. In Chapter 3, Copjec contemplates Henri Bergson, the death drive, and Zeno's paradox in order to try and explain the difference between the symbolic and the real. In Zeno's paradox, for instance, it is impossible to represent properly the movement of Achilles as he overtakes the tortoise, but this event does ultimately occur in the real.
For Copjec, psychoanalysis continues to subscribe to the principle of sufficient reason, but it differs from the usual scientific assumptions because the actual cause is never directly representable to consciousness except as an absence.
Copjec interweaves these pictures with a meditation on how utilitarianism and functionalism have changed architecture buildings are now defined primarily by their use , an attitude that spills over into clothing, and then into the functionalist definition of humanity itself, which now becomes defined by useful work - clothing, in this perspective, becomes merely a decorative and inessential supplement.
Copjec brilliantly shows how utilitarianism begins from an erroneous assumption about what human beings ought "rationally" to want, a logic that it then uses to justify tyranny the tyrant, out of a perverse sense of "care," commands subjects to learn to do "what is good for them" and imperalism with the colonizer using the same tyrannical logic on colonized peoples.
Chapter 5 shows an unexpected link between stories of vampirism and the championing of breastfeeding. There are some interesting discussions about anxiety in this section, especially about how human beings use the symbolic order's capacity for ritual in order to try and control the eruptions of the real that make us anxious. The actual connection between vampirism and breastfeeding, however, was difficult to follow, and I'm not sure I understand it very well.
In Chapter 6, Copjec looks at how a politician like Ronald Reagan can repeatedly tell lies and get away with it: because the people love something that is beyond truth about him. People want that love above all else, and it is this illusion of love that he gives them in return - whether he lies or not is thus irrelevant.
It is a desire that cannot be rationalized: people want love regardless of whether what they are actually given is good or bad, true or false. This leads to a meditation on the figure of the detective, a figure who, unlike the policeman, has learned to disregard the outward signifiers of a speaker like Reagan and instead has become an expert at reading the irrational desire that makes people follow his message.
Chapter 7 contains a masterful analysis of the "locked room" paradox in film noir. This involves further ruminations on detective fiction and its connection to statistics and the probable.
Again, Copjec argues that the policeman is too literal, too stuck in the literalness of the symbolic, whereas the detective locates desire at the point of the real, where the symbolic fails. The final section, Chapter 8, is an extended rumination on sexual difference via Judith Butler and Immanuel Kant. While praising Butler's perceptiveness, Copjec argues that the problem with her ideas is that she ultimately locates sexuality atthe level of the signifier rather than tracing its position in the real.
Copjec then launches into a very complex and hard-to-follow discussion of Lacan's theory of sexuation and how it relates to Kant. She demonstrates how the subject comes into existence or rather, fails to come into existence in two different ways that somehow translate into male and female.
I understand the failure part, but I remain baffled as to why this equates to sexual difference. A difference of desire? A different way of approaching authority and the symbolic order?
But sexual difference? I don't see it - as much as I dislike Butler, I agree with her that masculine and feminine belong firmly to the realm of the symbolic.
Copjec's book does require some background knowledge of both Lacan and Foucault, but compared to many other similar titles it is clearly written and accessible. For me, Chapter 4, with its amazing critique of utilitarianism, is the argument's high point, a genuinely original and innovative argument that has enormous consequences for how we can counter the devastating effects of utilitarianism on our world. View 2 comments. This book is incredible.
Not because every argument is bulletproof, but because it is audacious, comprehensive, and necessary. To understand the functioning of historicism and the science of psychoanalysis is equally crucial.
Copjec aids her readers in achieving these goals. As heart-stopping as Copjec's introduction is, Foucault is less involved in this text than one might realize. Instead, Copjec spends h This book is incredible. Instead, Copjec spends her time deep in the complexities of Lacan's thinking, exposing obvious contradictions with historicism and Foucault's major work.
Copjec's introduction is wonderful and serves as a great mission statement for the project of this text. Copjec aligns the primal father of Freud's Totem and Taboo , the death drive, and the generative principle of a given society as opposed to its 'cultural content' as extra-discursive figures of a different order of what they precipitate the society of equal brothers, the pleasure principle, and the aforementioned cultural content respectively.
This paradigm is crucial to all of Copjec's arguments as they proceed, and she seeks to analyze what desire evinces despite it potentially existing outside of the sphere of discourse. Copjec claims, via Lacan, that desire can be articulated even if it is not manifest in discourse in the way that what desire precipitates is manifest.
The strongest chapters beyond the introduction are the 3rd and 6th. Still, just about every one has some value. The 6th chapter, in particular, deserves special attention in the age of Trump. Copjec even mentions Trump in the same breath as Reagan! I imagine her sense of vindication is a vexed one. Copjec argues that the media attacks on Reagan could never destroy the object a , the object cause of desire, that made American's love him. Critics of Trump would be wise to consider this chapter closely, and Copjec's call for a cultural studies literate in desire more broadly.
Brilliant thinkers can't always be right, however. Copjec is at her worst making baffling conflations of indeterminate terms.
Read My Desire: Lacan Against the Historicists
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Read My Desire by Joan Copjec