Lecture: One Way or An Other: Luce Irigaray and Helene Cixious on the Other, the Body, and the Text
Objectives and Content
By writing herself, woman will return to the body which has been more than confiscated from her, which has been turned into the uncanny stranger on display - the ailing or dead figure, which so often turns out to be the nasty companion, the cause and location of inhibitions. Censor the body and you censor breath and speech at the same time. Write yourself. Your body must be heard. Writing is for you, you are for you; your body is yours, take it
This `truth` was genealogically passed between (male) disciples, thus instantiating a solipsistic male discourse exchanged only between men amongst themselves. It was thus at this very moment when woman became a `beyond¿ of discourse, a gap, something outside the logos, a trace nevertheless, through the enclosure of the male world paralleling/doubling the real of life and of the relation with Her.
The Other has been a concept fundamental to conceptual thinking since the postmodern era and one which interrogates the creation of boundaries to the self and what will, therefore, be the essential characteristics of the world, its objects and the subjects which inhabit its landscape. According to this direction of thought, in order to justify and construct the boundaries to any singular object we look not to the object itself, but those "other" objects around it which create the object in its contextual situation. In fact, the object is only itself as a function of those objects outside of itself and how this external condition will manifest aspects of the object. If we use the postmodern position and understand the object as a textual construction, "the Other must first of all be considered the locus (location, context, circumstance) in which speech is constituted, and therefore (this will determine) how the object is formulated" (Lacan). Any determination of an object is by way of consideration of the Other and to become the actual (which is only imaginary in language) means for the object (or subject) to be in action with the outside. As with objects (created in language and interaction with Others) Subjectivity to is founded not on an enclosed and internal self, but becomes itself only in interaction with the other.
For Irigaray, this entering into the world through the Other was both fundamental and problematic in that women are excluded from full subjectivity (in being the outside other) while being the means of the inside (male dominated position) to obtain their enclosed subjecthood. The privileged actualization of male subjectivity comes into being only in its relation to the Other of women. The totalizing male script of the self as e.g. entering the core and becoming a self-conscious, selfenclosed entity is paradoxical as to construct the body comes about only through the place of the outside, the Other. Additionally as the Other has no center to strive towards the placement of outside becomes a open field for release conceptions of the self. The Other is Free. For Cixious, as the body is constructed in the textual, more and better texts are to be created in a open and diverse cultural vocalizations freed by the Other. This new writing, escaping the misguided search for a singular text to totally represent the world (patriarchic language), is to be formulated on the other of a "white ink" and "écriture féminine". This writing of the female body, is a new desired way of writing which will transcend the single body and containments of the static self. ¿Writing is for you, you are for you; your body is yours, take it¿. Cixous' reiteration to a new writing is the Other. Women, as other, must write for themselves as they are now free from the core of the static self, and therefore they must make a written-body that transcends the artificial break (created in patriarchy) between the materiality of the body and a authorship enacted in a script of the body. Outside of the discourse of patriarchal systems, Écriture feminine is a writing that marks the excessive multiplicities of being allowing women, finally, a true claim to identity.
This lecture will look at the thinking of Luce Irigarary and Helene Cixious, especially in regard to the conceptions of the Other, the Body, and Language. Additional Focus will be on the influence of their work on a slew of artists of the postmodern era and how this has resonated up to the contemporary period. Introductory remarks will be laid out on Jacques Lacan's notion of the Mirror stage, and the concept of the Other, to contextualize these two important thinkers acceptances and rejections of the Lacanian approach.