A Reading of «Victims Without Jouissance» by Rose-Paule Vinciguerra1
Florencia F.C. Shanahan
This is a text that deserves to be read. A fundamental distinction is introduced by the author in her approach to the theme of PIPOL 7 “Victim!”, one that, it seems to me, contributes to throw some light onto the points of juncture and disjunction between position in the structure and ethical position.
The ‘we are all victims’ resulting from the wound from which the speaking being is born in and with language; the ‘the ego is always a victim’ deduced from the paranoiac nature of the imaginary relationship founded on an essential misrecognition as isolated by Lacan; or even ‘victimhood as a position where the Other remains intact’, these statements deserve to be read together with the following precious indications proposed to us by Rose-Paule Vinciguerra in her text:
If the fantasy translates the subject’s response to a ‘what does the Other wants from me?’ in the form of ‘s/he wants my castration, my lack’, then it is possible to conclude that “in one’s fantasy, one is always a victim: one foot at least is in the Other, the Other who would enjoy”2. From this, the formula of primordial masochism as well as its paradox are highlighted by the author in her reading of Lacan’s Seminar VI, where he affirms that “it is in this very subjective annulation that the subject’s being resides, as existent […] and it is in coming close to this abolition that s/he subsists as a being who can express a wish”3, we could add, who can make a choice. It is at this level –where the very coming into being of the subject links it to an object vis a vis the Other’s desire- that Lacan could say that “one is always responsible for one’s position as subject”4, to the point of extending this to “the unsoundable decision of being”5 played out in each one’s own madness.
But, Vinciguerra asks, can one speak of jouissance “when the victim is s/he who suffers something unpredictable due to his or her race, religion, sex […] under conditions which may lead a subject to lose his or her identity and to experience him or herself as nothing”?6 In other words, can one reduce this to a mode of enjoyment rooted in the fundamental fantasy by which the position of victimisation would be framed? The answer, she states -following Lacan-, is no. The author takes up the reference of the concentration camps, where what is at stake is an object a without jouissance: “there is a stunning domination of the object a, but jouissance is nowhere”7. “The victim does not experience him or herself –as Lacan says of the masochistic position inherent to the fantasy- as the rejected object, the leftover of the common object”8. That is to say that there is no place here for the “fantasy of victimhood”. Vinciguerra illustrates the experience of this position of object without jouissance with the words of Maurice Blanchot (surviving an impending fusillade): “You are alive. No you are dead.”8
“It is only later, and in the best of cases, that fantasy may come as a resource to ‘re-cover’ the imaginary of the victim and that jouissance will play its part there.”9 It is only later that one can verify, as Jean-Daniel Matet puts it, that “those who experienced the dramatic moments of history have taught us that the victim’s position was not the best answer to what they had gone through. Therefore it is a position that they often rejected.”10
Vinciguerra’s text pushes us to distinguish the instances in which the wager is for the subject “to separate him or herself from the position of victim through the emptying of the jouissance that feeds this position –namely, its fantasmatic dimension-, with the consequent gain in knowing how-to-do with the Other’s wicked commands”11, from those where “jouissance is nowhere, even if the voice howls”12. It is perhaps the very distinction at the core of Lacan’s remark on the pathway an analysis may lead to: “an ethics arises, which is converted to silence, not by way of fear, but of desire”.
1 Vinciguerra, Rose-Paule, “Victime sans jouissance”, Published in the PIPOL NEWS website: http://www.pipolnews.eu/eurocompas-lacanien/victimes-sans-jouissance-par-rose-paule-vinciguerra/
2 Lacan J., Le Séminaire, Livre VI, Le désir et son interprétation, p. 152 [cited by R.-P. Vinciguerra, op. cit.]
4 Lacan, Jacques, Écrits, The First Complete Edition in English, transl. B. Fink, Norton, New York/London, 2006, p. 729.
5 Ibid., p. 145.
6 Vinciguerra, Rose-Paule, op. cit.
7 Lacan J., Le Séminaire, Livre XVI, D’un Autre à l’autre, p. 259 [cited by R.-P. Vinciguerra, op. cit.]
8 Blanchot Maurice, L’Instant de ma mort, Montpellier, Fata Morgana, 1994 [cited by R.-P. Vinciguerra, op. cit.]
9 Vinciguerra, Rose-Paule, op. cit.
10 Matet, Jean-Daniel, “Victim! How can we escape it ?”, Presentation of PIPOL 7, available at: http://www.europsychoanalysis.eu/site/page/en/6/en/pipol_7#article-box-280
11 Fajnwaks, Fabian, “La dimension fantasmatica de la victima, available at: http://www.pipolnews.eu/es/eurocompas-lacanien-es/la-dimension-fantasmatica-de-la-victima-fabian-fajnwaks/
12 Vinciguerra, Rose-Paule, op. cit.
13 Lacan, Jacques, Écrits, op. cit., p. 573.