Lyric Poetry: The Pain and the Pleasure of Words

By Mutlu Konuk Blasing | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Chapter 3


Erato is the lyric muse, and eros is a generic subject matter of the lyric. Thus, what relation the pains and pleasures of lyric language may bear to sexuality is an askable question, and it may be posed in terms of the relation of the lyric subject to the psychosexual subject that is concurrently formulated in the mother tongue. Language learning and erotogenic formulation of a coherent body are inextricable processes, and pleasure in language has an erotic resonance, just as erotic pleasure has a linguistic aspect.

Pleasure will not reduce to an organic function because it has a history. Serge Leclaire's account of this history is most germane to the linguistic history that I am focusing on. The erotogenic body, he proposes, is a symbolic or represented body comprising a set of zones selected through a series of “originary” representations (1998, 44–45). An area of the body experiences an “immediately accessible, felt difference—pleasure or unpleasure”—and registers the mark of that difference, and the erotogenic body is formulated as a text bearing the memory traces of these sensations (46).1 The “textual” inscription of the erotogenic body on the undifferentiated physiological body of the infant entails a process of selection and zoning of the body into surfaces and is concurrent with the selection and zoning of acoustic into phonemic phenomena.

The inscription of erotogenic zones thus effects another passage from sensations to signifying marks. An erotogenic zone is a signifying zone, a repeatable “letter trace” of what cannot be repeated, an originary representation of a bliss that exists only as a memory trace marking its loss. The letter that “fixates and annuls jouissance(Leclaire 1998, 53) is both a trope of a trace—a pleasurable or unpleasurable experience leaves a mnemic trace “in the form of a graphic, acoustic, visual, tactile, or olfactory trait” (93)—and rather literally a letter trace, as Leclaire shows in case analyses of the recurrent literal linkages that make for symptoms. Thus “To take the body literally is to learn to spell out the orthography of the name composed by the erotogenic zones that constitute it” (59). Each letter fixes a singular zone of pain or pleasure, and one's body is as distinct as a “secret name” made up of one's singular letters.2 Again, this is quite literally the case, for the letters of names come into play in the inscription of the body, and often there is a “resemblance between a patient's fundamental phantasm and his name” (83).


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Lyric Poetry: The Pain and the Pleasure of Words


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 216

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?