Academic journal article Hecate

An Interview with Luce Irigaray

Academic journal article Hecate

An Interview with Luce Irigaray

Article excerpt

Paris -- On the rue Lakanal, a pleasant part of the southeast of the city, a row of low houses is broken by a fence, behind which rises a block of flats. On the eleventh and top floor of this phallus lives the psychoanalyst and writer Luce Irigaray.

We go up in the lift. She's a short, slight woman with cool, grey eyes, and wears a white track-suit and white Swedish clogs. She doesn't offer her hand. `Do you want to take your boots off?' She's about to have something to eat; we sit in the kitchen on white metal chairs beside each other, in stockinged feet. `This is Aafke, and I'm Kiki,' attempts Kiki. She eats thin macrobiotic pancakes and drinks sage tea.

The flat is white and grey-blue. She does her analyses at home. We go into her work-room -- there's a desk and only one chair. We place ourselves on the white carpet. She talks down to us from her desk-chair, and wants the microphones on the floor. With a mixture of amusement and uncertainty, we accept this setting.

Kiki: We'd like you to introduce yourself and say something about your life. About what you've written, your theories -- rather general. Perhaps you could begin with something about your life...

Luce: No, I don't feel like doing that.

Kiki, after a pause: No? Nothing at all?

Luce: No. But I want to explain why not. It's because people generally ask this sort of thing of women and not of men. In the media, you don't start by asking a professor, a Nobel Prize winner or a writer: what is your private life, are you married, do you have a lover, how's your sex life? They do dare to ask that of women. Besides, these days affective life is absolutely prostituted by the media, and I don't agree with that at all. My private life is my own business, not the papers'.

You go to give a lecture and find people asking you: do you love a man or a woman, are you married or single? Do you want to marry, do you have children, do you want children? (she laughs) I absolutely won't answer that. Let them take what they will out of my books. I don't think that my work can be better understood because I've done this or that. The risk is that such information will disrupt people when they read.

Aafke: You're afraid that they imprison you.

Luce: That's precisely what happens. I need my own territory, or else I'll die. There must be a border between public life and my bed. Without that, the analytic couch would also become a public affair, but I'm bound to confidentiality. No, I don't want to prostitute myself on the public stage.

We're still having a hard time getting the interview started. A new battle. Aafke tries: `You've criticised Freud...Luce: `But if you've read it, you've read it! It's in the texts which have already been published! Would you like to check the sound on your tape?' We play the tape, and she pushes the microphones further away. `If you put the microphone too close, you get noise on the tape and it's not as clear.' Angrily Kiki moves her microphone: `I don't want to irritate you. If you don't like it, then I'll put it here.' Luce: `There's also such a thing as rape by microphone! A human being or an animal needs a minimum of territory! If you put a microphone in their territory, they can't think or talk anymore. You have to respect a minimum of territory! No, now you've put it in a worse position.' We fuss with the microphone. `No, put it there, opposite my voice. I've had people do interviews with me which were worthless because the microphone was pressed on me, damn it!'

Aafke tries to formulate her question. Luce interrupts: `I hope you don't see this as unfriendly. You don't realise what protection of the body and protection of the flesh means...either you become the star who simply performs, who only exists in representation, or you try to retain a certain originality, intimacy of thought, of life, of the flesh. You can't always let yourself be raped by technology.' Aafke exclaims angrily: `But in this situation we are two journalists from Amsterdam, and French culture, philosophy, psychoanalysis, the French manner of speaking, are entirely different. …

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