Many psychoanalysts argue that clinicians have a lot to learn from literature. They share the deep-rooted conviction that artists are sensitive to clinical phenomena and that they make visible what is often overlooked by clinicians. Freud, for example, relies on Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex and Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Half a century later, the assumption of Freud’s literary clinic has been taken up by the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze in his study Présentation de Sacher-Masoch. Deleuze reads Sade’s and Sacher-Masoch’s literary novels from the same perspective as Freud. Sade and Sacher-Masoch, Deleuze argues, are first of all great symptomatologists. Their novels explore the sadistic and masochistic universe thoroughly. In his essay, the author discusses Deleuze’s reading of Sade and Sacher-Masoch. Deleuze argues that his study, whilst sharing Freud’s basic assumptions, is a critique of his conception of sadism and masochism.
In 1905 Freud published Three essays on the theory of sexuality and Jokes and their relation to the unconscious. He wrote these two works simultaneously. According to Ernest Jones, “Freud kept the manuscript of each on two adjoining tables and wrote now on one and now on the other as the mood took him” (Jones, 1964: 315). But, while Three essays has become one of the classics of psychoanalysis, Jokes has often been considered as a philosophical diversion in the margin of Freud’s serious work. Freud himself seems to have been of this opinion because, while he added new insights and revised many passages in all the later editions of Three essays and the other early classics, The interpretation of dreams (1900) and Psychopathology of everyday life (1901), there are no important additions or changes in the later editions of Jokes. These different vicissitudes have obscured the thematic affinities between Jokes and the first edition of Three essays. Therefore, a combined reading of Jokes and Three essays may shed new light on Freud’s early theory of sexuality.
In this paper the author revisits Mishima’s L’école de la chair (1993) through an explorative questioning of the Japanese writer with respect to the structure of perversion. Rather than starting from an a priori formulated theory on perversion, Mishima’s work is read in an open way that results in a series of themes. In addition to the opposites characteristic of Mishima’s oeuvre, the following themes emerge: the educational drive; the psychological insight; the knowledge and the use of this knowledge in eroticism and love; homosexual eroticism; the contract; the jouissance; contempt and humiliation; and fantasy. L’ecole de la chair teaches us about perversion, especially with respect to the educational drive, that is when the latter serves other than strictly educational aims, such as humiliation. Finally, the author considers some aspects of C. Millot’s Gide, Genet, Mishima, Intelligence de la perversion (1996).
“Fascism is sadism”. This is the central thesis in the long opening chapter of Frank Vande Veire, Take, Eat, This is My Body – Fascination and Intimidation in Contemporary Culture (2005). In his essay, Marc De Kesel comments on the main theoretical source of Vande Veire’s definition of fascism, Lacan’s theory of perversion, and on how it reveals the cruelty that is typical of fascist practices. However, defining fascism as perversion is a bridge too far, argues De Kesel. Fascism must first and foremost be defined as a discourse, and both the definition and the analysis of fascism must follow from this. That the fascist discourse enables a perverse subject position does not imply that fascism is to be reduced to that position. Such reductionism falls into the trap of a moralising – and, more precisely, diabolising – view on fascism. De Kesel warns against any such moralising use of the critical tools of psychoanalysis as it weakens substantially its critical potential.