Desire Machine

dog muzzle, iron, glass, mirror, anal plug and led display / 68 x 20 x 54 cm / 2019

“for Lacan's recovery of Freud has also been suggested as a basis for understanding patriarchy and the structures of male dominance. It is a key to grasping the ·ways in which the animal child enters the social world as a boy or a girl, the unconscious ways in which psychological "masculinity" and "femininity", and male dominance, are accepted as necessary parts of becoming social beings. Such an understanding is essential for a feminist politics. A sketch of Lacan's theory will clarify this process, and also partly explain some of the terms used by Hocquenghem. The human infant is seen as being concerned at first with the exploration of sensory perceptions, and its main characteristic is its autoerotism. It has no sense of its physical separateness, nor of its physical unity. This is the moment which retrospectively is referred to as the phantasy of the "body in pieces". The mirrorstage is the moment when the infant realises the distinction between its own body and the outside, the "other". It is expressed metaphorically in terms of the child seeing itself in the mirror and identifying with its reflection. But the image is ever external to the child, so that this mirror-stage announces the permanent alienation at the heart of identification. The process of identification inaugurates the imaginary relation, where the individual misrecognises himself as the perfect image which appears in the mirror and with which the individual identifies, as being everything he imagines himself to be. As interpreted by Althusser this becomes a key term in the understanding of ideology, as an "imaginary" (but not "false") misrecognition of the world. 28 Following the mirror-stage, the first form of identification with an object outside the infant is with the mother, a relationship which determines the attitude of the child to the zones of its own body, according to the significance given to them within the relationship. The fact that the genital aspect of the infant's relationship to the mother cannot be developed brings this preOedipal phase to an end. The Oedipus complex is the stage when the intervention of the Father necessitates the child's abandonment of its exclusive relationship with the mother and its entry into the structures of human sexuality. The child is assigned a position in language and the family, in structures of "masculinity" or "femininity". The repression of those elements of the psychic life of the child which do not conform to this positioning constitutes the unconscious. It is in the unconscious that the child carries the very structures of a patriarchal society. The child's attempt to include genital functions amongst those expressive of the identification of mother and child are unsuccessful because the child has a rival in the Father, against whom it is powerless. This is not necessarily a real male parent but rather the symbolic representation of all Fathers: the Father is the authority which dominates the motherchild relation. Confronted with this authority the child now sees the mother, formerly the repository of all identity, as a testimony only to the authority of the Father. The opening of this fundamental "absence" in identity inspires the fear of castration, in both boy and girl, though the specific forms vary. This is what forces the resolution of the Oedipal crisis, when the child enters the social world, which Lacan calls the Symbolic, the order of language; the child identifies with certain terms-boy, girl, son, daughter - which receive their significance as ideas through their relation to a central "signifier" (in Lacan's usage a duster of words, images, ideas) the Phallus, the symbolic expression and representative of the authority of the Father. This is intimately connected with the notion of desire ; indeed, as Juliet Mitchell has put it, the phallus is the very mark of human desire. It is the expression of a fundamental absence which can never be fulfilled, the desire to be the other, the Father, which is both alienated and insatiable : alienated because the child can only express its desire by means of language which itself constitutes 29 its submission to the Father; and insatiable because it is desire for a symbolic position which is itself arbiter of the possibilities for the expression of desire. The Phallus and Desire are thus key elements, and represent and express the individual's submission to the laws of society. Just as "desire" cannot be equated with organic or biological need, so the "phallus" is not coterminous with the physical penis : it is the representation, the signifier of the laws of the social order, the law of the Father, through which obedience to the social (and patriarchal) order is instilled.” 

Hocquenghem - Homosexual Desire