This essay examines the excessive structure and functioning of the drive, on the limit between language and the organic body, in Totem and Taboo. To shed new light on the relationship between language and the jouissance of the drive, as well as the primal horde myth, the author draws on Roman Jakobson’s theory of metaphor and metonymy, more specifically, his infrequently noted comments on the undecidability of their interrelationship. In terms of this undecidability, the essay reconsiders Freud’s treatments of the relations between the savage and the neurotic, totemism and exogamy, and magic and obsessional rituals. Finally, the essay touches upon the body (in relation to language and the drives) in terms of the anxiety of “touch” characteristic of taboo.
Language, Body, Drive: Rereading Totem and Taboo through Jakobson and Lacan
jeffrey s. librett is a professor of German at the University of Oregon. He is the author of Orientalism and the Figure of the Jew (Fordham University Press, 2015), The Rhetoric of Cultural Dialogue: Jews and Germans from Moses Mendelssohn to Richard Wagner and Beyond (Stanford University Press, 2000), and numerous essays on literature, philosophy, and psychoanalysis. He has translated Jean-Luc Nancy’s The Sense of the World (University of Minnesota Press, 1997) and Of the Sublime: Presence in Question by Michel Deguy et al. (suny Press, 1993).
Jeffrey S. Librett; Language, Body, Drive: Rereading Totem and Taboo through Jakobson and Lacan. differences 1 September 2017; 28 (2): 46–64. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-4151761
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