This essay illuminates the recent philosophy of Luce Irigaray by following how she develops her key trope of home. Thus, it elaborates her critique of a certain closed “homely” formation of man’s subjectivity and advances her thesis that woman might function as the salutary advent of the other sex, unhousing man, exposing his subjectivity as not-whole, and sheltering him in a more open and unhomely existential home. The first section outlines man’s efforts to carve form and thought from primordial flux and to establish a world and home defined by discrete objects. As the second section shows, however, man goes too far, enveloping himself in fantasies that maladaptively deny the incompletion of human existence. Man would do better, Irigaray argues, to grant the universe its living sense of becoming. The final section reads Odysseus and Penelope’s reunion in Homer’s Odyssey to elaborate upon Irigaray’s privileging of woman as home.
Irigaray’s Figures of Home and the Malformation of Male Subjectivity
robert hughes is associate professor of English at Ohio State University, where he teaches nineteenth-century American and continental literature. His coedited collection After Lacan: Clinical Practice and the Subject of the Unconscious appeared in 2002 (State University of New York Press); his monograph Ethics, Aesthetics, and the Beyond of Language appeared in 2010 (also with State University of New York Press). He has recently published articles on the work of Jean-Luc Nancy and Bernard Stiegler and is working on a project on the uncanny.