Vadim Linetski

Perhaps there is no question more demanding for feminist theory than the articulation of the genuinely "feminine Symbolic system" (Irigaray) - not simply opposed to the phallogocentric, to wit, Lacanian one but resistant to appropriative attempts. However different in other respects, the various trends within feminism converge on this point which remains on top of the feminist agenda. My business here is not to recapitulate the history of the quest. What interests me is the constancy with which every new attempt, heralded at first as a radical bypassing of phallus, sooner or latter is found wanting, to wit, reconfirming the phallic dominance. As the reader will see, the precarious outcome is only too logical, for the image of the patriarchal Symbolic Order at which the feminist deconstruction is leveled is exactly an image, i.e. a lure.

The basic contention of feminist theorists from Beauvoir to Braidotti is that "their symbolic exists, it holds power" (Shiag 153) due to the foundational act of exclusion, silencing the woman, baring her access to the domain of signification governed by the phallus. That is to say, feminism takes for granted Lacanian account of the Symbolic, instead of pondering over the question whether "this taboo expresses the structure of taboo itself?" (Ragland-Sullivan 78). Within this framework the thrust of feminist theory, the ardent desire to have an access to the Symbolic can only be assessed (and dismissed) as an instance of Penisneid, as the confirmation, in the mode of hysterical denial, of the order which should be contested. The irony is that this reconfirmation turns out to be the more unambiguous, the more one stresses the feminine specificity of the Symbolic one strives for, deepening thereby the frustration in which the notion of Penisneid is grounded (Laplanche 1980: 87-88). So long as, according to Lacan, the Symbolic Order is essentially a discourse of forever frustrated desire, it follows that the Symbolic contested by feminism is not patriarchal but matriarchal, for the penis-envy is the semiotic desire in its purest form, i.e. the desire which is secured from collapsing into Imaginary impasses even or especially when it privileges the imaginary formations such as "birth" (Jacobus) or "matrixial" imagery (cf. papers in de Zegher). And yet it would be a bit too hasty to conclude that the feminist theory makes much ado about nothing, for, in spite of the basic femininity of the phallogocentric Symbolic, the femininity in question remains "theirs" albeit for reasons so far undivulged by feminist theorists.

Rosi Braidotti's suspicions about the "feminizing" tendency in contemporary French thought (111-125; 136-146) would have led to a veritable break-through were they not undermined by Lacanian biases, first and foremost by her assumption that "the silencing ...of the powerfulness of the feminine" (127) "merely /read: accurately/ describes the mechanisms at work in our cultural system" (82; italics added). It is these biases which hinder Braidotti, as well as Ti-Grace Atkinson from whom she borrows the notion, to discern the real meaning of the "uterus envy" (139). As a result her efforts to construct the "non-oedipal woman" (116) prove to be of no avail due to the misrecognition of the foundational phantasy of logocentrism and its poststructuralist "Pheminist" (137) enactment.

If the bestselling freakish tale about the creation of patriarchy through repression of the maternal was a documentary one, there would have been no patriarchy to speak of, let alone to deconstruct. And this because "the Law of the Father ... the fundamental law of our social system" (Braidotti 82) can be installed only after the resolution of the Oedipus complex, the resolution which is possible only by means of the penis or uterus envy.

In effect, the conventional tale about the Oedipal dynamics has no happy-end, no resolution. So far only Freud was stout-hearted enough at least to acknowledge this fact. Witness his account of Little Hans's phobia, which was dissolved by gradual divulging of Oedipal underpinnings, by forcing the boy to acknowledge and give up his incestuous wishes for the mother, to wit, by a process of sexual Aufklärung. The irony which is constantly missed upon Freud's disciples of all stripes is that the latter could not help but remain partial - due not to the parental hesitancy but to more fundamental reasons. In effect, even after the appearance of "both fantasies which testify that the recovery is complete and allow us to conclude the analysis" (363) "Hans remains still in the dark as to the father's role in the procreation, for it is the mother who gives birth" (335). Since the fantasies in question make clear that the boy has acknowledged the phallus as the differentializing entity and "successfully overcame the castration anxiety" (363), it follows that the conventional resolution of the Oedipus complex qua subject's enlightenment as to the signification/meaning of the phallus leaves the latter's function a puzzle. And it is the tacit acknowledgment of this logic which surfaces in Lacan's - constantly misunderstood [1] dictum that "the sexual relation does not /and, as Freud's text implies, never will/ take place" (Encore 57): the signifier (phallus) "murders" the referent/thing, to wit, renders the penis an useless tool, a tool of unknown use. Meaning that the Symbolic Order exists but does not function, for the grounding "murder" fails to produce the practical/signifying effect, the signifier fails to produce the signified. Put otherwise, renouncement of the mother is of no avail so long as the functioning of the Father's Law, to wit, the launching of heterosexual reproduction is concerned: it is not only mother but women as such who become inaccessible to the post-oedipal male subject. Which is to say, that an act of abstraction, of positing "The Woman" as a metaphor and/or category at the expense of the real women (181) identified by Braidotti as the primal "phallogocentric perversion /of/ femininity" (83) is in fact a perversion of phallogocentric semiosis, a token of its failure. Against this background the focus on the Real characteristic of the current stage of Lacanianism (cf. Adams, J.-A.Miller, Silverman, Zizek) appears a telling symptom, whereas "the problem of the articulation of the empirical with the symbolic" (182) posed by Braidotti as the task for feminism in the nineties cannot be assessed otherwise than as an attempt to work-through the mentioned symptom, i.e. to ultimately resolve the Oedipus complex, to wit, to set straight the patriarchal semiosis.

As we have seen, the stage at which Lacan leaves the subject deeming that everything has been said and done to ensure the successful functioning of the Symbolic Order is the stage from which the subject can neither regress into the Imaginary nor enter the Symbolic. If the patriarchal order nevertheless exists and persists not only in the poststructuralist imagination, then, obviously, because there is a possibility to negotiate the signifier with the signified so as to be able to use the penis, i.e. to acquire the masculine identity qua potency. The only negotiation which can allow to pass the Oedipal threshold is not the repressive negotiation of the parental imagos nor the (right) choice between having and being the phallus but the negotiation of parental positions in a way that is strikingly similar to the non-violent relation to the Other sought by feminist theorists. Crudely put, the only way to establish the patriarchal familial structure is precisely to avoid patricide (Freud) as well as matricide (Irigaray): both murders cannot take place at the only moment when they could make any sense for the simple reason that - imaginary or real - they would forever bar the subject's access to speech and adult sexuality. What does take place instead is the emergence of the fantasy of the primal scene which deserves the name of the foundational fantasy of patriarchy since it provides an immediate answer to the post-oedipal question about the function of the phallus. Whence its perversity inherent in the very notion of negotiation. It is precisely the negotiatory role which should be allotted to our fantasy if one is valiant enough to pursue the inquiry into the origins of the fantasies of origins to its logical end, an inquiry, which in retrospective appears itself as an attempt to negotiate two views that were to emerge some twenty years after the original publication of Laplanche and Pontalis' paper.

Given the current assessment of Freud's repudiation of the reality of the primal scene as "an assault on truth" (Masson, Alice Miller; an essentiallist stance in feminism) or "an assault on woman" (Evans; the constructivist attitude) undertaken in order to clear the path for Oedipal hermeneutics, Laplanche and Pontalis's stress on the psychic reality of fantasy may indeed appear a pacifying solution which allows to kill two birds with one stone, i.e. to assert that "the discovery of the Oedipus complex in 1897 was neither the cause of the abandonment of the seduction theory, nor clearly indicated as its successor" (13) and to maintain "that Freud had never entirely resigned himself to accepting such scenes as purely imaginary creations" (16). As a result Freud's reformulation appears as a matter of personal whim: imaginary or real, the fantasy retains its status of a "pathogenic nucleus". And yet the logic of our authors's argument hinders this idiosincratization of Freud's discourse.

The chronological causality between the discovery of the Oedipus complex and the option in favor of the imaginary nature of the primal scene allows for an interpretation other than the generally accepted one. My point is precisely that Freud was astute enough to grasp that the newly discovered complex cannot be resolved so long as the primal scene is conceived as a real event. The reason is not that reality implies contingency and therefore undermines the alleged universality of structure: what comes to be unhinged is the second term of the conventional definition of the Oedipal conflict as a conflict "between the schema and individual experiences" (17). As real the latter cannot be confined, constantly multiply and thereby perpetuate the conflict, making of every resolution a provisional, fleeting affair. The structure permanently bombarded with new experiences is doomed to collapse under the sheer weight of unassimilable overload. On the other hand, to claim the imaginary character of experiences, or, to be more correct, to suspend the opposition real/imaginary in a way prefiguring the poststructuralist practice of "blurring the boundaries", means exactly to adapt experiences to the exigencies of structure[2], "to overcome the opposition between event and constitution" (18), to negotiate "reality and symbolic" (Braidotti), to resolve the Oedipus complex. It remains to see why only the primal scene fantasy is adequate to this task.

The reason is that the fantasy of the primal scene is the less rigid among the original fantasies listed by Laplanche and Pontalis, consequently the most adequate to the lived experience. Obviously, only this fantasy allows for a constant shifting, for the fading of the subject which, according to our authors, is decisive for fantasy formations [3] and prompts them to regard the fantasy of the child being beaten as an exemplary one (22). Paradoxically, this is precisely why our fantasy cannot be dubbed original in Laplanche and Pontalis's sense of the term. For what this fantasy exemplifies is "the subversion of the subject" (Lacan ), i.e. ]his insertion into the Symbolic order and the setting in motion of the latter[4].

This insertion is not the acquisition of the phallus but of the knowledge about its function. The flaw of the Symbolic order is that it leaves no chance to acquire this knowledge otherwise than by identifying with the mother, by putting oneself in the mother's position in order to see what the Daddy will do with her. Put in a fashionable idiom, it is necessary to become woman in order to become man. The irony is that the former identification takes place ]nachträglich, i.e. when the Symbolic order has been already established. Which explains why the homosexual identification can only be an "active" identification at a distance (Silverman 1995: 45). The same holds for the finally acquired male identity which turns out to be precisely that "identity-at-a-distance" which Kaja Silverman heralds as an ultimate subversion of logocentrism (1-9). It follows that within the logocentric paradigm it is not femininity but masculinity which is essentially a masquerade: the first orgasm is experienced by the male subject in proxy: as an orgasm of his father. Whence the apparent resistance of logocentrism to deconstructive attacks, for, as Lacan has taught us, an effigy is an ironwork.

That in order to resolve the Oedipus complex the subject has to identify "knowingly" (Silverman 80, 88-104) means that Oedipus has nothing to do with repression. The reason is that, as we have amply proved, within the logocentric semiosis it is the woman who has privileged access to the phallus, to the knowledge about its function which the male subject lacks. Consequently, an act of repression which in orthodox as well as in post-psychoanalytic theory is said to bear primarily upon the woman and associated imagery, far from deconstructing the Symbolic order, can only immortalize, safe-guard it from exhaustion in the process of use. Whence the irony of poststructuralist thrust: to assert that the woman has been always already repressed by the patriarchal discourse means to conserve the latter, to impose upon it a taboo directly opposite to that of virginity. In so doing poststructuralism abandons one of its basic discursive premises, namely the idea of the self-deconstruction of every "straight" system, the hope that "the system's own logic turns into the best weapon against it"[5 ] (Baudrillard 1984: 58). As we shall see, this weapon can be effectively used to a positive task of highlighting the possibilities of a textual - feminine - resistance. What forecloses the latter is the current alignment of the feminine Symbolic with the discourse of the feminine desire conceived of as dyssimmetric from the male one (Braidotti 183). It is precisely to enable this dyssimetry which the taboo of virginity is there for.

Concerned as it is with ]meaning/signification of the taboo, Freud's inquiry by necessity collapses into psychology failing to account for the crucial question, i.e. for the passage from the virginity tabooed to virginity valorized. Moreover, this passage is bound to appear possible only as a psychological perversion, for, psychologically, the taboo of virginity is a very useful device indispensable for the healthy harmony of family life. Far from establishing the latter at woman's expense, the taboo seems to be more concerned with the real femininity: protecting the male psyche from the dread of the feminine retaliation, which in the last analysis is only an imaginary one, it ensures that the woman will experience real sexual gratification. However, it suffices to ponder over the function of this taboo not in the psychic but in the discursive economy in order to divulge in it and not in the mythical murder the grounding act of patriarchy and in so doing to explain the valorization of virginity[6].

The function of the taboo is precisely to break the epistemic symmetry which hinders the semiotic resolution of Oedipus. The irony is that the way in which Oedipus is said to be resolved is the biological, natural one. And this because, as the case of Little Hans makes clear, the knowledge about the opposite sex's function in the procreative act is an inborn, intuitive one (cf. 361). Since the acquisition of this knowledge is generally equated with successful passage beyond Oedipus, with surrender to the symbolic Law (of compulsory heterosexuality), Freud's remark about Hans's continued ignorance about the function of the phallus at the stage which, by all available accounts, is already post-Oedipal places in a pungently uncanny light Lacanian dictum about the impossibility for sexual relationship to ever take place as well the feminist attack on patriarchy in toto. For to view reciprocal symmetry (sexual and otherwise) as one of the main props of logocentric discursivity, as feminist theory and poststructuralism in general is bent upon doing (Cixous 48; Derrida 415), means to attribute to the post-Oedipal girl the same ignorance. The unavoidable conclusion would be exactly that the sexual relation can take place only in the non-symbolic sense but by the same token phallocracy as a symbolic/discursive order would be exposed as a non-reproductive system, i.e. would have nothing phallocratic about it. Signifying the sexual difference as the precondition of sexual relation in the brute sense, phallus would function only as a penis, to wit, would not function at all, were it not for the taboo of virginity which by supplementing the inborn knowledge with forcefully introduced one is precisely the solution to the problem of how to negotiate the real with the symbolic, essentialism with constructionism, vainly sought by feminist theory.

That the taboo of virginity is no longer practiced in civilized societies testifies to its semiotic role: to paraphrase Lacan, the symbolic is that which the reality can dispose of, that which is able to be introjected/institutionilized psychically. Having played its foundational role, the taboo of virginity is reproduced as the primal scene fantasy. The feat which the fantasy allows to accomplish is precisely the initialization of the patriarchal Law qua conjunction of pleasure and reality principles and the belated (nachträglich) naturalization of this Law qua inscription of epistemic dissymmetry.

The irony is that if we conceive of the primal scene fantasy as "picturing the origin of the individual" (Laplanche and Pontalis 19), i.e. answering the question "Where do babies come from?", then, faithful to Freudian premises exemplified by the case history of Little Hans, we have to see in fantasy "the direct expression of the drive" (23), the Kleinian view, which Lacanians "refuse to accept" (28) precisely because it blocks the semiotization of Freud's concepts. The only way to trigger the latter, to wit, to set the Symbolic order in motion, is precisely to adopt the advocated reinterpretation of this fantasy as an answer to the question "What does Daddy do with Mommy when I am supposed to be absent/sleeping?", the question which confers symbolic significance upon that about the babies. This reinterpretation is implied in Laplanche and Pontalis's displacement of "the main line of separation" between fantasies from conscious/unconscious to original/secondary (28). In its turn, the suspension of the notion of repression follows logically from one of Freud's basic contentions, to wit, from his taking "the conscious fantasy, the daydream, not only as paradigm, but as source" (20). This is the ultimate reason for singling out the fantasy of the primal scene: for it is the only one to fit the model as a merger between masochistic scenario and the daydream. Paradoxically, this is precisely why it is not original being but a derivative of the taboo of virginity.

According to Freud, the capital fact that triggers daydreaming is that "pater semper incertus est, whereas the mother is certissima"("Familienroman" 229). Whence the conscious nature of this activity: a daydream is nothing else than an attempt to resolve Oedipus which persists beyond itself, an attempt to find a way-out of the impasse in which the conventional resolution of Oedipus in psychoanalytic practice abandons the male subject. The most effective (re)solution provides the fantasy of the primal scene which allows to acquire the essential piece of Oedipal quiz, the (logocentric) knowledge of the function of the phallus "per /postmodern/ (os)cillation" (Adams 12) between two identifications/positions. The uncanny paradox of this masochistic oscillation currently heralded as the most effective strategy of provoking crisis in the patriarchal representational order (cf. Hart) is that it redistributes virginal and post-lapsarian in a dyssimetrical way lest of all likely to be embraced by those who welcome the masochistic enactments from a distance (Mann).

The ultimate resolution of Oedipus cannot be achieved otherwise than by reinforcing the epistemic dyssimmetry exemplified by Little Hans's post-oedipal situation. If Freud had bothered to thematize the intuitive certainty about the (m)other's position, he would have easily solved the economic problem of masochism which has nothing to do with repression as a conflictual notion but stems from the provisional nature of masochistic identifications performed at a distance, and in so doing would have had no need to present his later ideas about the primacy of masochism as another departure from former views, to wit, as a reformulation of psychoanalytic theory beyond the pleasure principle. For the only way to tame sadism, to wit, to set straight the libidinal economy, is not to repress but to sublimate it. Which is exactly what Deleuze's suggestion to keep sadism and masochism apart (cf. "Coldness and Cruelty") boils down to. Differently put, it is precisely sadism as an economic problem which hollows out the Anti-Oedipal thrust.

The reason is that the bar which splits the subject allowing him to acquire the symbolic identity is nothing else than the masochistic identification. This is why the masochistic threshold cannot be repressed if the male subject is ever to function as the signifier. One can step into father's shoes only knowingly, to wit, by remaining conscious of all previous identifications. The irony is that only thus we can account for the fact that the emerging subject is the one who is only supposed to know.

On the phantasmatical level the identification with the father leads to the misreading of the primal scene as a sadistic act of violence. However it is precisely because the identification is performed at a distance that this misreading turns out to be a sublimation which elevates the penis, confers upon it the phallic guise, to wit, allows it to function symbolically, i.e. in a (self-)purifying mode.

Paradoxically, the sublime delusion is brought about by taking recourse to/evoking the memory of real experiences. By evoking the memory of his own sadistic attacks on the mother's body at the pre-oedipal stage and equating them with what he is witnessing, the subject convinces himself that no damage can be done to the female body, that even after it was penetrated it remains virginal. However, since the pre-oedipal sadism, due to its reality, has not furnished the subject with sexual knowledge proper, to purify the maternal body means to feminize knowledge as such and in so doing to purify the phallus which emerges as a manifestation of the blind force of virginal nature. And this is precisely why the primal scene fantasy becomes the ultimate resolution of Oedipus: the purification of both parties performing coitus is accomplished only thanks to the idealizing identification at a distance, the latter acting as the bar which splits the onlooker from virginity, placing him on the post-lapsarian post-oedipal stage. Little wonder, then, that Freud's theory of infantile sexuality of which the original fantasies is a crucial part was so easily assimilated by the patriarchal culture (cf. Rose 15), for to deny the childhood's innocence means to effectively restore the pre-lapsarian state of the adult world. Which is to say that if we are not to return to the former notion, we have to search for possibilities of theorizing the infantile sexuality in a way resistant to appropriation and in so doing make of it a foundation of the genuine feminine Symbolic. The first step in this direction would be to recognize in the mechanism of resolving Oedipus the very mechanism of cultural appropriation of subversive narratives.

Given the task, it is only logical to select as a proof-text Nabokov's Lolita. Exemplary as it is of the fate common to all the great novels conceived of and at first received as a subversion of patriarchal edifice but sooner or later successfully assimilated by it, Lolita is the most instructive instance of this fate since it bares the ultimate - logical if not phenomenological - stage of appropriation which becomes complete with transgressive narrative's becoming children's fiction. The present analysis augments the discussion launched elsewhere (cf. Linetski 1993) in that it exposes the necessity of this becoming as a direct consequence of the basic patriarchal commandment: "thou shalt become woman in order to become man".

Against the backdrop of our analysis it is not surprising that the one to have said and done everything to theoretically justify and enable appropriation save acknowledging the appropriative thrust itself is Lacan who in his unpublished Seminar D'un Autre l'autre [7] used Lolita to illustrate the difference between (perverse) structure and (perverse) fantasy, the necessity to negotiate which, as we have seen, lies at the heart of Oedipal conflict. What interests us here is the conclusion which Lacan is coherent enough to draw: it turns out that within the framework of his theory of perversions, which prompted Laplanche and Pontalis to reinterpret original fantasies, it is not Humbert but Quilty who should be regarded as the real pervert of the novel. Which means nothing else than the invitation to read Lolita as a didactic, morally enlightening/elevating narrative, to wit, the confirmation of the editor's claim that "still more important to us than scientific significance and literary worth, is the ethical impact the book should have on the serious reader; for Lolita should make all of us - parents, social workers, educators - apply ourselves with still greater vigilance and vision to the task of bringing up a better generation in a safer world" (7).

Since, by general consensus among the theorists of children's literature (Rose 42-66; Shavit), didacticism is regarded as an intrinsic feature/ineluctable flaw of this genre, it might appear that our thesis needs no further theoretical elaboration. What we would be in a drastic need of is the factual corroboration for, as such examples as Swift's Gulliver's Travels show, the adult text's becoming children's fiction boils down to a sublimation of a didactic stance, i.e. to a purifying immoralization. On the other hand, Defoe's Roxana or Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure amply verify that the foregrounding of "the ethical impact ... on a serious reader" is a way to excuse the transgressive descriptions. However, on second thought it turns out that both objections conclusively prove our charge.

The reason is that the defensive use of a didactic stance is a neat illustration of Freud's idea that the unresolved Oedipus manifests itself by a strong sublimation which is not grounded in repression ("Zur Einführung des Narzißmus" 162). However, to conclude that the moral stance is simply feigned in order to pacify conscience, to enable the reader enjoy what the dominant culture subjects to repression, would mean to collapse into banality missing thereby a unique chance to articulate a genuinely new feminist poetics of exaggeration as well as to account for the dynamics of appropriation.

At the face of it, to feign morality is to deploy the much-hailed de Certeau's practice of everyday life the feminist versions of which are Irigarayian practice of subversive mimicry (cf. Irigaray 1984) and Silverman's strategy of identifying at a distance with the super-ego/father-figure. Allegedly, a feigned repression/resolution of Oedipus allows to enter the Symbolic order and subversively operate within it. On these premises assimilation appears as a necessary prerequisite of deconstruction [8]. Whence convergence of the feminine post-poststructuralist strategy with the fundamental stance of the Derridaean deconstruction as a practice of pharmakonizing contraband brandmarked by Braidotti "Pheminist". And yet the crux is not this convergence per se, however unwelcome it is to the mainstream feminism, but the naturalization of both strategies which, according to their proponents, are there precisely to undermine this logocentric move. In effect, mimicry heralded as a feminist strategy par excellence (Braidotti 200; Myers) appears as a useful thing, an affair of the survival of the fittest. Whence the two-fold irony best of all exemplified by Nabokov's novel once this model is applied to it.

So long as the repression of the woman is conceived of as a foundational act of the patriarchal Symbolic, a call to feign it means for a woman a call to perform self-repression. The effect of which upon the female subject is her ultimate victimization, whereas in case of the male subject the effect is directly opposite. For we have to assign truth-value to Humbert's claim that "it was she who seduced me" (139), i.e. "to believe" (139) him that he, and by extension the order which he represents (Blum 224), is innocent. The only deconstruction which can be claimed on these premises is not of patriarchy but of the artistic value of Nabokov's text: to believe the narrator means to read the narrative literally, i.e. either as a moral - patriarchal - tale, or as an affair of brute naturalism, of pornography[9]. However it is the latter option which leads to an ultimate textual purification, to wit, to the assimilation qua becoming children's fiction.

The reason is that within the "woman as spectacle" paradigm Silverman's suggestion of strategic distancing from the image imposed on the woman by the male gaze (104) makes it impossible to speak about the "pornography of images" which, according to feminist theory, is what patriarchal specularity boils down to (cf. Fischer, de Lauretis, Mulvey, L.Williams). For "distanciation" (104) defined as a conscious selection of the "pose" (203) means exactly the mysoginic "there is no dress like an undress" (Cleland 118) the latter becoming the ultimate stage of the former (Silverman 203, 217). Put otherwise, we have no naked body to speak of, no woman made a spectacle, consequently, no patriarchal gaze. Thus, the pornographic is effectively purified of pornography, logocentrism - of the logocentric [10]. In this respect Nabokov's view of mimicry as a fundamentally useless practice (cf. Speak Memory 55-57) might serve as a useful pointer.

Applied to his own text, it alerts us to the fact that we have cornered ourselves into the impasse just described by assuming that the feigned moral stance is a matter of mimicked resolution of Oedipus. However, Nabokov's textuality does not bear this assumption, for the alleged "ethical impact" leads to an unambiguous victimization of Humbert exposing him as a "horrible ... abject ... shining example of moral leprosy" (7), whereas the logic of resolution of Oedipus should had have absolved him. It follows that the moral stance is a repression of the resolution of Oedipus. Which is precisely why it has to be mimicked, feigned in order to secure its dismissal as a precondition of the sublimatory assimilation of the narrative. Thus, the mimicking of repression, which, to believe the feminist theorists, always boils down to the repression of the feminine, exposes repression as an obstacle to the Symbolic order, as useless to its functioning[11]. The first step towards subversion of the latter is to pinpoint the exact locus of the sublimatory normalitivization of Humbert as well as of his narrative.

Since the resolution of Oedipus cannot be achieved otherwise than by the primal scene fantasy, it is only to be expected that the locus of sublimation would be the bed. From whatever angle one chooses to (mis)read Lolita, the "primal scene" of the novel constantly turns out to be that in which Humbert for the first time gains access to Lolita's body and subsequently finds it lacking virginity. That this discovery does not disappoint him is another proof that to have the Symbolic order established and to have it functioning is not one and the same thing. On the other hand, Humbert's insistence on finding out the origins of Lolita's sexual knowledge makes clear that it is the latter task towards which the narrative works. For as a masochistic scenario the primal scene fantasy hinges upon the existence of the peeping-Tom, to wit, of the deflower which allows for the fading of the subject, for his disappearance qua inscription in the scene (cf. Laplanche and Pontalis 26-27). The success of this inscription which sets in motion the Symbolic order by resolving Oedipus is evidenced by Humberts's celebrated claim that "it was she who seduced me".

Far from being an instance of denial/disavowal which would suggest a failed repression and unresolved Oedipus, this claim is highly affirmative and, what is more important, is exaggeratively so. What comes to be affirmed/sublimated/metaphorized is not the child/woman, as feminism would have it (Blum 157; Braidotti), but the penis or, better to say, it is the passive, merely signifying phallus which now becomes an active one. If only this sublimation can set the Symbolic in motion, then precisely because the result of this operation is the twofold dissymmetry, to wit, the radical impossibility to equate penis and phallus and the radical doubt as regards the adequacy of sexual relationship. The sexual relation cannot take place because in the phallogocentric normative sense it can take place only after the resolution of Oedipus which can be brought about only by means of sublimation, to wit, by desexualization. It is this desualization/normativization of sexuality qua mutual retrieval of virginity which is epitomized in the famous scene in the 'Enchanted Hunters'.

The crux of the scene is of course that Lolita "was not quite prepared for certain discrepancies between a kid's life and mine" (141). So long as the Oedipal predicament is conventionally described as "the small boy's ... frustration that his small penis is insufficient vis--vis the mother's adult vagina" (Blum 224), the frustration which steers him into pervert denials, the discrepancy we are speaking of, contrary to Blum (225-226), is nothing else than a resolution of Oedipus by way of rectifying the pervert path (225), to wit, by performing the sublimation. What comes to be sublimated textually is precisely the biological naturalistic reading, to wit, an attempt to free the scene of "purposes of procreation" (141). It remains to show that the sublime resolution of Oedipus implies the mutual virginization of both protagonists as the direct effect of this discrepancy.

Paradoxically, the virginization becomes irrevocable precisely on the intertextual level which as a radical form of impurity is supposed to be a firm bulwark against logocentric view of edenic textuality[12]. The virginalizing effect is perhaps nowhere more clear than in John Cleland's Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure which thematizes the discrepancy of life's sizes of adult protagonists. Significantly, it is this discrepancy which comes to be reinscribed as "an immense difference ... between ... a pleasure merely animal, and struck out of the collision of the sexes, by a passive bodily effect ... and that sweet fury, that rage of active delight which crowns the enjoyments of a mutual love-passion" (81). Such passion Fanny claims to have retained for Charles, "the dearest object of my earliest passion"(47) with whom she finally makes the "happiest of matches" (221) and ends her narrative with praising the discrepancy qua superiority of the "joys of innocence" over "infamous blandishments" (221) the description of which fills the gap opened in her life by the sudden disappearance of her beloved sent off to the Colonies by a wicked father.

The paradox is that to dismiss the didactic final as a metaphorical/rhetorical superimposition would mean to dismiss/destruct the novel, i.e. to view it as an artistic failure, for the thing which allows Fanny to claim that "amidst all my personal infidelities, not one had made a pin's point impression on a heart impenetrable to the true love-passion, but for him" (208) [13] is that very happy gift of nature which made her an (inter)textual precursor of Defoe's "fortunate mistress": "favour'd as I was by nature with all the narrowness of stricture in that part requisite to conduct my designs" she "had no occasion to borrow those auxiliaries that allow to feign the appearance of virginity", "that innocence which the men so ardently require of us" (159). If it is really impossible to distinguish between sextuality and textuality, between sexual and textual politics (cf. Moi), then because both are set straight in one and the same stroke.

Cleland's narrator is well aware of the narratological/formal difficulties of "a great endeavour" that "lures 'Humbert' on" (141). "Indeed" the reader would soon become "cloy'd and tired with uniformity of adventures and expressions, inseparable from a subject of this sort, whose bottom, or groundwork being, in the nature of things, eternally one and the same ... there is no escaping a repetition of the same images, the same figures, the same expressions ... so congenial to, so received in the PRACTICE OF PLEASURE, flatten and lose much of their due spirit and energy by the frequency they indispensably recur with, in a narrative of which that PRACTICE professedly composes the whole basis" (113). Oedipally speaking, the narrative would be stuck in the imaginary impasse in which Blum's reading of] Lolita leaves it, if "the pleasing task of repairing it" was really left to reader's "imagination and sensibility" (113). "The extreme difficulty of continuing so long in one strain" (113) is nothing else than the difficulty to ensure that the Symbolic order of which, as the Lacanian poststructuralism professes, the compulsion to repeat composes the whole basis, would function smoothly after the removal of the phobic effigies in which the compulsion to repeat manifests itself on the pre-oedipal/imaginary level. If the t/sex(t)ual difficulty is surmounted then because what the mentioned removal boils down to is exactly the recuperation of virginal s/tex(t)uality, to wit, the breaking of the indiscriminate phobic symmetry characteristic of the unresolved Oedipus. Unfortunately the resolution of the latter implies a cunning intervention into the primary phobic structure, in case of Little Hans, Freud's unprovable assumption that the boy is afraid not of all horses but only of big ones[14], an assumption that, as we have seen, imputes to Little Hans the unconscious possession of the knowledge about the mother's role in the procreative act. The big horse signifies the signifying phallus, i.e. phallus in position ready to signify. However to become a functioning phallus it has to be endowed with the exaggerative capacity to ever appear bigger and bigger. And this is precisely what Fanny's wonderful gift allows for. The irony is that it is not the gift of nature but the mutual gift of the phallus - in both senses of the"of".

The desire for virginity is the desire to resolve Oedipus. Which explains why it is sufficient that virginity would only appear, to wit, function as such, i.e. as an indestructible discrepancy of sizes. The effect of the latter is to ensure that every phallic conquest would reconfirm virginity - of the vagina and of the phallus making every new example of the latter appear bigger than the previous one. It is precisely this phallic escalation, to wit, the functioning of phallic signification, so skillfully staged by Cleland[15], which makes of the pornographic narrative the foundational narrative of patriarchy , i.e. the narrative of the resolution of Oedipus and absolution of pre-Oedipal guilt [16]. Whence the ease with which the patriarchal culture appropriates the narratives which share this excessive structure of (phallic) exaggeration. The ultimate reason is that the latter is the structure of subjection/adaptation of the pleasure principle by the principle of reality.

What the preceding analysis of the gift/function of the phallus has proved is that there cannot be other repetition than the Deleuzean repetition with difference (1968: 99 et passim). It is only the latter which can subtend the patriarchal Symbolic, for the repetition of the same is in fact no repetition at all but the pre-oedipal specular impasse of circularity, to wit, the inborn certainty/knowledge about the mother's vagina without any certain ideas about the function of the phallus. Which means that the imaginary identification, the desire for the return of the same that, as J.Rose would have it, underpins the myth of Peter Pan, and by extension, children's fiction in general (133) and patriarchal discursivity as such (Silverman 25), has nothing to do with patriarchy as a functioning, i.e. assimilating/ repressive system. The troubles which the dominant culture has with Barrie's text for which Rose fails to account (66-87) as well as its subversive potential which she unwillingly acknowledges (86) are bound up with the fact that] Peter Pan resolves the imaginary impasse conventionally dubbed the resolution of Oedipus in a way essentially different than such adult texts as Lolita or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure do. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Peter Pan undermines the essential props of the postructuralist transformation of the patriarchal Imaginary into the functioning Symbolic.

Peter Pan's unruliness, his persistence upon remaining a boy is quite sovereign: contrary to J.Rose (3), not only does the adult world - internal as well as external to the novel - wants him to grow up but explicitly welcomes his entry. The fact that this welcome is voiced by the Mother (143) makes clear that it is the knowledge about the phallus' function which comes to be solicited thereby. By the same token it would be a mistake to see in Peter's refusal to enter the little boy's pre-oedipal fear that his penis is inadequate to fill the adult vagina, for the narrative has said and done all to reverse this dissymetry, to wit, to exaggerate Peter, to sublimate him into a swelled phallus (104). Whence his acting as a guide who ensures the entry of the boys into the adult world (140-141), the entry which is obviously nothing else than the successful negotiation between the pleasure and reality principles which solves the celebrated Freud-Rank controversy re: castration anxiety in its relation to birth trauma to mutual satisfaction of both parties[17]. What undermines this resolution is Peter's remaining outside - the fact which fits neither the conventional (cf. R.L.Green, Birkin) nor the radical readings of Rose's type and is bound to remain puzzling if we are not to see in it a self-deconstructive exposure, i.e. the deligitimization of the phallic dissymetry as the universal principle. For if Peter does not enter then because his knowledge of the implications of the primal scene which he had overheard (27) places him in symmetrical position in respect to vagina, makes him exactly match the latter and thereby desublimates/desymbolizes the phallic undress which the narrative was at pains to confer upon him. Meaning that the stress on his conscious knowledge places him beyond the Real, Imaginary and Symbolic, i.e. beyond the whole phallic machinery. The irony is that the phallic world fails to accommodate not the supplementary pharmakon but its own phallic guarantor[18]. The only way to remedy matters, that is, to reintroduce the essential discrepancy of sizes is precisely to feed the monster with a girl, to wit, to allow for Humbert's perversion an instance of which is a leave granted Wendy to "go to 'Peter' for a week every year to do his spring cleaning" (143). What this allowance secures is that the phallus/Peter would enter after all (to take the girl away) and in so doing set the Symbolic in motion. However, it is only thanks to poststructuralism that our eyes have been opened to the fact that the age-old myth of the sacrifice of the virgin is there to restore the structural virginity.

The effect of the contentual perversion is the structural straightening, to wit, the resolution of Oedipal specular circularity into the linear narrative. That this straightening is nothing else than the successful negotiation between the principle of pleasure and that of reality is evidenced by Humbert's narratologically straightening/resolving remark that "It had become gradually clear to my conventional Lolita during our singular and bestial cohabitation that even the most miserable of family lives was better that the parody /i.e. exaggeration/ of incest, which, in the long run was the best I could offer the waif" (302; the added italics highlight the phallic exaggeration which underpins the straightening of the narrative). Not only is this remark psychologically convincing, i.e. "realistic" on the level of content, it is also structurally so, for resolving the imaginary circularity into which the narrative would have collapsed and which, as remarks of Cleland's narrator show, would have meant an artistic failure it exposes the fantasy of the repetition of the same, to wit, Humbert's private version of the auto-procreational myth (183) that, according to feminist theory is what the patriarchy strives for (cf. Braidotti 88), as a blockage of the patriarchal Symbolic[19]. In order to function, the world of the ordinary/conventional family life needs Humbert's entry, the entry of the exaggerated gift-making phallus as which Humbert appears in Lolita's old new world. It is the very ordinariness of the latter which exaggerates Humbert's monstrosity and thereby normalizes him in a movement of mutual virginalization: on the one hand, as an exaggerated phallus Humbert recuperates t/sex(t)ual potency of a virginal/natural order, whereas, on the other, his appearance is Lolita's certificate of good conduct which confirms her husband's belief that she "had simply run away from an upper-class home just to wash dishes in a diner" (285). In like manner Peter enters the vaginal world of the Kinderstube transforming it into an adult world, proving thereby that the adult vagina is good-enough "to accommodate every size of man" (Cleland 99), proving, that is to say, that the functioning of the patriarchal Symbolic depends vitally on the quasi-virginal "narrowness of stricture". Now it is precisely with the notion of the "good-enough" (Silverman 4, 225-226) that the postmodern attempt to undermine logocentrism by elaborating on the masochistic scenario winds up. So long as according to Silverman, the effective subversion can be achieved only by "a ceaseless textual intervention ... which would 'light up' dark corners of the cultural screen" (81), our textual evidence, impeccable as is its selection, seems to be unambiguous as to the impossibility of subversion, for, as we have seen, the notion of the "good enough", to wit, the subjection of the pleasure principle under that of reality [20], is inscribed in the logic of the primal scene fantasy which is a basic structure of appropriation/subjection/adaptation [21]. Now, the role traditionally assigned to children's fiction is that of an adaptive mechanism (cf. Knowles and Malmkjr 62). And it is this role that the apparently subversive narratives serve sealing thereby their fate which is to fall into the hands of children.

However, in our critical thrust, for propaeudeutical reasons, we have neglected a loophole that opens the possibility of subversion. It remains to see whether the appropriative phallus can enter this hole be it only as an ordinary penis. Meaning that the exploration of the loophole might well lead to the articulation of the feminine Symbolic grounded in the impenetrability of the hymen. The paradox is not only that this hole is more explicit in children's fiction but that the thematization of it will expose the latter as fundamentally pornographic albeit in a sense which goes beyond the "woman-as-spectacle" paradigm (cf. Gibson and Gibson; Kendrick).

What was not sufficiently spelled out in our comparative reading of ]Lolita and Peter Pan is one essential detail which exposes intertextuality as another attempt to maintain the "good enough" resolution of Oedipus. The fact I refer to is that phallus/Peter is lured into entering the vaginal world which becomes "good enough" only due to his forgetting of the full knowledge of the primal scene that he possesses. This knowledge sets him apart from Humbert highlighting another reason why Freud has to discard the reality of the primal scene in order to claim the resolution of Oedipus: for in case of Humbert the primal scene was interrupted due to an attempt to play it out on the level of reality[22 ] and therefore has to be supplemented in fantasy. The fundamental role of this forgetting for the smooth functioning of the Symbolic is evidenced by the fact that the grown up Little Hans retains no memory of the analysis whereas Freud does not relate the forgetting to repression (cf. Punter). It follows that Peter's occasional forgetting to return to fill the vagina is his subversive remembering of how the patriarchal machinery is erected and set in motion. What this knowledge boils down to is precisely the awareness that in reality the vagina is closed, to wit, unavailable to phallus whatever its exaggerated size. Consequently his desire for Wendy is essentially different from Humbert's longing for Lolita who is needed to masochistically perform what was not and could not have been performed in reality. By the same token it differs from the recognition of the fact that the mother's desire is not for the boy, on which feminism unwittingly stakes (cf. Kristeva 3-27) naturalizing thereby the resolution of Oedipus, the resolution which obviously has as its aim precisely this recognition [23.] What Peter recognizes is the sexual difference beyond the phallic logic of the primal scene which is the logic of the discourse of desire qua "disjunctive synthesis" (Deleuze) that "connects by disconnecting" (Ronell 90). If Peter does not fit Wendy nor she him, then because his desire for Wendy has no cause, remains impenetrable contrary to the poststructuralist desire which, all rhetoric notwithstanding, finally receives a name that resolves Oedipus [24]. On the contrary, Peter's desire subverts Oedipus precisely because it allows him to participate in the feminine without appropriating it and in so doing to secure it from appropriation. Not only does this femininity make him unavailable to the phallus: whereas the exaggerated phallus forces Lolita into normality Peter forces the phallus/father away (104-106). What bestows upon femininity this subversive power is the non-phallic exaggeration, exaggeration as a constant force[25].

It is not surprising, then, that the most coherent example of this poetics of non-phallic exaggeration would provide a novel by a woman writer, Frances Hodgson Bernett's ]Little Lord Fauntleroy. On a cursory, to wit, poststructuralist reading it might indeed appear that Cedric's role is that of the "go-between" child/woman (Blum), i.e. of a fetishistically exaggerated phallus which enters the adult world to resolve the Oedipal tension(s). On these premises Cedric's amiability, shared by him with Peter Pan and Little Hans, would be read as paving way to a pacifying "good enough" (re)solution enabled by concealment of knowledge. However, it is sufficient to ponder over the fact that Cedric possesses the knowledge which his mother thinks she is concealing from him [26 ] in order to recognize in his amiability the constant exaggeration which allows him to remain impenetrable by presenting the same face to everybody. As a result he becomes available in his unavailability, i.e. prostitutes himself but in so doing subverts the functioning of the phallus which ceases to signify. For what this prostituting strategy boils down to is the practice that has allowed one of the heroines of Scheherazade's tales to ward off the phallic conquest by marking all the doors/vaginas with the same sign. Instead of the vagina good-enough to accommodate every phallus, the phallus is frozen in uniqueness which it cannot tolerate [27]. Confronted with indistinguishable doors/vaginas the phallus is bound to shrink, is doomed to an ultimate aphanistic disappearance.

Which explains why on a careful reading Burnett's narrative cannot be properly subsumed neither under the rubric of post-Oedipal linearity nor of pre-Oedipal circularity. The reason is that it so effectively stages the representational crisis in the Symbolic for which poststructuralism elaborating the masochistic resolution of Oedipus fails to provide the adequate means.


Works Cited