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Freud’s Jaw by Lana Lin

PostPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2018 5:08 pm
by anne
‘Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare’.
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So said the poet Audre Lorde, quoted by Lana Lin in her engaging and original book ‘Freud’s Jaw and other lost objects, Fractured Subjectivity in the Face of Cancer’.

Lana Lin’s book evolved out of her own breast cancer diagnosis. In it she considers three figures who grappled with cancer: Freud, Lorde and literary and queer theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgewick.

Each chapter, she explains, focuses on a different type of object ‘which bears a relation to the psychoanalytic lost object’. Lin fruitfully applies, in particular, Klein’s theories on loss, mourning and on reparation. In the quote on self-preservation which opens the book Lin draws together reference to Freud’s (and Klein’s) ideas on destruction and a death drive with Lorde’s argument that to survive, as a black, lesbian, feminist – and survive to speak and be a poet – is an achievement against destruction and hatred in her social context. Lorde’s approach was to ‘integrate death into life, neither ignoring it not giving into it’.

Lin draws on the psychoanalytic concept of the fetish object in considering Lorde’s powerful writing on her cancer experience and her excoriating critique of the ‘prosthetic pretence’ of breast reconstruction. The idea that the ‘reconstructed breast defends against the terror of absence that is associated with the loss of the first part-object’ is movingly argued.
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While careful to respect what any other woman decided, Lorde resisted the ‘empty comfort of “Nobody will know the difference”…’ in favour of using her pain to recognise loss and to undertake, as Lin describes, a process of mourning which fed her creativity. (see the Forum Creativity after Diagnosis on this site too)

· Freud’s Jaw and Other Lost Objects, is published by Fordham University Press