Shanna de la Torre's scientific contributions
This chapter begins with the questions with which de la Torre concluded the preceding chapter, namely what is a sick woman—or a subject who is not-all in the symbolic whose suffering has become “bad to say”—to do in the face of the real unconscious, there where an experience that the social cannot integrate is inscribed, and what means does structuralism offer for approaching this problem? Proposing that structuralism approaches this problem by way of the figure of the mythologist, de la Torre looks to Jennifer Kent’s 2014 horror film The Babadook in order to outline conditions under which a sick woman can become mythologist to his/her/hir own pains.
In this chapter, de la Torre begins to explore the possibility of theorizing structuralism differently—non-Oedipally—with, rather than against, Lévi-Strauss, one of the foremost theorists of the incest prohibition. Returning to the Introduction to the Work of Marcel Mauss, she finds both Oedipal and non-Oedipal logics at work in Lévi-Strauss’s treatments of the zero symbol and what he calls “mental disturbance.” In particular, she draws out the stakes of Lévi-Stauss’s account of a symbolic that does not cover everything, as well as his argument that there are members of the collective who are sensitive to those sites that the symbolic does not cover, a logic she links to those of femininity and psychosis.
De la Torre focuses in this chapter on Lévi-Strauss’s Introduction to the Work of Marcel Mauss, wherein Lévi-Strauss introduces ideas that will become central to his structuralism, in order to draw out the Oedipal logic of Lévi-Strauss’s understanding of the zero symbol as well as key differences signaled by Lacan between his structuralism and Lévi-Strauss’s. She then turns to Freud’s case study of the Wolf Man in order to propose that the case of the Wolf Man foregrounds the “real” that separates Lévi-Strauss from Lacan in the shape of the primal scene.
De la Torre shifts in this chapter from a focus on Lévi-Strauss’s writings on myth and trauma to consider writings on unconscious fantasy and jouissance by Lacanian thinkers Willy Apollon, Lucie Cantin, and Juliet Flower MacCannell. Beginning with a rereading of Lacan’s formulas of sexuation, de la Torre proceeds to link Lacan’s writing of the impossible real that sex “is” to Apollon’s account of sexual difference, where femininity and masculinity appear not only as distinct logics but also as ethical exigencies at stake for all subjects.
De la Torre offers an introduction to key terms in her project, situating the question of the sex in structuralism within conversations in Lacanian psychoanalysis about the differences between norms and structures, the meaning of the symbolic, and the stakes of castration for both Oedipal and non-Oedipal subjects. Arguing that Claude Lévi-Strauss’s structuralism offers more by way of non-Oedipal logics than its critics have suggested and that structuralism’s engagements with the non-Oedipal logics of femininity and psychosis make structuralism’s uses manifest, de la Torre links her project to the question of the transformation of the subject, named by Gilles Deleuze in 1967 as a question for structuralism’s future.