Neus Carbonell – Seductions

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Neus Carbonell 

Seduction: The gaze, the veil and the nothingness
Seduction entails the capture of a gaze. A gaze that looks at what is supposed to be where there is nothing but nothingness. In seduction then, there is the gaze, what is lacking, and what is veiled. To seduce is to make look, which is not necessarily the same as giving to be seen. Indeed, seduction attracts the gaze towards nothingness, in order to arouse desire and keep it in suspense, at least for a moment. This is why time plays its part in seduction.
The feminine
In seduction, the gaze points to what is alluded to, to what the veil hides. For Lacan, there is a relationship between the veil, the woman and the phallus, as the frescoes in the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii elegantly present. In these frescoes, a woman is about to lift the veil that hides the phallus in the Dionysian rites. The whole mystery is that behind or under the veil there is nothing. This is usually the beginning of all initiation rites: the final mystery of the initiation rite is that in the end there is no mystery at all. Thus, under the veil that the woman is about to lift in the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii, there is nothing but nothingness, the nothingness of castration or death. Lacan refers to this painting as an illustration of woman's relation to the unveiling of the “most hidden signifier.[1] The woman, being related to lack, makes present a transcendence. 
For all these reasons, we can speak of the relation of the feminine to seduction. After all, seduction hovers over the background of non-existence. Indeed, it suggests the non-existence of the feminine, which has no representation. Or, to put it another way, the feminine has no representation other than the very veil that covers an absence of representation.
The scene of seduction
In Freud's sexual theories in children, the seduction scene has a determining role in hysteria. Freud concluded that the seduction scene recounted by hysterics constituted a fantasy, and thus discovered not only infantile sexuality, but also the unconscious origin of human sexuality. Beyond the reality or accuracy of the seduction scene narrated – we know that Freud no longer believed in it wholeheartedly – it is about the traumatic appearance of the question of desire and the jouissance of the Other. Lacan sums it up as follows: "In the hysteric is a sudden seduction, an intrusion or an irruption of the sexual into the subject’s life."[2] Above all, psychoanalysis discovers the relationship between seduction and unconscious desire. Seduction operates to the extent that it resonates in the phantasm of each subject.
Indeed, it is only through the role of desire that the close relationship between hysteria and seduction can be understood. (…)


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[1] Lacan, J., “Guiding Remarks for a Congress on Feminine Sexuality”, Écrits, trans. B. Fink, New York/London:  Norton, 2006, p. 617. 
[2] Lacan, J., The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book V: Formations of the Unconscious, ed. J.-A. Miller, trans. R. Grigg, Cambridge: Polity, 2017, p. 378.
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