A piece in the Guardian just caught my eye. Eva Wiseman’s latest column –
Goodbye to Sex : A short heartfelt eulogy.
Apparently young people are no longer beholden to the ‘arrogant pop star’ animal called sex or perhaps the animal has morphed; ‘the iPhone has taken the place of the cinema, tender has been replaced by Tinder. Sex, apparently, only takes place behind the closed doors of the over 60’s?’
In psychoanalysis sexuality is organised into different ways that we experience pleasure or jouissance.
There are the partial drives. They are called partial because their development occurs in a period of our development where there is a sense of not being complete. For Freud the partial drives represent different stages of the infants development; the aural stage (the breast), the anal and then the genital when according to Freud the partial drives become organised into a sense of completeness during puberty.
Now Jacques Lacan didn’t accept this idea that in puberty the partial drives became organised into complete drives. For Lacan the drives, including the genital drives, are always partial, always incomplete, always needy and demanding, except for a brief let up after the sexual act. For Lacan the partial drives are aural (the lips), the anal (anus) to which he added the invocatory (the ears and the voice) and scopic (eyes) with the complete drive being the genital. But unlike Freud Lacan didn’t believe that the partial drives could attain a complete organisation and that primacy of the genital zone always remains precarious.
This is a very interesting development and in one of his seminars he famously stated ‘I could be having sex now, but I am here speaking to you.’ In other words the drives, which include the act of speaking, listening, the act of seeing and of being seen all have a sexual charge, jouissance. Lacan also brings in another aspect to the drives. Three grammatical structures related to the drives; the active voice (to see), the reflexive voice (to see oneself) and the passive voice (to be seen). The active and reflexive are autoerotic and lack another subject. It is only with the passive voice comes the active part of being seen. In other words he is defining the way our drives interact or don’t interact with each other.
So coming back to the Goodbye to Sex article, isn’t it interesting to see the evolution of the way sexual pleasure is experienced and shared. Is it better or worse? Is the old rock star of a sexual beast to be mourned or are we going into a new period of evolution? Has the sexual revolution of 1961 come to and end? Are we in the process of an evolution, a migration of the erogenous zone from the centrality of genital to the invocatory and scopic drives?