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Title: Thanatos Gains the Upper Hand: Sadism, Jouissance, and Libidinal Economy
Authors: Li-chun Hsiao
Issue Date: Jan-2003
Publisher: 英語學系
Department of English, NTNU
Abstract: This paper explores the connections between sadistic desire and jouissance in the light of Freudian and Lacanian reflections on the psychic apparatuses of the two. Following Freud’s metaphoric appropriation of thermodynamics, it conceives of sadistic desire and jouissance in terms of a libidinal economy. Far from being a homeostatic system, however, such an economy is closely linked to Bataille’s general economy, which is founded on a heterogeneous element and is dominated by the permanent aggressivity of the death drive. The psychic economy of the sadist is also related to a radical gravitation and manifestation of the death drive. Positing impossible jouissance, as distinct from pleasure, as their ideal, sadistic heroes commit atrocities in their attempt to relentlessly adhere to such an ideal, whose logic is similar to that of the Kantian “categorical imperative” and subscribes to what Lacan calls the Law. Sade’s Philosophy in the Bedroom will be used as a demonstrative text, as indeed Sade himself thinks of it, to illustrate our theoretical speculation.
Other Identifiers: 2E588DDB-9315-64A4-CA02-4D171C7E26EB
Appears in Collections:Concentric: Studies in English Literature and Linguistics

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