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The aura created by the Freudian interpretations reached its zenith when the French Psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan (propelled into this arena by his reading of Freud and Salvador Dali) achieved a place in the literary critical canon.The linguistic, philosophical and political scope of his discourse stirred the Western intelligentsia.
Lacan ‘s mirror stage correspond with Freud’s stage of primary narcissism, when the subject is in love with its own image and its own body, which precedes the love of others.
The infant at the same time identifies with and alienates itself from the mirror image.
His oeuvre reveals a great influence of Parisian figures like the anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss and the linguists Ferdinand de Saussure and Roman Jakobson.
He suggested a new back- to-Freudianism (Return to Freud) with a novel emphasis on the unconscious, as the nucleus of our being, which is the opus of his Ecrits.
Thus he deconstructs the liberal humanist notion of unique, individual selfhood and the idea of the subject as a stable amalgamation of consciousness.
Lacan’s take on self would reject the conventional view on characterization ( as the idea of the character rests on the notion of a unique separate self) and the novelistic characters are seen as “assemblages of signifiers clustering round a proper name.”) Further, Lacan’s view of language (fundamentally detached from any referent in the world) defies literary realism since in realist novels, is that the text figures forth the real world for us.
As there is a perpetual barrier between the signifier and the signified which is demonstrated with a diagram showing two identical lavatory rooms, one headed “Ladies” and “Gentlemen.” This purports to show that same signifier may have different signifieds, so that the correlation between signifiers determine the meanings.
Thus Lacan suggests an incessant sliding of the signified under the signifier.
The function of the ego is, in other words, one of mis-recognition (meconnaissance) of refusing to accept the truth of fragmentation and alienation.
As the sense of original unity and coherence in the mirror phase is an illusion, there is a fundamental disharmony regarding the ego.