Four of Margaret Atwood's best novels, in one volume!
Athena, in The Eumenides I would like to begin with the proposition that female orgasm is unnecessary. But this question seems to require critical tools that, for reasons I explore in this essay, have not been available. If this paper does no more than get us as far as the giddy brink of an alternative to this cultural program, it will, I hope, suggest the magnitude of the resistances to this alternative as well as possible strategies for engaging them.
I But, first, let us return to the question of orgasm. We all know what male orgasm looks like.
This energy "aroused into expectancy," takes its course toward "significant discharge" and shrinks into a state of quiescence or satisfaction that, minutes before, would have been a sign of impotence.
The man must have this genital response before he can participate, which means that something in the time before intercourse must have aroused him. And his participation generally ceases with the ejaculation that signals the end of his arousal. The myth of the afterglow -- so often a euphemism for sleep -- seems a compensation for the finality he has reached.
Before I proceed to hypothesize the pleasure of his female mate, I must account for the quotation marks in the previous paragraph. Is it that the assumptions about narrative theory and the pleasure of the text that seem obvious to me are somehow not available to them? If they were conscious that the narrative dynamics and the erotica of reading they were expounding were specifically tied to an ideology of representation derivable only from the dynamics of male sexuality, would they not at least feel uncomfortable making general statements about "narrative," "pleasure," and "us"?
The archetype of all fiction is the sexual act. In saying this I do not mean merely to remind the reader of the connection between all art and the erotic in human nature. For what connects fiction -- and music -- with sex is the fundamental orgastic rhythm of tumescence and detumescence, of tension and resolution, of intensification to the point of climax and consummation.
In the sophisticated forms of fiction as in the sophisticated practice of sex, much of the art consists of delaying climax within the framework of desire in order to prolong the pleasurable act itself. A refresher course in the fundamentals of structuralism should suffice to remind us that the "erotic in human nature" has to be understood within its various determining contexts if the concept is to be productive what is "the erotic"?
And even if we have become wary of the generic "man in society," we still might need to be reminded that such generalizations in such contexts indicate that the pleasure the reader is expected to take in the text is the pleasure of the man.
Like the sexual act, the act of fiction is a reciprocal relationship. Granted, a writer can write for his own amusement, and a reader can read in the same way [note the finesse with which the male generic is suspended here]; but these are acts of mental masturbation, with all the limitations that are involved in narcissistic gratification of the self.
The meaning of the fictional act itself is something like love. The writer, at his best, respects the dignity of the reader. He does not simply try to take his pleasure and his meaning from the book.
When writer and reader make a "marriage of true minds," the act of fiction is perfect and complete. In this system, woman is neither an independent subjectivity nor a desiring agent but, rather, an enabling position organizing the social fiction of heterosexuality.
I might point out, however, that it is exactly what I see as a potentially -- but not necessarily -- liberating relation to representability that has allowed the entire issue of female pleasure to go unacknowledged or to be entirely misconstrued for as long as it has.
Everything that the last two decades have taught us about human sexual response suggests that the female partner in intercourse has accesses to pleasure not open to her male partner. It is, of course, a commonplace that she can fake pleasure. She can even take as her point of arousal the attained satisfaction of her mate.
Without defying the conventions dictating that sex be experienced more or less together, she can begin and end her pleasure according to a logic of fantasy and arousal that is totally unrelated to the functioning and representation of the "conventional" heterosexual sex act.
Moreover, she can do so again. And, we are told, again after that. According to this scheme, desire would be, even at its inception, a desire for the end; birth the moment at which the organism begins to dispose of its energies would be evaluated proleptically through the significance it acquires in the light of the death that consummates and totalizes the life history.
And pleasure would involve the recognitions and reproductions of the dynamics "of ends in relation to beginnings and the forces that animate the middle in between" Brooks, Reading The Masterplot of the novel would, according to the pleasure principle, be the chain of events that restores the creature to death while accounting for all the significances of its having come to life.
We need only to consider the kinds of major questions the novel raises to realize how successfully it avoids resolving any one of them. I have been arguing that male narratology conceptualizes narrative dynamics in terms of an experience it so swiftly and seamlessly generalizes that we tend to forget that it has its source in experience -- in fact, in experience of the body.
Yet this demonstration enables us to speculate about how another set of experiences might yield another set of generalizations, another theory as vulnerable to the introduction of a counter example as the Masterplot itself.Thesis Coming Unstrung Winnett - benjaminpohle.com fileThesis Coming Unstrung Winnett Spaces after the period which concludes the title.
The development of the pine ridge resort should proceed. Done in the topic benjaminpohle.com coming unstrung - . This article explores the characteristics of narratives told by women and men about the birth of children.
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These confessors are coming into faith in Messiah from outside of Christian faith. texts support the individualist (Baptist) thesis or the covenant family thesis?Submitted in accordance with the requirements for the degree of no quotation from the thesis may be published without proper 4i Susan Winnett, `Coming Unstrung: Women, Men, Narrative.
Feminists such as Theresa de Lauretis in and more famously Susan Winnett in her PMLA essay, Coming Unstrung, were leading voices in a swelling chorus of theorist pointing out the masculinist bias of ending in narrative.