||Ha(w)thorne, Lacan and the N(a)tional Thing:
In the Name of the Father
||Department of English
sins of the fathers
objet petit a
the big Other
the master signifier
the Symbolic Order
||This dissertation is in an attempt to read the trajectory of the proper name of Ha(w)thorne who is interpellated as a subject by the symbolic gesture of his adding letter “w” to his family name. In this light, this small object “w” can be treated as an index of the place where the master signifier for the I-subject will come about. The master signifier, according to Jacques Lacan, designates the “quilting point” that intervenes while rendering complete an infinite series of signifiers. It helps clarify the fact that the subject is constituted in response to the real lacking-being in the Other (incarnated in Society, Culture, and Nation). Following Lacan, I maintain that to access and reassess the “proper” place assigned for Ha(w)thorne calls for an infinite conversation with such extimate substance as the letter “w” that precedes and pre-exists prior to Ha(w)thorne as a subject. The institution of the master signifier not only constitutes the subject in the field of the Other but maps the location of (national) culture, the lost Thing of which can only be retrieved in the locus of the Other.
The introduction is centered on the heated debate between Jacques Derrida and Emmanuel Levinas on the “proper name,” from which the notion of master signifier is brought up. To compromise with the master signifier, an individual not only experiences the Althusserian interpellation but acknowledges his assigned place in the Other, which proffers a network of signifiers to actualize the subjective existence (“meaning”) in the Symbolic Order.
Chapter One deals with the twisted relation between the misrecognized act of Utopian Imaginary and American modernity. I contend that utopia comes into existence on the account of the “nostalgia for the vanishing present,” is actually a counterpart of (American) modernity itself. Utopia is an empirical example of the radical transformation of modernity as well as the epistemological rupture. Meanwhile, it refers to the impossible jouissance of modernity: that is, to enjoy oneself without an alienating substance. In this sense, I maintain that the breakdown of utopia and its praxis lies not in alienation or false consciousness but in the impossible condition of “total” enjoyment. The alienating and preponderant object of individual subjects, which constitutes the subjective fantasy, is the hindrance to “total” enjoyment. The failure of utopian imaginary as a line of flight from the grip of modernity is best seen in Zenobia’s “death.”
In Chapter Two, I utilize the Lacanian notion of the Thing to tackle the Hawthorne moral edifice, hinged upon the presumes evil as the dark necessity. According as the Thing reveals, we catch a glimpse of the sublime jouissance, an inherent transgression within the (moral) Law. It sheds light on the bar or self-split of the Law, the cross-bar of which is called the (evil) Thing (of Jouissance). In Chapter Three, I tackle the “Hawthorne and Woman” question from the perspective of Lacan’s logic of sexuation. To avoid the pitfalls of dualism or ideological critique of uneven representation of the sexual difference, I intend to re-address the signification of women characters in Hawthorne, whose existence is determined by the agency of the phallus. To write off the real-impossible sexual relationship, Hawthorne, as I will demonstrate, resorts to the convention of courtly love in which the empirical woman is elevated to the dignity of the (Woman-)Thing. In this sense, Woman (as a Non-Whole) marks the limit of male fantasy (epistemology) from which the male characters derive their phallic jouissance. Chapter Four is aimed at the agency of the scarlet letter “A,” which, with its sublime process, marks the lost “Thing” of the imagined community. The letter “A” designates the lack in the big Other, which requires the master signifier to intervene and actualize its potential meaning. On the other, only with the letter “A” can we articulate the archaic in the locus of the Other in a retroactive act of narration.
Before and Beyond the Proper Name: Introduction to The Name-of-the-Father
Ha(w)thorne, (W)hole-some: Author/Autre
Chapter One 26
Nostalgia for the Vanishing Present
(Un)Vel(Veil) of the Dark Lady: Historical “Real” of Modernity and Market
From Knowledge to Truth: Alienated Self-Consciousness as a Necessity
Chapter Two. Evil as Dark Necessity in Hawthorne’s Moral Edifice 56
Introduction to the Gothic Sublime
The Jouissance of the (Other) Thing: Sins of the Fathers as Prohibition
Chapter Three. The Signification of Woman-Thing in Hawthorne 78
What is Courtly Love?
The Self-Split of Woman: Phallic Woman or Object Petit a
The Real-Limit of the Other Jouissance: Love as Redemption
Chapter Four: The Agency of the Scarlet Letter “A”—From “a” to “A”110
Anxious Nation, Nervous States: Lack of the Lack
N(a)tion and N(a)rration: The Institution of the Master Signifier
Writing Self, Writing Nation: Enjoy Your Sin/Thing-thome
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