Friday, January 21, 2005

Animals can be tamed, but not mouths

The pillowiness of my teaching schedule this semester--T and Th--and the fact that Anna is on a MWF schedule has afforded Noah and I a great deal of time together. It's fascinating, joymaking and, in its way, saddening to watch Noah enter into language (the father's province, if we're to believe those Europeans). We'll tell him not to do something (say, play with the electrical outlet), he'll stop, and then three seconds later begin doing it again, but this time muttering no no no no to himself, internalizing the voice of prohibition. And this is what's heartbreaking, that language in its most incipient, inchoate form creates a split in consciousness, a split between word and desire, action and desire, between name and desire, hell, between desire and desire. We try not to use the word "no" too much, but in the case of electrical outlets. . . Certainly, we all just want to plug into the world, but there are good outlets and bad outlets. Poetry is a good outlet, mostly; crackpipe bad. Sex good, mostly; gun to head bad. And on and on, with the father and his vital, life-saving, socializing, pleasure-deferring "no" all the way back to Abraham. But we can't forget the equally vital yes when word and object almost match up.

Last night I was reading Noah a bed time story, Lacan's Ecrits to be exact, and he said "Daddy, this is such total bullshit. Let's read The Little Engine That Could."

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