judge Brett Kavanaugh has just entered into the function of the supreme Court of the United States, in the wake of several weeks of debate about his youth stirred in a private high school and at the Yale law school. It can be tempting to see in this case yet another expression of the puritanism and american sexual repression. Its accusatory, Christine Blasey Ford would be too much, the americans are of saintes nitouches, small, prudish, the young Brett Kavanaugh liked a little too much for the girls, this is not a sin, etc, This is not to say that puritanism has nothing to do in this case, but probably not as it is usually represented : for those who have closely followed the hearing in the Senate, it is obvious that Blasey Ford spoke truthfully, and that the judge was destabilized. One could even argue that the testimony of the professor of psychology is the tradition of the Greek parrhésie, this free speech of the citizens of Athens, cradle of democracy. That Kavanaugh has lied under oath is little doubt : in high school and Yale university, and the witnesses agree to remember a young man, often drunk, quarrelsome, sometimes to the edge of coma ethyl.
But anyone who has watched his testimony will have been struck by the lack of eloquence of the judge, or by moments of bégaiements and aphasia. And one of the nine officials supposed to be the most eloquent of the United States has been caught in the act of incompetence oratory. It is necessary to hear a symptom, not the great emotion, the rest poorly played, of a man who sees his career and life switch, but a problem with the word that reveals the dissociation between the gender and the word in the middle anglo-saxon, and especially american.
A sort of hatred of the language
indeed, in the French tradition, or even mediterranean, the sexed body is a body textué : the tradition of the coat of arms in the poetry of the Renaissance, the cinema of Godard, Rohmer, Truffaut and Desplechin, passing by Don Juan, Laclos, Marivaux, Proust or the marquis de Sade, sex is always talked about. The meaning dilates the sense. Expansion must be understood in both the sense of openness and delay (dilatio means the delay). If the word atermoie the meeting of the body, it is also she who raises. This is not very original to say that Don Juan is listening speaking, and that predation donjuanesque is predation by the word.
literature and French cinema, admirably illustrate the syntax of seduction, and this seduction by the syntax. Beyond the cinema, which sees only the great French intellectuals of the last century, Lacan, Barthes, Foucault, Derrida, and made love to their audience ? This does not mean that sexual desire is sublimated by the language. Eros and logos are interpenetrating, and we do not know distinguish between the fire of desire and the word that both the delays and the excites.
While the eroticism in american cinema is taciturn, fors the films of Woody Allen, the desire of the French cinema is talkative. It is hardly coincidence that Her is the film recent american where sex is the most talkative : this is the sensual Scarlett Johansson is relegated off-screen, disembodied voice software.
as Well the obvious misogyny of the judge Kavanaugh may be a misologie, a kind of hatred of language as it delays and intensifies the desire. Probably drunk, he has plated his victim on the bed, before gagging of the hand. Noli me dicere : don’t talk to me.
The sex of the anglo-saxon will continue to be shaming the word as a mourning of the thing
The discussions on consent, including on american campuses, currently turning around the notion of a contract. In the near future, one could indeed imagine that the consent is attested by a smartphone app, a contract so to speak digital. However, it will only perpetuate the misologie, and so the violence that is inherent, since this collapses with the language algorithms, it is the semantics, replaced by a nameplate. The signage occludes the meaning to keep only the adequacy between sign and thing.
therefore, we can be sure that the sex of the anglo-saxon will continue to shaming the floor as the grief of the thing, and therefore desire deferred to gather there, and that no Eros does not appear for smartphones. It is to rediscover the literary tradition that the sex may not be to moralize (God forbid !) but réhumaniser.
*Professor of literature, university of Minnesota
On the same subject United States – Kavanaugh-Ford : violence, lies and politics