Forever fluid

A reading of Luce Irigaray’s Elemental Passions

The recognition of a female subject is relatively recent in Western philosophy, through Western intellectual history, it has been assumed to be normatively male. This book provides the first English commentary on Luce Irigaray's poetic text, Elemental Passions, setting it within its context within continental thought. It explores Irigaray's images and intentions, developing the gender drama that takes place within her book, and draws the reader into the conversation in the text between 'I-woman' and 'you-man'. In Irigaray's philosophy of sexual difference love is of ultimate significance for the development and mutual relationship of two subjects. The book explains how the lack of a subject position for women is related to the emergence of rigid binaries, and catches a hint of how subversive attention to fluidity is to the masculinist pattern. This emphasis on desire and sexual difference obviously intersects with the psychoanalytic theories of S. Freud and J. Lacan, theories which had enormous impact on French philosophers of the time. Irigaray has used vivid imagery from the very beginning of her writings. A few of her images, in particular that of the lips, have become famous in feminist writings. The development of mutually affirming sexual subjects, different but not oppositional, and thereby the destabilizing of traditional binary categories of oppositional logic, is simultaneously highly innovative and has far-reaching consequences. The book presents a critique of Irigaray's methods and contentions to critical scrutiny, revisiting the idea of fluidity in relation to logic.

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