The ecstasy of St. Subaltern


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The ecstasy of St. Subaltern ideology, jouissance and figuration in literature and theory
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Melczarek, Arnold Nicholas
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Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 2003.
Includes bibliographical references.
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by Arnold Nicholas Melczarek.
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I thank my director Malini Schueller for her patience, guidance, and
encouragement throughout the writing of this dissertation and my time at UF.
Gratitude also goes to Stephanie Smith for her conversations, insights, and for
her sibylline questions during the examination process. I am proud to have
counted both these exceptional women as my models of responsible and
engaged intellectuals. I thank my committee members Kim Emery and Louise
Newman for their invaluable suggestions, and for their encouragement over far
too few meetings. Special thanks go to Rajagopalan Radhakrishnan for his long-
distance participation in this project, especially for making it sound infinitely
more interesting than ever it seemed to me. I am indebted to Julian Wolfreys for
his intellectual and moral support, his clarity and wit, and his pedagogical
inspiration. My gratitude goes also to Tace Hedrick, Terry Harpold, and Kenneth
Kidd for the interest and friendship they have extended to my work and me.
Support staff in university departments never, ever receive thanks to the
extent they are due. Therefore I especially appreciate the UF English Department
secretaries Kathy Williams, Carla Blount, Loretta Dampier, Jeri White, and Sonja
Moreno who have worked with and helped me during my time here. I am
happy to have known each of these women as joyful individuals beyond the
scope of their official tasks. Dissertations result from years of collective work in
the form of research, conversation, and mutual suffering. I thank Heather
Marcovitch and Kristin Chancey for food, love, and commiseration to various
soundtracks. My colleagues and friends Denise Cummings, Fred Young,
Christina Wolfreys, Brian Doan and Kenneth Chan have provided solace,
inspiration, and information in equal measure toward the pursuit of the

fabulous. My especial thanks go to Helen Mallonee for her support and
continued interest in my work and well-being from the start.
Family encompasses many permutations, and I am fortunate beyond
measure to thank those I count among my kith who wandered the doctoral path
either in kind, or by proximity. Victoria Schooler deserves my eternal love and
admiration for her exceptional qualities, intellectual and aesthetic. Sue Senhauser,
Jasmine Griffin, and Cinnamon Bair have extended care and devotion to me and
my work throughout my college career, and I hope to have deserved both. I am
proud to have counted Sasha Normand and Lisa Normand as my closest kith
from my earliest scholastic steps, without whose intellectual inspiration and
emotional guidance I would not have come this far. My deep appreciation also to
Jean Melczarek, and to my brothers Hugo and Robert Melczarek. Mostly and
above all, I thank my wife Tina and Papa who have participated in this degree
with me at every stage, in every waking moment, and to whom all my work is
dedicated. My degree is even more theirs than it is mine.


ACKNO LEDG EN S .................................................................................................. ii*

ABSTRACT ....................................................................................................................... vii


1 INTRODUCTION: THE ECSTASY OF ST. SUBALTERN......................................... 1

"Saint" Subaltern?..........................................................................................4......
The M ystic, gtuteness, Know ing........................................................................ 10
M ystic(al) Production........................................................... .............................14
The Beginnings of St. Subaltern........................................................................ 17
Chapter Synopses...............................................................................................22

2 ST. ESPERANZA. THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET......................................27

Esperanza............................................................................................................. 28
Experience ............................................................................................................ 32
Representation...................................................................................... ......... 35
Jouissance.................................................................................. ........................40

SO YOU COULD DRESS LIKE THIS?".................................................................... 52

"Cuba".................................................................................................................. 53
Why Ideology After the "End of Ideology"? ..................................................57
Contradiction: M arx............................................................................................60
The Germ an Ideology to Capital...................................................................... 61
M arx, M ysticism M ediation..............................................................................63
(M ystical) Alienation .......................................................................................... 66
False Consciousness: Engels.............................................................................. 68
Reification: Lukacs ............................................................................................... 71
Representation: Althusser.................................................................................. 73
Enjoym ent: Zizek................................................................................................ 76
"Cuba".................................................................................................................. 77

THE SECOND SEX, BLACK SKIN, WHITE MASKS ............................................ 84

A Pause for Sartre ............................................................................................... 86
"Tw ilight of Bad Faith: The Second Sex........................................................... 90
Situation,Freedom Alienation ....................................................................... 94
The M ystic ........................................................................................................... 99
The M ystic as Sexuated Representation........................................................ 102
"Night of the Absolute": Black Skin, White Masks...................................... 109
Bad Faith, N eurosis, Alienation......................................................................112
Experience and Representation...................................................................... 115
Jouissance........................................................................................................... 119
Body and Q uandary.......................................................................................... 121
Possibilities and Problem atics.......................................................................... 124

5 THE GREAT BEYONDS: ENCORE, SPECULUM .............................................. 127

"Beyond the Phallus:" Lacan ........................ .................................................. 128
Ideology and Jouissance...................................................................................129
"N ever N ot Political ........................................................................................ 132
"Beyond" A alienation. ........................................................................................ 133
Representation .................................................................................................. 137
"Beyond Any O their Feeling:" Irigaray .......................... ................................ 143
Language, H ysteria, Alienation ..................................................................... 145
Ideology and Alienation ......................................... ......................................... 147
Jouissance and Representation ........................................................................ 149
Jouissance and Value ........................................................................................ 154
O outside, Beyond, Before ................................................................................... 155
Counter-ideological M uteness ........................................................................ 158

6 ST. BHUVANESWARI: "CAN THE SUBALTERN SPEAK?" ............................ 163

Ideology, Hegemony, the Subaltern: Gramsci ............................................. 165
Ideology: "N ight of N onknow ledge" ............................ ................................ 169
A Pause for Foucault ........................................................................................ 172
The Subaltern: Alienation and (Non)representation .................................. 174
Bhuvaneswari Bhaduri/"Bhuvaneswari Bhaduri" ....................................... 175
Bhuvanesw ari Bhaduri ..................................................................................... 181
"Bhuvanesw ari Bhaduri" ....................................................................... ........... 184
Jouissance ........................................................................................................... 187

7 DIALOGUE OF THE SUBALTERN: THE COLOR PURPLE ............................... 191

Celie.................................... ......................................................................... ........ 192
Shug ..................................................................................................................... 207
Celie ..................................................................................................................... 210

EFEREN CES ................................................................................................................ 216

BIO G RA PH IC A L SK ETC H .......................................................................................... 224

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy


Arnold Nicholas Melczarek

May 2003

Chair Malini Johar Schueller
Major Department: English

I propose that current literature by women of color in the US. and
various strains of psychoanalytic, Marxist, and feminist theories imply that the
concept of jouissance not only describes women's relations to ideology, but also
simultaneously and paradoxically indicates a mediation of the elements of
knowledge, action, experience and representation that comprise ideology. Close
readings of literary and theoretical texts develop permutations of Karl Marx's
concept of ideology from "not-know/do" to "not-know/experience," as well as
multiple imaginaries of jouissance as an element of excess that can be experienced
but cannot be represented. As analogous but distinct phenomena, ideology and
jouissance inform and determine each other. I show how some Francophone
existential, psychoanalytic, and feminist theories, and some Francophone and
Anglophone subaltern theories, explore this claim of the relation of ideology and
jouissance through three specific theoretical tropes: the female mystic as figured
by Simone de Beauvoir in The Second Sex. Jacques Lacan in Seminaire XX
Encore, and Luce Irigaray in Spe um of the Other Woman and This Sex Which

Is Not the colonized native posited by Frantz Fanon in Black Skin.White
Masks and the female subaltern figured by Gayatri Spivak in "Can the Subaltern
Speak?" Sandra Cisneros' novel The House on Mango Street Achy Obejas' short
story "We Came All the Way from Cuba So You Could Dress Like This?" and
The Color Purple by Alice Walker illustrate complex strategies of representation
by which female characters of color come to effect a jouissant knowledge of their
ideological experience. Given my attention to textuality, my discussion also
works to undo the textuality/materiality opposition imposed by critiques of
theory's reliance on figuration that leave literary strategies of representation to
theorize ideology and jouissance's mutual mediation nonetheless transparent,
and show that the distinction is itself an ideological one that misreads the use of
tropes and figuration in both literature and theory.


Greatly to my distress, therefore, my raptures began to be talked about.1
St Teresa of Avila

Ideology, as classically defined, constitutes a negative relation between
knowledge and action, which was later permutated into a disjuncture between
knowledge and experience. Ideology also describes a mechanics of
representation that has material effects, but that itself escapes or exceeds
representation. In similar fashion, jouissance is typically defined as an excess,
sexual or otherwise, that can be experienced but cannot be known or
represented. Conceptually and figuratively, at least, ideology and jouissance
appear to comprise analogous but distinct phenomena. Yet in what ways are
they related? If they are not only, or more than, simple antitheses of each other,
how might they inform each other? And if they are both also issues of
representation, how might they figure or mediate each other? Can their
ambivalent relation allow one to figure the other? And does the one offer a
position from which to formulate a knowledge of the other? Since jouissance
appears frequent as a term in feminist discourses, might jouissance entail a
particular relation to, experience of, or knowledge of ideology for women?
I propose that current literature by women of color in the US. and
various strains of psychoanalytic, Marxist, and feminist theories imply that the
concept of jouissance not only describes women's relations to ideology, but also
simultaneously and paradoxically indicate a mediation of the elements of
"Sino que con harta pena mfa se comenzaron a publicar"

knowledge, action, experience and representation. Ideology and jouissance thus
constitute mutually mediating phenomena within a field of potentiality and
unrepresentability. Strategies of representing the ostensibly unrepresentable
thereby effect jouissant negotiations of the constituent elements of ideology.
Certain female figures in literary and theoretical texts inhabit a particularly raced,
sexed, and classed relation described by the phenomena of ideology and
jouissance, and effect just such mediating strategies of representation. My close
readings of literary and theoretical texts thus develop permutations of the
concept of ideology as well as multiple imaginaries of jouissance. My selected
literary texts illustrate complex strategies of representation by which female
characters of color come to effect a jouissant knowledge of their ideological
experience. I show how some francophone existential, psychoanalytic, and
feminist theories, and some Francophone and Anglophone subaltern theories,
explore this claim of the relation of ideology and jouissance through particular
figurations: the female mystic posited by Simone de Beauvoir, Jacques Lacan and
Luce Irigaray; the colonial subject figured by Frantz Fanon; and the female
subaltern as troped by Gayatri Spivak.
Yet rather than simply discuss the tropological practices of the works of
literature and theory that I address, I have developed a tropological figure out of
them which nevertheless remains irreducible to those works: St. Subaltern. What
follows is thus a rereading of those works through that very trope. I do so to
foreground the centrality of figuration to those works' strategies of jouissance
that resist or undo the constituent elements of ideology that those same works
describe. For these reasons I chose The House on Mango Street by Sandra
Cisneros, "We Came All The Way From Cuba So You Could Dress Like This?"
by Achy Obejas, and The Color Purple by Alice Walker as texts that effect
asymptotes of the sex, race, and class concerns raised by my selected theoretical
texts, as well as literary texts whose reading through St. Subaltern elaborate each

other's distinct political and historical inscriptions as jouissant narrative strategies
to mediate ideology.
The Ecstasy of St. Subaltern thus contributes to studies of Cisneros, Obejas
and Walker in particular, and of texts by U.S. women of color in general, as
possible theorizations of the relation between ideology and jouissance through
narrative and figuration that, as narratives, complicate such discussions in ways
that theory seems unwilling, unable, or insufficient on its own to do. I do not so
much bring my selected theoretical material to Cisneros, Obejas, and Walker's
texts as I read those texts through a figure derived from yet irreducible to those
proposed by de Beauvoir, Fanon, Lacan, Irigaray and Spivak. I insist that
discussions of each of these theoretical writers themselves often focus on matters
of materiality or referentiality in their acts of figuration at the expense of
considering the potential of the specific figures as figures that each writer
produces. I propose that such discussions also underestimate the centrality of
literary "textuality" to any theorization of praxis, no matter how grounded in
materiality it is purported to be. My readings thereby also intervene in debates
of representation tout court by maintaining that representation, as figuration
and troping, can offer an (admittedly ambivalent) jouissant negotiation of its own
ideological problem within both theoretical and literary texts.
By positing both ideology and jouissance as mediations of each other, and
as analogous but irreducible phenomena, my text thereby intervenes in and
contributes to general discussions of representation, ideology and jouissance. In
the realm of the ostensibly theoretical, I expand discussions of ideology and
jouissance that the respective discourses I trace have either obscured or left
transparent because their very formulations reproduce disjunctures between
knowledge, doing, and experience that these discourses themselves describe as
ideological. Rather than simply commenting on ideology and jouissance, my
series of readings thus seek to unwork two analogous ideological phenomena.

First, certain critiques of theoretical reliance on figuration impose a hierarchical

opposition between materiality and textuality that nevertheless treats literary
strategies of representation as transparent. I indicate that this opposition is itself
an ideological one that misreads the use of troping and figuration in both
literature and theory. Simultaneously, I discuss the explicitly U.S. racial literary
texts I invoke alongside explicitly non-U.S. theoretical texts to undo the
customary ideological distancing of the two narrative forms while retaining their
distinctions. I maintain that such a conceptual divide is no less ideological than
that effected between textuality and materiality. Reading the literariness of
ostensibly theoretical texts concurrently with the theorizations effected by
ostensibly literary texts, I aver, is necessary to any conceptualization of the role
of representation as mediating factor between ideology and jouissance.
"Saint" Subaltern?

My title plays off my two central theoretical figures: the mystic and the
subaltern. Ecstasy conventionally posits the mystic in question as female, and
thereby the concerned subaltern in my title implicitly as well. Ecstasy-ek-stasis
as Luce Irigaray reminds us-carries simultaneous sexual meaning as well as that
of something outside the norm, that exceeds stasis,2 mundum, oucouuleve. Saint
references those devotional individuals who serve as mediaries between,
presumably, the stasis and the ek. Yet as the invocation of the subaltern-derived
from Antonio Gramsci in general and applied by Gayatri Spivak to women in
specific-reminds us, saint carries also a Marxist sense of mediation. The very
phrase "the Ecstasy of---" references countless representations in (mostly male-

2 "Stasis" itself indicates standing, fixity, torpor. The ek-stasis would thereby indicate a
setting into motion, a drawing or pushing into the "beyond" that surrounds stasis by its own
immobility, so that "beyond" itself becomes a continually shifting and fluid field of relativity.
In terms of the known and unknown, the knowable and unknowable, representable and
unrepresentable, ecstacy indicates an experience of ambivalence: a radical shift of position
that by the same gesture changes only the point of fixity. This etymological implication itself
plays out the ambivalences around my projects' topoi of ideology, the mystic, and jouissance. It
also envelops the views I elaborate later of jouissance as the excess continually threatened
with appropriation.

produced) painting and sculpture of those experiences by sainted mystic women
of something beyond the world, something that exceeds the material. Those
paintings and sculptures themselves comprise representations derived from
those mystic's writings on their experience, their own attempt to represent such
otherwise unrepresentable experience in the formal structure of language.
Representations of representations, then, by which those mystics seek the dual
ends of arriving at a knowledge of their experience, and of representing it to
others to both evince the reality of the beyond and to edify the reader.
On to my curious trope: St. Subaltern, the mystic-saint as subaltern, the
subaltern as mystic-saint (Where "mystic" indicates a paradoxical relation
between experience and knowledge that indicates jouissant ecstacy and ideology
as analogous but distinct phenomena within a field of potentiality.) True, the
referents here invoked, mystic-saint and subaltern, are utterly distinct and
mutually irreducible. While concern for ontological referents should always
underlay any such project, the conceptual figures derived from both those
referents and their accrued discourses, but which exceed them and remain
irreducible to them, should also be considered. As Srinivas Aravamudan avers,
becauseue trope is transitive, it swerves from self-adequation to surplus and,
while doing so, moves from the 'proper and natural' to another meaning 'with
some advantage'" (1). Thereby, the trope of St. Subaltern partakes of both its
named constituents but remains irreducible to either one. As a rhetorical gesture,
St. Subaltern effects a conceptual asymptosis: the drawing together of two
distinct and singular discourses that continue in closer proximity but never
actually intersect. As these discursive trajectories draw closer, they influence each
other's configuration, much like mutually interfering gravitational fields that tug
at each consituent. "St. Subaltern" thereby enacts a particularly textual
phenomenon, and designates a field of potentiality, an event-horizon that, while

textual, carries material implications in that the figure derives from discourses of
St. Subaltern first textually coalesced in Gayatyri Spivak's 1987 essay "A
Literary Representation of the Subaltern," which used Jacques Lacan's figuration
of jouissance in his seminar "God and Womanrs jouissance" to read Mahasweta
Devi's story "Stanadayini." In using Lacanian psychoanalysis and Marxism
concomitantly, Spivak unwittingly also tapped discursive lines which lead back to
the shared figure of the mystic. As I detail in the chapters below, this figure has a
particular discursive history of its own in both psychoanalytic and Marxist
discourses, and often communicated between them. At the same time, Spivak
was building toward her 1988 essay "Can the Subaltern Speak?" As I discuss in
Chapter 6, Spivak's troping of the young woman Bhavaneswari Bhaduri into the
subaltern "Bhuvaneswari Bhaduri" in that essay creates a figure whose relation
to language, knowledge and experience recapitulates that of the trope of the
In an uncanny reciprocation, Spivak's figuration of Bhaduri within a
particular Marxist frame retrospectively foregrounded the mystic as a trope of
negotiation with language, knowledge, and experience as elements of ideology.
This reciprocal serendipity cast a particular light on the mystic as figured by
Lacan, who placed the figure in a phallic sexual economy. Yet Lacan's figure was
herself a node: Lacan's figure responded to that posed earlier by Simone de
Beauvoir in The Second Sex as an existential relation to language and ideology
(as bad faith). Nearly concurrent to de Beauvoir and working from often
identical sources, Frantz Fanon's Black Skin. White Masks further uncannily
describes the figure of the colonized Negro in almost the same terms as Lacan
would apply to that of woman twenty-five years later. Through this figure,
Fanon also permuted Marx's description of ideology in Capil from a relation of

"not-know/do" to one of "not-know/ experience"-a relation at whose

discursive centre in Marx's text sat the mystic.
Fanon's involvement indicated that St. Subaltern was not a unidiscursive
phenomenon, but rather one of asymptosis where lines of discourse
(psychoanalytic, Marxist, feminist, and the emerging Postcolonial) drew ever
closer to each other, yet maintained their irreducibility. Feminist discourses drew
particularly dose with Luce Irigaray's explicit response to both de Beauvoir and
Lacan's figures in Seculum of the Other Woman and This Sex Which Is Not One.
Irigaray focues on the mystic as a specific trope of women's relation to language,
knowledge and experience-in short, to ideology. Yet she formulates her
argument around the particular issue of representation within ideology, the
same issue addressed by Spivak, in often surprisingly resonant ways, in "Can the
Subaltern Speak?"
St. Subaltern is thereby both a precedented figure as well as one of
continually emerging discursive potential. Yet it is her very figurativity, her
status as a discursive phenomenon that particularly marks her. As my literary
and theoretical readings show, underlying my discussion of experience,
representation, jouissance and ideology is the issue of textuality. Arguments
around the theoretical writers and pieces mentioned above most often posit a
dichotomy between text and experience, validating the latter at the expense of
denigrating the former. A particular strain indicts current use of the mystic figure
in theory as a kind of bad faith that forgets or silences the historical referents'
own voices. But as Spivak's contribution to St. Subaltern indicates, voice and
representation are slippery and internally heterogeneous categories. I thereby
insist that such complaints perpetrate their own bad faith in valorizing a
historical referent's surmiseable materiality by not only ignoring the very
textuality through which such complaints are made, but also failing to recognize
the value of the trope that partially derives from but remains irreducible to those

referents. Beyond the fact that both the referents themselves and the discourses
around them have a history, such arguments overlook the very jouissant
element in tropes that escapes and exceeds ontological reduction.
The theoretical texts I include permute their respective tropes not only
according to their theoretical investments, but often in specific response to each
other. Fanon and de Beauvoir, particularly, respond to shared psychoanalytic,
Marxist, and existentialist conversations. For de Beauvoir the mystic posits a
woman negotiating her experience of singularity through bad faith, toward an
existential model of masculine activity. Fanon analogously but distinctly posits an
individual alienated from himself through colonialist discourses of race, who
nevertheless knows his experience as contradictory and disjunctive. Lacan
responds to the linguistic strictures that de Beauvoir notes phallic language
imposing on the mystic that foreclose her knowledge of her jouissant experience.
Irigaray, responding directly to Lacan and through him to de Beauvoir, posits
women who know very well what they experience despite phallic language, but
who choose to mimic either phallic discourse itself to indicate its limits, or the
mutenes already ascribed to the mystic in order to safeguard their jouissant
experiences. Spivak, permuting the subaltern figure posited by Gramsci and the
Subaltern Studies Group, responds directly to Lacan and indirectly to the others
by positing a particular figure who not only knows her experience of intersecting
politics of sex, nationalism, and colonialism, but also articulates her knowledge
through those discourses' own languages. Rather than promoting facile idealism,
however, each theoretical figure along with the literary characters I discuss
emphasizes the complex and dire negotiations between ideological mystification
and resistance, foregrounding that both are but variant phenomena within a
field of jouissant potentiality.
Whereas de Beauvoir focuses on what mystics do with their knowledge of
their experience, out of an existential valoring of activity analogous to but

distinct from Marx's, and how they represent that knowledge, Lacan focuses on
how women deal with the mystical experience through language. Both de
Beauvoir and Lacan already pose mystics' resistant articulation and
representation of their experience within discourses that would deny them that
very knowledge. Neither, however, yet inquires into how women come to the
mystical experience in the first place-how the mystic experience, the revelation
of knowledge, happens. Fanon, Irigray and Spivak, on the other hand, each
propose volitional searches for knowledge, or acts of identification or
knowledge, that indicate their subject's a priori awareness that there must be
something else. Fanon works his thinking through examples of colonized
subjects' attempts to re-identify themselves through misconceived appeals to the
model of metropolitan, colonizing whites. Irigaray, working from Bataille, posits
women's deliberate search for a knowledge beyond that which phallic discourses
allot, in response to a conviction that is also a memory. Spivak describes a subject
whose deliberately-timed suicide evinces a particular awareness of the discourses
that construct her.
Yet my own argument threatens to forget St. Subaltern's manifestation
out of Spivak's reading of literature, and valorize her as a discursive
phenomenon of texts of theory. My argument risks its own bad faith in
establishing a theory/literature opposition. Therefore, after I contextualize the
mystic trope in the rest of this chapter, my subsequent capers' deployment of
St. Subaltern works through dose readings of both literature and theory. Three
texts by U.S. women authors of color reveal even more complex negotiations of
these relations through specific narrative strategies. These literary theorizations
also indicate a greater and more dire complexity of the discourses involved. They
show that not only is jouissance a mediation of ideology as theory poses, but that
ideology is also a mediation of jouissance. These texts open jouissance and
ideology into each other through their shared element of unrepresentability.

Along Fredric Jameson's line that the unrepresentable is not unknowable, and its
chiasmus of the unknowable as not unrepresentable, The House on Mango
Street by Sandra Cisneros, "We Came All The Way From Cuba So You Could
Dress Like This?" by Achy Obejas, and The Color Purple by Alice Walker each
indicates that jouissance and ideology constitute distinct but analogous
experiences of a shared field of potentiality. This field not only foregrounds the
excess of both jouissance and ideology (which I elaborate in the chapters below),
but also marks such other phenomenon as rape and voicelessness as differential
cognates. Close reading of these literary pieces therefore announces St. Subaltern
and her attendant discourses as not unproblematic, but indeed as contingent and
relative. Jouissance, as well as ideology, figuration, and troping, becomes not a
matter of idealist escape but rather of responsible negotiation.
To return to my tropological figure, then: St. Subaltern, not as hybrid, nor
mestiza, nor any souplon of ontologizeable union, synthesis, or syncretism.
Rather, St. Subaltern as both an asymptotic figuration and a way to read
asymptotically. St. Subaltern deliberately as textual figure. Why? Because only in
text could such a figure be posed. Just as the trope of the mystic is not restricted
to religious discourse, nor the subaltern to conversations on postcoloniality, so
the concepts of ideology and mystification are no longer restricted to their
Marxist senses of class awareness. Granted that the terms as we receive them
today are overdetermined by Marxism, they have a history prior to Marx as
well. St Subaltern invokes both those histories simultaneously and exploits those
histories' resonances and asynchronies.
The Mystic, pu-teness, Knowing

[S]omething should be written about the return of these Christian
phantoms at strategic points in analytic discourse
Michel de Certeau, Heterologim (37)

For instance, in my own project here. Postcolonial feminist discourses
have at every stage evinced the necessity of the tropological figure of the

subaltern. But why revive the tired figure of the mystic, this abstract
Feuerbachian trope by whose example Marx's historical analysis sought to
release subjects from ideological mystification? What does this figure, this trope,
offer? If for some, as for Michel de Certeau, historical mystics evinced a death
drive, "a process whereby the objects of meaning vanish [...] as though the
function of mysticism were to bring a religious episteme to a dose and erase itself
at the same time" (Heterologies 37), then the figures spun out of those historical
mystics by de Beauvoir, Lacan, and Irigaray offer tropes for affirmative
epistemic difference. The mystic as genre and trope connotes not only a
particular formation of knowledge, but also a relation between that knowledge
and other knowledge.
As de Certeau further explains,
[i]n the beginning, it is best to limit oneself to the consideration of what
goes on in texts whose status is labeled "mystic," instead of wielding a
ready-made definition (whether ideological or imaginary) of what it is
that was inscribed in those texts by an operation of writing. [...] The
problem is not to determine whether an exegetical treatise by Gregory of
Nyssa, for example, is a product of the same experience as a discourse
later termed "mystic," or whether both are constructed following roughly
analogous rhetorical processes; it is, rather, to understand what happens
inside the field delimited by a proper name ("mystic"), in which an
operation regulated by an applicable set of rules is undertaken.
(Heteroggie 82)

Mystic as a term denotes "one who is initiated into a mystery"-itself "a secret
rite," derived from the Greek root "1v, a slight sound with dosed lips" and also
the verb "to bind" (Skeat 300b). De Beauvoir will mark the "wu-te" nature of the
mystic, positing that "it is on the level of communication that the word
['mystery'] has its true meaning: it is not a reduction to pure silence, to darkness,
to absence; it implies a stammering presence that fails to make itself manifest and
clear. To say that woman is a mystery is to say, not that she is silent, but that her
language is not understood" (257). Whereas the theoretical writers haggle over
the relative states of muteness of their respective figures, each of the literary

characters already eschews such muteness, despite their analogous
disenfranchisement. Each of the literary characters and theoretical figures,
however, experience disjunctures between their knowledge and their experience,
with varying degrees of violence. Such contradictions nevertheless engage a
subsequent action, a doing, that complicates the terms of Marx's originary
formulation of ideology. Each of the characters and figures also evinces a
knowledge out of their experiences that opposes, or does not subscribe to, the
epistemic rubrics that bracket their situations. It is such oppositional, other-
knowledge that results from a particular experience, which they then represent
to themselves.
Granted I derive the sense of mystic/-al I invoke from the Marx of Caital
through Zizek; Marx derogatorily equates mystical with mystification through
most of his corpus.3 Mystification as a term etymologically contains, of course,
the mystic figure, but through the verb facere, "to make," connoting a "making
difficult or obscuring "in the historical and Marxist senses-reification on the
historical stage. Zizek terms this effect "ideological mystification" (SOI 28). From

The German Ideology and its discussion of Feuerbach, Marx (apparently
indesociably) links ideology to the figure of the mystic by a conceptual slippage
from mystic to mystification that, wittingly or no, recognizes only one of the
ambivalent denotations of mystic. Marx favors the sense of making obscure by
hiding or displacing knowledge, or of unconventional knowledge remaining
incomprehensible to conventionally-trained ears. The determination of
esotericism itself becomes an ideological matter. Ideological mystification as
Marx and Zizek describe it, thereby eponymously effects the very contradictory
process it describes.
3 See especially Marx's critique of Stirner and the Hegelians in The German Ideolog where
Marx denounces the mystical "appearances" and "connections" manipulated by Stirner and the
Hegelians as "tricks" (42). Curiously, the sixteenth-century Dominican Inquisitional priest
Alonso de la Fuente denounced St Teresa's writings on almost identical grounds, indicating the
"tricks" by which she perpetrated her "heresy"; Perez-Romero details de la Fuente's
denunciation as one of many reactionary re-ideologizing attempts to appropriate St. Teresa's
writings into racist, right-wing castizo politics (195-205).

To invoke the mystic and the mystical is to invoke paradox-yet paradox
only from the perspective of masculist, phallic, capitalist, nationalist discourses.
Mystic denotes one who has access to different knowledge, knowledge of beyond.
Mystic also, simultaneously, denotes one initiated into a knowledge, or to whom
knowledge is revealed, or reveals itself. Such revelation, transitive or intransitive,
comprises the mystical event. The mystical, etymologically and conceptually, is
thereby that which is simultaneously hidden, but also that which is about to be
or can be revealed. Mystification, then, etymologically and conceptually, is
simultaneously the act of obscuring, but also the continual potential to reveal.'
Marx and Engels' own writings attest to this conceptual and etymological
duplicity: the logic of capital was always capable of being revealed, toward which
they worked in The German Ideoloy and apitaL.Just as "mystery" is
simultaneously that which is hidden but which is always in potential to be
revealed, or is that knowledge which is beyond but is still knowable along a
different path, then mystification becomes only the act of concealing that which
can eventually be known.
Mystes (puomVq) indicates "one vowed to keep silent," from the same root
as mystic (voueiv), "one who is initiated" (OEDQ ##). At this point we will see de
Beauvoir and Irigaray's figurations diverge, oddly, over the same referent. St.
Teresa, invoked by de Beauvoir, Lacan, and Irigaray, and other mystics do not
keep silent, but rather write out their knowledge of their experience, in language
insufficient to the task and its matter. They represent their knowledge of their
experience to others. How those representations are used and by whom
becomes the question for not only religion but also for psychoanalysis. Phallic
disourses impose themselves, and incorporate female mystics' texts, using them
as goads or antitheses. The texts' transgressive potential is diverted, their energy
reinscribed into dogma. Revealed knowledge, or experience of the revealed, is
always in danger of appropriation, and of mystification in the Marxian sense.
' Marx's term is Geheimnisvolle, "secret," from geheim "secret, clandestine" (Kapital 46).

Mysticism, mystic, mystification, like Unheimlich and jouissance, are concepts that
involve paradox. De Beauvoir, Fanon, Lacan, Irigaray and Spivak posit paradox
to resist, write about resistance on, or resist through writing, ideology. Cisneros,
Obejas, and Walker present resistant strategies that paradoxically mediate, or
interfere, in the disruption already defined as ideology.
My invocation of the mystic figure is not bound or reducible ,to religious
connotations, nor to the Euro-Christian tradition. The mystic has served as a
figure of both transgression and reinscription, rebellion and orthodoxy. As a
philosophical and literary trope, the mystic figure has mutated over time and
use. From one who seeks and is initiated into knowledge different from that
which is public, sanctioned and customary, to one who seeks unmediated
knowledge of and union with God, to one who seeks or has access to resistant
knowledge by alternative means, the mystic has provided a trope of a beyond
that is always in proximity, but which is prohibitively rendered "beyond" by
oppressive and restrictive epistemologies.
Mystic(al) Production

In explaining that the process by which product becomes commodity
"appears as loss of realization for the workers, objectification as loss of the object and

bondage to it; appropriation as estrangement, as alienation", the Marx of the
Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts describes the situation of workers as
alienated producers in capitalist production systems (108). As we will see, de
Beauvoir and Lacan's formulations of the female mystic remain alienated from,
respectively, direct access to systems of value, or from their own experience of
jouissance within such systems.5

5Contemporaneous to Lacan, Georges Bataille in lroti and later Michel de Certeau in
Heterologies. discuss the female mystic as alienated from the Christian God whose loss, as
"lack," they seek to fill. While Lacan and Bataille's discussions inform each other at various
levels, and Bataille's texts influenced both Irigaray and Foucault's conceptions of "resistance"
and "transgression," my current project permits only cursory reference to them or de Certeau's

I propose, however, that de Beauvoir and Lacan ascribe a double and

contradictory "product" to the female mystics they figure. First, the mystics on
whom the trope rests produce texts through which they attempt to represent
their inarticulable experience post facto. Their ostensible motives, however,
specifically bracket the written result of mystical experience. Their texts
simultaneously comprise a contrite expatiation to evince God's existence and
offer spiritual inspiration, and expiate their experience of the sin of pride.' Yet
second, they also produce ecstasy, jouissance, that which by definition already

exceeds "use-value" as understood by phallocapitalist production systems. For
Irigaray (as for Barthes), this excess marks female mystical experience as escape
and subversion. "Produce" thereby becomes analogous to "experience" in the
above formulations-ecstasy and jouissance as experiences produced on, by, and
within those female mystics. Ecstacy and jouisance, however, also produce text,
the contradictory and inexplicable representation of the inarticulable experience
from which those same mystics remain presumably alienated.

SE.g. St Teresa's own exordium: "The life of the Holy Mother Teresa of Jesus [...] written by
herself at the command of her confessor, to whom she submits and directs it" (Life of St. Teresa
21) ["La vida de la Santa Madre Teresa de Jesus [...] escritos por ella misma, por mandado de su
confesor, & quien la envia y dirige" (La vida de Santa Teresa 53)] thereby my coupling
"expatiate-expiate." Amy Hollywood, however, maintains that "Teresa of Avila was told to
write her Life by her confessor, in order to defend her visionary and mystical claims. This text
in particular, then, was written in a quest for legitimacy" (179 n.7). However, the ecstatic
quality of the experience from which Teresa and other female mystics write informs not only
the writings themselves, but also the reading of them, as Barthes helps surmise: "The brio of
the text (without which, after all, there is no text) is its will to bliss [volonte de jouissance]: just
where it exceeds demand, transcends prattle, and whereby it attempts to overflow, to break
through the constraint of adjectives which are those doors of language through which the
ideological and the imaginary come flowing in" (The Pleasure of the Text 13-14). Ironically
(given that the French de translates as both of and from ), this supposition would not
necessarily reduce such texts to "texts of pleasure" ("the text that contents, fills, grants
euphoria; the text that comes from culture and does not break withit, is linked to a comfortable
practice of reading") but rather for de Beauvoir et al would frame them as "texts of bliss" [texte
de jouissance] particularly vis-a-vis Bataille and de Certeau's thesis of mysticism as both a
response to loss and an effort to efface the self/soul (q.v.): "the text that imposes a state of loss
[Vtat de perte], the text that discomforts [and] unsettles the reader's historical, cultural,
psychological assumptions, the consistency of his tastes, values, memories, brings to a crisis his
relation with language" (The Pleasure of the Text 14). For further (albeit reductive)
commentary on the textuality of Euro-Christian mystical texts, see the central chapters of Don
Cupitt Mysticism After Moderni (q.v. throughout my text here).

Marx's suggestions indicate all elements of capitalist societies as subjects)
in ideology, if not always in the same way or in the same relation. Each of the
theoretical and literary texts I include permutes the concept of ideology. In using
such a figure as a particular exemplum, de Beauvoir, Lacan, and Irigaray
foreground these mystics' situation as women within a sexual economy, if ignoring
their class' and overlooking concerns for sexual orientation, race, and the
vicissitudes of imperialist/colonialist determination as well8--but that is because
the figure these writers inherited, from Charcot and others, was already
culturally, racially and sexually overdetermined and restricted'.
Nonetheless, as figured by these writers, the female Euro-Christian
mystic, comprises a particularly focused) relation to knowledge and experience.
Given that we read doing and experience as analogous but irreducible, they offer
opportunities for studying interplays of subjectivity, access to language, and
relations to ideology. Such interplays can, when teased out along those lines,
effect engaging ways of thinking (of) resistance. Even as Irigaray's re-perspective

7As de Certeau notes in Heterologies, "In sixteenth-century Spain, Saint Teresa belonged to a
hidalgufa (noble class) that had lost its duties and holdings [;] ethnic distinctions, la raza,
counted more than position in the social hierarchy [;] From John of Avila [...] to Molinos, a
strange alliance linked 'mystic' speech and 'impure' blood" (84). De Certeau further elaborates
that many individual "mystics" and their religious orders resulted from class displacement and
concerns for ethnic purity, especially in the era of the conversos, those Jews who converted to
Catholicism to avoid persecution in Spain (84-85, 245 n.17). See also Antonio Pdrez-Romero's
"Saint Teresa of Avila and Spanish castizo Ideology" on the writings of St. Teresa as
posthumously embroiled in Spanish right-wing religious and ethnic controversies (5-36).

'The discourse around these distinctions is too substantial to list here. For exemplary texts,
however, see Adrienne Rich "Compulsory Heterosexuality," Monique Wittig The Straight
MW Judith Butler Gender Trouble Audre Lorde Sister Outsider. andAngela Y. Davis, Wmen.
Race & Class. Chandra Talpade Mohanty's "Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and
Colonial Discourses" highlights the problematic involved in even these discourses'
assumptions for grouping "women" and their "experiences" under a totalizing rubric.

' De Certeau traces and critiques the overdeteminations of centuries of discourse about "mystics"
(fHeteroloagies 80-91).

on the female mystic figure10 suggests embracing the very elements which de
Beauvoir and Lacan leave suspect, her formulation as yet only hints at the results
vis-a-vis ideological formations."' Such discussions, as I will note, establish a
particular relation of a particular sense of experience to a particular definition of
knowledge, which, while distinct from, remains asymptotic to similar formulations
of the female subaltern in work such as Spivak's.
The Beginnings of St Subaltern

In "A Literary Representation of the Subaltern," her exegesis of

Mahasweta Devi's story "Stanadayini" ["Breast-Giver", Gayatri Chakravorty
Spivak investigates the multiple and heterogeneous situational strictures around
Devi's subaltern female protagonist Jashoda, a mother-to hire (244). In doing
so, Spivak simultaneously re-examines, reconfigures and deploys the Lacanian
proposal of jouissance as "orgasmic pleasure" to posit "a way out" of the
reductive strictures of woman considered only in terms of "her copulative and
reproductive body" ("LRS" 258)." For Spivak and Lacan, woman's jouissance
constitutes that whose use-value exceeds copulation for reproduction. Spivak

10 Such workings and reworkings remain, of course problematic the lines between the actual
female mystics themselves and theoretical uses of or generalizations based on them frequently
blurry, and in researching and writing my project I have struggled with this very problem.
Elsewhere I note that various commentators, particularly Amy Hollywood and Cristina
Mazzoni (q.q.v.), focus their analyses on the disjuncture between the empirical personage of the
female mystic, and the figure as formulated by de Beauvoir, Lacan, and Irigaray. My project
here seeks no such reclamations, but remains focused, rather, on the figure or textual trope of the
"mystic" as deployed by the writers I discuss.

" Bataille and de Certeau's reformulations, themselves revising the terrain of "lack" and
"transgression," work in the direction of Foucault's thinking of transgression as both subversion
and reinscription; q.v. below. See also Chapter 4 of PNrez-Romero's Subversion nd Liberation
in the Writings of St. Teresa of Avila.

1 Hereafter, I cite Spivak's "A Literary Repesentation of the Subaltern" as "LRS".

1 Spivak so doing uses Devi's story to critque certain feminisms' trivializing of the theory of
value (in work), ignoring the mother as subject (in mothering-as-work), priviledging the
indigenous and diasporic elite from the third world, and identifying "woman" with the
reproductive/copulative body. The latter issue explains Spivak's focus on jouissance as woman's
orgasmic (extra-copulative) pleasure, to counter this logic from the various feminisms she

notes that Lacan's "A Love Letter"" already posits an analogous excess-in-being

which comprises knowledge. Spivak treats the "subject (speaking

being)" posited thereon as "a map or graph of knowing"" in keeping with
various other "epistemographs"-induding "the Marxian notion of ideology"

("LRS" 259).
As Slavoj Zizek indicates in his Lacanian study The Sublime Object of

Ideology, the "most elementary definition of ideology is probably the well-

known phrase from Marx's Capital: 'Sie wissen das nicht, aber sie tun es'-'they
know not what they do, but they are doing it"(28).' Spivak's formulation "a map or
graph of knowing" recapitulates this Marxian notion of contradiction between

knowing and doing within ideology. "If we take Lacan at his word," Spivak
proposes, then this epistemograph, "this knowing-place, writing itself and
writing us, 'others' the self. It is a map of the speaking being that is beyond its
n Seminar XX: Encore. As I will cite Lacan's original French text of the Seminaire XX: Encore
as well as Jacqueline Rose and Bruce Fink's repsective translations, my citations will specify
which version I quote: e.g. "(E. 9)" for the page in Rose's translation in Feminine Sexuality:
Tacques Lacan and the cole freudienne. "(Fink 17)" for Fink's translation, and "(Lacan 126)" for
Lacan's original French text. My text will clarify whether I cite the translation, the
translator's commentary, or when I offer my own translation.

" Spivak's proposal also seems analogous to Foucault's concept of the clinical body as an
"anatomical atlas" on which medical science had come to chart its "knowledge" (Naissaince 2)
- see also Macey's discussion in The Lives of Michel Foucault (132-137). It also echoes Fredric
Jameson's proposal of the "cognitive map," derived in part from "Althusser's formula [which is]
implicitly opposed to the realm of abstract knowledge, a realm which, as Lacan reminds us, is
never positioned in or actualized by any concrete subject but rather by the structural void called
le sujet suppose savoir (the subject supposed to know), a subject-place of knowledge"
(Posmodenim 53). The title of the volume Mapping Ideology (edited by Zizek) plays
through this figure. For a variant discussion, see Elizabeth Scarry The Body in Pain and
Mazzoni's discussion of Elaine Scarry vis-a-vis the female mystic's body.
" By invoking these lines from Capital by which time Marx himself had, as Stuart Hall
notes, so abstracted the concept of "ideology" that he abandoned the term (Hall xv) Zizek
abandons the earlier, more explicitly negative Marxian (and Althusserian) sense of
contradiction, particularly vis-a-vis that between "ideology" and "science" as dialectical
forms of "knowledge." As my invocation of Marx's formula derives from Zizek's comments, my
project must also "ignore" (in the Satrean sense) this particular contradiction. First, because the
distinction Marx draws nevertheless still privileges a presumably stable, universal "science."
Second, because my chosen writers' direct or indirect invocations of Marx's formula also ignore
this contradiction. Third, corrolary to the previous reason, because Marx's more abstract
formula allows for thinking of ideology in terms not restricted to class, Le. "sex," "race." I
hereafter cite The Sublime Object of Ideology as SO.QL

own grasp as other" ("LRS" 259). A "subject" or "self" so figured remains
alienated from the very map of knowing that she herself constitutes. In effect,
such a "subject" cannot "read" herself, cannot "know" herself. Despite these
ostensible foreclosures, such a subject "experiences" herself and her situation as
"woman," and nonetheless speaks or writes. Spivak's invocation of "beyond" in

this passage invokes Lacan's further proposition of jouissance as excess, as an
experience (of a) beyond [au-delh] of the very phallic sexual discourses he
The Lacanian beyond that Spivak invokes is itself qualified by his earlier
proposals. The subject whom Spivak and Lacan both propose remains a sexed or
sexuated subject: she is also constructed as "woman." His lecture "On jouissance"
had posited that, since (presumably) the language through which sexuality
thinks is already phallically-determined, "[jlouissance, qua sexual, is phallic" (Fink
9). In "God and Woan'e s jouissance," Lacan further contextualizes the sense of
jouissance that he later embellishes in "A Love Letter." Jouissance for Lacan
signifies that sexual pleasure' which, qua pleasure, exceeds that necessary for
heterosexually reproductive utility (i.e. its use-value) caught up in a phallic(ized)
sexual economy. Lacan thus also implicates phallic sexuality and its masculist,"
heterosexist, capitalist proscriptions for jouissance in an economy of sexed, and
sexual, production.
Despite the phallic determination of jouissance, Lacan projects a particular
jouissance for women that further but irreducibly exceeds even that sexual
economy which already posits jouissance as excess, "a jouissance beyond the
phallus [...] proper to her and of which she may know nothing, except that she

" Or that which at least begins as sexual pleasure, or of which sexual pleasure is the first
"instance" in its Lacanian or Freudian sense: see Fink's translation, p.3 n.9.
" I invoke here Spivak's use of the term (derived variantly from Adrienne Rich and others): "I
like the faint echo of 'muscling' in there. 'Masculinism' seems to be about being masculine; the
corresponding word, relating to being feminine, would be 'femininism'" (A Critiqu of
Postcolonial Reason 157 n.65).

experiences it" (E 145)." Thereby, Lacan also refigures the Marxian notion of

ideology from a contradiction between knowing and doing to one between
knowledge and experience. "[E]xcept that she experiences it"-Lacan describes
here the specific disjuncture between women's jouissant experience and any
knowledge of it as such, a disjuncture effected by women's surmisable
overdetermination by phallic language beyond whose conceptual bounds such
an experience transpires. Jouissance, for Spivak and Lacan, would thereby
constitute and describe the experience of a disjuncture between knowledge and
experience, rather than simply the disjuncture itself." Spivak reconfigures this
beyond as "the place where an unexchangeable excess can be imagined and
figured forth" to transgress "the line where an unexchangeable excess is tamed
into exchange", i.e. where it falls prey to mystification ("LRS" 259).
Yet the Lacanian texts that Spivak cites discuss this jouissance "beyond the
phallus" in the context of the female Western European Christian mystic-a
figure of a figure, mystic as a figuration of the prior figure woman. This
compounded figure describes woman in (mis)relation to her own sexuality, her
own jouissance-of which, Lacan maintains, she remains in ignorance save that
she knows she experiences something. Like those of Simone de Beauvoir, to whose
figuration of the mystic in The Second Sex Lacan's seminar responds, Lacan's
formulation of the female mystic effects a chiasmic echoing of both Engels'
formulation of ideology in The German Ideolog. and Marx's later formulation
of ideology in the same section of Capia in which he denounces mysticism.
9 l y a une jouissance a elle don't peut-ftre elle-meme ne sait rien, sinon qu'elle l'eprouve
(Lacan 69).
20 The invoked texts of St Teresa of Avila, as we will see, themselves remain concerned with
the tension between "truth" and "experience" central to any conceptualization of "ideology",
read through a sexed and sexuated discourse of erotics: "[I]f anyone thinks that I am lying, I
pray God, in His goodness, to grant him some experience of it" (St. Teresa 210 emphasis mine).
21 'That the material life-conditions of the persons inside whose heads this thought process
goes on in the last resort determine the course of this process remains of necessity unknown to
these persons, for otherwise there would be an end to all ideology" (Feuerbach. 65-6 emphasis

De Beauvoir's discussion of the female mystic-which, as we will see, she
formulates through the existential concept of bad faith, itself a permutation of
Marx's concept of ideology-invokes other, analogous figurations of
contradictory and alienating relations between female subjects' lived experience
(sexual or otherwise) and their knowledge of that experience, particularly as
caught in analogous systems of representation. Elaborating the relation between
a sexuated speaking subject and ideology, which in Spivak's terms offers "maps
of stages of knowing rather than the story of the growth of an individual mind
that knows,"' particularly contextualizes her later figuration of the female
subaltern in "Can the Subaltern Speak?" ("LRS" 259-59, italics mine). Spivak's
subaltern female, overdetermined by simultaneous and interpenetrative
phallopolitics and the "postcolonial situation," inhabits an analogical conceptual
and discursive space to the mystic she indirectly invokes through her use of
Lacan. So it is that Spivak provides a step toward the tropological figure of St.
But Spivak's step is not the first. While Lacan's is the better known
formulation of ideology as disjuncture between knowledge and experience, and
certainly the more textually explicit, Frantz Fanon had posited a similar sense of
ideology twenty-five years earlier, in Black Skin. White Masks One can only
surmise that Spivak turns to Lacan's formulation for its direct implication of
women's jouissant experience. Yet as I detail in Chapter 3, Fanon cites the raced
and colonized body as itself an experience that effects a knowledge. What Lacan
posits in Encore as constitutive of the mystic and of woman's jouissance, Fanon
had already figured for the raced colonized subject. While Fanon's text
underemphasizes raced women's position, as many have noted, he nevertheless
proffers a conceptual step that synchronizes with Spivak's.

22 Spivak's employment the un-ontologizeable gerund knowing over the ontologically-locked
knows indicates a Derridean interest in the process rather than the subject in that process, since
such a subject herself remains unfixable.

Thereby, the tropological figures of the female mystic and the subaltern
female both inhabit contradictory spaces denoted by ideology. Since they inhabit
those spaces as women so constructed by their ideological environments, their
sexuated construction as bodies effects a particular mediation of not only
experience itself, as it were, but also of their attempted representations of that
experience to and through masculist, racist, classist systems of language. Such
construction also mediates the "knowledge" such an experience and
representation comprises, as well as their relation and access to that experience,
that knowledge, and that representation.
Chapter Synopses

Since Cisneros' narrator Esperanza Cordero works a complex
representation of her rape and the knowledge in play around that event,
Chapter 2 closely reads that scene in The House on Mango Street to introduce
the concepts of experience, representation, and jouissance at work throughout
my study. I formulate experience in context of feminist discourses about the
body, representation as a slippery matter of voicing, and jouissance as a multi-
valent field of excess including sexuality, (un)representability, and textuality. I
concomitantly develop the trope of the mystic as a particular way of thinking
relationships between the elements of ideology. Without facilely reducing my
chosen literary narrators to "mystics," I aver that the jouissant element
constituent of the mystic foregrounds representational strategies that exceed the
epistemological limits of situations such as Esperanza's rape. Despite the
mediations set in place, Esperanza recognizes the disjuncture of the racist and
sexist ideologies enacted through her rape. Navigating an experience whose
violence renders it unrepresentable, Esperanza nevertheless manipulates her
representation of the event-horizon around the aporia posed by the rape, and
formulates both textual and material knowledge of her experience to help other
women in similar circumstances.

Like the concepts of jouissance, representation, and experience discussed in
Chapter 2, that of ideology is equally permutable. Chapter 3 thereby considers
through a dose reading of Achy Obejas' short story "We Came All the Way
from Cuba So You Could Dress Like This?" the various strategies of resistance
that such permutations provide. I examine how Obejas' narrator's complex
representation around her Cuban lover's jouissant moan creates a knowledge of
and interference-field around the Cuban and U.S. nationalist ideologies that seek
to interpellate the narrator. Prefaced by my earlier discussion of Lacan, my
reading traces various definitions of ideology from Marx and Engels'
contradiction between knowledge and doing that results in alienation, to Lukacs'
positing of reification, Althusser's concerns for representation, and Zizek's
implication of jouissance as susceptible to ideological reappropriation. I also
explain the viability of ideology as a concept in a purportedly post-ideological
world. These multiplicities provide the grounds whereby Obejas' text explores
not only resistance to ideology, but moreover the jouissant potential and
pleasure the narrator discovers in setting coincident ideological fields into mutual
interference through her lover's sexual jouissance.
Chapter 4 returns to the figures of the mystic and the colonial subject as
posed by de Beauvoir in The Second Sex and Fanon in Black Skin. White Masks
to tease out the implications for jouissance, ideology, and representation laid out
in the previous chapter. Through their particular figurations of the mystic and
the colonized, de Beauvoir and Fanon contribute to ongoing theorizations of
what Spivak will later call "map[s] of the speaking being that [are] beyond [their]
own grasp as other." Texts such as de Beauvoir and Fanon's bring into proximity
the elements of ideology, sexuality, race, and subjectivity, and formulate the
theoretical grounds later trod by Lacan, Irigaray, and Spivak that enable the
dose readings of my chosen literary texts. Yet, as objects of narrative that
indicate the centrality of text to purported materialist studies, de Beauvoir and

Fanon's figurations are no less subject to dose textual reading. Responding to
similar existentialist and Marxist influences, each figure describes relations to
fields of knowledge, action and experience in terms of sex and race. Each figure
also develops the existential notion of bad faith as a permutation of the concept
of ideology. De Beauvoir's mystic and Fanon's colonized thereby frame ideology
and jouissance as fields of mediation themselves further mediated by
representation. I trace the concept of bad faith, and survey arguments around it,
to contextualize how these particular figures nevertheless indicate the ideological
elements at work on de Beauvoir and Fanon's own texts. While de Beauvoir and
Fanon perform as exempla of the very discourses of resistance they each
espouse, the figurations they deploy exceed their own authors' underestimation
of the machinations of ideology.
Yet the trope of the mystic has a few further permutations of its own.
Lacan's discussions of women's jouissance respond to de Beauvoir's mystic, and
Chapter 5 follows Lacan's analysis of what existentialist notions of bad faith
overlook or underestimate. Contrary to much feminist commentary, Lacan does
not find women irretrievably mired in phallic sexuality. Rather, he proposes that
women's situation within phallic sexual and linguistic networks overdetermines
the available field of language open to describe, and therefore to know, a
(sexual) experience that is itself beyond phallic epistemologies. He proposes that
jouissance constitutes an extant field of potentiality beyond de Beauvoir's
conceptual range. Women still, for Lacan, find means of registering their
otherwise unrepresentable experience, even if denied a knowledge of it through
that articulation. Responding to both Lacan and de Beauvoir's figurations of the
mystic, Luce Irigaray avers that women know very well what they experience.
Rather than a lack of or overdetermination of adequate language and
knowledge, Irigaray instead suggests that women instead already manipulate
their language, their representations of their jouissant experience, to mimic the

preconceptions superimposed on them by phallic epistemologies. For Irigaray,
women thereby circumvent such epistemologies-while nevertheless materially
remaining in them. Yet the dual iterative and textual elements of women's
knowledge reconfigure the fields of representation in play for both Lacan and
Irigaray: textuality becomes an inextricable part of both ideology and its
Yet beyond even these figurations of the mystic and the colonized subject,
Gayatri Spivak's formulation of the subaltern woman, out of Gramsci and the
Subaltern Studies Group, raises the question of women who not only know what
they experience, but who also deliberately articulate their knowledge through
phallic vocabularies. Chapter 6 thus returns us to Spivak's invocation of Lacan
that I noted in the introduction. In young Indian independence activist
Bhubaneswari Bhaduri's relations to local nationalist and sexual politics described
at the culmination of "Can the Subaltern Speak?" Spivak posits a figure perhaps
even more overdetermined than those posited by de Beauvoir, Fanon, Lacan
and Irigaray. Badhuri's suicide and suicide note carry a specifically counter-sexed
content, timed to both the local phallopolitics of her family and the nationalist
post-colonial politics of India. As figured by Spivak, Bhaduri not only knows
very well what she experiences, but also orchestrates how she represents that
experience in the vocabulary of local phallic politics. Yet as Spivak details, despite
Bhaduri's disruption of the basic contradiction that comprises ideology, her
statement remains incomprehensible even in that very vocabulary. Bhaduri's
communique is thereby appropriated by the ideologies it navigated: it is
neutralized by representation.Yet Spivak's figure of the female subaltern itself
constitutes a representation. As we read Spivak's account of Bhaduri's suicide
note without the note itself ever appearing, Spivak renders Bhubaneswari
Bhaduri the referent into "Bhubaneswari Bhaduri" the tropological figure. Again,
textuality becomes an inextricable part of both ideology and its negotiation.

Given Spivak's particular formulation of woman as a node of intersecting
ideological discourses of sex, race, and class, I end with a dose reading of Alice
Walker's novel The Color Prple. which offers further complex representations
of women's mediation of ideology. Walker's female characters inhabits different
situations in, and negotiate different strategies within, ideology mediated by
respective racisms and concomitant class inequities. Through their letters, the
sisters Celie and Nettie represent imaginary relationships to their real conditions
of existence, which representations and resulting imaginaries exceed those
conditions. Celie in particular is aided by Shug Avery's renegotiation of
existential bad faith, as well as the jouissant sexuality to which she introduces
Celie. The two also illustrate subjects realizing the machinations of ideological
mystification, and ways of negotiating its influence by mediating its constituent
terms. Through this process, Celie's letters achieve a contemplative jouissant
richness that exceeds the mere sum of her intricate grammatical and thematic
stylistic elements. In each case, women produce jouissant representations of
themselves and their experiences that exceed the epistemological bounds they
directly inhabit, and thereby come to know their situations differently, to move
beyond them and to help others do the same.


You can't erase what you know.
Esperanza, The House on Mango Street

One permutation of jouissance, I avered in Chapter 1, constitutes a
particular experience of ideology. This premise is itself predicated on the free
play of jouissance. Yet, can such free play be taken for granted? What happens
when either jouissance itself is mystified, or access to it is foreclosed? What if its
free play is suspended, or violated? If jouissance implies boundless excess, is its
foreclosure possible? Is jouisssance indeed conceptually, sexually, and textually
Sandra Cisneros' novel The House on Mango Street offers a complex
theorization of just such questions. The novel concerns Esperanza Cordero, a
young Mexican-American woman who inhabits multiple and fragmented
discourses of sex, race, and class in Chicago. Through the chapter "Red Clowns"
and the rape that occurs in it, Cisneros navigates a complex series of
representations and aporias that describe jouissance as itself a relationship to
knowledge and experience, as well as a register of disjuncture between
knowledge and experience. The narrator intricately manipulates representational
elements of the text she produces around her rape to formulate a knowledge of
the event, and represent that knowledge to herself. Out of that representation
around an unrepresentable, traumatic event, Esperanza also initiates a program
of action towards helping other women.
A dose reading of that incident in Cisneros' novel also provides an
opportunity to explore the constituent elements of experience, representation,

and jouissance that will recur in the novel's subsequent chapters. Reading
multiple theoretical sources on these elements through Esperanza's narrative
indicates the central role of the act of narrative itself to formulate knowledge
around what otherwise remains a mystified, aporetic event.

Esperanza formulates the chapter "Red Clowns" around her rape by a
gang of young anglo males. She frames her telling of this event by citing the
disjuncture the rape evinces between this her first sexual experience, and the
knowledge of sex transmitted to her through various sources. Esperanza has
befriended Sally, another young Latina. Sally performs the feminine girl whom
Esperanza has been steered toward being, but cannot or will not be: demure,
conventionally attractive, and sexually available to males. Esperanza
accompanies Sally to a sideshow, loses track of her when Sally leaves with a "big
boy," and is approached by a group of ostensibly anglo boys who rape her.1 In
the wake of the rape, Esperanza accuses "Sally, you lied. It wasn't what you said
at all [...] The way they said it, the way it's supposed to be, all the storybooks
and movies, why did you lie to me?" (99). Esperanza cites the sources of sex-
knowledge at her disposal: storybooks and movies, to which she will add
magazines, but also her friend Sally, who presumably draws on the same
The first two sources presumably invoke the popular myth of romance
fed to girls throughout the novel. From these sources, the female characters
coalesce a nebulous, mystified conception of female sexuality. The novel
provides several examples of girls' training to be women along male-identified
lines.2 The wearing of pumps (41-42), development and use of one's hips (49-50),
'The rape is itself ostensible. The scant description Esperanza gives of the event, which I
discuss above, offers little definitive evidence of what exactly is supposed to have happened.
Her reaction to the event, however, echoes those reported by many victims of rape. I read the
incident, thereby, as a rape.
21 invoke "male-identified" here in the sense presented through Radicalesbians' manifesto
"The Woman-Identified Woman" 0()

vague longing for passionate kisses (73), wearing of makeup (88-89), and Sally's
permission and encouragement of boys' advances comprise about all of the
narrator's exposure to knowledge of female sexuality.
Male sexuality, on the other hand, is collapsed into the general impunity
ascribed to boys throughout the novel. In the chapter "The Monkey Garden"
which immediately precedes "Red Clowns," an enraged Esperanza runs to the
mother of one of a group of boys who ransom Sally's keys for kisses. Upon
Esperanza's complaint, the boy's mother resignedly asks "what do you want me
to do [...] call the cops?" and continues with the laundry (97). Male sexuality
becomes an assumption, exasperatingly tolerated but nonetheless as ill-defined
as female sexuality. The boy's mother operates as another ideological apparatus,
herself interpellated into acquiescence.
Esperanza describes her own frustration at not only her inability to rectify
the perceived injustice of the boys' predation of Sally, but also the disjuncture
between her reaction to available sex-knowledge and that of the boys and Sally
ensemble. Having taken "three big sticks and a brick" with her to rescue Sally,
Esperanza is greeted by the group with derision: "Sally said go home. Those
boys said leave us alone. I felt stupid with my brick. They all looked at me as if I
was the one that was crazy and made me feel ashamed" (97). For Esperanza,
nothing connects the knowledge of sexuality presented to her: they remain
simply assumed. Her frustration at this scene results as much from her
experience of a disjuncture between her experience and prevailing knowledge
(rather than from the disjuncture itself) as it does from her exclusion from, as she
calls it, the joke she doesn't get (96). Incapable of articulating this frustration or
representing its constituent elements, Esperanza flees in humiliated tears.
Sally, who encourages boys' sexuality in part as an escape from her
abusive father, does not of course "lie" to Esperanza. She speaks from and acts
on what she "knows" derived from the sex-ideologies she inhabits. Phrased

another way, Sally has a particular knowledge of what she does, an
overdetermined knowledge-a false consciousness, specifically what Gayatri
Spivak in another context describes as "internalized gendering perceived as
ethical choice" maginar Maps xxviii). Sally thereby presents a self which she
thinks is her self. She reacts to Esperanza's effort to rescue her as her knowledge
dictates she should. Her actions indicate a knowledge levied in the boys' favor,
which she perceives as her favor as well. She indicates no oppositional
knowledge, no awareness that would qualify her as acting in existential bad faith3
: her self-presentation is not deliberate misrepresentation, because she knows no
other self.
Which is not to say that Sally knows no other version of that same self. The
novel presents an overdetermination of the scope of women's choices. After the
episode with the keys, and that of Esperanza's rape, Esperanza states that "Sally
got married like we knew she would, young and not ready" (101). Esperanza
believes that Sally marries to escape her father whose abuse results from his
possessiveness; Sally escapes him by marrying a marshmallow salesman who
restricts her to the house, out of his own possessiveness. Ellie Ragland-Sullivan's
definition of jouissance is here germane, particularly now as Sally evinces the kind
of reappropriable jouissance warned by Zizek and Radhakrishnan: "Jouissance
means sexual pleasure, but at an abstract level it could be described as the
temporary pleasure afforded by substitute objects or by others' recognition
(substitutes for the original other)" (271). Effectively, Sally's is a choice that is not
a choice. Between the surety of her father's abuse and the possibility of another
male's protection and support, she chooses the latter, not realizing that the male
whom she marries works as, again, only another version of what she already
knows. She alters her station but not her status in the shift from daughter to

a I define and elaborate "bad faith" in my discussion of de Beauvoir, Fanon, and Sartre in
Chapter 3.

The "storybooks and movies" to which Esperanza refers in her accusation
operate here, most obviously, as kinds of Althusserian ideological apparatuses
that promote and reproduce particular ideologies. Esperanza invokes their
respective ideologies in negative: she names the apparatuses rather than the
ideologies themselves, of which she only now becomes aware as ideologies. She
displaces and then qualifies those ideologies by quick description of the boys'
advances, their dirtiness, the "sour mouth" and smell of the one who initiates the
rape, and the "high black gym shoes" that retreat afterward. Esperanza figures
the actual ideologies themselves, the masculist and sexist messages and values
promoted by them, through the boys and their actions. In a radical variation of
Marx's formula, Esperanza comes to know by others' doing-to her. Her non-
representation of the ideologies themselves, but rather of the apparatuses that
carry and operate by them, indicates and reproduces the disjuncture between the
knowledge those apparatuses transmit and the experience those ideologies
The image of her projected by and through those apparatuses, however,
is a raced and ethnicized one as well as a sexed one. The rape includes an element
of ethnic fetishization. One of her anglo rapists repeats "I love you, Spanish girl"
during the event, marking the exoticization and exploitation of the foreign other
as constituent of the rape (100). This element appears twice in her aporetic
narrative of the rape, interspersed with her denunciations of the media that
perpetuate romanticized, sanitized and mystifying views of sex and sexuality.
The repetition of this fetish-phrase by both the rapist and by Esperanza in her
narrative indicates the centrality of race and ethnicity to the rape itself, on which
Esperanza focuses. This is the one ideological element that Esperanza can, or is
able to represent or "tell."


The senses of experience at play here seem to concurr with those
suggested by Teresa De Lauretis, who suggests experience as a "particular
manner of knowledge or apprehension of self" (158 emphasis mine):
by experience I do not mean the mere registering of sensory data, or a
purely mental (psychological) relation to objects and events, or the
acquisition of skills and competence by accumulation or repeated
exposure. I use the term [...] in the general sense of a process by which,
for all social beings, subjectivity is constructed. Through that process one
places oneself or is placed in social reality, and so perceives and
comprehends as subjective (referring to, even originating in, oneself)
those relations material, economic, and interpersonal which are in
fact social and, in a larger perspective, historical [.. .1 subjectivity is an
ongoing construction, not a fixed point of departure or arrival from which
one then interacts with the world. On the contrary, it is the effect of that
interaction-which I call experience[.] (Alice Doesn't 159)

Thereby, de Lauretis figures experience as the effect or product of a subject's
involvement in a representational economy, "the process by which, for all social
beings, subjectivity is constructed."
Whereas Michelle Barrett insists on the irrelevance of discussions of
ideology since the term occludess the question of the body" (139), the texts I cite
make the female body and experience of it, through it, and of the composition of
knowledge by it, very much a matter ofideology, if not an ideological matter.
For the texts I cite, the female body (as experience, as construction, as mode of
knowledge) becomes the very field of relations to ideology. Jouissance and the
bodies that register and seek to represent its experience in highly
overdetermined language, effect a disruptive non-dialectical third term. Lacan,
for example, participates in an ongoing discourse that links how experience
becomes sexuated onto a prior, equally sexuated female body-that which, for
instance, allowed the mystic to be figured along the same lines as the hysteric.
My readings of theoretical and literary discussions of the body are not
implied as essentialist, delimiting a specifically feminine corporeo-experience. I
describe, rather, the formulation of the female body, qua formulations. Such a

distinction becomes particularly necessary when discussing, for example, the
Irigaray of Sculum and This Sex Which Is Not One who proposes a theory

grounded specifically in women's sexual "difference" chezz Levinas4). Spivak's
framing of Bubaneswari Bhaduri in "Can the Subaltern Speak?" and A Critique
of Postcolonial Reason invokes a body specifically (self-) framed qua "woman's"

within the matrix of local nationalist phallopolitics and global phallocapital. By
"phallocapitalism"and "phallocapital" I mean the intersection of patriarchy in its
various formations (phallic, masculist, Symbolic,5 etc.) and current strains of
capitalism with which it colludes in its specific locales and which perpetuate it
across the geopolitical globe.' While the two appear synonymous, however, I do
not intend that patriarchy and capital predicate each other. Rather, I discuss the
current relation between patriarchies and global capital in situ. Patriarchy itself
here takes different meanings, particularly in the contexts discussed by Spivak,
and the Subaltern Studies group. There I will use variations of the formula "local
nationalist phallopolitics" to describe the intersection of local forms of patriarchy,

SFor specific discussion of Levinas' influence on the Irigaray of Epmculm and This Sex Which Is
Not One see Tina Chanter, Ethics of Eros: Irigaray's Rewriting of the Philosophers: see also
Ophelia Schutte, "A Critique of Normative Heterosexuality: Identity, Embodiment, and
Sexual Difference in Beauvoir and Irigaray." Hypatia. 12:1 (1997). 40-62.

5 By which term I do not necessarily posit the non-phallic or counter-phallic as "Semiotic" A la
Kristeva, etc., nor do I maintain an oversimplified binary.
'For a standard example of this discourse, see particularly Capitalist Patriarchy and the Case
for Socialist Feminism. Ed. Zillah Eisenstein. New York: Monthly Review P, 1978.

local politics (as influenced by religion, caste systems, etc)7, and nationalism
which comprises the situations invoked by Spivak and others.
In "Can the Subaltern Speak?" Spivak condemns what Radhakrishnan

would later term "[t]he phenomenological privileging of concrete experience"
(Radhakrishnan 41), that is, universalist appeals to a particularlized or highly
Euro-localized sense of "concrete reality" such as those upon which Foucault or
Deleuze found their critiques of capital: "It has helped positivist empiricism -
the justifying foundation of advanced capitalist neocolonialism to define its
own arena as 'concrete experience,' 'what actually happens ("CSS?" 275). Such,

Spivak insists, is the purview and the fault of the (inattentive Euro-)intellectual
who deploys such arguments from such grounds.
The sense of experience that de Beauvoir, Lacan, and Irigaray emphasize
in terms of the female mystic, I suggest, simultaneously does and does not fall
before the same indictment. Certainly de Beauvoir emphasizes the existential
situation of the Euro-Christian female mystic and her experience, and therefrom
posits a refiguring and rethinking of a universalized sense of woman's progress
toward an equally universalized self-realization. Lacan and Irigaray also similarly
operate within universalized senses of jouissance and experience a priori of a
I do not ludicrously imply that such are the characteristics of local politics in only de/post-
colonized contexts, from which Euro-Christian contexts would supposedly remain immune, but
rather that their specificities play out in different ways, and thus Postcolonial theoretical
formulations evoked from them are formulated differently see my clarification on the
specifically Euro-Christian context of French theoretical discussions, figurations, and uses of
the female mystic later in this chapter. I use the term in a way inspired by Meyda Yegenoglu:
she warns of the expectation that, by raising an issue (for her, veiling) within a certain context
(for her, Orientalism), she will give an "insider" view, which only satisfies the same soi-
disant benign Western gaze (Colonial Fantasies 121). Rather, as Yegenoglu insists, "if we
follow the spirit of analysis we can no longer treat the oppression of women by indigenous
patriarchy and by colonialism as two separate issues" (122). For a discussion of the specificities
of caste in local national postcolonial phallopolitics (also in terms of the body as a grid on
which such politics are played) see Partha Chatterjee, "Caste and Subaltern Consciousness."
Subaltern Studies VI: Writings on South Asian History and Society. Ed. Ranajit Guha. Oxford:
Oxford UP, 1989.169-209; for a discussion of the similar play of religion, see Dipesh
Chakrabarty, "The Time of History and the Time of Gods," The Politics of Culture in the
Shadow of Capital. Durham NCQ Duke UP, 1997.35-59; for a (proleptic) discussion of the
intersection of the two, see Shahid Amin, "Gandhi as Mahatma," and Partha Chatterjee
"More on Modes of Power and the Peasantry" in Selected Subaltern Studies, Eds. Ranajit Guha
and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1988.

universalized notion of woman. As the title of a Naomi Schor essay that explores
such reductions from Bordieu to Wittig indicates, "French Feminism Is a
Universalism": the localized experience of women in France serves as
synecdochic exemplar for that of woman tout court.8 Yet what saves them from
the complete indictment and places these discussions in asymptosis with those
such as Spivak's, I aver, is each discourse's concern for the contradictory
experience of and within ideology that each discourse hearkens to, and from
which each derives its rubric.

Rajagopalan Radhakrishnan reminds us that "Socrates claims that the
gods who inspire the poets into utterance have also made them blind, that is,
cognitively incompetent. Poets 'express' but know not what they express" (Diasgri

Mediations 99 emphasis mine).' The formula "not-know/do" thus describes both

ideology and imaginative creativity in terms of textuality. This formula also
permutes Marx's description of ideology, and indicates the proximity of
imaginative creativity to ideology. As Althusser posits, ideology is itself
imaginative creation. Yet the inclusion of poets indicates an imaginative creation
of texts. It is this that Kant has in mind when he posits the "material sublime,"
that which,while having material effectsis unrepresentable in itself (Kant 120-

Schor's article, citing as it does discussions such as Todorov's of a particularly Francophone
ethnocentricc universalism," insists that "what binds virtually all major French feminists from
Simone de Beauvoir to Michtle le Doeuff is a common allegiance to the universal that contrasts
starkly with the strenuous anti-universalism to be found among nearly all contemporary
American feminist theoreticians" (16). See Chapter 3, note 2, on Simone de Beauvoir and Gisble
Halimi's text Damila Boupacha.

'Hereafter cited as DM. Radhakrishnan further elaborates the contradiction: "the poets who,
in their unselfconsciousness, express the divine become promulgators of doxology and
apocryphal knowledge, whereas the philosopher, in his secondary capacity as knower-
theorist-interpreter, founds epistemic truth" (100). Here Radhakrishnan discusses Socrates'
dialogue with Ian the rhapsode, whom Radhakrishnan "remembers" as posing the rhapsode as
a mimic (simulacrist). Again, we see the foundation of an argument on the grounds of an
(accepted) contradiction between "ideology" and "science," or "scientific knowledge" which
posits any other "knowledge "mysticism." See also my earlier indication of de.erteau's
propositions of the "mystic" genre as an epistemology unto itself, as well as a particular

122). For the literary characters and theoretical figures I discuss, knowledge and
(its) experience10 irrupt in texts created to represent their subjects' "Imaginary
relationship" to not only their "Real conditions of existence" but also to that
same knowledge and experience. As I elaborate below, expression itself, that is
representation, also constitutes its own experience. Radhakrishnan describes a
writing of an experience which constitutes something indescribable not only
because of the insufficieny of language (as in Laan and de Beauvoir), nor of the
dominant ear's inability or refusal to hear (as in Spivak and Fanon), but also
because that experience's pu-te articulation almost immediately afterward
actually becomes part of the very experience later represented.
As I will expound in the next chapter, representation becomes a fulcral
issue in discussions and formulations of ideology. We are discussing distinct but
simultaneous and related (senses of) representation: the articulation of
experience and knowledge in the sense of ideology; similarly, that of the
contradiction so experienced; and that effected by my selected writers'
figuration. I intend representation in a sense analogous to that described by
Judith Butler:
On the one hand, representation serves as the operative term within a
political process that seeks to extend visibility and legitimacy to women as
political subjects; on the other hand, representation is the normative
function of a language which is said either to reveal or to distort what is
assumed to be true about the category of women [...] The domains of
political and linguistic 'representation' set out in advance the criterion by
which subjects themselves are formed, with the result that representation
is extended only to what can be acknowledged as a subject In other
words, the qualifications for being a subject must first be met before
representation can be extended. (Gender Trouble 4)

On the road to reformulating the Marxian proposal of "ideology" into that of
"discourse," Foucault muses on not only the subject's perception of its
relationship with language and representation, but also on the speech-act and
subjects' construction in and by language, and reframes Marx's formula in terms
0 For a discussion of the problematic of "women's experience" as a viable discourse in post-
Second Wave feminism, see Sonia Kruks (131-152).

of language: "Expressing their thoughts in words of which they are not the
masters, enclosing them in verbal forms whose historical dimensions they are
unaware of, men believe their speech is their servant and do not realize that they
are submitting to its demands" (Order of Things 297).
Sonia Knruks' attempt to reconfigure the notions and relations of
articulation and women's experience reminds us that language itself is an often
(in-)accessible experience:
language is never a neutral medium through which we can capture
previously unvoiced experience, and experience is indeed altered in acts of
linguistic formulation. But the costs of reducing women's experience to
feminist linguistic creation alone are high. For personhood then becomes
an attribute of linguistic competence and is denied to the silent or silenced

According to Lacan, female mystics know that they experience something, that
they're having an experience, but they do not know what it is-despite the fact
that they can represent that experience, but presumably not a knowledge of it, in
their writings which Lacan insists are "the best thing there is." As Fredric
Jameson insists, the "unknowable" is not "unrepresentable" (Postmodernism 53).
Similarly, Terry Eagleton invokes from Kant the sublime as "an object which
cannot be represented" (151), which sense informs Zizek's Sublime Object of

Ideology as ideology's own unrepresentable object.
One example of the tension between the unknowable and
unrepresentable is the mystic's "moan of ecstasy," particularly as represented by
Bernini's famous scuplted tableau. In Chapter 31 discuss the overdetermined
figurations of St. Teresa as a body-ladened, highly eroticized and sexuated
hysteric. I do not deny that the moan may have an erotic content, or may itself
11 Kruks subscribes here to the Freudian (and Austinian) concept of the speech-act (as does the
Barthes of "Death of the Author" and "From Work to Text"): the writer/ scriptor's production
appears an irruption whereby language comes to speak itself. This conceptualization also bears
on my discussion of the female mystic and female postcolonial subaltern figures, in terms not
only of "who speaks" or "from where" (as concerns Stuart Hall) but also of what the
speech/language recorded on the page or by the body means, as well as the implications of
subsequent formulations I describe chez de Beauvoir, Lacan, Irigaray, Spivak, etc. derived

enact, perform, its own erotics. Rather, I aver that the moan is especially sexed
and sexuated, that it has a sexuality and an erotics ascribed to it by listeners,
viewers, readers those who later translate and re-present it. "Moan," the
term, already operates as a determining erotic signifier, as a signifier that
ascribes an erotics. If the ecstatic moan articulates an experience and evinces an
event otherwise indescribable or inarticulable, then the signifier "moan" ascribes
a particular content to the moan itself. Both Bernini's statue" and others' readings
of it, translations of a translation (of still a further translation), evince this
process. Bernini's translation of St. Teresa's account into stone effects a multiple
representational collapsing of the event that evokes Teresa's moan, of the act of
moaning itself, and Bernini's own attempt to interpret in stone the written
account of an otherwise inexpressible event. But how to represent a moan, in
marble, on a page, or otherwise? What does one represent in so doing?
At least in marble or on the page, presumably, the moan cannot be
represented: one can depict the mouth in a certain physical posture associated
with moaning, but no more than St. Teresa's own writing can Bernini's statue
recapture or adequately represent that lost moaning. Moaning becomes
indesociable from the experience that seems to predicate or evoke the moan

12 Bearing in mind that the statue of St. Teresa and the Angel is itself only part of an elaborate
tableau that itself explicitly foregrounds the multiple and simultaneous "stagings" involved in
both Teresa's own writings and later readings of them, including the patrons who commissioned
the tableau from Bernini. The issue of specularity concerning both Bernini's tableau and
discussions of it intersects that of ideology as a matter of reading, particularly as expressed by
Marx and Engels through the visual metaphor of the camera obscura inThe German Ideology
(Arthur 47).

itself." Even by St. Teresa's own post-facto, post-event account, moaning
becomes as much a part of the event, of her mystical "experience," as the golden
spear which the Angel supposedly dips into her breast: "The pain was so severe
that it made me utter several moans [...] This is not a physical, but a spiritual
pain [...] if anyone thinks I am lying, I pray God, in His goodness, to grant him

some experience of it" (St. Teresa 210).
As I stated earlier, each of the figures I discuss describes representations of
(a) contradictory experience that remains denotatively unrepresentable, but that as
experience comprise knowledge which exceed masculist, phallocapitalist,
imperialist and colonialist representational systems even in those system's own
terms. For instance, to de Beauvoir and Fanon it is a matter of subjects'
representation to themselves by their respective "dominant" discourses" within
which they live: women as "women," blacks as "blacks" or "negroes" rather
than as subjects, or whose supposed subjecthood is written in those terms. The
knowing avered in Marx and Engels' formulations, as I detail in the next chapter,
is that of the interpellated subject, and not the knowing of masculist discourse or

the colonizer. Homi Bhabha posits that

By this statement, I posit the mystic's moan as an example of that which is simultaneously
constative and peformative: in Austinian terms, that which refers to something else and
thereby ascribes it anteriority, and that which constitutes an act or experience in itself. As
Judith Butler posits,
[i]f one wonders how a linguistic theory of the speech act relates to bodily gestures, one
need only consider that speech itself is a bodily act with specific linguistic
consequences. Thus speech belongs exclusively neither to corporeal presentation nor to
language, and its status as word and deed is necessarily ambiguous. This ambiguity has
consequences for the practice of coming out, for the insurrectionary power of the speech
act, for language as a condition of both bodily seduction and the threat of inquiry.
(Gender Trouble xxv)
Admitting even the infinitessimal time-delay in this process, whereby a registration that
responds to a stimulus becomes part of and redefines that stimulus as it continues to transpire
through time, I suggest that the moan incorporates the body into the experience that
supposedly the subject cannot "know." The sonorous vibration of the throat during the moan, the
reverberation of the moan through the body, and the mystic's hearing of her own moan during
the experience, effect a contradictory logic that undoes the analogous contradiction between
knowing and doing for Marx, and knowing and experiencing for Lacan.
" I41 use the formula dominantt discourse" here despite Barthes' claim that all "discourses" are
dominant, to emphasize its character

Some [racist discursive] practices recognize the difference of race, culture
and history as elaborated by stereotypical knowledge, racial theories,
admiinistrative colonial experience, and on that basis institutionalize a
range of political and cultural ideologies that are prejudicial,
discriminatory, vestigial, archaic, 'mythical', and, crucially, are recognized
as being so. By 'knowing' the native population in these terms,
discriminatory and authoritarian forms of political control are considered
appropriate. ("The Other Question" 83)

Such a working of power, for Bhabha, is representative:
if my deduction from Fanon about the particular visibility of colonial
power is justified, then I would extend that to say it is a form of
governmentality in which the 'ideological' space functions in more openly
collaborative ways with political and economic exigencies [... .1 Such
visibility of the institutions and apparatuses of power is possible because
the exercise of colonial power makes their relationship obscure, produces
them as fetishes, spectacles of a 'natural'/racial pre-eminence (The Other
Question" 83)

In effect, Bhabha describes the mystifications at work in representation of
subjects' relation to power.

Spivak's invocation of Lacan in her study of a "literary representation of
the subaltern," which I discussed in Chapter 1, offers a few preliminary senses of
jouissance, as excess in phallic systems of use-value, as "never not political,"' as
"beyond the phallus" because of its affiliation with the feminine. Ellie Ragland-
Sullivan reminds us of the sexual connotation imbricated in the term, and
suggests that "Jouissance means sexual pleasure, but at an abstract level it could
be described as the temporary pleasure afforded by substitute objects or by
others' recognition (substitutes for the original other). At this juncture jouissance
and Desire meet in the concept of plus-de-jouir" (271). As pleasure derived from
a substitution, jouissance maintains an ambivalent relation to representation. So

5" Rajagopalan Radhakrishnan nevertheless raises an analogous point concerning the
transecting discourses of the "more than" and "the political" in the work of Elizabeth Meese,
who "goes on to ask the all-important question: 'What then is the excess, the 'more than' the
personal which constitutes The Political (not as reduction) or the political-taken-personally?
And what is the 'more than' or 'other than' the political which constitutes The Personal[?]'"
(Diasporic Mediations 124).

figured, jouissance designates not only an experience of or relationship to
ideology, but also, ostensibly, that which exceeds the event horizon of
The very proliferation of definitions for jouissance indicates its own quality
of excess, superfluity, surplus, superabundance. It overflows, yet at the same
time, jouissance is not a lone quantity. As my discussion of the rape scene in
Cisneros' novel will indicate, jouissance, as excess, operates within a field shared
with other phenomena of excess. As Zizek and others intimate, this is the
danger: jouissance is not the only form of excess, and so can be appropriated. Yet
that same element of jouissant excess is what allows jouissance, in other forms, to
exceed and escape oppressive situations. As even my discussion in Chapter 5
shows, jouissance is a constituent rhetorical and conceptual element at the heart
of Gayatri Spivak's essay "Can the Subaltern Speak?" and her figuration of
Bhuvaneswari Bhaduri. To state a point: rape is by no means jouissance, any
more than ideology is. Yet ideology, rape, and jouissance all operate within an
analogical field delineated by excess, and unknowability. Rape exceeds the
bounds of sexual conduct and respect for the singularity of individuals. Ideology
denotes that disjuncture between knowledge and action, knowledge and
experience, and despite its material effects and manifestations, cannot ever itself
be grasped.
At the same time that it connotes excess, beyond, the unrepresentable,
and that which escapes, jouissance also denotes "enjoyment" in terms of
"possession" or "enjoyment of." To enjoy the use of something by having it or

having access' to it: jouissance implies a modicum of agency (Lacan 3). Like the
lingual-conceptual twist posed by Freud's Unheimliche and that of the mystic,
then, jouissance encompasses paradox. In an Irigarayan moment, Spivak suggests
that jouissance "would still be the place where an unexchangeable excess can be

" This is Lacan's sense of usufruct, typically, the enjoyment of something belonging to another
(Fink 3).

imagined and figured forth" ("LRS" 259). In another Spivakian chiasmus,
whereby "thought is the jouissance or excess of being," the copula is renders
being as the excess or jouissance of thought ("LRS"261). Leon S. Roudiez suggests
jouissance "is sexual, spiritual, physical, conceptual at one and the same time"(16).
Slavoj Zizek asks how the interpellation described by Althusser happens,
and reads the phenomenon through jouissance:
this external 'machine' of State Apparatuses exercises its force only in so
far as it is experienced, in the unconscious economy of the subject, as a
traumatic, senseless injunction [.. .1 this 'internalization', by structural
necessity, never fully succeeds, ...] there is always a residue, a leftover, a
stain of traumatic irrationality and senselessness sticking to it, and [...]
this leftover, far from hindering the full submission of the subject to the ideological
command, is the very condition of it: it is precisely this non-integrated surplus
of senseless traumatism which confers on the Law its unconditional
authority: in other words, which in so far as it escapes ideological sense
sustains what we might call the ideological jouis-sense, enjoyment-in-
sense (enjoy-ment), proper to ideology (S014344

Apparently, there is jouissance and there is jouissance; Zizek's particular reading
of Lacan and Althusser thus subscribes to a reinscriptive jouissance, and not the
excess-as-escape of Irigaray or Barthes. Zizek's phrasing draws on a particular
Lacan description of jouissance: "What is jouissance? Here it amounts to no more
than a negative instance (instance). Jouissance is what serves no purpose" (Fink
3).7 Zizek suggests that the apparent purposelessness of jouissance is precisely
what makes it potentially reinscribable, reappropriable, in ideological
mystification. Zizek offers here an elucidation of the ambivalence" of the relation
between jouissance and ideology-an ambivalence central to such contradictions as

17 From Lacan's lecture "On jouissance." Bruce Fink, who translated this seminar, alerts us to the
confusion that often occurs when "Lacan's instance, like Freud's Instanz, is often translated as
'agency' [which] in no way conveys the insistence so important to Lacan's use of the term" (Fink
3 n.9).
1 While Zizek briefly surveys "two complimentary procedures of the 'criticism of ideology'" -
one "discursive" and the other focused on/through "enjoyment" he nevertheless relies on the
problematic presumption of a "pre-ideological enjoyment structured in fantasy" (125 emphasis
mine). While my project does not offer the space to investigate this problematic further, I will
aver that this presumption contradicts Zizek's own schema here, since the very "fantasy" that
Zizek invokes would seem itself to be either/both ideological or an ideological product.

that discussed in Chapter 6 between the figure of Bhaduri that Spivak provides
and the rhetorical use Spivak that makes of that figure.
As we will see, related notions of jouissance think through the discourse on
ideology I have been tracing. I do not myself equate the experience of jouissance
with that of ideology (nor of the subaltern). Rather, I aver that as evinced by the
uses and definitions of jouissance by the theoretical and literary texts I read here,
the workings of jouissance (as sexual and political excess) comprise analogous
formulations of ideology. Their descriptions and rhetorical gestures make female
sexual experience itself a/the terrain for subjectivization in or resistance to
ideology, which appears why they invoke the particular figures they do. The
discourses I have described either presuppose women's alienation from their
own sexuality (as excess), or propose their alienation from any knowledge or
adequate articulation of that sexuality, or deny both these theses in favor of one
of realization and articulation that mimic alienation and muteness to subvert
phallic sexual economies. Some form counterclaims that it is not just sexual
jouissance that women "experience." Each discourse, however, marks experience
and articulation, representation, as simultaneous and mutually informative, as
the modes which perform the kinds of representation at the centre of any notion
of "ideology." As Spivak states, "Knowledge is played out or mapped out on the
entire map of the speaking being, thought is the jouissance or excess of being"
("Literary Representation" 261).
Jouissance is not an unproblematic category or concept. As my discussion
of the chapter "Red Clowns" shows, jouissance maintains an uneasy proximity to
other elements of excess, superabundance, and unrepresentability. For instance,
Kaplana Seshandri-Crooks discusses jouissance as an integral formulation in racist
discourses that works to the promote the sanctity of Whiteness. While Seshandri-
Crooks insists that "the visible bodily marks of race serve to guarantee
Whiteness as something more than its discursive construction" (59 italics mine)

which thereby renders Whiteness deconstructable, she also posits jouissance as
the conservative, reappropriative purview of the Same: "[a]s the master signifier
of race, Whiteness maintains the structure of (visible) difference ...] which
locates the subject as desiring (thus eternally lacking) Whiteness [...] it is our
drive for supremacy, for the jouissance of absolute humanness, that sustains our
active [gaze]. Setting aside the historical fact that such a goal is impossible because
race has no purchase on the body's jouissance, or in anything beyond its own
cultural origins, we must nevertheless take up the persistence of the fantasy of
Whiteness" (59-60). Seshandri-Crooks posits jouissance as that which, through its
superfluity, indicates lack-in race terms, blackness as the perceived and
promulgated lack of Whiteness.
Neither do I posit jouissance wholly unproblematically as the mode
through which my selected literary and theoretical figures negotiate their
relations into "jouissance." As I indicated earlier in this chapter, the relationships
I propose between "experience" and "knowledge" as an experience for these
figures must necessarily remain open to question. Within the context of
critiquing Foucault's distinguishing between "legitimate" and "coercive" forms
of representation, Radhakrishnan speaks of revolutionary movements that
"create their own leaders and intellectuals who are interested in making sure that
the revolution does not peter out into an 'eternally placed present' or into the
intransitivity of jouissance as an anarchist nirvana" (Diasric Mediations 40). He
thus denounces "jouissance" as a kind of idealist cop-out for engagement. I agree
with Radhakrishnan insofar as his point on a cautionary stance toward easy
invocations of jouissance.
I diverge from Radhakrishnan, though, at the point of his particular
dismissal of jouissance as (only) intransitive. Here Radhakrishnan follows the
etymology of jouissance from the intransitive jouir, but does not see pleasure as a
mode of either production, knowledge, or action. His attention to the

intransivity of jouissance reciprocally emphasizes an oppositional transivity. Yet
we have already seen in Lacan, vis-a-vis jouissance, a linking of the intransitive
and transitive: Lacan's statement thereee is a jouissance proper to her and of
which she herself may know nothing, except that she experiences it"1 sets
intransitive "jouissance" and transitive "experience" (iprouve) in both textual and
conceptual proximity. Zizek comes close to considering jouissance as sufficiently
transitive to serve part of the production process, even if only as an enabling
element of that process, jouissance appropriated, as the "enjoyment-in-sense
(enjoy-ment) proper to ideology" that ideology co-opts because it poses an
excess from whose energy ideology draws its conviction.
I deploy just such an ambivalent understanding of jouissance; why my
discussion takes into account at each step caveats such as Zizek's that would pose
jouissance as an ambivalent field or event-horizon of potentiality. Each of the
theoretical figures of the mystic, the raced colonized, and the subaltern female
work through analogous ambivalences of jouissance in relation to the permutable
elements of ideology. It is this problematic of jouissance that Esperanza creatively
negotiates in Cisneros' novel through the ambivalence effected between her
rape and her strategy of representation around the traumatic event itself. As we
will see, the rape and Esperanza's formation of a workable knowledge of the
experience through complex manipulations of representative elements, situate
the rape and jouissance, like ideology and jouissance, into asymptotic proximity
because of their analogous but irreducible qualities of excess.

In representing the aporia of her rape, Esperanza includes the phrase "I
love you, Spanish girl," repeated by her anglo rapist. Esperanza thus enacts an
ambivalent representation. She ostensibly "gives voice" to her rapist within her
own narrative of the rape. At first reading, it is easy to miss that this is a novel
19" I y a une jouissance A elle don't peut-etre elle-meme ne sait rien, sinon qu'eUlle l'eprouve
(Lacan 64).

utterly without quotational punctuation. We receive others' voices, but always
depicted on the same orthographic plane, the same scriptural level, as
Esperanza's own voice. As such, these voices literally speak through her.
Macrologically, the entire novel, then, could be considered as a simultaneous act
of Darstellen (depiction) and Vertreten (substitution). This is not to say that all the
other voices are reducible to, or are collapsed into Esperanza's. Her rapist's voice
is no more differentiated on the page than anyone else's, save by the context of
the chapter. Micrologically within that context, and synchronously with the racist
ideology the voice carries, the voice becomes one of the defining elements of her
aporetic representation of the rape.
And yet she gives his words, and incorporates them into her knowledge
of her experience. In effect, she tropes him: by depicting his voice, she has
substituted it for him in her narrative schema, and put his words and the racist
ideology they carry to other use. In so doing, she perpetrates a simultaneously
(Althusserian) ideological and jouissant act: she transitively represents him in
order to effect a jouissant trajectory beyond him. We have, then, a literary
character working her own act of figuration that contributes to her
representation of her knowledge of an unrepresentable experience. As much as
she may empower him by his inclusion, she has already disavowed him by her
continual orthographic leveling in previous chapters and those that follow. The
intangibility to her inclusion of his words is synchronous with the excess of the
rape. It remains an ambiguous portion of her representation of her experience
and her knowledge of it.
Much as Esperanza cannot represent the ideologies at work except as
figured through their apparatuses, she also cannot represent the rape itself, even
in her own writing (the novel in toto is presumably framed as Esperanza's own
text). For her, the rape becomes unrepresentable: "I don't remember. It was
dark. I don't remember. I don't remember. Please don't make me tell it all" (100).

The final plea not to make her "tell it all" belies the prior claim that she does not
remember the rape. She cannot bring herself to describe it, and does not
mention it again. Given this unrepresentablility, which is not the same as the
unrepresentability ascribed to jouissance, the rape constitutes an excess utterly
without any pleasure on her part, sexual or otherwise. Nevertheless, analogous
to yet distinct from jouissance, the rape exceeds the bounds delimited by the
knowledge to which Esperanza had until then been exposed: "It wasn't what
you said at all" (99 emphasis mine).
Yet simply because she cannot or will not represent the experience of the
rape does not mean that she does not know what she experiences. As Jameson
indicates, the "unknowable" is not "unrepresentable"- and thereby, the
unrepresentable is nonetheless knowable. Esperanza knows very well what she
experiences, and that she experiences it. Her rape brutally evinces a disjunctive
contradiction between her knowledge of sex (even before the fact), and her
experience of it as rape. Epistemologically, the rape effects an aporia: not only a
limit to representability, but also demarking a limit to thinking the concepts of
sex, love, subjectivity, and agency as transmitted to her through the medial and
cultural elements she curses. The violence of the rape itself and of Esperanza's
simultaneous experience of the contradiction between her knowledge and her
actual experience indicate the aporia: the point at which not only is her old
knowledge contradicted, or when she forms a new knowledge during the
experience, but also the very experience of that simultaneous violation and

The narrative arrangement of the passage complexly works through
interplays of ideologies and apparatuses, representations and non-
representations, knowledge and experience. Esperanza frames the
unrepresentable event with the narrative she builds around it. The first
paragraph issues her indictment of Sally and the other media that transmitted to
Esperanza her knowledge of sex. The second paragraph establishes the
situational context for the rape. The third and fourth paragraphs narrate the
events immediate to the rape, but leave the event itself unrepresented. The fifth
paragraph echoes the indictments of the first. The final paragraph effects a
temporal collapsing of Esperanza's sensations immediately after the rape, the
boys' departure, her final indictment of Sally, and the ethnic component of the
rape ideology, its apparatuses, and her experience through them. In its
achronology, the arrangement of these disparate elements in a novel that
otherwise flows linearly in all other chapters, narratively reproduces the
disjuncture Esperanza experiences between conventionalized knowledge and her
Yet in one instant in this sequence, at the beginning of the fourth
paragraph which surmiseably marks the moment of her rape, the chronology
jumps its furthest. Between the past-tense descriptions of the one boy she
identifies ("I love you Spanish girl"), the past-tense description of her
helplessness, and her plea ("I don't remember. Please don't make me tell it"), the
20 Jacques Derrida and others describe such an effect as trauma, an event that cannot itself be
represented (but which returns, revisits, or which the subject carries with herself). Slavoj
Zizek proposes a particular relationship between trauma and ideology: "The function of
ideology is not to offer us a point of escape from our reality but to offer us the social reality
itself as an escape from some traumatic, real kernel" (SOl 45). Esperanza's social reality,
however, is no less brutal than the ideologies that determine it her unrepresentable
experience exceeds Zizek's scope. See Sigmund Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle ; Cathy
Caruth, Unclaimed Experience: Trauma. Narrative, and History Ulrich Baer, Remnants of
Song: Trauma and the Experience of Modernity in Charles Baudelaire and Paul Celan:
Dominick LaCapra, Writing History. Writing Trauma ; Slavoj Zizek, On Belief My thanks to
Julian Wolfreys for discussion of this particular aspect of Esperanza's rape, which my project
cannot further encompass here.

narrative slips into the present tense: "Sally, make him stop." This point remains
ambiguous as to whether Esperanza narratively inserts this thought into the
rape post facto or that this moment marks the event itself, by displacement. If
the latter, then Esperanza registers the experience at the moment she
experiences it, and that registration itself becomes part of the experience. Much
as the unrepresentability of the rape makes the rape distinct from yet analogous
to jouissance, this particular slip into the present-tense direct address articulates a
knowledge of an experience so simultaneous to the experience that it becomes
part of the experience itself as it transpires.
Despite its violently disjunctive effect between Esperanza's knowledge
and her experience, the rape thereby produces a knowledge-one that operates
outside official rubrics, that appeals to other senses of knowing that which
cannot be represented, but that must be experienced to be known. It registers
something beyond. This kind of knowledge is distinct but analogical to the non-
knowledge ascribed to the female mystic: it does not fit the bounds of what
counts as knowledge, so it is not considered knowledge... and yet one knows it.
Strictu sensu, Esperanza's rape and the mystical experience of jouissance are
utterly disparate. Yet both effect a simultaneous experience of disjuncture
between knowledge and experience, as well as a knowledge that does not
subscribe to, and cannot be articulated within, conventional epistemologies and
While Esperanza does not refer to the rape after that chapter, the
knowledge she evinces of it becomes the basis of the composition of her dream
domestic environment: "A House of My Own" (108). An event without presence,
yet which has the force of an absent presence, the knowledge of the rape
integrates itself into Esperanza's conviction to create a space for herself beyond
the physical and ideological bounds of Mango Street, whence to return to Mango
Street "for the others who cannot out" (110). As the three aunts remind her

when they charge her to return to Mango Street, "You can't erase what you
know" (105). Esperanza carries the aporia-knowledge with her, and cannot
forget it, but instead uses it to craft her own space, her own subsequent
Esperanza's writing, her representation of not only her experience and
her knowledge of it, but also, to quote Althusser, of her imaginary relationship
to her "Real conditions of existence," become her own mediation of these same
elements. Her writing, poetry as well this novel's narrative itself, exceeds the
bounds delimited for her by both the knowledge discussed above and her
subsequent experience. As Barthes suggests, textual jouissance here serves as the
linguistic doors through which both ideology and the imaginary "flow" (E] 13-
14). Ideology, itself a particular imaginary, and "the imaginary," both constitute
forms of knowledge. Early in the novel, Esperanza's beleaguered Aunt Lupe
encourages her early writing: "You just remember to keep writing, Esperanza.
You must keep writing. It will keep you free" (61). Esperanza dreams of her own
domestic space containing "My books and my stories [... .1 a space for myself to
go, dean as paper before the poem" (108). At the end of the novel, Esperanza
prefigures her departure from Mango Street in conjunction with her writing, her
representation of her experiences and her knowledge: "I put it down on paper
and then the ghost does not ache so much. I write it down and Mango says
goodbye sometimes" (110).
Yet like trauma and writing-and, sadly, like ideology-Esperanza must
return. Just as her writing formulates her knowledge of her experience, and
helps her mediate her experience of ideology through representation and
narration, it also becomes the means to help other women. In this sense,
Esperanza's text coincides with those of female mystics like St. Teresa: they "tell"
not only to evince a knowledge of an otherwise unrepresentable experience, but
also to help others toward such knowledge without having to be raped. The

same aunts who remind Esperanza that "You can't erase what you know[,] You
can't forget who you are" also charge her with a specific task: "When you leave,
you must remember always to come back [... ] for the others [...] For the ones
who cannot leave as easily as you" (105). She and her aunts project her
figurations, her narration, as a mediation for others' experience of ideology.
Given her particular navigation of ideological contradiction, Esperanza
anticipates an equally particular project. In her projection she falls very much
within the model of masculine-activity espoused by de Beauvoir as resolution
and realization out of bad faith. This project, fraught with tensions and the
implied underestimations of ideological mystification that I elaborate in the next
chapters, just as ambivalently allows for its own failure. The novel and the
narrative end in a series of future tense projections, a series of "I will" and "they
will[s]". Esperanza's flight from Mango Street, and her disruptive, subversive
return, remain only potentialities. The possibility remains that Esperanza and her
texts' jouissant potential can, or will, be reclaimed by the very Mango Street that
claims most of the women in the novel.
This very multiplicity effects jouissance's resistant and counter-disruptive
potential. Yet, as my reading of the rape scene in Cisneros' The House on Mango
Street indicates, the multiplicity and excess of jouissance is always shadowed by
other, reinscriptive and totalitarian, multiplicities and excesses. Neither I nor any
of my selected texts treats jouissance lightly, or glibly epouse jouissance as an
idealistic panacea. Rather, I use the term jouissance to indicate the operative hope
of resistance to ever-threatening reappropriation. Jouissance, in all its
permutations, indicates responsible negotiation.


[K]nowing always it was more than that.
narrator "We Came All the Way from Cuba So You Could Dress Like

The concept of ideology is no less permutable than those of jouissance,
experience or representation. Three quarters of the way through Achy Obeja's
short story "We Came All the Way From Cuba So You Could Dress Like This?"
the Cuban-born female narrator describes a sexual encounter with "a Cuban, a
politically controversial exile writer of some repute" that she specifically
contrasts to her lovemaking with various anglos male and female (126). In this
encounter the narrator derives a simultaneously political and sexual jouissance
from setting multiple ideological discourses against each other. By such instances,
Obejas' story thematically and schematically theorizes permutations of ideology
by invoking multiple senses of jouissance. The story proposes that jouissance and
ideology remain ambivalently related, and actually mediate each other.
My reading of Obejas' story raises the question of ideology's conceptual
viability in a time many have termed "post-ideological." It also offers the
opportunity to survey the theories of ideology in operation for the other texts I
study as well. I trace the development of the concept through Marx, Engels,
Lukacs, Althusser, and Zizek to establish my discursive parameters for not only
Obejas' story, but also for subsequent developments of the theory by
deBeauvoir, Fanon, Lacan, Irigaray, Spivak, and Walker. Each of these
discussions will draw on further permutations of the theory by Sartre, Gramsci
and Foucault As my readings proceed, it becomes apparent that ideology and

jouissance effect variations of a shared conceptual and discursive field, and so I
work my readings of these narratives through my trope of St. Subaltern.
Obejas" narrator occupies an odd place between not only nationalities and
cultures, but also between ideological discourses that all lay claim to her through
various institutions. Before their arrival on US shores, the narrator's family's
situation had already been determined by U.S. ideological posturing: "this is
1963, and no Cuban claiming political asylum actually gets turned away. We're
evidence that the revolution has failed the middle class and that communism is
bad"(113). As member of a special political-cultural group-refugee Cubans,
which in US. terms amounts to an ethnicity-she is idealized, from her arrival,
by not only U.S. anti-communist discourses, but also by her father's version of
the same. She is fit to the field created by three parallel and simultaneous
narratives: that of the U.S. preference for immigrant Cubans fleeing Castro
under whatever auspices; that of her father's investment in those U.S. narratives
only as a means to return to Cuba pending the overthrow of Castro; and that of
the Castro government which scripts her as a wayward whose return is not only
anticipated but welcomed. Each discourse seeks to exclude her "as the subject of
[her] own history" (Guha 4).1
The father's dreams for the narrator, coincident with the general anti-
communist rhetoric surrounding them-by the "Hungarian lady" at the INS
office; the gross display of consumer products in the grocery store which effects
a propagandistic example of US plenty-seek to script the narrator within
particular discourses. "We did this when we first came to America" the
Hungarian -American INS worker tells the narrator and herr parents as she pulls
the car into the supermarket parking lot, "it's something only people like us can

' By invoking Guha's comments on representation of peasant insurgency in India I do not intend to
trivialize the events to which Guha refers. Rather, I offer a permutation of that phenomenon
to indicate the possible expansions of Guha's discourse to other situations and indicate the
increasing complexity of what Guha notes as it continues through time.

appreciate" (122). The use of "we" and "us" mystifies the plenitude around them
by reducing her own and the Cuban family's distinct experiences with equally
distinct communisms. In the grocery store the INS worker draws the family past
the meat counter, evoking theatrical cries from the father. The worker turns and
delivers her narrative of American-plenty-against-communist-deprivation to the
gathering crowd of onlookers: "Yes, he came on a little boat with his whole
family; look at his beautiful daughter who will now grow up well-fed and free"
(123). The crowd congratulates the narrator's father, and "give him hugs and
money, and welcome him to the U.S." (123).
She is figured by the U.S. as emblematic of the rightness of capitalist
plenitude over communist deprivation. Had they stayed in Cuba, the father later
declares without irony, the narrator "would have been a young Communist,
falling prey to the revolution's propaganda" (124). The narrator's father
continually cites the narrator, in her youth, as the reason for their leaving Cuba.
She becomes his stock excuse. The narrator's father has to a certain extent
controlled the narrator's access to information and determined her conscious
options. Just as he feeds her a particular "Cuba" and equally particular
"America," he also hides from her her original Cuban passport, and the
knowledge that she could have easily renewed her passport and returned to
Cuba since Castro's government did not recognize her U.S. citizenship because
she left Cuba as a child, under duress. "Do you think," her father yells when as
an adult she confronts him and asks after her passport so that she might visit
Cuba and see for herself,"I would let you betray us like that?" (126)
Yet the narrator announces and details a jouissant element within both
these coincident ideological discourses. Despite what her family is told by the INS
workers, there remain "things that can't be told" (123). She enumerates
experiences that do not fit the knowledge that "America" projects, that are either
deliberately omitted or abjected from the nationalist myth-representation that all

are "well-fed and free" and enjoy equal opportunity, or experiences that simply
do not qualify as "experience" under that nationalist rubric. The narrator lists
racial prejudice that keeps the family from decent housing in Miami or her
mother from finding hairdressers, or the narrator's own "doing poorly on an IQ
test because [she] didn't speak English, and getting tossed into a special
education track, where it took until high school before somebody realized [she]
didn't belong there" (123). She includes her father's failed suicide attempt when
he comes to realize that the family "wasn't going back to Cuba anytime soon"
(124). She culminates this section with a series of untolds that coincide both the
macrological and micrological ideological fields which mire her: the necessity of
welfare despite all the family's efforts; the ambivalent trap of having to donate
money to anti-Castro groups so as to appear sufficiently patriotic despite
knowing that the money would be personally squandered by the collectors; and
finally the realization of Nixon's utter apathy in the matter of Cuba (124). Later
in life, reacting to her father's rejection of her "American" clothes, the narrator
voices an untold, denouncing her father's pedantry to his face:
for the first and only time in my life, I'll say, Look, you didn't come [to the
U.S.] for me, you came for you; you came because all your rich clients
were leaving, and you were going to wind up a cashier in your father's
hardware store if you didn't leave [... .]Christ, [you] only left because Fidel
beat [you] in that stupid swimming race back when [you] were little. (121)

In violent repercussion for this breach, her father kicks her unconscious.
Schematically, the gross sense of abundance built up by the display in the
grocery store contrasts drastically to the things "that can't be told" about life in
the U.S. Those things, jouissant already in that they exceed the US. propagandist
self-image are also jouissant in that they reveal the actual lacks obscured by the
previous scene's depiction and enactment of American plenitude. This jouissant
element itself indicates other senses of ideology that have to do with
contradictions and disjunctures between one's experience and one's knowledge
of that experience.

What senses of ideology are at play in Obejas' story? In Roland Barthes'
terms of dominant political thought, the narrator's father and the U.S. that
extends unquestioning, but not undemanding, asylum to the narrator's family
specifically because they flee Cuba weave coincident national mythologies about
each other. For the father, the U.S. is simply anti-communism, anti-Castro, all for
the overthrow of Castro and the return of Cuba to its refugee middle classes.
For the U.S., the narrator's family serves as an example of freedom for those
who oppose Castro's regime, which is itself collapsed into a generalized
"communism." The two suffuse and exploit each other. Yet ideology as a theory

is not reducible to this illustration. Rather, it is a varied concept with a peculiar
history, whose tracing will lead us back to Obejas' story.
Tracing specific segments of that history reveals another history,
however: that of the mystic as figure embedded in discourses about ideology. As
a figure whose historical relation to discourses onjouissance and representation
that I also pursue in subsequent chapters, the trope of the mystic, as trope,
indicates the dose proximity of jouissance to ideology. This proximity effects an
ambivalent but dangerous field of potentiality for not only jouissant mediation of
ideology, but also for ideological mystification and reappropriation of jouissance.
It also implicates the text as, paradoxically, one of the primary material fields
which manifests the play of ideology.
As noted, Slavoj Zizek offers an insightful discussion of Marx's own
definition of ideology in Capital :'They do not know it, but they are doing it"
(SO 28). As Zizek explains, "The very concept of ideology implies a kind of basic,
constitutive naivet : the misrecognition of its own presuppositions, of its own
effective conditions, a distance, a divergence between so-called social reality and
our distorted representation [...] the main point is to see how the reality itself
cannot reproduce itself without this so-called ideological mystification" (=2I 28).

Marx's formulation predicates, and Zizek's explanation later contextualizes, the
similarly described phenomena of the mystic in de Beauvoir, Lacan, and Irigaray,
the colonized in Fanon, and the subaltern in Spivak. In proximity to these
figurations we may place the phenomenon of capitalist "cynicism" that Zizek
derives from Peter Sloeterdijk: "The cynical subject is quite aware of the distance
between the ideological mask and the social reality, but he none the less still
insists upon the mask. The formula, as proposed by Sloeterdijk, would then
be: 'they know very well what they are doing, but still, they are doing it"(29).2
Why "Ideology" After the "End of Ideology"?
"Before advancing any further," as Terry Eagleton warns, "it may be well
to ask whether the topic of ideology really merits the attention we are lavishing
upon it" (33). As with the earlier question concerning "reviving" the figure of the
mystic, vis-a-vis my invocations of "ideology" one may ask "why even discuss,
why raise the spectre3 of 'ideology' when ideology's 'end' has already been
'declared'?" As I stated earlier, Marx's suggestions indicate all elements of
capitalist societies as subjects) to/in "ideology," if not always in the same way or
in the same relation. This latter observation initiates later writers' redefining
"ideology" (and its workings) tout court if not their abandoning the term
Stuart Hall notes that by the time of CaVpi1 Marx's own formulations of
"ideology" were so abstracted that Marx himself had abandoned the term
(Politics and Ideoloy xv). No longer indicating a dominant mode of thinking or,
pace Barthes, the mode of thought of the dominant, ideology now equally
connotes, as Martin Seliger explains, "sets of ideas by which [subjects] posit,
explain and justify ends and means of organized social action, and specifically
2As we will see, this concept invokes Sartre's concept of cynicism-as-lying: "The ideal
description of the liar would be a cynical consciousness, affirming truth within himself,
denying it in his words, and denying that negation as such" (BN 48).
'I derive this figure, and this question, in part from Zizek's introductory essay "The Spectre of
Ideology" for the volume Mapping Ideology.,

political action, irrespective of whether such action aims to preserve, amend,
uproot or rebuild a given social order" (11 alteration mine).' Similarly, Stuart
Hall denotes ideology as "those images, concepts and premises which provide
the frameworks through which we represent, interpret, understand and 'make
sense' of some aspect of social existence"5 ("Whites of Their Eyes" 31). John B.
Thompson notes the reinscriptive ideological uses made of the term "ideology"
itself, as "the thought of the other, the thought of someone other than oneself. To
characterize a view as 'ideological' is already to criticize it"(1). Eagleton amusingly
refers to an 'end-of-ideology' ideology" (4). Writers as diverse as Daniel Bell,
Francis Fukuyama, Jurgen Habermas and Donna Haraway eulogize "ideology."
Already in 1967, Guy Debord announced that societyey has become what
ideology already was" (217) and that, as David Hawkes explains, "representation
has become autonomous in fact" (168). Deleuze and Guattari insist that "There is
no ideology and never has been" (Thousand Plateaux 4).
According to Terry Eagleton, even Lacan contributed to the "end of
ideology" movement:
Whatever striking insights Lacan's work has undoubtedly to offer, there is
surely no doubt that its view of the human subject as a mere effect of
some inscrutable Other, its scorn for the whole concept of political
emancipation, and its contemptuous dismissal of human history as little
more than a "sewer", has had its part to play in that jaundiced,
disenchanted post-war ethos which goes under the name of "the end of
ideology." (182)

Eagleton's discussion itself presents one of the reasons I attend my selected
4 As Thompson elaborates from Seliger, "Could it be argued that to conceive of ideology as ideas
or utterances which serve to sustain a system of domination is unacceptable, because whether
certain ideas or utterances serve to sustain a particular system or to undermine it will depend
upon what the system is and the attitude adopted towards it? Such an argument would not
show that this restrictive conception of ideology is unacceptable, but only that this conception
does not provide a criterion for identifying certain ideas or utterances as ideological as such,
independently of the particular conditions under which they are promulgated" (82). Fredric
Jameson's entry for "ideology" in Keywords notes a "more neutral" sense in Marx's own work
(156), particularly in the Contribution to the Critique of Political Philosophy.

SBoth these working definitions abandon, as Jorge Larrain notes in Ideology and Cultural
Identity. "both the original Marxian negative concept of ideology and Althusser's early
negative version" (73).

writers' invocations, direct or indirect, of ideology: throughout his discussion of
"What Is Ideology?" Eagleton resorts to uttered statements as case studies or
examples of ideological thought, without ever addressing the centrality of
utterance, speech, the speech-act as either/both constative or performative, to
his arguments. His dependence on textuality escapes his text's own notice. Stuart
Hall offers perhaps a more developed view, aware of its own reliance on
rhetoricity: ideologies for Hall "work by constructing for their Subjects
(individual and collective) positions of identification and knowledge which allow
them to 'utter' ideological truths as if they were their authentic authors"
("Whites of their Eyes" 32). Yet speech, utterance, and/as representation, and an
experience in itself, constitute each of my selected writers' conceptualizations of
female (bodily and discursive) experience within phallocapital and ideology. The
figures of the female mystic and subaltern are marked (as such) by their
representation of their knowledge of their experience, as well as, in Lacan's
sense, their relation to that knowledge as representation.
As Terry Eagleton asks,
[i]f ideology is less a matter of representations of reality than of lived
relations, does this finally put paid to the truth/falsehood issue? [... ] That
I am experiencing something can't be doubted, any more than I can doubt
that I am in pain; but what precisely my 'lived relations' to the social order
consist in may be a more problematical affair than the Althusserians
sometimes seem to think. (20)

Eagleton here recapitulates both Marx's contradiction as well as Lacan's. As we
will see, the writers I discuss take issue with the easy dismissal of
"representations of reality" in that they discuss the representation of an

experience outside the allowances of phallocapitalist epistemology and reality, as
well as how what constitutes mystic and subaltern experience is itself
represented by that same phallocapitalist epistemology, its languages, when
measured against that (self)same reality.

As I indicate later, perspectives such as Eagleton's treat reality as a
universal category, dismissing the issue of representation in favour of "lived
relations" as if such relations themselves were not mediated through
representation, by who represents whose reality to whom, in whose language,
from whose epistemology-hereby constituting the very reality at play, in which
one lives. Nor is it as David Hawkes suggests, that representationin becomes
indistinguishable from reality to the degree that the commodity form obscures
the true nature of things" (154), which position overlooks the ways in which
"commodity" itself would determine what "true" means in such a statement I
indicate later that such is one of the strengths of Irigaray's figuration of the
mystic, particularly in asymptosis with Spivak's figuration of the subaltern.
Both negative and neutral senses of ideology, as Eagleton continues to
note, nevertheless have their uses, and appear equally valid despite protests that
such ambivalence dilutes the term's initial distinction of politically and materially
oppressive thought. Certainly, through their respective discussions of the female
mystic or subaltern, the writers I focus on invoke the concept (if not the term) in
its radical sense of "the ways in which meaning (or signification) serves to sustain
relations of domination" (Thompson 194).6 But this is not meant to indicate that
they each invoke ideology in the same way; given the numerous mediations
each attends, the writers I have selected trace an ongoing conceptualization of
relations between knowledge, experience, representation, and the circumstances
and positions that mediate each of these elements.
Contradiction: Marx
As James Donald and Stuart Hall remark, "whether you adopt a marxist
position on the question of ideology or not, any theory of ideology must deal,
' Jorge Larrain takes issue with Thompson's reliance on and reinscription of the
"negative" connotation of "ideology" as limiting the term's scope, while at the same time
Larrain admits that such limitation is, when attentively deployed, useful if not inescapable
(Ideology and Cultural Identity 13-15). For Jurgen Habermas (in Theoy and Practice and
Anthony Giddens (in Studies in Political and Social Theory) "the very idea of domination is
made equivalent to distorted communication" (Larrain 127).

sooner or later, with Marx's challenging theses about ideology" and the
concept's history (Donald and Hall xiv). One must address both "ideology" and
its history as a concept. Despite the term's use "in its most contested form by
Marx and Engels" (Donald and Hall xiv), it is their texts that become an arbitrary
point of departure for the theoretical writers I discuss, since it is the arbitrary
point to which the asymptotic discourses I examine mutually refer.
Arguments about the term "ideology" frequently hinge on notions of an
opposition to a presupposed, and often problematically universalized notion of
truth. But as John B. Thompson warns, it would be a mistake "to assume that
ideology is conceived by Marx and Engels exclusively, or even primarily, in
opposition to 'truth'. What is equally or even more important in the work of
Marx and Engels is the link between ideology and class domination" (81). As my
discussion indicates, particular formulations of ideology bear on sex-class
domination, particularly vis-a-vis formulations of woman. This construction itself
comprises a particular relation to ideology, particularly through language about
her body and her awareness of her experience of it. The literary characters and
theoretical figures I discuss invoke Marx and Engels most directly, as each
decries women's position in ideology through the metaphor of a (sexual)
The German Ideology to capital
Elaborating on Marx's use of the concept "ideology" in order to
contextualize later (mis)invocations of it, Jorge Larrain states,
It is true that Marx did not conceive of ideology as mere error opposed to
truth or as a mere moral mistake, but he certainly did more than link
meanings in general to domination in general: he specified a particular
kind of distortion the masking of contradictions which stems from
and conceals an 'inverted' reality in which the real subjects are treated as
objects. In this sense Marx did not totally separate the fact of domination
from epistemologically and morally negative considerations. (Ideolgy
and Cultural Identity 14)

In The German Ideology7 Marx and Engels discuss ideology dialectically,
formulated through the distinction between and opposition of ideas and real
conditions (i.e. "truth"). They figure this opposition as the contradiction between
monopoly and the working class (Pascal xii). Marx had earlier traced such
opposition' in the fourth chapter of The Holy Family and clearly delineated
them as positive/negative. Marx and Engels there considered the Hegelian
synthesis as the negation of, or abolition of, private property as that which
maintains the class system. The synthesis thereby evaporates the very
contradiction that creates, defines, and actuates the category "proletariat" a
project analogous to that which Spivak, as we will see, espouses in her figuration
of the "subaltern" category.
As R. Pascal states in his introduction to the English translation of The
German Ideology however, the formulation of ideology therein presented
"must not be considered as expressing the final opinions of Marx and Engels" on
the matter (xv). Engels himself in his 14 July, 1893 letter to Franz Mehring,
wherein Engels first uses the phrase "false consciousness" to describe
"ideology," himself laments his and Marx's delinquency in further developing
the concept vis-a-vis ideology's origins (Selected Correspondence 511). Marx's
later phrasing in Capita "they know not what they do, by they are doing it"
- nevertheless recapitulates Engels' in The German Ideolo : "That the material
life-conditions of the persons inside whose heads this thought process goes on in
the last resort determine the course of this process remains of necessity
unknown to these persons, for otherwise there would be an end to all
ideology"(Engels 65-6). This latter recapitulation and further abstraction by Marx
is that to which Zizek turns. The discussion in The German Ideology, beginning
7I have used both R. Pascal's and CJ. Arthur's editions of The German Ideolo. When quoting
either of these editor's Introductions or editorial notes, I cite by editor's name, e.g. "(Pascal 201
n8)". Unless otherwise cited, quotations of Marx and Engels' text of The German Idolo come
from the Pascal edition.
' E.g. "proletariat"'/"wealth", "proletariat"/"private property" this later developed in Marx
and the Marxist tradition into that between "ideology" / "science".

as it does with the realm of religion, remains restricted to production economics
and a restricted dialectical relation to "truth" and "real conditions." There is as
yet no third term to disrupt the dialectic, no mediation of the relation, nor dear
field upon which the relation plays out hence Althusser's, and Lacan's,
concern with representation.
Marx, Mysticism, and Mediation
Marx and Engels' discussions of ideology have never not included the
religious, and a sense of a history of religion.9 Religion, Marx and Engels aver,
"compensates in the mind for a deficient social reality; it reconstitutes in the

imagination a coherent but distorted solution which goes beyond the real world
in an attempt to resolve the contradictions and sufferings of the real world"
(Larrain 11). In Marx's own terms, religion offers "an inverted consciousness of
the world, because they are an inverted world" ("Contribution" 244). Yet Marx
and Engels' discussions of religion and ideology focused mainly on socitey-wide
or dclass-wide effects, and seldom on particular religious figures within the same
matrix. In proposing religion's inversion of proper human focus, i.e. on the
divine/supernatural created in response to and in protest of human suffering
rather than on the material conditions and causes of human suffering, this
inquiry overlooks those individuals who, embroiled in concomitant economies
of sex and sexuation, themselves (re)figure particular responses to such
Despite the terms' utter disparity, the figure of the mystic and the Marxian
notion of mystification inform each other, particularly in Marx's formulation of
commodity fetishism through the "mystical character of the commodity"10 and
the subsequent mystification of the process of production. "Mystification"
contains, of course, the "mystic" figure, but linked to the verbfacere, "to make,"
' E.g. the centrality of Bruno Bauer's, and of course Feuerbach's, discussions of the operations of
religion to Marx and Engels' critique of the Young Hegelians in The German Ideology and
0 "Der mystiche Charakter der Ware" (Kapital 47).

connoting a "making difficult or obscuring." Marx's formulation of mystification,
however, emphasizes only the denotation of mystery as the hidden or the
unknowable. This sense begs the question of the other, contradictory denotation
that Marx ignores: mystery as another form of knowledge, as that which can be
known but not through conventioanl rubrics or epistemologies.
Marx notes that "right down to the eighteenth century, the different
trades were called 'mysteries' (mysteres), into whose secrets none but those
initiated by their profession and their practical experience could penetrate. Large-
scale industry tore aside the veil that concealed from men their own social
process of production and turned the various spontaneously divided branches of
production into riddles, not only to outsiders but even to the initiated" (Capia
616 emphasis mine). Thus Marx describes the division of production into its
disparate parts, which are so maintained both in the process itself and, more
importantly, within the view of workers. Yet Marx again builds his logic from
the exclusive and obfuscating senses of mystery as controlled and hidden
knowledge, into which supplicants must be initiated. Marx cannot here think
beyond the limit of mediation, the very limit that the figure of the female mystic
herself aims to exceed.
Although Marx derogatorily equates mystical with mystification through
most of his corpus,' he was no stranger to the figure of the saint. By The
German Ideology, "saints" already populated Marx and Engels' figurative
universe. Yet whereas "Saint Max [Stirner]" and "Saint Bruno [Bauer]"
interpretede] material relationships as spiritual" (Pascal 201 n.8) and thereby fell
into the mire of ideological inversion, de Beauvoir, Lacan, and Irigaray deploy
the trope of female saints' and mystics to discuss the prior tradition of
interpreting spiritual relationships in material terms. In so doing, as we will see,
11 See especially Marx's critique of Stirner and the Young Hegelians in The German Ideology
where Marx denounces the mystical "appearances" and "connections" manipulated by Stirner
and the Hegelians as "tricks" (42).
2" Or feminine saints for Lacan, including as he does St John of the Cross.

they also (seek to) evaporate the dialectic by introduction of a third term, be it
representation (including utterance), body, or a sense of experience analogous to
In terms combining the material and spiritual, Marx himself emphasized
language in ideological/Subject production as a representation that both
indicated and itself comprised an experience: "from the start the 'spirit' is afflicted
with the curse of being 'burdened' with matter, which here makes its appearance
in the form of agitated layers of air, sounds, in short, of language" (Arthur 50-
51). Marx here describes the experience of consciousness (as a social
construction), qua experience, through language. Language becomes a
mediation between individuals concomitant to the mediation between the
material and an experience irreducible to material rhetoric.
As Rajagopalan Radhakrishnan describes chezz Medvedev and Bakhtin),
"mysticism" results from the assumption that "lived realities can be expressed

without formal mediation" (Diapsoric Mediations 70). For de Beauvoir, Lacan,
and Irigaray, "formal mediation" comprises the heart of the matter ofmysticism,
both in senses of how female mystics "know" (of) their experiences, as well as of
the mystical experience itself as an attempt to bypass masculist (religious,
philosophical, psychoanalytical) mediation of their self-knowledge and access to
Yet even if disparate, these senses are not unrelated: as mediated
expression, representation constitutes one of the elements that, along with
subjectivity, experience, and knowledge, comprises the node called mystic as
well as the experience named mysticism by Marx or mystification by Marxism.
As Radhakrishnan subsequently clarifies, "Realities are always mediated, but
what needs radical transformation is the mode of mediation" (70). As Thompson
claims, "ideology does not float in some ethereal realm of ideas but is tied very
closely to the medium of linguistic communication. Ideology pertains to that part

of consciousness which can be said" (85). In The Dialectic of Ideology and
Technology Alvin Gouldner proposes ideology as "a sociolect of an 'elaborated'
sociolinguistic variant" (81). Or, as Thompson offers, "as a 'language variant'
which deviates from the common linguistic codes of everyday life" (85) the
very elements ascribed to both the "moaning" of the mystic (in the
"inarticulable" moment of her jouissance) and the grounds upon which,
ideologically, her written or spoken utterances, like those of the subaltern, are
either dismissed or reappropriated.
(Mystical) Alienation

Mediation of one's knowledge of one's experience by speech, articulation,
representation, indicates and effects a particular kind of alienation: the
"mystification" of which Marx wrote. Derived from Hegel-for whom, as

George Novack explains, "a specific kind of alienation may be historically
necessary at one stage, even though it is canceled out at the next in the universal
play of the dialectic" (58)-and Feuerbach, alienation becomes bound with
estrangement. Spivak elucidates the distinction between these terms:
"Entfremdung (estrangement) and Entausserung (alienation) generally carry
separate charges in Marx-the first an ontological error perpetrated by
philosophy in collaboration with political economy, the second an ontological
necessity for the very predication of (the human) being and doing" (CM 59
n.74). George Novack clarifies the distinction: "Alienation is first of all a social
expression of the fact that men lack adequate control over the forces of nature
and have thereby not yet acquired control over sources of daily sustenance.[...]
Alienation has been a general feature of human history. The alienation of labor,
however, is peculiar to civilization and is bound up with the institution of private
Marx and Engels derive their sense of estrangement [Entfremdung]" from
Feuerbach, and eventually depart from it. Marx and Engels further problematize
13 Pascal traces this term through The Holy Family and The German Ideology (202-03 n23).

what they see as Feuerbach's increasing abstraction of the matter, which course
they themselves follow vis-a-vis ideology in Capital Yet the matter of language,
articulation, expression of an experience, as mediation still remains. Jorgen
Habermas denotes "ideology" in terms of "systematically distorted
communication" (Eagleton 14). Ernest Mandel decries the failure of language in
alienation as "the ultimate and most tragic form of alienation, which is alienation
of the capacity to communicate" (26). Alienation of the capacity to communicate,
but not of the capacity to speak: Spivak places these terms in tension in "Can the
Subaltern Speak?" and her later responses to and elaborations on that article.
As Ernest Mandel further claims, "the Marxist notion of alienation extends
far beyond the oppressed classes of society, properly speaking. The oppressors
are also alienated from part of their human capacity through their inability to
communicate on a human basis with the majority of society [... Thereby, people]
carry on what the French call dialogue de sourds, dialogues between deaf people,
that is, dialogues between people who are incapable of understanding or
listening to other people" (28-29). De Beauvoir, Lacan, and Irigaray develop such
an inability between parties to communicate into an epistemo-linguistic
hegemony on the part of masculist language and phallic sexual economy,
resulting in the alienation of the female mystic-as-subject. Writers such as Fanon
and Spivak, as we will see, develop this "deafness" into a virulently one-sided
affair, whereby the raced and sexuated subjects mired in the intersections of
global phallocapital and local phallopolitics understand all too well their
languages and articulate themselves around it, but nevertheless remain
"unheard" within the same systems.
Yet as we saw for ideology itself, alienation (Entdsserung) as a concept
remains open to reinscriptive exploitation. Mandel describes the kind of
manipulation of "alienation" that Sloterdijk and Zizek would call "cynical":
The alienation of labor, it is said [...] can be overcome without the
necessity of overthrowing capitalism. It will be enough to give back to the

workers a 'sense of participation,' or even a 'work ethic' [...] for the
workers no longer to feel alienated. It will be necessary, say others, to
insure the existence of means of communication, dialogue, and creation
which give back to the worker his sense of personality and his freedom in
work and leisure"; what such manipulations "try to abolish is not the
reality of alienation but the workers' awareness of this reality. Their
pseudo-disalienation would be alienation carried to an extreme, with the
alienated worker alienated from awareness of his own condition as a
mutilated human being. (SOI 9-50)

As we will see, Lacan notes such pseudo-disalienation vis-a-vis the female
mystic's knowledge of her own jouissance within phallic sexual economies, and
which Amy Hollywood decries in noting that most female mystics' later
articulations of their experience were written at the insistence of, and
appropriated by, their male priests to bolster a patriarchal religious structure that
alienated women.
Yet the female mystic also poses a figure of reaction and resistance to
alienation. Don Cupitt insists in Mysticism After Modernity that "the great
mystical writers are much more political than at first appears. For the mystic is a
religious anarchist and utopian, who speaks for an ancient tradition of protest
against religious alienation. The mystic tries to undermine the law, and to create
religious happiness by melting God down" (56).1" As we will see, it is in this
tradition that de Beauvoir invokes the female Euro-Christian mystic, but as an
exemplar of active, masculine, existential "good faith"; Irigaray will project her as
a subversive who deploys the "femininity" ascribed to her to circumvent phallic
sexual economies.
False Consciousness: Engels
Vis-a-vis the "end of ideology," Engels' own later formulation of ideology
as "false consciousness" remains equally problematic. As Eagleton discusses,
Part of the opposition to the 'false consciousness' case stems from the
accurate claim that, in order to be truly effective, ideologies must make at
least some minimal sense of people's experience, must conform to some
degree with what they know of social reality from their practical
14 It is perhaps a sense of the "political" such as Cuppitt's here that Lacan has in mind vis-a-
vis the writings of female mystics, as we will see later.

interaction with it [...] They must be 'real' enough to provide the basis on
which individuals can fashion a coherent identity, must furnish some solid
motivations for effective action, and must make at least some feeble
attempt to explain away their own more flagrant contradictions and
incoherencies. (14-15)

We have already seen how the perceived falsity of ideology fluctuates through
the concept's history, whereas the sense of a relation, false or otherwise,
between knowing and doing maintains," even when knowing supersedes
thinking. We will see the terms of this relation mutate, however, in Lacan (and
Foucault) vis-a-vis the S/subject created by language or discourse, which
mutation also obtains for Fanon and Spivak.
Yet as Thompson indicated earlier, the true/false argument often
supplants Marx and Engels' own emphasis on "the link between ideology and
class domination" particularly since that is the service in which any sense of
true/false would, cognizently or no, be deployed (Thompson 81). The emphasis
would fall not on what counted as true or false, nor on who knows either to be
the case, but on that knowledge itself and whose awareness of it. David Hawkes
suggests that, post-Nietzsche, "it would seem that there is no consciousness
which is not false, and that the notion of 'ideology' has thus become meaningless
and obsolete" (160). Such a view, however, glosses over false
consciousness' suggestion of "a social awareness mystified by ideology and
ignorant of its own class basis" (Oxford Companion 56). As Thompson notes,
"Marx and Engels tended to attribute ideology to the bourgeoisie alone, which
seems inconsistent both with the realization that bourgeois ideas must have
some factual content if they are to be efficacious, and with the recognition that
the proletarian outlook is by no means free from distortion" (81).
What Hawkes' supposition nonetheless implies, and what views such as
those Eagleton glosses overlook, is Engels' framing of ideology as a knowledge, as

15 Thus even by 1949, Robert Merton's essay 'The Sociology of Knowledge," and its antecedent,
Karl Mannheim's Essays in the Sociology of Knowledge (cf. Hall, "The Hinterland of
Science: Ideology and the 'Sociology of Knowledge' ").

a way of knowing (one's "situation" or circumstances):
Ideology is a process accomplished by the so-called thinker consciously,
indeed, but with a false consciousness. The real motives impelling him
remain unknown to him, otherwise it would not be an ideological process
at all. Hence he imagines false or apparent motives. Because it is a process
of thought he derives both its form and its content from pure thought,
either his own or that of his predecessors. He works with mere thought
material which he accepts without examination as the product of thought,
he does not investigate further for a more remote process independent of
thought; indeed its origin seems obvious to him, because as all action is
produced through the medium of thought it also appears to him to be
ultimately based upon thought. (Engels 511)

Forty-seven years after The German Ideology and twenty-six years after Capital
Engels' 1893 letter to Franz Mehring proposes false consciousness as a thinking
unaware of the mediations involved. Engels realizes too late, and admits, that he
and Marx had attended the history of ideology at the expense of attending its
processes. Capital states that subjects in such an economy "do not know it, but
still they do it." They function, alienated from not only the fruits of their labor
(and therefore from each other and themselves) but also from their own class
awareness. They remain equally alienated from a particular knowledge of what
they do. I aver that they still know what they do, but experience a different kind
of knowing what Althusser calls interpellationn" or what Gramsci calls
"hegemony." These phenomena themselves comprise a kind of experience as
well as a kind of knowing.
Engels' formulation of false consciousness proposes that workers have a
knowledge of what they do, but that it is a false knowledge or consciousness.
Both describe what Althusser formulates as "the representation of the subject's
Imaginary relationship to his or her Real conditions of existence" (Althusser 162-63
emphasis mine),' a signifier for an internalized experience of an external
experience or set of circumstances. The actual imagined relation cannot itself be
16 Jameson and Zizek each also focus on the "Imaginary" and "Real" components cited in this
redefinition (Jameson insisting on their Lacanian influence, despite Elisabeth Roudinseco's
claim that Lacan influenced Althusser much less than vice versa) in Postmodernism, or. The
Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism and "Imaginary and Symbolic in Lacan" in Ideologies of
Theory. Volume 1; and The Sublime Object of Ideology and Looking A=. respectively.

seen or known, but only articulated by way of representation. As we will see,
Lacan invokes such a sense of knowledge when he posits that the female mystic,
because of phallic sexuality's determination of her knowledge and the reception
of her utterances, knows that she experiences something but not what it is she
Reification: Lukics

Working, in part, from Engels' proposal, Georg Lukacs also posits
ideology as false consciousness which nevertheless maintains a "rationality and
subjective validity for the actors concerned," but insists on an "objective
difference between the false consciousness of the actors concerned and the
society they claim to understand" (Donough 36). End-of-ideology arguments
indicate this discrepancy between the ideologies of individuals and of their
supposed society itself as one of the argument's weaknesses, since "it would
sometimes appear as though each social class has its own peculiar, corporate
'world-view', one directly expressive of its material conditions of existence; and
ideological dominance then consists in one of these world-views imposing its
stamp on the sociological formation as a whole" (Eagleton 186) another
version of the "ideology is everywhere and therefore nowhere" argument.
Such arguments themselves nevertheless overlook what McDonough
reads in LukAcs as the bourgeoisie remaining blind to the very contradictions
that comprise the ideologies that maintain its place, the realization of which
"would mean self-annihilation" (McDonough 38). Since for Lukacs there are only

two "true classes" the proletariat and bourgeoisie, for the former of which
class consciousness is necessary to eradicate class as such the "intermediary
classes" of the peasantry and petite-bourgeoisie are, in McDonough's words,
"consigned to ideological confusion and silence" (Mc Donough 40; Lukacs 61).

McDonough posits Lukacs' formulation of ideology, then, as "an organic
expression of the ideas of particular class-subjects and not as an objective

systematized representation of social relations embodied in real material
institutions and practices" (41). Only the proletariat can achieve the class (self-
)consciousness necessary to eradicate capitalism by eliminating its own position.
McDonough notes that for Lukacs suchuh 'intermediary' or transitional classes
like the peasantry or the petit-bourgeoisie are doomed to ideological
incoherence; from their position, the entire society can neither be understood
nor organized" (37), much like the "subaltern" as formulated by Gramsci, the
Subaltern Studies Group, and Spivak.
Yet as Hawkes indicates, false consciousness effects a particular purview
for Lukacs, that of "reification"(110-11) which for LukAcs comprises "the
necessary, immediate reality of every person living in a capitalist society"
(LukAcs 197). Hawkes reminds us that "History and Class Consciousness bases
its entire theory on the first chapter of Capia [which] seems a rather surprising
claim because [... ] 'aias first chapter is concerned with the fetishism of the
commodity that is to say, with an ideological, rather than a material problem"
(109-10). Working from Marx's early formulations of reification inCapital
LukAcs reworks the concept as "the tendency to fetishize our own activity, when
that tendency has grown into a universal and determining influence over every
aspect of our lives" (Hawkes 111). This "thingification" has, as it does in Marx, its
"religious" derivations, since justut as for Hegel, Spirit alienates itself in the
material world, so in Lukacs the human subject objectifies its own
activity" (Hawkes 112).
In LukAcs, the class-realization that evaporates class effects a move from
knowledge to action which disrupts ideology (LukAcs 71). While problematically
maintaining Marx's dyad (not-know/do), LukAcs establishes the necessity of
"knowledge" for "action" to undo the situation dictated by that same dyad.
What this knowledge comprises and whose it is remains crucial; the relation
between knowing and doing remains.

Representation: Althusser
Chronologically, one would discuss the contribution of Antonio Grainmsci
here; I reserve my discussion of Gramsci, however, until my analysis of Spivak's
figuration of the "subaltern as female", since she derives her conceptualisation of
the subaltern from Gramsci's work. For the moment, I turn instead to
developments in the theorization of "ideology" by Louis Althusser (who was
nonetheless, as Stuart Hall indicates, influenced by Gramsci's writings) not only
for the intersecting of Althusser's conceptualisations with Lacan's, but also for his
discussion's relation to those posed by Sartrean existentialism. As Kalpana
Seshadri-Crooks explains,
Within the general framework of his attack on the humanist Hegelian
tradition of Western Marxism, Althusser's specific objection to Sartre's
attempt to mediate Marxism with existential subjectivity was that such a
move went against the crucial discoveries which had founded Marxism in
the first place; in an extension of Levi-Strauss' argument, he maintained
that the notion of 'man' that Sartre used was derived from a particular
ideological definition of the human subject which represses Marx's insight
that the human subject is not the centre of history, together with Freud's
that the subject is not centred in consciousness. (Seshadri-Crooks 53)

As we have already seen, Althusser's formulation of ideology includes many
mediations that prior conceptualisations had overlooked or had (even as early as
Engels' letter to Mehring) been insuffidciently considered-elements that bear
directly on figurations of the female mystic and subaltern.
Of course, Althusser's formulations run afoul of end-of-ideology
arguments. We find a precursor of these in Gramsci, who notes that Marx had
prefigured Althusser thesis whereby "a popular conviction [i.e. ideology] often
has the same energy as a material force or something of the kind" (Gramsci 377).
Gramsci notes the error in considering material forces as content and ideology as
form, and insists instead that "this distinction between form and content has
purely didactic value, since the material forces would be inconceivable
hitsorically without form and the ideologies would be individual fancies without
17 In Politics and Ideology xvii.

the material forces" (Gramsdci 377) Mas'ud Zavarzadeh claims that "the concept
of ideology, after Althusser, is completely depoliticized. It becomes an
innocuously descriptive form; something like this: 'ideology is not a system of
true or false beliefs and values, a doctrine, so much as it is the means by which
culture represents beliefs and values'"(300). Zavarzadeh continues that such a
view shifts emphasis "from 'why' ideology does what it does to 'how' it does it: a
shift from the political to the rhetorical, from the explanatory to the
descriptive" (300) despite the fact that such an approach is what Engels
confessed he found regrettably lacking in his and Marx's work on ideology.'
Eagleton insists that "Althusser's theory of ideology involves at least two
crucial misreadings of the psychoanalytical writings of Jacques Lacan not
surprisingly, given the sibylline obscuritanism of the latter" (144). In terms of
reading, following Eagleton's own statement, how could "sibylline" works, qua
"obscure" or mystical, mystifying, ever not be "misread"? Eagleton himself here
seems to overlook this very question in Lacan, the question pursued by Irigaray
as the possibility for subversion of masculist linguistic systems of/in
phallocapital. As Ernesto Ladau posits, for Althusser "what constitutes the
unifying prindciple of an ideological discourse is the 'subject' interpellated and
thus constituted through this discourse" ("Class Interpellations" 27-28).19 Lacan
and Althusser's respective formulations of the Subject, whether lingu-sexual or
lingui-ideological, remain analogous: the linguistic Subject and the ideological
Subject; the latter formulation denotes a Subject convinced as such by the
meconaissance through which interpellation operates, the mystificatory
'overlooking' or ignorance of which, as discussed above, is essential to the

" In the famous letter to Franz Mehring of 14 July, 1893 the only instance of the phrase "false
consciousness" attributable to Engels.

" Ladau proceeds to update Althusser by averring that "the unity of the distinct aspects of an
ideological system is given by the specific interpellation which forms the axis and organizing
principle of all ideology" (27) i.e. classs" is only constituted as such according to its
ideologies, comprising a unifying effect that often belies the discontinuities of the discrete
"interpellative elements"(28) that went into it.

In (Zizek's reading of) Marx's terms, subjects within a capitalist production
system operate without awareness of the actual (over)determinants of their actions.
In Engels' terms, they operate out of a false consciousness, the unevaluated
assumption that what they do is right, natural; Sartre refigures Engels'
formulation as bad faith or misrepresenting one's true motivations and
knowledge to oneself and others. Althusser posits a mediation of these
definitions through the locus of representation (derived also from Marx): in
Althusser's famous statement, ideology comprises "the representation of the
subject's Imaginary relationship to his or her Real conditions of existence," a way
of knowing or of creating a knowledge ofone's lived experience (Althusser 162-
163 italics mine). Ideology thus denotes not the relationship itself, but a
representation of that relationship. Althusser proposes a "Real conditions of
existence" anterior to ways of thinking about or representing them".
Althusser thereby establishes the dialectic of imaginary and real,
recapitulating the classical true/false dichotomy, yet with representation as a
simultaneously disrupting and mediating third term. Ideology would thereby
only represent that Imaginary relationship, always at a remove, always
mediated by experience and knowledge. Or, as Althusser rephrases himself a
few pages later, "[t]he essential point is that on condition that we interpret the
imaginary transposition (and inversion) of ideology we arrive at the conclusion
that in ideology 'men represent their real conditions of existence to themselves in
an imaginary form' "(163).
Eagleton proposes that "Althusser tries to shift us ... ] from a cognitive to
an affective theory of ideology" (Eagleton 19), from a theory of knowing to one of
experience. Even if, as Jameson suggests, such categories in Althusser reiterate the
science/ideology dichotomy as scientific knowledge and existential experience

20 Which statement also implies other possible "relationships" to those conditions than
"Imaginary" ones.

(Postmodernism 53), "ideologies" for Althusser, as Eagleton further posits, "do
contain a kind of knowledge; but they are not primarily cognitive, and the
knowledge in question is less theoretical [...] than pragmatic" (21-22). This logic
recapitulates the speculative/pragmatic dichotomy of the literary trope of the
mystic. As Eagleton posited before, thatht I am experiencing something can't be
doubted, any more than I can doubt that I am in pain; but what precisely my
'lived relations' to the social order consist in may be a more problematical affair
than the Althusserians sometimes seem to think" (20). This latter point is taken
up in various manners by my selected writers, interested as they are in not only
the lived relations of the female figurations they posit, but also in the mediations
effected therein by representation as knowledge, as well as experience as
Enjoyment Zizek
As I indicated earlier, in his discussion of ideology and ideological
mystification, Slavoj Zizek turns to the latter, more abstract formulations of
Caital. While Marx's abstraction allows for broader application of the concept,
his abstraction beyond the very term itself nevertheless, as I have also indicated,
overlooked the modes of ideology. That is, it overlooks the element of
representation. Hence Zizek's Lacanian approach that hedges the linguistic Subject
against the ideological Subject. As Judith Butler states, "Crucial to Zizek's effort
to work the Althusserian theory through Lacan is the psychoanalytic insight that
any effort of discursive interpellation or constitution is subject to failure, haunted
by contingency, to the extent that discourse itself invariably fails to totalize the
social field" (Bodies That Matter 191-92). The "failures" that Zizek supposes
appear analogous to those upon which Irigaray's formulation of not only the
female mystic's but "woman"-as-commodity's subversive potentiality depends.

Zizek's borrowing of Lacan, apart from maintaining discussion of
"ideology" in terms of language,2'1 of representation, also places it in terms of
jouissance. Eagleton indicates that beyondod the field of ideological signification,
as Zizek points out, there is always a kind of non-signifying 'surplus' which is
enjoyment or jouissance; and this enjoyment is the last 'support' of ideological
meaning" since "one important hold that [ideology] has over us is its capacity to
yield enjoyment" (Eagleton 184 alteration mine). Irigaray and Spivak both make
use of this Lacanian element of jouissance-as-excess, particularly in response to
Lacan's insistence that in phallocratic terms of use-value,' jouissance "is what
serves no purpose" (Fink 3).
As I will point out later, Zizek's insistence that the process of
interpellationn" that Althusser describes never completely obtains because
jouissance, as excess,' as a "non-integrated surplus of senseless traumatism which
[already] confers on the Law its unconditional authority [and] sustains what we
might call the ideological jouis-sense, enjoyment-in-sense (enjoy-meant), proper
to ideology" (43-44 alteration mine) also indicates the ways in which jouissance
and/as the representation of an/its experience becomes appropriated by
phallocapital. It simultaneously and ironically offers a subversive mode around
phallocapital's discourses.
This excessive element of jouissance, explored in Chapter 1 and reiterated
here through Zizek, returns us to Obejas' story. The sexual encounter with the
21 John. B. Thompson briefly surveys views of language's place in "ideology" as a social
phenomenon chez Wittgenstein, Austin, and Habermas (6-9,255-302).
221 maintain that most (early) commentators on Irigaray, as well as on Lacan himself, overlook
this element in Lacan's seminars: that he discusses what seems already to be the case, to be set
in place, given the predication of phallic sexual economies tout court.
23 Zizek's phrasing seems to draw on Lacan's "definition" of jouissance in his lecture "On
Jouissance": "What is jouissance? Here it amounts to no more than a negative instance
(instance). Jouissance is what serves no purpose" (Fink 3). Lacan discusses jouissance in terms of
its use-value in phallic economies. See also Fink's note on Lacan's sense of instance (Freudian
Instanz) as "agency" and "authority" (Fink 3 n9).

Cuban exile writer which began this discussion indicates a specific negotiation
with the various ideologies surrounding the narrator that seek to redefine and
refigure her knowledge of her experience for her. In the specific ethnicity which
the narrator highlights in her lover's ecstatic moan, the narrator assigns an
otherwise intangible quality to the experience of her own jouissance and that of
her lover.
The narrator indicates numerous dovetailed events that do not subscribe
to or fit the official, U.S.-sanctioned knowledge of militarism, anti-communism,
consumerism, and homophobia. She notes the same Thanksgiving visit during
which her father kicks her as "the first time in months [she will] be without an
antiwar demonstration to go to, a consciousness-raising group to attend, or a
Gay Liberation meeting to lead" (121). Each of these activities points to a
resistance to accepted, prescribed knowledge, to scripts designated for the
figured norm of patriotic, heterosexually-reproductive women of the U.S. (as
well as its soldiers battling to secure foreign markets and encourage domestic
Unlike nationalisms Cuban or American, lesbianism hardly constitutes an
issue within the microcosm of her family. Her father dreams for her a future of
financial and public success as a lawyer, without the rubrics of heterosexual re-
production, marriage, or domesticity not out of a feminist ethics, but rather
"because to do so would be to imagine someone else closer to me than he is, and
he cannot endure that" (117). Her mother envisions for her a married
heterosexual domesticity, including an undocumented Haitian maid (117). Her
mother's self-positioning as acquiescent peacemaker between father and
daughter, however, effectively negates her influence, and evaporates the issue of
the narrator's lesbianism within her family.
Her lesbianism becomes an issue, however, as it intersects macrocosmic
U.S. nationalist ideologies. As evinced by her leading Gay Liberation meetings at

Indiana University, heteronormativity is one of the sanctioned knowledge with
which the narrator's experience does not correspond (121). Her protests
represent an imaginary relationship to her real conditions of existence that does
not coincide with official representations offered to her. In terms of the facile
psychoanalytically-derived heteronormativity of the U.S., the narrartor's
sexuality is excessive, hysterical, and becomes a nationalist issue, an ideological
matter. Her sexual encounter with her exile Cuban lover effects a mediation of
nationalist ideology at an intimate level.
Yet the narrator's sexuality comprises a no less nationalist matter for
herself. In a word, it is not so much her lesbianism, nor the sex she engages in,
but rather the Cubanism in the sex, and the sex in the Cubanism. The narrator
specifically highlights the ethno-national elements at play in the encounter:
The boy from the military academy will say oh baby baby as he
grinds his hips into me. And Martha and all the girls before and after her
here in the United States will say ooohhh ooooohhhhh
oooooooohhhhhhhh as my fingers explore inside them.
But the first time I make love with a Cuban, a politically
controversial exile writer of some repute, she will say,
Aaaaaayyyyyyaaaaaayyyyaaaaay and lift me by my hair from between her
legs, strings of saliva like sea foam between my mouth and her shiny
curls. Then she'll drop me onto her mouth where our tongues will poke
each other like wily porpoises. (126)

She describes the sex with the Cuban woman in greater detail than that with the
anglos; the sex is more involved, more acrobatic, more intense. The narrator
frames her lover's moan within a specific ethnidcity, following the unitalicized and
uncapitalized representations of her other lovers' moans. Even "wily porpoises"
constitutes a specifically-ethnicized image24 that distinguishes this sexual
encounter and its respective intangibles from those with her anglo lovers. These
elements coalesce into her post-sex ruminations on the political implications of
the ecstasy they both have just experienced.

24 Recall the importance of porpoises and dolphins in the mythology that later surrounded
Elian Gonzalez.

The scene, and the sexual encounter it represents, derive their energy
from its dash of ideologies. The lover herself becomes an amalgamation of the
narrator's and other's desires: Cuban, politically controversial, exile, writer, of
repute, lesbian. Each of these elements simultaneously derives from and exceeds
the ideologies of her father, Castro, and the U.S. Her representation of her
lover's moan works her lover's jouissance through a particular knowledge,
marking the experience as one that, because it intersects the sexual and national
politics that have pervaded the narrator's life, remains ambiguous and exceeds
any bounds which would seek to fix the experience to any one meaning or
This scene appears between that of an argument with her father who
refuses to relinquish the young narrator's passport, and that of her father's
funeral. Within the sexual encounter, the narrator experiences a "Cuba" that
exceeds even those other Cubas presented to her (the evil communist realm her
family fled, to be later reclaimed; Castro's paradise to be protected from post-
Bay of Pigs U.S. intervention). The Cuba she experiences falls beyond those
Cubas and the epistemological limits they describe. Her lover's moan and the
narrator's own framing of it, the narrative she generates around it, figure an
intangible yet irreducible "Cuba" that derives from all but subscribes to none of
those epistemologies. By reworking the excess "things that can't be told," the
Cuban lover's moan and the narrative woven around it are "never not political"
in a sense that exceeds even Lacan's formulation for mystical jouissance.
But the sexual jouissance by which the narrator formulates that
knowledge-by which she figures an excess-Cuba that is neither her father's, nor
America's, nor Castro's, but that reacts to the epistemic field generated by all
three-is not her own jouissance. It is her Cuban lover who emits the moan that
registers an otherwise unrepresentable, but not unknowable, experience that the
narrator then textually represents, and figures into a narrative. She uses her

lover's jouissant moment to formulate a knowledge. Indeed, her lover's moan
inaugurates a series of speculations that further exceed her present situation's
The narrator represents her lover's sexual jouissance, but not her own.
Rather, the narrator represents, through a careful manipulation and
accumulation of detail, the knowledge she constructs out of and around her
lover's moan. The scene works by representational compression. Earlier in the
text, the narrator describes in greater detail each of the prior lovers recalled in
the scene. She specifies that "[flor all the blond-haired boyfriends I will have,
there will be only two yellow-haired lovers" (115). The detail of yellow hair
echoes that of a doll she receives at the INS station following her family's rescue
off the south coast of Florida. The doll is itself one of three further compressed
elements that represent US. nationalist ideology to the narrator: "oatmeal
cookies, a plastic doll with blond hair and a blue dress, and a rosary of white
plastic beads" (114). Handed these rustically homey treats, the likeness of ethnic
purity and domesticated heterosexual reproduction, and Christian religiosity" of
the U.S., she receives also their ideological implications. Yet she receives them
ambivalently: through her life, she carries the doll with her wherever she moves,
but never plays with it (115).
Immediately following this section the narrator describes her early lovers,
specifying their yellow hair. One, a boy who "doesn't really count," is "in a
military academy [and] subscribes to Republican politics like [her] parents" (115).
His attempt to initiate sexual intercourse with her on a south Florida beach is as
clumsy and unsuccessful as U.S. attempts to penetrate her ideologically (or Cuba
during the Bay of Pigs). The other lover, Martha, acknowledged as a lesbian
gold-digger, epitomizes US. attachment to money, stability, and a degree of
social convention.

2" Albeit Catholic JFK is in office at the time and the Cuban family is presumed Catholic by
the Catholic relief worker at the INS office in Miami.

By distancing this section from the latter scene with her Cuban lover, and
reducing her lovers prior to the Cuban exile writer to simply "[t]he boy from the
military academy" and "Martha and all the girls before and after her here in the
United States" (126), the narrator permits the compression of the focal scene and
hyperfocuses her Cuban lover's ethnicity. Despite the narrator's representation
of her Cuban lover's ecstacy at the apparent expense of representing her own,
the narrator nevertheless carefully directs her representation of the event to
highlight the ideological interference-field that charges the scene. Her lesbianism
is involved by way of the failure of the previous blond male military Republican
lover whose ideology she will later protest against in college. By the same
gesture, the ethnicity and nationality of her Cuban lover become elements in the
interference-field she develops. The detail that the narrator expends on sex with
the Cuban exceeds that she spends on her earlier account of Martha, which
includes only the action of evading the rich lover on whom Martha financially
depends. This expenditure of discourse-time2' on sex with the Cuban lover again
contributes to the mediating effect of the narrator's knowledge of her
In this scenario the narrator's tactic of setting multiple ideologies against
each other across the field of her sexual encounter with this particular
partner-who herself in this narrative becomes almost a trope-invokes an odd
relation to ideology as the disjuncture between knowledge and experience. She
plays a sense of ideology invoked by Gramsci: "the meaning which the term
'ideology' has assumed in Marxist philosophy implicitly contains a negative value
judgment and excludes the possibility that for its founders the origin of ideas
should be sought for in sensations, and therefore, in the last analysis, in
physiology" (376). Rather than ideology arising from physical sensation, in
Obejas' story ideology becomes part of what heightens the experience of
physical sensation. In deliberately opposing her experience with this partner to
2 I invoke "discourse time" from Umberto Eco's Six Walks in the Fictional Woods (56).

those with her previous partners, the narrator focuses the interference field
created by her simultaneous opposition of ideological discourses through her
sexual encounter.
The encounter tosses the narrator into a series of ambivalent "what if"
speculations: "I will wonder how this could have happened, and if it would have
happened if we'd stayed in Cuba. And if so, would it have been furtive or free,
with or without the revolution" (126). These musings echo those about her
family, inspired by her father's nationalist-patriotic rants: "What if we'd stayed?
What if we'd never left Cuba? What if we were there when the last of the
counterrevolution [with whom her father continually, idealistically, counted
himself] was beaten, or when Mariel harbor leaked thousands of Cubans out of
the island, or when the Pan-American Games came? What if we'd never
left?"(124). Her response to her lover's ecstatic moan is bound up with ideologies
and reactions against them, and comprises an experience itself that
simultaneously constitutes its own knowledge.


Truth is ambiguity, abyss, mystery
Simone de Beauvoir

So it was obvious that I had a secret. I was interrogated; turning away
with an air of mystery, I murmured1
Frantz Fanon

Both Simone de Beauvoir and Frantz Fanon posit figures of subjectivity
through language: the mystic and the colonized come to know themselves as
they are represented and representable through dominant systems of language.
De Beauvoir and Fanon also illustrate that, nevertheless, there are experiences by
those subjects that indicate a knowledge outside those linguistic and
epistemological rubrics, that because of those rubrics can only be known by and
within themselves. Such experiences and knowledge exceed the limits set by
those rubrics, and themselves constitute an experience of the disjuncture between
experience and official knowledge, rather than the disjuncture itself.
But how might Fanon and de Beauvoir indicate, theorize and develop
jouissance's place as a mediation of these terms, as mediation of mediation? How
does each address representation? Given the mutual influences of existentialism,
psychoanalysis, and Marxism on both Fanon and de Beauvoir, the matter
becomes a dual one of subjects' representation by dominant epistemologies, and

1 gOr, c'etait evident, je possedais un secret. On m'interrogea; me detournant d'un air mystorieux,
je murmurai[.

of subjects' self-representation to themselves and others.2 By further developing
the existential concept of bad faith, de Beauvoir and Fanon describe subjects'
own narrativization, how sexed and raced subjects represent themselves as
either narratives of dominant systems or in terms of themselves. This element of
representation provides the field of jouissant excess for Fanon and de Beauvoir.
Each posits experiences that exceed the epistemological and linguistic rubrics
available to the subjects who undergo those experiences, that mark the
ideological boundary that otherwise indicates the contradiction between those
subjects' experience of their lives and the knowledge provided for them by
patriarchy, racism, capital.
Framing de Beauvoir and Fanon's work in The Second Sex and Black Skin.

White Masks along these lines allows me to tease out the logics we saw in play in

Cisneros' The House on Mango Street as well as the levels of ideology at work

in Obejas' "We Came All the Way from Cuba So You Could Dress Like This?". In
discussing these elements, though, we will also see the processes of figuration at
work in both de Beauvoir and Fanon's own texts. Both writers effect their
discussions through the process of figuration to resist, by excess, the very
ideologies that their writing addresses. Through Fanon's development of the
figure of the colonized and de Beauvoir's of the female mystic, we begin to
2 In "Beauvoir and the Algerian War: Toward a Postcolonial Ethics," Julien Murphy grapples
with the issues of representation around de Beauvoir and Giskle Halimi's 1962 text Diamila
Boupacha: The Story of the Torture of a Young Algerian Girl Which Shocked Liberal French
Qpinio to intervene in traditional discourses on women and representation in de Beauvoir's
corpus. Murphy notes that "[de Beauvoir and Halimi's] representations are all we have of
Boupacha, since she has not published any account of her own" (286). This situation presages
that between Spivak and Bhaduri that I discuss in Chapter 5. De Beauvoir and Halimi's
textual representations of Boupacha, Murphy insists, "appeal to moral claims, emotions,
politics, and the assumed psychological disposition of the reader" (286). Murphy argues that
this book contains some of de Beauvoir's most complex dealings with the issue of representation.
Not only did de Beauvoir and Halimi need to represent an Algerian woman to the minds of
French readers steeped in Orientalist notions of Muslim women, but they both also had to
negotiate their own self-representation through this textual protest of the Algerian War and
reproach of French government and culture. Murphy briefly discusses Fanon's critiques of French
self-representation, particularly Sartre's, while claiming that to hold the same against de
Beauvoir is to underestimate the extent and depth de Beauvoir's emotional and moral
investment in not only Boupacha as an individual, but also the responsibilities of greater
humanity as a collectivity of singularities that Boupacha's case highlighted.

attend the work of representation itself within discourses on representation, and
the development of ideas about the interrelation of the soi-disant material and
The "beyond" that the later Lacan invokes in his formulation of a
jouissance "beyond the phallus" responds to that invoked through de Beauvoir's
statement early in The Second Sex that "no woman can claim, without bad faith,
to situate herself beyond her sex" (SS xx).3 Within three years, Frantz Fanon will

describe the distinct but analogous situation of colonized raced beings in Black
Skins. White Masks: "for the black man, there is only one destiny. And it is
white"(10)4. Since "bad faith" constitutes an existential permutation of the
concept of ideology, both writers thereby formulate subjectivity as a response to
ideology. While bad faith remains not only a general existentialist category, but
also one universally associated with Jean-Paul Sartre,' I do not imply that either
de Beauvoir or Fanon is purely derivative of Sartre. It is nevertheless necessary
to explain the concept of bad faith as a particular understanding of both Marx's
general discourse on ideology and Engels' specific framing of ideology as false
consciousness, to frame Fanon and de Beauvoir's deployment of the concept.
A Pause for Sartre
Like Engels' formulation of false consciousness, Sartre formulates "bad
faith" as a kind of knowledge, or a knowing. Despite this, the arguments against
invoking "bad faith" are as numerous as those of the end-of-ideology we

3 My translation of (lI est claire qu'aucune femme ne peut pritendre sans mauvaise foi se situer
par-delk son sexe (SI 13). Parshley's English translation omits this line. This instance is one
of many faults in the Parshley translation of Le deuindme sexe which remain to be rectified in
English. Parshley also misses several of de Beauvoir's overt, as well as implicit. linking
between mystification, the mystic, jouissance, and woman. I discuss the implicit comment on
sexuation in de Beauvoir's statement in the next chapter.
4 4[P]our le Noir, il n'y a qu'un destin. Et il est blanco (PN.MB 28)

' I discuss Sartre's influence on de Beauvoir and Fanon only insofar as it relates to my
immediate project. A survey of Sartre's influence on emerging Postcolonial discourses ranges
beyond the scope and provenance of my present project; the writers I cite have already
archived such influences in their works.

encountered in Chapter 2. As Ronald Santoni notes, "though they bring
diverging interests and assumptions to Sartre's analysis, continental and analytic
philosophers, psychologists and psychiatrists, and scholars of literature and
sociology have all raised questions about the very possibility of bad faith and the
possibility of overcoming it" (xvi). Sartre himself remained ambivalent toward
the concept, noting with each discussion its contradictions and ambiguities Ceing
and Nothingness 50).' Nevertheless, the "positive reality" of bad faith informs de
Beauvoir's formulation of the female mystic as well as Lacan and Irigaray's
responses to her.
For Sartre as much as for earlier commentators, ideology constitutes a
matter of a relation to (a) truth. Bad faith comprises a "lie to oneself" wherein a
consciousness turns its negations inward toward itself (BN 48). Sartre
distinguishes between this "lie to oneself" and lying or falsehood "in general"
(EN 48-49), however, since "bad faith" implies to hide "truth" from or
misrepresent it to oneself (Santoni 29). This relation remains the central problem of
bad faith for Sartre himself as well as his general detractors7 and end-of-ideology
proponents in specific. Sartre's insistence on the deliberacy of bad faith posits it as
a simultaneous but contradictory knowing and doing: subjects remain always
"in possession of the truth which [they are] hiding" and therefore "[do] not lie
about what [they are] in ignorance of" (N 48).
Sartre posits individual subjects as coerced by society to perform a
particular or particularly scripted subjectivity. What subjects become by so doing
is a misrepresentationo: "[i]t is a 'representation' for others and for myself,
which means that I can be he [that particular someone] only in representation" (BN
60). Subjects acting in bad faith misrepresent their truth (of themselves) by
' Hereafter cited as DLL citations of material in the French L'tre et le neante will be cited as

7Jacques Derrida comprising perhaps the most vocal and prolific of these; see his "History of
the Lie" in Without Alibi which exhaustively questions the existential notion of lying "to

performing the attributes and actions they themselves anticipate that others
expect from whatever socio-sexual position either party occupies. Subjects so
perform as much for themselves, having already internalized those anticipations,
and reinforce them in the performance.8
Sartre predicates such a lying, such a misrepresenting, on the
consciousness' presumed translucence to itself. Such a consciousness must
already be aware of, must already know of, what it hides from or misrepresents
to itself and others, in order to hide or ignore it. Between (chronologically, at
least) a Marxian "doing but knowing not what it does" and a Lacanian not
knowing what it experiences but that it experiences something, Sartre posits a
subject doing while deliberately misrepresenting to itself what it does or that it
does, and who must already know that it does. For Sartre and de Beauvoir, the
subject in bad faith knows of her truth but remains, problematically, ignorant of
the fact that she misrepresents it to herself.
Yet for Sartre as for Marx, Engels, and LukAcs, ideology entails a
culminating reification, or "thingification." For Sartre, the thing to which a
subject reduces herself (since bad faith primarily enacts one's misrepresentation
to/by oneself) is that programmed and anticipated representation of a particular
someone whom the same subject "is not." Curiously, after asking specifically
"what must be the being of man if he is to be capable of bad faith" (0& 54
emphasis mine), Sartre first illustrates this principle by figuring a young woman, a
coquette, who deliberately plays that role to both herself and to men because she
believes she is supposed to, despite her true (and of course, for Sartre,
contradictory) inclinations. Sartre constructs a coquette who perpetrates
simultaneous and contradictory misrepresentations: to herself and her male
' This line of thought leads, certainly, in the direction of Irigaray, Judith Butler, and Homi
Bhabha's famous analyses of performance-through Lacan's discussions of the gaze-which
others have documented and discussed at length.
' Despite Sartre's own insistence that "Proponents of [psychoanalysis] have hypostatized and
reifiedd' bad faith; they have not escaped it"-apparently for Sartre there are reifications and
there are reifications (BN 54).

suitor, of his actual intentions and motives, and of her own anticipated responses
despite her true feelings toward him and his sexual advances (B 55-56)Y. Sartre
imagines such a subject deliberately misrepresenting to herself her lover's
sincerity (despite her actual knowledge otherwise) by the same fiat of her
misrepresenting to herself her own wishes.
At one point, Sartre has his coquette allow her suitor to take her hand.
Despite her awareness, however slight, of her own misrepresentations, she does
not withdraw her hand since to do so would "break the troubled and unstable
harmony that gives the hour its charm. The aim is to postpone the moment of
decision as long as possible" (B 55). Sartre supposes that "[w]e know what
happens next; the young woman leaves her hand there, but she does not notice
that she is leaving it" (BN 56). Rather, "during this time the divorce of the body
from the soul is accomplished; the hand rests inert between the warm hands of
her companion-neither consenting nor resisting-a thing" (BN 56). Sartre
indicates that by so doing, the coquette reduces not only her hand, but herself and
her suitor to things, in that her misrepresentations foreclose both her own and
her suitor's realization of their true potential as pour-soi subjects.
I draw out Sartre's illustration here for two reasons. First, to elaborate his
reading of bad faith and its mystifications that lead to a general, universal
alienation. Second, to foreground Sartre's own use of figuration to illustrate a
phenomenon, presented as universal, through a narrative of a (figured)
woman's own deliberate sexual misrepresentations-but without any attention
by Sartre to her status in that situation as woman, as coquette. Neither have we
any exploration or critique of such a figure's supposed impulse to "postpone the
moment of decision as long as possible" in order to sustain the "charm" of the
situation's implied sexual violence.
10 Hazel Barnes notes that Sartre also implicates male bad faith as an element in female
oppression (22-45). See also Tina Chanter's discussion vis-a-vis de Beauvoir's approach to
"womanhood" (14).
",4[L]a jeunne file abandonne sa main, mais ne s'apervoit pas qu'elle l'abandonne* (EN 91).

The contradiction effected by bad faith echoes one predicated by Sartre,
that between a subject's "facticity" and "transcendence": "bad faith seeks to
affirm their identity while preserving their differences" (N 56).' Existential bad
faith as an argument also pits faith against an existential certitude, recapitulating
the ideology/science argument of Marx, Engels, and early writers on ideology
(BN 68). For Sartre, ideology itself eventually becomes a kind of knowledge of or
about (one's) faith. This knowledge translates into a particular kind of doing. As
Ronald Santoni suggests, "from its very inception, bad faith is aware of its
structures and attempts to exploit the mercurial 'nature' of consciousness and
faith by setting up weak requirements for the acceptance of non-persuasive
evidence" (39). As Sartre puts it, "[t]he true problem of bad faith stems evidently
from the fact that bad faith is a faith" (BN 67); "[t]o believe is to know that one
believes, and to know that one believes is no longer to believe" (BN 69).
"Twilights of Bad Faith-:" The Second Sex
As I stated earlier, I do not read either de Beauvoir or Fanon's work on
the subject of bad faith as derivative of Sartre. While historians, theorists, and
biographers haggle over Sartre's influence on de Beauvoir,' Tina Chanter's
overview of The Second Sex proffers a more complex series of cross-influences
and borrowings between the two writers (Chanter 13-14,47-79). Julien Murphy
insists that "Beauvoir presents a more concrete view of freedom than Sartre's.
She understood the severe political and social limitations on individual freedom [.
. .JThe significance of [Sartre and de Beauvoir's] difference on subjectivity cannot
be underestimated" (Murphy 280-81). Diana Fuss and Sonia Kruks note similar
influences on Fanon's thinking, yet insist on Fanon's distinctiveness (Fuss 144-45,
12 "Now this doubly negative attitude rests on the transcendent; the fact expressed is
transcendent since it does not exist, and the original negation rests on a truth; that is, on a
particular type of transcendence" (NL48).
" De Beauvoir herself continually maintained Sartre as the exclusive influence on her writing
of The Second Sex: Margaret Simons relates such an instance in her elegy on de Beauvoir,
"Beauvoir and Sartre: The Philosophical Relationship." See also de Beauvoir's own memoir La
force des choses., passim.

167 n.7; "Fanon, Sartre, and Identity Politics" 127). Fanon himself critiqued and
distanced himself from Sartre in Black Skin. White Masks (138 n.24), and Kruks
notes Fanon's foregrounding of Sartre's overlooking of his own whiteness ("FS
& IP" 132-33).
In this vein, Lou Turner notes not only the differences between Fanon, de
Beauvoir, and Sartre's thought, but also how the subject figured by the latter two
predicates the colonial situation studied by Fanon (145-56). As I indicate below,
de Beauvoir does not simply add sex to the list of concerns for existential bad
faith, nor does Fanon so append race. Rather, each discusses sex or race,
respectively, as tropes for particular relations to ideology. I would like, thereby,
to address those elements in Fanon and de Beauvoir's respective figures of the
colonized and the mystic that seem to formulate an analogous thinking of the
relation of ideology and jouissance, to continue the trajectory I have already
described through Cisneros and Obejas' narrators.14
I turn now to de Beauvoir's figuration of the female mystic as a particular
description of not only women's relation to the elements of knowledge, action,
and experience that comprise ideology, but also of efforts to negotiate or
mediate those terms by forming oppositional knowledge through experience."
As Michele Le Doeuff avers, for de Beauvoir bad faith "consists in the refusal to
recognize oneself as a free subject and the pretense of being determined by
external circumstances," and thereby everyey feeling of inferiority derives from
a free choice"(Le Doeuff 146-47).
De Beauvoir posits woman as alienated from herself and her own self-
realization by masculist language, and from knowledge by her framing as Other.
Bad faith also indicates one's alienation (Entfremdung) from one's actual positive
potentiality, the energy-sucking mystification of a misguided knowledge or self-
1 By "trajectory" I do not imply an explicit telos, but rather a referential motion.
SI begin with de Beauvoir here quite arbitrarily, as The Second Sex chronologically precedes
Black Skin. White Masks.

knowledge effected by one's prior misrepresentation of oneself to oneself and to
others. The existential concept of bad faith, even as it includes the necessity of
realizing one's situation in order to then change it and emerge from it as a pour-
soi subject, vaults straight over that necessary realization in its rush to get to the
specifically active business of change. While the concept does concern the part
that misrepresentationn plays in the very realization it espouses, the ways in
which representation comprises a knowledge-which process itself constitutes
an experience-jumps the gap of how such knowledge, as bad faith, translates
into the action of realization. If ideology "represents the imaginary relationship
of individuals to their real conditions of existence," that is, if ideology comprises
the language or imagery that "speaks" the way in which individuals know their
situation, then both the mystic's famous "murmur" and her later writing on her
experience constitute responses to the representational regime in which she both
experiences, and articulates that experience. The murmur and the writing of it
also reveal that regime's composition and architecture qua ideology.
De Beauvoir's dialectics mesh with her conviction in existential freedom,
and therefrom she theorizes woman-Mystery as an alienated and alienating effect
of the female's mystified relation to her "real conditions of existence" whose
resolution depends on her active realization of her situation:
If it be admitted that the inessential conscious being [i.e. "woman" in the
self/other, essential/inessential dialectic], too, is a dear subjectivity,
capable of performing the Cogito, then it is also admitted that this being is
in truth sovereign and returns to being essential; in order that all
reciprocity may appear quite impossible, it is necessary for the Other to be
for itself [pour soi] an other, for its very subjectivity to be affected by its
otherness; this consciousness which would be alienated [alin&e] as a
consciousness, in its pure immanent presence, would evidently be
Mystery. It would be Mystery in itself [en soil from the fact that it would
be Mystery for itself [pour soil; it would be absolute Mystery. (S 259)

As we will see, de Beauvoir's proposal that "in order that all reciprocity may
appear quite impossible, it is necessary for the Other to be for itself an other"
also prefigures Spivak's positing of the subaltern female as "a map of the