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      The Pleasure in/of the Text : About the Joys and Perversities of Reading 

      Genealogy of Textual Necrophilia or Death Drive Barthes, Freud, De Man and Mehlman

      Peter Lang

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          Roland Barthes’s The Pleasure of the Text is implicitly fascinated with the impossible textuality of Sigmund Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle, to the extent that the former is thematically and linguistically haunted by the latter. Worth remembering is that the meta-psychology in Freud’s text is a struggle to theorise the unpleasure of pleasure or the pleasure of unpleasure, where this chiasma deconstructs Freud’s speculations on primal masochism or ‘the death drive’. I would argue that what Barthes admits as the ‘ambiguity’ in his terminology of ‘pleasure’ ( plaisir) and ‘bliss’ ( jouissance) is a trace of his fascination with the Freudian chiasma of pleasure/unpleasure. It is well established in the critical discourse that unpleasure in Freudian psychoanalysis is something ‘beyond the pleasure principle’ – the biological principle that ‘unpleasure corresponds to an increase in the quantity of excitation and pleasure to a diminution’. Freud’s clinical encounter with traumatic war neuroses, however, provided him with a daunting or rather blinding insight into the radical paradox inherent in his own definition of pleasure, where ‘the patient is […] fixed to his trauma’ (13). Hence, Freudian neurosis as a fixation or a recurring and persistent attachment to trauma, the cause of the illness, and the maximum degree of excitation/unpleasure. Another implication is that a Freudian neurotic enjoys the unpleasure of excessive excitation through his/her repetitive fixation precisely in the sense that Freudian unpleasure is ‘beyond’ but at the same time within pleasure.

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