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Esman, A.H. (1990). Eros, C'Est La Vie. Bul. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 46:515-516.

(1990). Bulletin of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 46:515-516

Eros, C'Est La Vie

Aaron H. Esman, M.D.

February 23, 1989

Ethel Person's review (36[4]: 1067–1071) of Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel's book, Creativity and Perversion contains a significant error that might lead the reader to miss something of Chasseguet-Smirgel's intention. The review identifies the only patient described in the book as "Rrose Selazy"—a name that can have no significance to the reader. In fact, the patient is actually referred to as "Rrose Selavy." This name was conceived originally by Marcel Duchamp, the great Dada artist, as a pseudonym for his own female persona. There is a famous photograph by Man Ray in which Duchamp, as Rrose Selavy, poses in feminine costume. The name is a typical Duchampian pun—if pronounced, it sounds like "Eros, c'est la vie"—"Sex, that's life."

One presumes that Chasseguet-Smirgel chose this name for her patient in order to suggest the sexual ambiguity and gender confusion that characterize perverse patients in general (though, as Person correctly points out, the nature of this patient's perversion is not made clear in the book).

There was nothing truly perverse about Duchamp, but his creative life was dedicated to the exploration of ambiguity, uncertainty, and the endless possibilities that inhere in visual, verbal and sexual punning.

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