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Corbett, K. (2000). Toward the Coexistence of Effort and Lack: Commentary on Paper by Cynthia Dyess and Tim Dean. Psychoanal. Dial., 10(5):775-786.

(2000). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 10(5):775-786

Toward the Coexistence of Effort and Lack: Commentary on Paper by Cynthia Dyess and Tim Dean Related Papers

Ken Corbett, Ph.D.

By vigorously arguing for the utility of the lacanian real, dyess and dean seek to illustrate a theoretical scaffolding for that which cannot be emotionally understood. By locating gender in the real (following Copjec, 1994), they seek to position gender outside emotional understanding and/or communicative process. Aligned with the real, gender becomes an “inescapable failure of meaning,” a “stumbling block” that cannot be mastered either through reason or empathy, and as such subverts full relationality. If gender is the pulse of Dyess and Dean's essay, relationality is the heart; gendder serves as the “prime example” of their proposition not only that signification is limited but that full relationality is structurally impossible. As they explain in footnote 2, they pursue gender's limits in the service of their Lacanian project of “reimagin[ing] relationality—and hence community—in terms of impediment, impossibility, and failure.”

It seems likely that many analysts will readily recognize the impossibility of which Dyess and Dean speak—that illusory quality of gender, its inexplicable and ineradicable oscillation, its slippery silence, and at times its sheer lack of “it-ness.” At the same time, though, it seems equally likely that many analysts will not readily resonate with how Dyess and Dean conceive of gender's impossibility and in particular with how they conceive gender and relationality relative to the authority they grant to the real.

In part, I am proposing that this lack of resonance is a consequence of Dyess and Dean's employment of a way of thinking that is not familiar to most American analysts.

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