Thanks to Ashley Shelden for that wonderful post. It definitely was very informative! When reading her post, I found many connections between her explanation of Lacan’s ideas and Mantissa. What first stood out to me in Ms.Shelden’s post was her discussion of the “Mirror Stage” and identity according to Lacan. The example of the “mirror stage” that is most often used is the discovery of self as an infant and the realization of who he or she is. What I overlooked when understanding this theory was that at this point, we do realize who we are but we will never be complete, in other words the understanding of our being does not come at this point. In fact, it never does come, as pointed out very well in the post, there is no end of developing, and there is no point that the individual is fully complete. We see this in Mantissa when Miles Green experiences the “mirror stage.” Fowles writes that at this moment Green realizes that he is in fact a (he) self. Despite that Green discovers who he is, he still goes on a process to discover more about himself which is what the readers witnesses throughout the novel. The search for his identity does not have a true ending point because the notion that we achieve identity is an illusion.
With this in mind, I believe that Fowles intentionally ended the first section of Mantissa with a theme that could be referenced to the death drive. The notion that jouissance, a moment of pleasure that puts a hold on ones self making them lose their identity. We see this with Miles Green’s character as he refuses the treatment. There are many different varying reasons as to why he is refusing the treatment. However, there can be a connection drawn between Lacan’s death drive and Green’s fear of the treatment. Does Green fear the treatment because he knows by achieving sexual satisfaction (jouissance) he will lose his sense of self, which he had just come to terms with moments before? The same two individuals that helped Green with the mirror stage could also lead him to the death drive. I question if Fowles wrote the first section of Mantissa with those two theories in mind.
9 years ago