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By L. Grossberg

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The men behind her, standing erect—the doctor, the wolfman—cannot see her activity, her function, as these movements are obscured by her ‘prominent buttocks’. Where they see her, her veiled genitals, her potential relation to their possession, she sees, touches, smells dirt and suds, negotiating a transformation between them. The men behind her, the men captivated by her behind, are pointing, contemplating, fantasizing, theorizing. Their words make manifest certain crucial relations between fantasy, memory, repression and identity in the bourgeois imaginary.

Has to do with the breaks and flows that traverse the family, but that overreach it on all sides and are not familial. (1972/1983:355) In Deleuze and Guattari’s reinterpretation of this scene, desire and the social order are inextricably connected: Wouldn’t the Great Other, indispensable to the position of desire, be the Social Other, social difference apprehended and invested as the nonfamily within the family itself? The other class is by no means grasped by the libido as a magnified or impoverished image of the mother, but as the foreign, the nonmother, the nonfather, the nonfamily….

As Freud interprets it, her image served the Wolfman as a cover for the more frightening memory of the primal scene he had witnessed as a child. ‘When he saw the girl upon the floor engaged in scrubbing it, and kneeling down, with her buttocks projecting and her back horizontal, he was faced once again with the attitude which his mother had assumed in the coitus scene. She became his mother to him’ (1909/1960:285). For the Wolfman and for Freud, an image of a woman on her hands and knees could only be a sexual image, her physical posture and not her activity the 32 CULTURAL STUDIES eroticized point of focus.

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