Edited By Pawel Schreiber and Joanna Malicka
“I Was Just Somebody Else, Some Stranger”. Hysterical Avatars of Jack Kerouac: a Lacanian Perspective
Psychoanalytical theories have been usually neglected as a supplementary tool in approaching the oeuvre of the Beat Generation writers. It is thus the aim of the following analysis to throw some light on the literary output of one of the most important Beat Generation writers – Jack Kerouac – through the lens of psychoanalysis, and to be more precise, Jacques Lacan’s theory of the hysterical subject. First and foremost, it has to be stated that the analysis does not concern hysteria as a clinical phenomenon being one of the two forms of neurosis, but as a form of social bond developed by Lacan in the end of the 1960s as a part of the so-called theory of four discourses, which encapsulates the possibilities of social relations between the subjects. A hysterical subject is one that is entirely dependent on the way it is perceived by the Other symbolizing the law, the language and the order. Such a subject is never sure what the Other wants (it to be), and insofar as it is tormented by the question of the desire of the Other – Che vuois? (What do you want?), it constantly searches for the identity that will satisfy It. Perhaps what is signified even more powerfully by the Italian phrase (borrowed by Lacan from Jacques Cazzote’s 1772 novel Le Diable amoreux), is the pressure put on the Other to articulate the answer by all means necessary.
Usually acknowledged as a key representative of the Beat Generation movement, the...
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