From Lacan (but actually from Wikipedia):
—The pervert [is one who] disavows castration; he perceives that the mother lacks the phallus, and at the same time refuses toaccept the reality of this traumatic perception.
Therefore, a “pervert” in Lacanian terms is clearly someone who may well be culturally Japanese, for he or she holds that “nature” still has meaning, relevance and, indeed potency. Such “a pervert” (in my terms, a shaman) engages with that meaning and potency in nature in a shamanistic fashion, which is deemed “perverse” by the Judeo-Christian ideological establishment defined by Freud (Judaism) and Lacan (Catholicism).
Judeo-Christianity, a distinctly Western way of structuring thought, opposes and pathologizes naturalistic sensibilities, whilst maintaining that “castration” ought to be accepted as defining sanity.
A SAVAGE, EARNESTLY IN SEARCH OF CULTURE:
To be able to read and write is […] only the first downward step towards the first circle where black fires rage inconsumably. Candide’s experience of the world is the nearest we can get to the series of cerebral shocks which await the savage who is earnestly in search of culture. ‘There is nothing here but illusion, and one calamity after another.’ The experience is not unlike that of one organism living on and at the expense of another. (p 33, The Black Insider).
What, though, is the “organism” that lives on at the expense of another, if not “civilisation” that lives on at the expense of our innocence and our naive “savagery”?
According to what I have just read this morning about Lacan:
‘Castration’ […] is the moment at which we become human beings, for the Law makes us ‘parle-etre’ or speaking beings. Language from then on structures our desires: language comprises the Symbolic Order. We figuratively must ‘be told’ what we feel and think through the big Other, the arbitrarily and socially-constructed matrix of words, which is the active functioning of the Symbolic Order.
Reading and writing are strong motifs of Civilisation and of being civilised. In European civilisation (such as the France of Lacan), “language” itself stands for the term ‘civilisation’ — probably because to speak is to give one’s obeisance to the social necessities of one’s existence as commanded by some complex dominating structure of power or ideological hegemony. In African societies, however, it is possible that “language” has some equivalence to nature, rather than being totally determined by the history of civilisation itself. For Marechera, then, it is not ‘language’ but reading and writing which contradict one’s natural state of being and put one in the outer circle of Dante’s Inferno.
—ON GENDER & LACAN
I read that Lacan considers that males are those whose desires are determined by seeking power through acquiring. Women are those whose desires are determined by seeking power through a mode of being.
Modes of being and acquiring are both features of lack — since coming to be civilised (and hence human) and coming to be castrated are the same thing, both caused by a sense of lack (which can be read as a deficiency in our emotional — and no doubt economic — independence as isolated, non-social organisms). Becoming civilised, then, does actually imply a calamity — castration! (that is — to be “civilised” one must accept one’s absolute dependency on others, paying the price that is required: that is, sucking up to dominant orders who promise to run things ‘in our best interests’).
Lacan holds that society turns us into “men” or “women” depending on the exact manner of the boomeranging of our desires (which can go in only two possible directions when we are still children). What about the resolute savage, though? Is there not a third direction for our desires ?
If one is already born into a late form of civilisation, one could say desire boomerangs off the mother, due to her limitations to fulfil one’s every wish. Perhaps even if one is originatively savage (which is to say that one already lives beyond the limiting structures of the bourgeois nuclear family, which would restrict a child’s immediate options for being powerful to what would be approved by mummy and daddy), desire necessarily boomerangs off the mother to other sources of interest. Yet, the savage’s desire boomerangs on to the immediately fascinating aspects of the natural environment, which are imbued with animistic powers.
The savage, henceforth, finds limitless fascination in the natural environment and with regard to the “adventures” it offers. It is as if the savage child exchanges one teat — a female human teat — for another. He or she finally embraces their true destiny — which is to emotionally feast on the abundant pleasures offered by the natural landscape.
He will continue to face life with joyful abandon — unless inducted into reading and writing. These represent calamity as they stem from a European hegemony of culture, which (given that this represents “civilisation” itself) requires one to be castrated.
Since the above is the normative dynamic of civilisation in relation to nature (the force of one necessarily castrates the pleasure of the other — only more so than perhaps thought, because the former is also a hegemony) — one wonders why, under any circumstances, “the savage” should be “earnestly in search of culture.” As I have said, the natural situation of the savage is definitively NOT one of lack — which should therefore preclude such seeking.
Why is this savage “earnestly seeking” culture? — Perhaps because nature has already been taken away from him, in his particular instance. In any case, the more he seeks, the more he lets go of the possibility of returning to nature, and to its consolations. Thus he faces one calamity after the other, being aware of what he has left behind, but being unable to return to it — whilst falling more and more into the centre of hell in his miserable search for “culture”.