‘Bodies that Stutter’ – Celebrity, Pornography and the Psychoanalysis of Self-Representation
Using the original concept of ‘Bodies that Stutter’ this paper will focus on the representational intersections between celebrity and pornography online. To do this it will consider how contemporary practices of self-representation on digital and networked media (captured in the practice of the ‘selfie’) frame a rhetoric of desire as jouissance. The dialogue between queer and psychoanalytic theory will also inform the discussion to consider how performative bodies that have ‘mattered’ (Judith Butler, 1993) and unconsciously ‘muttered’ (Tim Dean, 2000) now ‘stutter’. Using the work of Jacques Lacan to reposition Tim Deans and Judith Butler concepts of bodies that matter and bodies that mutter this stuttering body which is embedded in late capitalist discourses of celebrity and pornography is reflective of the hesitancy, frustration, exhilaration, and repetition that it subversively contains, as well as remaining vulnerable to metonymic contiguity and transposition of a symbolically normative language it cannot control. ‘Bodies that Stutter’ are also the bodies that attempt to express a powerful jouissance through a language of the ‘personal’ and the metaphorical signifier. Yet, unlike Imaginary bodies that rely upon ego, the ‘Bodies that Stutter’ are subject to an impersonal Other that underpins how their desire is expressed metonymically – through this process they symbolically-stutter.
A lot like desire, or slips of the tongue and pen, stuttering is reliant upon stops and starts, structure and chaos, satisfaction and dissatisfaction. It is also something that cannot be contained or applied to one body above another or indeed one identity and/or identity type. This paper uses the contextual focus of the micro-celebrity selfie and its ubiquity on social networking sites to suggest that bodies that stutter form a practice of ‘symbolic stuttering’ that might well occur in multiple, ambiguous, and oblique ways.
Gareth Longstaff is a lecturer in media and cultural studies at Newcastle University. Both his teaching and research interests are primarily concerned with queer sexuality, celebrity, discourses of self-representation, pornography and psychoanalysis. Gareth works at the intersection of how these are connected to other dimensions of queer, cultural, philosophical, mediated and social life and in his upcoming monograph ‘Bodies that Stutter: Celebrity, Pornography and the Psychoanalysis of Self Representation’ his approach to these issues engages and applies queer theory and crossing of Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis to the impersonality of desire and the mediated screening of the self in self-representational photography, pornography/sexual representation, and digital / networked media.