Toward a literary psychoanalysis of postcolonial Haiti: desire, violence, and the mimetic crisis in Marie Chauvets Amour.
Claire's neurosis plays out in the context of 1930s Haiti, a period that marked the final years of the presidency of Stenio Vincent, the authoritarian light-skinned leader who negotiated the end of the US occupation of Haiti and was sympathetic to the rising black middle class and the black nationalist ideals of the post-occupation years (Nicholls 166, 178-79; Trouillot 107). In Chauvet's hands, the Vincent regime is recast as the far more autocratic and brutal dictatorship of Francois Duvalier of the 1960s, with its fascistic Noiriste ideology and unprecedented political terror, represented in the novel by the vicious and brooding black military commander, Caledu. Having seized power in 1957, Francois Duvalier radicalized Haiti's negritude movement so as to legitimate what J. Michael Dash has called "the most disturbing manifestation of state power in Haitian history" (16), which was characterized by extreme violence and aimed at ending the mulatto domination of the state (Trouillot 167). Allied with exploitative US business interests and indiscriminately torturing members of the former mulatto political elite, particularly women, into submission before the new black leadership, the character Caledu--whose name literally means "one who beats hard"1--becomes the disavowed object of Claire's sadomasochistic fantasies alongside the white Jean-Luze.
It is this incendiary combination of eroticism, political violence, and social satire that led to the novel's extraordinary suppression upon publication in 1968 and to its author's exile. (2) For in addition to subverting the norms of elite racial and gender respectability in Haiti through her depiction of the sexually famished Claire, the protagonist's double-edged critique unmasked the prejudices and complacency of the mulatto class and the corrupt brutality of the Noiriste state. For today's readers as well, one of the challenges of interpreting Amour derives from the novel's striking juxtaposition of the domestic love plot with the sociopolitical one, both of which are seen through the eyes of the sexually deprived, racially ostracized, and doubly rebellious Claire. In the domestic love plot, Claire waits in vain for the validation and sexual satisfaction she feels Jean-Luze's love would bestow upon her. When she does not receive this love, she attempts to sabotage his relationship with her sister Felicia, first by substituting her sister Annette as the object of his desire, and eventually by planning Felicia's murder. The sociopolitical plot, on the other hand, presents Claire as a passive, silent, yet enraged observer of the political conflict erupting in her midst as the brutal Caledu terrorizes the women of the recalcitrant mulatto elite, itself deranged by intractable class and color prejudices and hypocrisies. On the verge of suicide, Claire stabs Caledu in the back when the opportunity unexpectedly arises during an attempted revolution led by Jean-Luze and his alliance of intellectuals and peasants, an uprising in which she otherwise takes no active role.
Much early scholarship on the novel tended either to interpret the sociopolitical and domestic plots independently of one another or to view both primarily in terms of Claire's racial split between black and white, thus presenting her as a victim of racism seeking retribution in both the sexual and social domains. (3) While deeply insightful, these readings arguably obscure the duality of Claire's role as victim and persecutor, as well as the multiple ways in which her political and psychosexual revolts intersect. In a major departure from earlier feminist interpretations, Valerie Kaussen brilliantly correlates Claire's split subjectivity with her ability to identify simultaneously with positions of power and powerlessness, oppressor and oppressed, through sadomasochistic fantasies that Kaussen analyzes in terms of the Hegelian master-slave dialectic. In pointing out an important similarity between Claire's and Caledu's characters as agents and victims of power engaged in a quest for recognition, Kaussen concludes that Claire's dispersed subjectivity alone instantiates a kind of postmodern, non-identitarian revolutionary politics based on relations between diverse historical identities, even as it performs a history of colonial violence (Migrant 162). (4) While Kaussen's reading represents the most trenchant analysis to date of sadomasochism in the novel, significant questions remain as to the psychological and affective conditions of possibility for the emergence and maintenance of such dynamics between subjects and classes, the political implications of which may be interpreted quite differently. Chauvet's novel relentlessly interrogates the conscious and unconscious appeal of sadomasochistic power relations at the level of the family, the love relation, and society. Insofar as these are related through the testimony of a subject born of these very same conflicts, the text provides crucial insights into both how and, more importantly, why the cycle of violence has persisted throughout Haitian history. While my analysis is complementary to Kaussen's in its attempt to uncover the historical allusion manifested in the protagonist's psyche, I foreground the broadly psychoanalytic dimensions of Chauvet's representation of the relation between trauma, subjectivity, and the social. As I will argue, through a fictionalized case history, Chauvet accounts for the protagonist's psycho-sexual complex in terms of a family dynamic of racialized violence, while also illustrating the affective determinants of sadomasochism for the individual and the collectivity. In so deftly tracing the etiology of Claire's psychological schism to the legacy of colonial violence in both the familial and social spheres, Chauvet thus provides a model of what one might call the Haitian mimetic crisis in all of its complexity.
By "psychoanalysis," I refer to a theory of subject formation according to which the individual psyche is fundamentally structured by a struggle with authority, the resolution of which results in a split between what is conscious and unconscious, and the differentiation of forces within the psyche that subsequently negotiate conflicts between desires and the prohibitions necessitated by social norms. Insofar as the unconscious exerts a continued, if often unacknowledged, impact on the conscious life of the individual, my use of "psychoanalysis" also refers to the interpretive method whereby conscious or repressed strivings, fantasies, and desires of a person are progressively unmasked and related to earlier traumas and prohibitions. (5) By exempting from this definition the concept of an Oedipal conflict and its presumption of an exclusively libidinal origin of psychic trauma, I wish to show how Chauvet both expands on and radically departs from classical psychoanalytic interpretive frameworks, notably in her reading of the social and historical determinants of Claire's contradictory acts, obsessive fantasies, and shifting libidinal objects. On the one hand, the very nonlinearity, inconsistencies, and lacunae in Claire's fictional testimony are a testament to a psychopathology rooted in trauma. The moments of greatest horror in Claire's story are presented not as simple memories but as involuntary flashbacks, nightmares, or almost unconscious observations of present sense perceptions. As such, they may be read in terms of Cathy Caruth's contention that trauma escapes full consciousness as it occurs and "cannot be placed within the schemes of prior knowledge," occupying instead a space "to which willed access is denied" (153). Claire simultaneously acts as a witness, her testimony serving to document not only her own trauma but also that of countless violations endured by others and silenced or denied in public. What is more, Chauvet theorizes the irreducibly social basis of psychic trauma in Haiti, thus exploding the most sacred assumptions of the Freudian model. For in representing the family as the site of the reproduction of the historical trauma of slavery and its legacy in post-revolutionary Haiti, Chauvet enacts a critical reversal of the Freudian view according to which the Oedipal drama is the original source of neurosis in the subject and the primary signifier of subsequent obsessive fantasies. Chauvet instead displaces this origin onto the social and the historical, the traumas of which are repeated in the process of subject formation and further manifested in the newly formed subject whose divided psyche continually restages the antagonism between master and slave. By exploring, furthermore, the roles of desire and affect in the cyclical repetition of Haitian violence across boundaries of color, class, and gender, Chauvet thematizes a larger mimetic crisis in postcolonial Haiti.
In interpreting the novel, therefore, I situate Marie Chauvet as an original theorist of the psychopathology of postcoloniality who writes within a critical reception history of psychoanalysis. Social scientists, feminists, and non-Western critics have long derided psychoanalysis for its reductionism, notably its insistence on the universality of the Oedipus complex as the origin of the unconscious and all subsequent neuroses, a triangulated family relation imagined to be entirely sealed off from the social and the political. (6) In an especially polemical rebuke of this view, poststructuralists Gilies Deleuze and Felix Guattari contend that the Oedipal triangle is always already shot through with social, racial, and political meanings and antagonisms: "Le pere, la mere et le moi sont aux prises, et en prise directe avec les elements de la situation historique et politique, le soldat, le flic, l'occupant, le collaborateur [...] qui brisent a chaque instant toute triangulation, et empechent l'ensemble de la situation de se rabattre sur le complexe familial et de s'interioriser en lui. Bref, jamais la famille n'est un microcosme au sens d'une figure autonome" (115-16). As classical psychoanalysis itself has been shown to be predicated on an unquestioned assumption of racial whiteness and implicated in the history of European imperialism, (7) many specialists of African diasporic cultures have either rejected it as a meaningful analytic paradigm for understanding black subjectivity or challenged it to take social factors into account. (8) Despite the fact that psychoanalysis and psychology were practically nonexistent as clinical practices in 1960s Haiti, I would argue that Marie Chauvet's fiction contributes to the latter project by forcing a reconsideration of the very categories and claims of psychoanalysis in relation to lived histories of subject formation under race and class domination. (9) By theorizing the irreducibly social and historical basis of psychic trauma as well as libidinal fixations in Duvalier's Haiti, Chauvet suggests not only that race and class, together with gender and sexuality, are determining factors in the formation of individual subjectivity in Haiti, but that the very enforcement of the symbolic order of racial, social, and sexual identity occurs more often than not via the repetition of colonial violence. In this sense, Chauvet's work resonates with the project of Frantz Fanon in his 1952 Peau noire, masques blancs, in which he emphasizes the causal role of slavery and colonialism in the genesis and persistence of a specifically black Caribbean psychopathology. (10)
My reading proceeds in two stages. I begin by outlining the ways in which Chauvet revises the Freudian paradigm of the Oedipus complex. Through a critical dialogue with Freud's ego psychology that is indebted to Ronnie Scharfman's scholarship on the novel, I argue that the circumstances surrounding Claire's violent subjection at the hands of her father produce in her a weakened ego ideal, thus leading to a particularly severe psychological schism. Claire's unique position as a "black" child of the light-skinned mulatto elite further reinforces a situation in which she occupies simultaneously the positions of mastery and subjection. Claire's sadomasochistic tendencies are no doubt symptomatic of the struggle between contending forces in her own psyche and in her social life. Yet, they also reflect a larger crisis in Haitian society that I analyze in the second stage of my reading through Rene Girard's theory of the mimetic crisis, or the repetition and spread of original violence to the entire community. For Girard, violence arises from the desire for an object that is desired by another. This triangulated relationship devolves into a symmetrical, sadomasochistic relation of dominated to dominator--each of which comes to resemble the other as a twin or double--when desire detaches from the object and comes to rest on the obstacle that the adversaries constitute for one another (Things Hidden 304, 331-32). For Chauvet, however, this relation is not merely imitative but is conditioned by emotions and unconscious desires; that is, the relationship itself both generates and satisfies certain needs in each subject. In my reading, I attend especially to the masochistic side of the power dualism, specifically the role of repressed guilt in Claire's relations with Caledu and in the larger conflict between mulattoes and blacks. Claire's fantasies of surrender to Caledu as both sexual object and political victim must be read in the context of the murky family history that renders her "equal" to Caledu in her capacity for class abuses. Ultimately her unconscious submission to the Caledu she consciously reviles parallels the behavior of the entire mulatto class, which, in truly masochistic fashion, accommodates the brutal police chief without resistance. As I will argue, what underlies both Claire's ambivalence toward Caledu and mulatto acquiescence to Noirist domination is an unconscious search for expiation for past crimes, a consequence of what Clarisse Zimra describes as "primal collective guilt, unatoned." (11) In exemplifying the twin perversions of violent hatred and passive submission linked to this unatoned guilt, Claire and Caledu both become sympathetic, if tragic, symbols of the Haitian mimetic crisis. My reading therefore precludes any interpretation of Claire's final murder of Caledu as either morally exemplary or politically revolutionary. I argue, rather, that this act only perpetuates the cycle of violence and thus epitomizes Chauvet's critique of the mutually constitutive relationship between the psychic legacy of colonialism and the social reproduction of cruelty in Haiti.
What is immediately apparent from the very first lines of Amour is that Claire Clamont is a fundamentally paradoxical subject whose emotional and fantasy life alternates between expressions of love and hatred, power and victimization, desire and repression, revolt and submission, justice and criminality. While some have interpreted this duality through the trope of the vaudou goddess of love Erzulie, herself divided between two opposing figures of refinement and power on the one hand, and savagery and submission on the other (Dayan; Mayes), Claire's dichotomous subjectivity may also be seen to result from a chasm within the personality. For as much as Claire struggles for liberation from the implacable racism, sexual repression, political terror, and emotional solitude from which she suffers, she also fights against a self whose passivity, conformity, and complicity with the dominant social order doom her revolt to private fantasy and the pages of her journal. This internal schism is apparent from the moment she takes up her pen to write, for even as Claire declares her desire to unveil the "true" ego hidden behind the veil of hypocrisy and silence she presents to others, her confessional writing is invaded by ironic self-reproaches that call into question her attempt at honesty: "Parler de moi, c'est facile. Je n'ai qu'a mentir beaucoup tout en me persuadam que je note juste. Je vais m'essayer a la sincerite" (10). (12) Evidently the self to be revealed is constantly subject to censorship or deception. Tier cowardice is not limited to the past, when she internalized the teachings and prejudices of her parents and the local priest, le pere Paul, thus repressing her sexual desires and developing a destructive form of racial self-hatred; it persists in the present, preventing her from deviating publicly from the most arcane beliefs of her class or voicing resistance to the violence of the new black military elite. While criticizing in her journal her puritanical upbringing and the extreme racism, arrogance, and xenophobia of the mulatto elite, Claire exhibits supreme class fidelity in her daily life through her avoidance of all women deemed immoral and hence "suspect" by her sisters--including, ironically, Dora Soubiran, rendered taboo by her torture and sexual mutilation at the hands of Caledu. She also exhibits the most intransigent prejudice toward the new Syrian merchant class, which has replaced the mulatto elite as a commercial bourgeoisie. Fearing the same ostracism she herself imposes on transgressive women, Claire cannot imagine mustering the courage to have a child on her own like her old friend Jane Baviere, despite her secret envy of Jane's maternity and independence (44). Nor can she evince the slightest protest against the cruelty of the town's commander, despite his increasing belligerence toward the women of her class. Outraged that Jean-Luze could think otherwise, she privately retorts: "Moi qui tremble d'effroi au moindre bruit, moi qui fuis les suspects au point de ne pas aller voir Dora, moi qui evite de parler, de lever les yeux sur ces gens armes, voila qu'il me croit capable de braver ce bourreau de Caledu. Ah! Le fou! Je suis lache et je ne Pignore pas" (25). Imprisoned by cowardice as though behind "une porte qu'on refusait de m'ouvrir et que je craignais de forcer" (86), Claire cannot even bring herself to join in the conversations of Jean-Luze and the intellectuals he befriends when they finally voice opposition to Caledu's regime: "Ah! Que ne donnerais-je pas pour me debarrasser de mes complexes! Ils m'empechent d'ouvrir la bouche pour exprimer mes idees alors qu'elles m'etouffent" (152). Willfully taciturn both in public and within the domestic sphere, Claire effaces herself in hypocritical deference to her family's unacknowledged prejudice toward her.
The novel details the origins of this split between revolt and prohibition in Claire's painful childhood, thus revealing the constitution of her superego through her internalization of parental prohibitions and prejudices. Claire's conflict with paternal authority transpires through a scene of mastery and submission reminiscent of colonial slavery. Claire's embodiment of the father's law is the consequence of his having beaten it into her, suppressing through brute force her disobedience, her blackness, and her femininity. What ostensibly occasions the punishment is Claire's tendency to care for the weak and ostracized, in this case the young Agnes Grandupre, despised by the Clamonts for befriending Tonton Mathurin, a black neighbor of more modest means. This transgression is foreshadowed by Claire's very birth as a dark-skinned female child: while her gender defies her parents' wish for a male heir, her skin color fundamentally destabilizes their class and racial identity, which they reassert by naming her "Claire." As Claire describes it, "Je suis la surprise que le sang-mele a reserve a nos parents; surprise desagreable a leur epoque, sans nul doute, car ils m'ont fait assez souffrir" (10). Following the Grandupre affair, the mulatto patriarch doubles as a neocolonial slave master as he justifies whipping his child unconscious for continuing to threaten his own racial and class identity: "J'inculque des principes et j'entends etre obei [...]. C'est une race indisciplinee que la notre, et notre sang d'anciens esclaves redame le fouet, comme disait feu mon pere" (110). In an attempt to purify his racial line through the force of violence, M. Clamont both acknowledges and disavows his racial origins, even as his act of disavowal further marks his daughter as a slave. At the same time, he reveals his behavior to be a ritual act learned from his own father, who presumably beat him in the same way. In the Clamont household, therefore, the prohibitive law of the father, which both splinters the child's personality and provides a model of moral discipline, is inseparable from a racialized cultural logic; it is the imposition through the violence of slavery of an imaginary whiteness that will authorize a social position of mastery. (13) Claire will likewise internalize this perennial structure of domination; as the eldest daughter and inheritor of Clamont's position and his property, the once expansive Morne au lion, she incarnates the father's law by repeating within her psyche and in her social relations the aggression of the father/master against the dependent ego. At the same time, Claire notes the abject condition of Augustine, the unpaid black domestic servant who is also habitually beaten in the Clamont household: "J'appris par les abus qu'on lui fit subir a rendre grace au rang social que j'occupais et a apprecier mon pere malgre les coups qu'il continuait a me donner" (111). Ironically, it is horror of the truly enslaved other that secures her obedience to the paternal law as much as any emotional relation to or moral acceptance of her father's authority.
Claire's story therefore exhibits significant differences from the standard Freudian account of the construction of the ego. On the one hand, the child's encounter with the prohibitive law enforced by the father is not a narrative of sexual relations, incest, and its interdiction in the context of the nuclear family. Instead, the father's law is meant to enforce an assumption of racial whiteness rooted in the exclusion of black or nonwhite others from relations of affective kinship. In its ideology and in its means of enforcement through the lash, this law both presupposes and repeats a particular history of colonial trauma. At the same time, Claire's resolution of her conflict with parental authority leads to an especially deep internal divide between ego and superego. Whereas Freud presumes that the constitutive dependency of the ego upon the moral supremacy and "categorical imperative" of its superego results from the earlier "introjection" into the ego of the first objects of the subject's libidinal impulses (Ego 49), namely, the two parents ("Economic Problem" 167), the supremacy of Claire's superego is compromised by the lack of a prior affective bond between parent and child and by the continued physical abuse through which her father reinforces her submission, both of which enable a greater resistance on the part of her ego. This situation is compounded by two critical instances in which Claire loses all fear of and respect for her father, thus challenging his capacity to stand as an ego ideal. On the occasion of one of M. Clamont's numerous attempts to run for president of Haiti through campaigns funded by the sale of portions of his ancestral land, he is publicly humiliated by Tonton Mathurin. Recalling the black grandmother from whom Clamont had inherited the land and his continued observance of propitiatory vaudou rites in her honor (123-24), Mathurin accuses him of mulatto pretension, hypocrisy, and ignorance. This follows an earlier instance in which the father had forced Claire to accompany him to the Morne au lion in order to learn how to serve the loas, or spirits, the presumed guarantors of the yield of his coffee plantations. Taken aback by the abject poverty and hunger of the black cultivators exploited by the Clamont family, Claire is doubly outraged by her father's demand that she practice vaudou in open defiance of the Catholic precepts espoused by her family (117). Realizing that her social privilege is built on her father's propensity to repudiate publicly the racial and class origins that she herself signifies, Claire subjects her father, and the entire social edifice that he represents, to critical scrutiny: "De ce jour mourut ma crainte de lui. Il avait rougi sous mes yeux, tremble, battu en retraite. Une vague premonition m'avertissait de la faussete de notre situation et je m'etonnais de donner raison, en mon for interieur, a tonton Mathurin" (124). Although upon her parents' untimely death Claire assumes at the age of nineteen the role of father and mother to her younger sisters, thereby adopting the social values and moral persona of the "lion" who had ruled over the cultivators at Morne au lion, her personality is at the same time structured by an unyielding resistance to the authority of the internal superego as well as its externalized figures--those mulatto "aristocrats" who people her social circle.
The result of such an intensified struggle between contending forces within Claire's psyche is, I would argue, both a heightened drive for rebellion against social conformity, political oppression, and repressive sexual mores and the continued ability to suppress those desires, particularly as they relate to the social and political spheres. Through her imaginary relationship with Jean-Luze, Claire expresses her revolt against sexual repression while also conforming to the value system of her class, which seeks approval and a sense of self-worth from the racially white and culturally French male whose name symbolizes beauty and enlightenment. Yet, Claire's obsessive fantasy life is just as significantly a means by which to displace her feelings of political outrage and revolt against the growing political and social crisis around her, signaled by the piercing screams of Caledu's prisoners outside her window. Unable to overcome the prohibitive master, Claire's political revolt is largely channeled toward the libidinal and lived out through onanism and fantasy in the closed space of her bedroom. She is a metteur-en-scene, not an actor, in the domestic drama she attempts to orchestrate. She can only vicariously fantasize her wish fulfillment through identification with her imagined victims. True to the other meaning of her name, Claire lucidly judges her incestuous obsessions to be a futile substitute for social or political action by comparing herself to those of her class who loll in complacency before the increasing misery of the masses and Caledu's brutality: "Nous nous enfoncons de plus en plus dans la lachete et la resignation. Me voila plus que jamais amoureuse du mari de ma soeur et je ne veux penser a rien d'autre qu'a cet amour" (57). Fantasizing a lovemaking scene between Annette and Jean-Luze, Claire exclaims, "Comme l'amour annule en soi tout autre sentiment! J'entendrais crier de la prison que je n'y ferais pas attention. C'est moi, Annette. Me voila rajeunie de seize ans" (31).
This flight from reality is all the more significant as a displaced narrative of repressed political desire when we consider the language in which Claire expresses these fantasies. Claire sets up her imaginary incestuous intrigue as a battle in which she vicariously fights to the bitter end: "Je vais lutter. Jamais je n'accepterai de voir finir cette aventure aussi lamentablement. Si Annette se resigne ... je me revolte, moi. Il faut que son courage, ce courage que je n'ai pas eu, soit recompense et qu'elle vive cet amour pour ma propre satisfaction, jusqu'a ce qu'elle en soit rassasiee" (34). This language of revolt, combat, and, elsewhere, revolution suggests that her fantasies are symptomatic of a more political need for resistance. This is especially apparent when Claire plots the murder of her sister Felicia. Confronted by mounting state terror and outraged by Caledu's seizure and presumed torture of Jane Baviere and her child, with whom she has finally renewed ties, Claire becomes convinced for the first time that she is part of a community of sufferers and that her suffering has a collective dimension: "Chacun tout comme moi doit travailler en secret a se liberer de la contrainte et de la peur. Je ne suis pas seule. Ils sont tous la, autour de moi et nous souffrons a l'unisson dans l'idee fixe d'une prochaine delivrance" (177). Yet she immediately displaces this political rage onto the fantasied domestic love plot and identifies her sister as her primary adversary: "Cette femme est mon ennemie. Elle s'est mise en travers de mon chemin, elle m'a barre les horizons, elle a contrarie mon destin, elle m'a vole mon bonheur" (178).
What is fascinating is that Claire remains keenly aware of both the pattern of displacement whereby her political desires are redirected toward the domestic sphere and the profoundly self-destructive nature of the battle between contending forces in her psyche. Freud himself applied the term "sadomasochism" to the dynamic of domination and submission between superego and ego as paired opposites. Whereas the aggression exhibited by the superego toward the ego is sadistic, this very self-punishment and the ego's subsequent and willful submission reflect the propensity for masochism in the individual, due, as Freud claims, to the partial retention of the death instinct in the organism ("Economic Problem"). In Claire's case, however, the effects of the superego's domination--her passive fantasies and inability to act on her desires, even in the domestic sphere--exacerbate her torment, making her at once a sadist and a masochist: "Pendant combien de temps encore vais-je etre la proie de cette passion sterile? Vais-je toute ma vie me contenter des jeux de l'imagination pour m'assouvir? Je complique les choses a souhait et je cree, telle une masochiste, mille manieres de me torturer" (103). At the same time, as Valerie Kaussen has shown, Claire's sadomasochistic tendencies play out in her intersubjective relations. Although she is convinced that she is persecuted at the hands of others, notably her sisters and Jean-Luze, her suffering is expressed through a desire for the other to suffer, thus translating into a classic dynamic of sadomasochism in which there is a constant interplay between the two postures of domination and submission, pleasure and pain, and in which each position has the potential to change into its opposite (Kaussen, Migrant Revolutions 168-69; Chancer 3-4). Nowhere is this more apparent than in her feelings toward Jean-Luze. Implicitly comparing her passions to the violent appetites of Caledu's henchman, she writes: "Je sais, par exemple, que seule la souffrance le guiderait vers moi. Comme l'amour rend sadique et cruel! Ne suis-je pas a Pexemple de ces bourreaux? J'ai trop souffert" (103). Here, Claire exemplifies the sadist's fantasied identification with the suffering object, which again renders her inseparable from the masochist (Laplanche and Pontalis 402).
The domestic space populated by the family is, therefore, the ground on which Claire displaces her political and social revolt, channeling all of her violence and rage, as well as her desire, toward her love object, Jean-Luze, and her sisters. Without such an outlet for her passions, Claire would have nothing but hatred inside of her: "Il faut pourtant que l'amour me protege de moimeme. J'ai peur de me retrouver seule avec tant de haine sur les bras" (82). The question arises, however, as to the role of Caledu in Claire's sadomasochistic dynamic and the relation between this sadomasochism and the larger history of unappeased collective violence to which the novel alludes. One could easily view her repressed infatuation with Caledu as a masochistic fantasy of submission before her dominating superego; in this case, Caledu would be a figure for the father's original brutality and prohibition. Yet to do so would perpetuate the image of Claire as a victim, rather than as a knowing subject of domination and submission whose sadomasochistic urges derive as much from the internalized master/superego as from the revolted slave. My interpretation complements Kaussen's assertion that Claire's obsession with Caledu derives from their affinities as dominating subjects (Migrant Revolutions 164-65). Yet, in my view, the Hegelian master-slave dialectic eschews the emotional and affective determinants of her ambivalence toward Caledu. This attitude is to a large extent shared by the entire mulatto class and reflects a simultaneously private and collective history of trauma, guilt, and the need for atonement. By reading the Claire-Caledu relation in terms of her own traumatic past, I show not only that Claire is indirectly responsible for Caledu's reign of terror, but that her masochistic fantasies of Caledu are central to her own unconscious search for expiation for her role in the mimetic crisis. At the same time, her masochism and that of her class serve only to further the cycle of violence, therefore providing crucial insights into its tragic persistence.
The two characters' first meeting raises the specter of an unsettling and hitherto unacknowledged parallelism between their two histories when Caledu taunts Claire with a memory of her past: "J'ai entendu dire, Miss Clamont, me chuchota-t-il mechamment, qu'il s'etait passe dans le temps un drame sanglant sur vos terres, la-haut, au 'morne-au-lion.' Vous et moi avons done des morts sur la conscience. Les miens me tracassent peu. Et vous?" (63). While Claire reacts to this provocation by retreating behind an implacable class pride and vowing her eternal hatred toward Caledu--"Rien ne me fera baisser la tete, moi. Je ne plierai jamais [...] Je me drape dans une dignite de vieille souche tout en nourrissant en moi le venin de vipere" (63)--her unconscious tells a different story. Two successive dreams reveal a radically ambivalent Claire whose feelings fluxuate between love for and willful subjection to the consciously reviled Caledu. In the first instance, Claire dreams of Caledu shortly after vicariously suffering Jean-Luze's rebuke of Annette's advances: "C'est cette nuit-la que pour la premiere fois, j'ai vu se pencher sur moi un autre visage d'homme. J'ai senti ses mains me caresser, j'ai entendu sa voix me supplier, crier d'amour, sangloter de desespoir. Et j'ai ferme les yeux pour attirer contre moi un grand corps muscle, noir et nu que je n'ai pas voulu reconnaitre" (83). The black man she wishes not to recognize is undoubtedly Caledu, here figured as a physically strong yet emotionally desperate, pitiful supplicant in search of her love and affection. The second dream reverses this sentimental scene and presents its opposite, an image of a sadistic and sexualized Caledu who violently immolates a submissive Claire. The dream is narrated following a brief account of the increasingly brutal humiliation of Claire's neighbors and friends by Caledu's henchmen. In it, Claire appears naked and accused in an enormous arena before an enraged crowd, and cowers before a stone statue of Caledu bearing an enormous erect phallus: "La statue s'anima et le phallus s'agita, fievreusement. Je me jetai a ses pieds, a la fois soumise et revoltee, osant a peine lever les yeux, les cuisses serrees. J'entendis crier 'a mort, a mort.' C'etait la foule qui poussait Caledu a m'assassiner. Le froid d'un metal me caressa la peau du cou en meme temps qu'un eclat de rire feroce succedait seul aux cris de l'assistance, tout a coup silencieuse. L'arme s'enfonca doucement, profondement dans ma chair [...]. Puis, me relevant, je marchai dans une brume epaisse, les mains en avant, decapitee, avec ma tete qui se balancait sur ma poitrine. Morte et vivant ma mort" (145).
It is plausible to read the second nightmare, as Ronnie Scharfman does (238-39), as the repetition of Claire's traumatic victimization and domination by her father, since Claire herself consciously relates this dream to other nightmares of being whipped in a cage by the Clamont patriarch who takes the form of a lion, the family emblem: "Petite filie, j'ai souvent reve de mon pere metamorphose en un animal bipede a criniere de lion qui me fouettait, en rougissant, dans une cage dont je cherchais en vain la clef!" (145). Yet what is fascinating is that Claire's death wish stages an act of judgment, immolation, and sacrifice by the representative of the Noiriste military regime who appears as a supreme judge and sovereign. Insofar as Caledu acts before and presumably on behalf of a maddening crowd, unified in its endorsement of the murder, this sacrifice takes on a collective dimension. When viewed through the lens of Rene Girard's theory of mimetic violence, it is as though Claire becomes a sacrificial scapegoat for a community in crisis, a surrogate victim who serves as a substitute for all the potential culprits in the community and ensures the resolution of unappeased violence and the survival of the community as such. (14) In this sense, I would argue that Claire's fantasized self-sacrifice appears as the expression of an unconscious need for punishment and the desire to take responsibility for the salvation of the community. Caledu is the agent, and his erect phallus--a figure for the hypermasculine sexuality she secretly craves--the deadly instrument.
The question thus arises as to the roots of this guilt that demands collective retribution: Is it merely the guilt of the little girl who struggled against the oppressive father and continues to rebel against his social and moral dictates, now internalized within her, notably in her desire for Caledu, or does it emanate from Claire herself, the acculturated, authoritarian master who unconsciously feels remorse for acts of cruelty directed against the external victims of her class-based rage and pride? Upon further examination, Claire's narrative of coming of age expresses a profound sense of ambivalence with respect to her political and social identity, for it is a story of class privilege and a deadly massacre that leaves blood on her hands. Given the structure of the novel, Claire's memories of childhood are arguably traumatic. They arise not out of some conscious desire to recount her life story but rather as an unconscious detour from her violent present toward the memory of repressed trauma that Caledu's brutality reanimates, the content of which is experienced as knowledge only in its retrospective telling. (15) When Claire hears the desperate cries of a woman being seized outside her window in the middle of the night, she is overcome by the sight of a dagger, "un eclair en forme de poignard qui me sort de la tete et que je vois briller devant mes yeux comme un symbole" (104). The dagger may be read as the portent of a desire for violence that leaves Claire frightful and delirious (Scharfman 239). Claire writes, "Je me cache la figure dans les mains et pour empecher l'atroce vision de revenir, j'appelle mes souvenirs et je m'enfonce avec volupte et pour une fois dans ma vie passee" (104).
These memories include the primal scene of Claire's victimization by her father, analyzed above, as well as a far more ambiguous story of class privilege and a massacre that leaves blood on her hands. Claire discloses a crime that occurred upon her assumption at age nineteen of her father's role as head of the Clamont estate and commander of the abjectly poor peasants who cultivate coffee on the family's plantation. When she suspects them of cheating her out of her profit for the yield, she takes vengeance by lowering the price to such a level as to ruin them completely, thus forcing a generalized drop in coffee prices. In retaliation, neighboring cultivators stage a massacre on the Clamont property, leaving virtually everyone dead. "Les fermiers de mon pere payerent de leur vie mon coup de tete [...]. Le lendemain, raide et droite sur mon cheval, je vis de mes yeux les corps de nos fermiers, de leurs femmes et de leurs enfants haches, encore sanglants" (136). This massacre is followed by a catastrophic hurricane that kills many hundreds more and leaves thousands stranded and destined to migrate to the city as beggars, thus symbolizing an almost heavenly act of vengeance. Claire tacitly admits guilt when, upon Annette's attempted suicide, she privately acknowledges her responsibility both for her sister's attempt on her life and for an earlier, unnamed fault: "Pour la deuxieme fois dans la vie, la premiere datant de vingt ans, je n'ai pas envie de voir clair en moi-meme" (81). Yet despite her confessions here and elsewhere in her journal, her class privilege protects her from punishment until the black nationalists come to power and both Claire and the mulatto class are subject to surveillance and retaliation, this time by the police. As Claire's one-time suitor Frantz Camuse later explains, though without knowledge of her involvement, "Des tueries, des luttes de classe ont ete signalees a l'attention de la police. Et on se prepare pour l'instant a remplacer votre commandant d'arrondissement par un autre qui saura, parait-il, vous tenir en main [...]" (139). Stunningly, Claire is not only the perpetrator of an act of recrimination resulting indirectly in the mass murder of innocents, she bears responsibility for the arrival of the savage Caledu, who is alone judged capable of subduing the town's exceptionally belligerent mulatto elite. As Claire herself describes him, he was "choisi tout expres pour mater cette petite ville reputee pour son arrogance et ses prejuges" (22).
The relation between Claire and Caledu exhibits several characteristics of a mimetic crisis as theorized by Rene Girard. On one hand, Claire's own mediated aggression toward her subordinates, a form of violence that was forcibly inculcated in her by her own father, unleashes a cycle of mimetic violence aimed toward maintaining power, wealth, and social prestige. First it is the peasants who take revenge against those they presume to be guilty, followed by Caledu, whose systematic campaign of intimidation and terror against the mulatto elite in the name of black nationalism is designed to wrest the remaining symbols of mulatto privilege. At the same time, Caledu's violence demonstrates that the mimetic rivalry is no longer driven purely by the desire for the object that is coveted by another, but rather for the ontological sovereignty that its possession is seen to guarantee, such that the overriding goal becomes that of vanquishing the rival. (16) This dynamic of reciprocal conflict places Claire and Caledu in relation to one another as doubles, nearly identical in that their rivalry and mutual capacity for violence effaces their distinguishing social difference (Girard, Violence 79), a resemblance marked by the similarity of their names. The terror Caledu inspires within Claire is due not merely to his senseless acts of torture but, just as importantly, to the memory he arouses of her own repressed guilt, notably the reckless abuse of power that led her to endanger the lives of peasants in the interests of social hegemony and economic gain. This abuse ultimately provoked Caledu's brutal reprisals against all women of her class.
It is only in light of this personal history that Claire's conflicting dreams about Caledu take on their full significance. As Caledu's twin in the narrative, Claire understands his sadistic violence as someone who has herself suffered from abuse, exclusion, and racial hatred, only the better to exploit a position of domination. She is, therefore, uniquely situated to recognize that the origin of her sadism is a profound lack of love, which can just as easily lead to masochism before the desired love object. In her first dream, a fragile, supplicant Caledu seeks tenderness and affection from the woman whose class privilege he came to eradicate but who also becomes his final judge. His public position of mastery thus hides a concomitant tendency toward dependency and submission before his rival. Similarly, despite her repeated expressions of hatred and indignation toward him, Claire is unmistakably moved by Caledu's looks of longing; she perceives his desire underneath his avowed hatred, and this stokes her own desire. Her fantasies of Jean-Luze are unpredictably interspersed with thoughts of "another man," often unnamable in the text: "Dans la rue, un autre homme se promene, le visage tourne vers ma maison. Le point lumineux de sa cigarette trahit les gestes saccades de sa main. Qui guette cette homme? Cette ronde solitaire sous ma fenetre revele ou la haine ou l'amour" (92). When Caledu professes hatred toward her at Annette's wedding--"Notre haine est egale"--she fixates on his facial expression, which "seemed to belie his words": "Je me mis a trembler tandis que mes yeux s'accrochaient a ses levres, a ses dents, a ses mains" (100). This desire betrays, I would argue, an even more profound form of empathy glimpsed fleetingly in the text when Claire can no longer treat Caledu with hatred: "J'ai beau faire intervenir mon mepris, je n'arrive plus a conserver devant lui ce flegme aristocratique qui mettait entre nous la distance necessaire et le forcait, honteux, a baisser les yeux" (171). On the contrary, Claire's nightmare of Caledu the executioner reveals her masochism in the form of an unconscious desire both to become his libidinal object and to suffer at his hands for the vengeance of the masses. In identifying with him as oppressor, she wishes also to submit to him as a sacrificial victim.
Yet, if Claire's potential for cruelty mirrors that of Caledu, she just as importantly resembles members of her own class through her unconscious need for punishment. The masochism of the former mulatto elite provides a shocking counterpoint to Caledu's sadism, signified by the piercing screams that constantly emanate from the town's prison. The excessive passivity, complacency, and fatalism of the old "aristocracy" are not merely signs of arrogance or cowardice, as previous critics have asserted; they represent, I contend, an unconscious acceptance of guilt and a willingness to suffer. Here again, masochism appears as the other side of domination: the formerly powerful unconsciously seek redemption by suffering without resistance. This is apparent in the wake of Caledu's killing, in broad daylight and during a public religious ceremony, of the local "fool" Jacques Marti, the only one in the mulatto community who had the courage to publicly decry Caledu's cruelty. (17) Even the local doctor, Audier, chooses to flee the scene rather than offer any assistance to the dying Marti. When the Frenchman Jean-Luze repeatedly expresses disbelief at the apparent cowardice of the former elite before the terrorism and brutality of Caledu and his henchmen--"Mais, ce n'est pas possible que vous ne puissiez rien faire!" (69)--his outrage evokes only historical rationalizations from Audier, a former political idealist and "revolutionary" who is now totally cowed by Caledu. Though Audier diagnoses Haiti's troubles with a medical metaphor, the abscess, he has no antidote other than the tacit approval of his fate as just retribution: "Toujours en rebellion dans le passe, nous avons connu des jours inenarrables ou tous a la moindre insulte et tels des mousquetaires exigions reparation.... Peut-etre avons-nous merite ce que nous sommes en train de vivre" (56). In utter shock before this apparent apology for black nationalist terrorism--"Vous sentezvous a ce point coupable?"--Jean-Luze later indicts the inexplicable inaction of the society around him with an even more telling metaphor: "Ce fatalisme bon enfant qui vous fait docilement descendre vos culottes pour recevoir le fouet" (69).
This attitude of willful submission is akin to Freud's concept of moral masochism, that is, an unconscious need for punishment "through the pursuit of pain, subjugation and humiliation at the hands of all authority or the hands of fate" (Glick and Myers 5). Yet while Freud attributed this form of masochism to an unresolved Oedipus complex, Chauvet's novel insists on the irreducibly historical and social causes of her characters' unconscious feelings of guilt and their willingness to receive pain without resistance. (18) At the same time, mulatto attitudes in the novel consistently illustrate the Girardian notion that the masochist suffers pain not out of pleasure or an instinctual drive but because he aspires to the virtually divine sovereignty that the cruelty of the rival suggests to be near at hand (Girard, Things Hidden 331). As Audier explains, "Nous sommes encore tres jeunes. Peut-etre trouvons-nous normal de recevoir de temps a autre le fouet, comme vous dites. La reaction viendra. En temps voulu, elle viendra, croyez-moi" (69-70). Claire herself similarly rationalizes the current crisis as "la marche de l'histoire, le revirement de fait" (22), a natural consequence of the brutality of previous regimes: "Oui, peutetre ont-ils raison d'agir comme ils le font [...] peut-etre qu'a leur place je me montrerais aussi cupide, aussi implacable. Une seule chose reste valable: c'est qu'a la haine on ne peut repondre que par la haine" (144).
Claire would certainly know. For in exhibiting through her split subjectivity and intersubjective fantasies the complementary postures of mastery and slavery, domination and subordination, hatred and love, revolt and submission, terror and suffering, Claire symbolizes the shifting subject positions of the antagonists in a history based less in fate than in the consequence of trauma and its repetitions, or the cycle of mimetic violence. Both in Claire's psyche and in Haitian history, two parties are inextricably bound together in a reversible dynamic in which the violence of one is dependent on the submission of the other; as Lynn Chancer explains, "Neither feels that the other can be done without. Both sadist and masochist feel a compulsive need for physical and psychic connection to the other" (3). Rather than being a dynamic of pleasure and cruelty rooted in the instinctual life, sadomasochism in Marie Chauvet's Amour cannot be abstracted from the historical and social circumstances in which the exercise of domination is rooted and which condition in turn a posture of victimization. Yet, if these positions reverse so easily, it is because of the moral and ethical crisis that permeates the relation. In Claire's subconsciously fantasized relations with Caledu, her masochism is born of the almost unbearable yet unspoken burden of guilt arising from the conscious and unconscious acts of cruelty upon which her class position depends. Likewise, the readiness of the mulatto class to suffer violent recrimination expresses an unconscious anxiety over its historic racial and socioeconomic subjugation of the lower classes in Haiti. And just as each posture tends to transform into its necessary opposite, Haitian history has been a story of mutually reinforcing and frequently inverted relations of cruelty and vengeance between contending elites supported by the masses they manipulate. Viewed through the conceptual apparatus of Rene Girard, it is a crisis of reciprocal, mimetic violence that has never been salved by ritual sacrifice or by a sovereign judicial institution. As Claire points out, "Nous exercons a nous entr'egorger depuis l'Independance. Les griffes du peuple se sont acerees. La haine entre nous est nee. D'elle sont sorti les tortionnaires. Ils torturent avant d'egorger. C'est un heritage colonial auquel nous nous cramponnons [...]" (14). Claire had herself been inexorably split by her father's violent self-hatred, a trauma that constantly repeats itself in her internal neuroses, in her relations with others, and in her fantasy life. Yet Claire's relationship to Haitian history is more than allegorical; her very subject formation is a repetition of the originary trauma of Haitian history--colonial slavery--as perpetuated within the family dynamic and manifested more broadly in the mimetic violence of the collectivity. Rather than being rooted in instinct, sexuality, or Oedipus, sadomasochistic relations are, in Chauvet's work, a socially reproduced consequence of a history that deprives all subjects of love.
In such a climate, revolutionary change is illusory without a transcendence or disruption of the mimetic crisis. References to revolution abound in the text but are almost always ironic, thus signaling that revolution is neither wholly salutary nor sufficient to explain the significance of Claire's final action. Although Claire often describes her frustrated desire for revolt and libidinal vitality in terms of a revolution, her own dreamed-of beheading is strikingly reminiscent of historical accounts of French barbarism during the last years of the Haitian Revolution. Several surviving sources document spectacles of torture and dismemberment of captured black and mulatto prisoners staged for white audiences by the vicious French general Rochambeau in an amphitheater constructed on the grounds of a former convent. (19) Jean-Luze also makes frequent reference to the French Revolution as a historical allegory of the bitter rivalry between compatriots in Haiti, arguing repeatedly for a movement of violent resistance to Caledu's tyranny (25, 56). Yet, his rhetoric sounds painfully false as it offers up only the opportunity of another role reversal rather than an overcoming of the logic of vengeance: "Ceux qui sement la haine la voient se retourner, un jour, contre eux [...]. Derriere leur haine se dressent encore d'autres haines. 11 vous faut vous serrer les coudes et attendre votre moment" (151). Ultimately, Jean-Luze's position differs little from that of the moral masochists; he preaches a continuation of the mimetic crisis based on hatred and revenge. And as the name of Felicia's child, Jean-Claude--a clear reference to the contemporary dictator Francois Duvalier's son and successor--seems to suggest, the next populist prophet of recriminatory violence in the name of the oppressed has already been born.
In this light, I read Claire's ultimate act--her accidental murder of Caledu--as a deeply ambivalent reflection of her split subjectivity and the mimetic crisis it allegorizes, rather than as a revolutionary or heroic act as most critics have contended. Unable to actualize her desire to kill her sister, the displaced object of her rage, Claire resolves to kill herself, the internal adversary to her frustrated revolt, in the privacy of her bedroom. This act is again averted when she hears the clamor of revolution in the streets, led by Jean-Luze and his intellectual co-conspirators. Descending to her doorstep while still in a suicidal daze, she externalizes her aggression by stabbing the back of a beleaguered Caledu as he steps onto her veranda in search of cover from the generalized rebellion. The novel leaves little hope, however, that this action will resolve the problems facing Claire, or postcolonial Haiti. For in taking revenge upon Caledu, her rival and twin, Claire contributes to the very cycle of contagious, escalating reprisal under which she herself has suffered. Girard's theory of primitive retributory sacrifice suggests that the cycle of vengeance may be eschewed and reprisal forestalled only when the guilty party is deliberately spared punishment and an innocent victim put to death in his place: "By killing, not the murderer himself, but someone close to him, an act of perfect reciprocity is avoided and the necessity of revenge by-passed" (Violence 26). Barring such an act of reparation, what is needed, the novel seems to suggest, is mutual pardon, the condition of possibility of an escape from hatred, anger, and vengeance, which would require an even greater sacrifice. Perhaps the novel offers some hope for this possibility, if only ironically, in the very reciprocity of the rivals. For as is fleetingly apparent in the tenuous rapport between Claire and Caledu, and as the title of the novel suggests, somewhere along the path from sadism to masochism, from vengeance to remorse and back is the possibility for understanding, and what is otherwise totally absent from the novel, love.
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(1.) Joan Dayan translates Caledu's name as "one who hits hard" (234), but I prefer "beats," as the verb "kale" refers specifically to corporal punishment.
(2.) In response to the publication of Marie Chauvet's incendiary work in 1968, the Haitian government banned the book and, fearing political reprisals, the author's family confiscated the remaining copies in Haiti while persuading Gallimard to halt its sale and distribution from Paris. In 1973, Chauvet met an untimely death in New York, in total obscurity. This series of events resulted in the work's initial obscurity and blighted reception by all but the most determined scholars and enthusiasts of Haitian literature. On the literary suppression of Chauvet's trilogy and the author's exile and untimely demise, see Laraque; Dayan; and Scharfman. See also the prefatory note in the 2005 reprint "Pour la verite, pour 1'histoire," by members of Chauvet's family, in which the authors take issue with "sensationalist" allegations in recent scholarship.
(3.) In a largely psychoanalytic reading, Ronnie Scharfman interprets both plots in terms of Claire's father's initial wounding of her primary narcissism through his brutality and racist taunts. Accepting that she will never be loved and sublimating her repressed sexual desire through the staged adultery between Annette and Jean-Luze, she channels the rage she harbors against her father toward Caledu. Madeleine Cottenet-Hage, on the other hand, in one of the first scholarly studies of Amour, reads the political and the psychosexual as linked through Claire's final act. This act represents, for Cottenet-Hage, the victory of the political over the sexual, as Claire kills Caledu not to earn Jean-Luze's affection but rather to liberate herself from her futile passions and redirect her revolt toward the social and the collective. For Cottenet-Hage, this victory is only partial, however, since it is overdetermined by Claire's racial self-hatred. In killing Caledu, she willfully kills the part of herself she could never accept.
(4.) See Valerie Kaussen, Migrant Revolutions (chapter four) and "Irrational Revolutions." Kaussen regards dialectical struggle as a consequence of an existing relation of domination or inequality, as the subordinated subject struggles to be recognized as human by the one who already rejects him or her. So, for example, it is Jean-Luze's rejection of Claire that drives her love for him, which Kaussen interprets as a struggle for recognition (163). It could be argued that this analysis diverges from Kojeve's view of what is at stake in the Hegelian intersubjective struggle, for as Ethan Kleinberg explains, the struggle for recognition is a binary equation with the necessary condition that both parties see each other as equals (116-18). For an alternative reading of Claire's madness as a means of resistance against race, gender, and class oppression, see Lee-Keller.
(5.) This working definition draws largely on the ideas of Freud as outlined in The Ego and the Id, "A Short Account of Psycho-Analysis," and "The Economic Problem of Masochism," but it is also indebted to the critiques of Freud offered by Erich Fromm. By reformulating the Oedipus complex as a nonsexual struggle with authority within the family, I am also moving in the direction of Gananath Obeyesekere's revisions of Oedipus for the comparative study of cultures in The Work of Culture.
(6.) For a critique of the isolation of the concepts of libido, Oedipus complex, and wish fulfillment from the social in classical psychoanalysis, see Deleuze-Guattari 105-20; Tate 17; Jameson 66-68; and Fromm.
(7.) See, for example, Malinowski; Fromm; Marcuse; Deleuze and Guattari; Clarke; and Walton.
(8.) See especially Spillers; Tuhkanen; Walton; Bergner; and the essays in Abel, Christian, and Moglen. These writers go beyond the project, found variously in Tate; Fuss; and Lane, of merely applying psychoanalytic categories to the study of race without rigorously problematizing those very categories in terms of race. For a probing discussion of the critical reception of classical psychoanalysis by black writers in the Francophone Antillean departments, notably Frantz Fanon, see Britton.
(9.) At the time of the publication of Chauvet's trilogy, very few studies had ever been published in Haiti dealing with psychology, and these were primarily concerned with either dream interpretation or the relation between vaudou and the Haitian psyche. See, for example, Dorsainvil; Hyppolite. See also Victor.
(10.) Among Fanon's major innovations were his theories of the psychosocial basis of black Antillean negrophobia and of the relationship between colonial violence, racism, and sexuality. At the same time, he challenged the utility of several Freudian concepts in the Caribbean. On Fanon's refutation of the viability of the Oedipus complex in the French Caribbean, see Britton.
(11.) With this suggestive phrase, Clarisse Zimra defines the root of violence in Amour, though without further analysis. I am nonetheless indebted to her flash of insight in thinking through the role of guilt in the Haitian mimetic crisis. See Zimra 244.
(12.) All page references to the novel are to the original 1968 Gallimard edition.
(13.) My reading here is deeply indebted to Ronnie Scharfman's interpretation of Claire's beating as both the installation of a "white superego" and an instantiation of colonial violence (235-36).
(14.) Rene Girard attributes to the function of the scapegoat the resolution of social discord, the cessation of unappeased mimetic violence, and the foundation of culture, society, and religion. Most notable for my purposes is his hypothesis that "any community that has fallen prey to violence or has been stricken by some overwhelming catastrophe hurls itself blindly into the search for a scapegoat [...] alone responsible for the violent mimesis besetting [the community]." The expulsion and/or murder of the surrogate victim is therefore what ensures the unity and survival of the community as such. See Violence and the Sacred 79-81.
(15.) On the relations among trauma, memory, narration, and literature, see Felman and Laub; Caruth; and King.
(16.) Writes Girard: "The more the value of the object increases, the more this object comes to appear linked to an ontological superiority--a possession of the object which no one even thinks of claiming from him" (Things Hidden 333).
(17.) The name "Jacques Marti" is an unmistakable reference to the Cuban independence leader and poet Jose Marti (1853-1895).
(18.) On Freud's concept of "moral masochism," see Freud, "Economic Problem"; Chancer 87-88; and Fenichel 292,364. In his monumental study, Masochism in Modern Man, Theodor Reik proposed an alternative concept for a nonsexual masochism called "social masochism," but he still traced it back to instinctual causes.
(19.) A particularly riveting contemporary account may be found in [Juste Chanlatte] 63-67. See also James 359-60.
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|Author:||Garraway, Doris L.|
|Publication:||The Romanic Review|
|Date:||May 1, 2013|
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