THE LETTER 22 (Summer 2001) pages 30-38
By way of an introduction
In what follows, firstly we will speak about the sacred character of the body, and its consequences for representation, mainly in writing. Chinese writing has the advantage of showing the direct relation between body, image and speech, that is, the relation between ideographs and phonographs common to calligrams. Most importantly the holiness characteristic of the body has consequences for every person who wishes to care for others, and in particular for those who wish to care for children.
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Why have the body and the representation of the body in all eras and civilisations been considered as holy? Our hypothesis is that what is holy corresponds to the unconscious investment of the body. In the mother’s desire to have a child, the child’s body replaces the phallus that she has been deprived of. Freud calls this ‘penis envy’. However, because the phallic signification of the child’s body is incestuous, it is repressed and reappears in a mystified way in a sacred, religious dimension. Our body has been the object of maternal desire and hence, we are not our body, but we have it. We ignore what our own body is like, and that is why the mirror, our external perception by others and their love, matter so…