Patricia McCarthy – A Commentary on Lacan’s Hainamoration and an Introduction to the Affair of Love Between James Joyce and Nora Barnacle

THE LETTER 33 (Spring 2005) pages 36-50

In keeping with the title of this year’s congress – On Feminine Sexuality, The Limits of Love and Knowledge, I am launching my own questions about love and feminine sexuality by talking firstly about a neologism of Lacan’s – hainamoration – the sense of which he developed over the course of two sessions of his Encore seminar. I will quote the definition of hainamoration from the session of 20th March 1973 because here he renders its sense at its clearest:

One could say that the more man attributes to the woman a confusion of himself with God, namely, of what she enjoys -remember my schema from the last time, I am not going to do it again – the less he hates; and at the same time, I said that I was equivocating on hait and est in French. Namely, that in this business, moreover, the less he loves.

Hainamoration versus ambivalence

As you can imagine, the yield of sense in this complex sentence is richer in the French because of the equivocation Lacan refers to around il est and il hait both sounding the same but having two meanings ‘he is’ or ‘he hates’. That apart, the sense of the sentence seems to be that the more a man confuses himself with what a woman enjoys, the less he is/hates and the less he loves. Put differently, this is to say, the less a man confuses himself with what a woman enjoys, the more he is/hates (il est/il hait)…


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