Enjoying the Symptom: David Foster Wallace’s Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
Keywords:masculinity , the male discourse , the symptom , the symbolic order , objet petit a, jouissance
This article investigates David Foster Wallace’s subversion of masculinity in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. The loud and rambling monologues of the male characters embody instances of objectifying women, glorifying predatory sexuality, and equating masculinity with quick sexual gratification. The male characters, however, seem to be constantly plagued with the threatening presence of women. In the “Brief Interviews” sections of Wallace’s collection of stories, the paradoxes and inconsistencies of the male discourse reveal the symptoms of male neurosis connected with the repressed female, the most conspicuous evidence of which is the silenced figure of the female therapist/interviewer. Rendered through dark and subversive humour, the symptoms indicate the male anxieties related with the inability to represent women. Drawing on the central concepts of Lacan and Freud, I aim to show the ways in which Wallace undermines the hegemonic notions of masculinity through his subversive use of the symptom. I argue that Wallace’s portrayals of the interviewees’ enjoyment of the symptom underlies his subversive ridicule of the male attempts of sustaining the illusory pleasure.
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