Published online by Cambridge University Press: 03 September 2021
This essay formulates a critical response to scholars’ Freudian-Lacanian understanding of Ovidian desire in terms of frustration, futility, absence and lack. It focuses on the Remedia Amoris, a poem it takes as paradigmatic and culminatory in Ovid’s elegiac project, and attempts to give an account of what is meaningful and productive about the rhythmic process of Ovidian amor in and of itself, through the lens of Jean-Luc Nancy’s recent book on jouissance (Coming, 2017). The Remedia, it argues, performs absence not as tragic loss but as an undoing-remaking that continually regenerates desire and teaches investment in the pleasure of process. The second half of the essay explores how the poem’s temporal instabilities and dislocated subject positions produce a series of imagined inter-relations and ‘elsewheres’ that move readers away from Lacanian desire as continually projected into an ungraspable future, and into the experience of jouissance in the elegiac present.
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