FETISHISM: The displacement of desire and fantasy onto alternative objects or body parts (eg. a foot fetish or a shoe fetish), in order to obviate a subject's confrontation with the castration complex. Freud came to realize in his essay on "Fetishism" that the fetishist is able at one and the same time to believe in his phantasy and to recognize that it is nothing but a phantasy. And yet, the fact of recognizing the phantasy as phantasy in no way reduces its power over the individual. Octave Mannoni, in an influential essay, phrased this paradoxical logic in this way: "je sais bien, mais quand-même" or "I know very well, but nevertheless." Zizek builds on this idea in theorizing the nature of ideology, which follows a similar contradictory logic. Kristeva goes so far as to associate all language with fetishism: "It is perhaps unavoidable that, when a subject confronts the factitiousness of object relation, when he stands at the place of the want that founds it, the fetish becomes a life preserver, temporary and slippery, but nonetheless indispensable. But is not exactly language our ultimate and inseparable fetish? And language, precisely, is based on fetishist denial ('I know that, but just the same,' 'the sign is not the thing, but just the same,' etc.) and defines us in our essence as speaking beings" (37).
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