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The Threshold of the Visible World advances a revolutionary new political aesthetic--Kaja Silverman explores the possibilities for looking beyond the restrictive mandates of the self, and the normative aspects of the cultural image-repertoire. She provides a detailed account of the social and psychic forces which constrain us to look and identify in normative ways, and the violence which that normativity implies. Accounting for these phenomena on both a conscious and an unconcious level, Silverman analyzes the psychic and textual conditions under which our "field of vision" can be expanded.
The title of this book is taken from Lacan's essay on the mirror stage. In that text, Lacan writes that "the mirror-image would seem to be the threshold of the visible world." He thereby suggests that the visible world has no existence as such until the infant subject has access to an image of self. Lacan intimates that the mirror provides the frame through which one relates to others within the domain of vision, stressing the priority of narcissism and the ego over all other libidinal transactions.
The Threshold of the Visible World provides a psychic, social and political specification of Lacan's claim, and most particularly of its implications for the subject's relations to the social other. This is accomplished through examination of the ego, as well as two other categories at the center of Lacan's account of the mirror stage: ideality and identification.
This book is an ethical-political project which leads to the re-elaboration of a number of crucial theoretical categories--Silverman offers an account of the bodily ego, of identification, of idealization, of the gaze, of the look, and of the "photographic." The Threshold of the Visible World leads as well to the formulation of a fresh model for conceptualizing sexual, racial and class "difference," and the terms under which it might be dismantled. This book thus seeks to apprehend the field of vision through the frame of a different kind of bodily ego, and discover the pleasures to be derived from corporeal transport.