(on the book, “Androgen: Utopia of the Perfect Sex,” by Maja Bojadžievska, Sigmapres, Skopje, 1999)
The imaginary phase in the growth of a child starts by a reflection of the face in the mirror, and self-recognition in it. This is a phase of shaping and ascertainment of one’s self according to one’s own image. In marking this state, psychoanalysis uses the term mine – which means I. This primary phase shows that we are dealing with a projection case because I is already in the image, it means someone different, the Other. This early phase presents the act of separation, but also the way towards the mature phase in which a certain more different, articulated power of law starts to operate. Namely, it envisages the manners of external manifestation of needs and wishes.
According to psychoanalysis, in this phase a symbolic castration of the relationship with the parent is realised by an introduction of a prohibition called incest. Apart from this primary and primeval articulation of wishes, there are a number of others. Hence, it becomes clear that the way to the Other becomes a way filled with barriers as well as a way in which mediation and evasion remain as the only means of realisation of a variety of wishes. The law paragraphs for constituting a social life in a community assume the articulation of wishes, and thereby their transformation and suppression because within it there appears a necessity for infiltration of separations, cross-sections and differences, after which the phase of the imaginary I becomes old and lost forever. It will exist marked by a constant desire, love, and need for return to the early phase as a way of return to one’s self. Outside this passive status of desire, there is perhaps one more possibility although it remains in the domain of the mediated, evaded satisfactions. The present concept of dimensioning human life gives priority to the language action, which is most active in the area of the artistic text since under the wing of its fictive nature, the text simulates the act of return to one’s self.1F
By quoting these references of Lacan’s psychoanalytic views on the division of the subject, I begin my review on the study, Androgen – Utopia of the Perfect Sex, by Maja Bojadžievska since I believe they correspond to the nucleus of the ideas elaborated in this study, although the author herself does not make an explicit reference to or quotation of them.
Androgen– Utopia of the Perfect Sex is a study that in an exquisite manner deals with one of the extremely controversial patterns of the codex relevant to the spheres of today’s living, and through it speaks of the essential issue of division, differences, and the need for a union that is determinative for the entire history of human living.
The term androgen itself is originally related to bisexuality. On the basis of the notes of the feminist criticism, for instance the notes by Ruthven, the term points to the supremacy of the male over the female2F. On the other hand, the term giandria, instead of androgen, suggested by Gilbert and Gubar3F, is neither adapted nor actualised on a broader plan in the long and widely accepted practice of criticism, not even in the practice of feminist criticism. Therefore the adherence of Bojadžievska to a mythological paradigm and terminology topical in such criticism as opposed to the feminist currents in criticism is fully justified.
In this study, the authentic trace referring to sex differentiation grows into an intricate cultural analysis of the many-layered differences between people: sexual, ideological, social, racial, and professional. The extended dimensioning of the androgen symbolics is actualised particularly in the second part of the study where the open form of novels in romanticism and modernism is included as a subject of analysis. Therefore according to our convictions the term androgen, actualised in Bojadžievska’s study, is acceptable as appropriate and equivalent to the equally controversial term – man. This is the reason why I comprehend the search for androgyny in the literature Bojadžievska is concerned with as a quest for the pristine dimension of living as One.
If the androgen myth is the starting point in this study then, there logically rises the issue of the efficient instruments of analysis that the author selects out of the extensive arsenal of methodological directions in modern literature science. In accordance with the definitions made crystal clear in the subtitle of this study (“Mythocritical Essay”), it becomes evident that the author commences a synchronised selection of mythemic contents that anticipate the androgen symbol. Parallel to this, the project is globally elevated to the level of a mythocritical analysis observing the mythic orientations characteristic of a whole epoch, i.e. their extended focusing in the various social, historic, and cultural discourses.
Hence, I reckon that Maja Bojadžievska’s study is in the core a deeply elaborated comparative study composed of descriptions of the androgen in the ritualistic-mythological and philosophical projections, in esoteric teachings at the initial times AC, all the way to the incarnations of the androgen myth she focalises in the epochs of romanticism, decadentism, and modern literature or concretely in the novels of V. Woolf, and R. Muzil.
In this comparative research, bearing in mind the defined objective and the globality of the analysis undertaking, Jacque Dirran’s complex symbolic theory of the imaginary proves to be the most useful. Through this theory Bojadžievska promotes her polyvalent approach that frequently makes reference to the anthropological, psychoanalytical, and structurally semiotic approach, constructing a complex methodology applicable in the precise defining of the objective: an analysis of the mythological aspect of the androgen. This simultaneously implies that the unity launched by the symbolics of the androgen in Bojadžievska’s study has its projection in the applied methodological apparatus.
The utopian project on “the perfect sex”, whose upholder is Maja Bojadžievska, finds its definite argumentation in this study. In my opinion, we are dealing with an attempt-an essay (again a hybrid form, a form of unity) for making use of the expression, the text, in order to mark a trace on the road leading towards surmounting of the irreconcilable contrasts of the partners, he and she, of the dialogic partners, who after their fatal fall in “matter” remain separated forever. This means that I see this study as an attempt for a projection of an extremely humane idea of transformation of the separated ones, who still yearn for each other although rooted in their historically deemed architectonic position. I believe that this new vision denotes an egress from the individual, various livings by using the opportunity called a dialogue. The communication within the framework of a dialogue ensures the entry into the happenings of the Other, not for the sake of possession but for grasping his entity and definiteness of limits. Understandably, a couple of authors, for instance Bachtin, speak about the impossible realisation of whatsoever agreements, especially referring to the novel. Others such as feminist criticism through the prism of gender differences discuss the exclusion of the female from the view of the male culture so that she could simply exit from the domain of submission and measurement in compliance with the codes of the patriarchal cultural machinery. Yet, Bojadžievska’s study is an announcement of a more different, utopian project of unity.
The history of dialogic piercing into the Other, into his different sexual, cultural, national, and racial identity outlines the utopia of the perfect sex of the androgen. The stories Bojadžievska brings into focus are separated as paradigmatic forms of desire, love, through which the surmounting of the unique and detached standpoints of the personal architecture of the individual is a permanent and ultimate aim. Individuality as a historical achievement of the human development in respect of sex, culture, and race finishes in a tragic state of solitude. So the chance of revision seems to be possible only in the circle of disputes of this kind because in them, by the mediation of the ritualistic-mythological, literary, and philosophical discourse that anticipates the imaginary picture of the androgen, there is pleasure felt in the surmounting of barriers. With its interdisciplinary research method, the study infiltrates the need for abandonment of the matrix under whose influence the picture of the Other is coloured and measured. This points to the way out of the sphere of perception of the look that petrifies and to the finding of the mythic and utopian unity reflected in the androgen symbolics.
Bojadžievska poses the issue of the history of dividing consciousness into layers and separation from the Other, he from her, as a problem of time. The path of changes in an irretrievable direction of solitude in death is amortised at the cost of the utopian vision commensurate to the beginning, the mythical pra-state of the One. She presents the dialogue as a manner and the motif of love and yearning as a link of the two generic, lingual, or ideological entities into a whole, not only of the story, novel, or philosophical thought, but also in the perspective of future life. Therefore there is justification of the reference utopia.
In her mythoanalysis, Bojadžievska refers to an annihilation of the reflexive distance necessary for understanding of the Other, but also to his experience limited to the space of his own being. Consequently, she insists upon nuancing and shadowing, a revision of the limits that reduce the existential space of the individual.
The egocentricity of the sexual identity is suppressed but it is at the same time supplemented by a humane perspective through which the inter-subjective relations are activated. Thereupon, this study presents an endeavour to realise a projection in the mirror of the future in order to establish a certain dialogical response. This denotes that for the first time this study establishes the parameters of life as opposite to the established conventions and norms by the participation of the permanently accentuated, unremitting energy of the artistic spirit. Bojadžievska’s mythocritical thesis is in pursuance of the way on the opposite side of the current horizon of differences and separations. She inaugurates the humanism of a specific communication idyll, which for many thorough historians, theoreticians, and philosophers of the 20th century seems to be futile. The argument they are in favour of is the contents of the picture of the world from the end of this century: it incorporates all aspects of annihilation of the Other or his negation. Bojadžievska eliminates the exclusiveness of annihilation by the activating of the magic formula of unity mirrored in the androgen symbolics.
Eventually, I would like to add that there remains an open question: whether Bojadžievska’s study will be comprehended through such a larger perspective in which the influence of the dialogue between the different cultural codes would be activated so as to open the area of true living, or everything will be understood only as a utopian desire closed in the imaginary project of every researcher?
Translated by: Kristina Zimbakova
1. Žak Lakan, Spisi, Beograd, 1983, 5-13.
2. K.K. Ruthven, Feminist Literary Studies: An Introduction, Cambridge, 1984.
3. Sandra M.Gilbert, Susan, Gubar, The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth – century Literary Imagination, 1979.