Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?
—Donald Trump, as reported in The Washington Post
Q. What is a “shithole”?
A. It is an anus.
Life is painful and full of disappointment. The French psychoanalyst Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel, one of the great forgotten geniuses of the twentieth century, identified a bit of make-believe that might comfort a hurt, disappointed child: “the illusion that, with his pregenital sexuality, his immature and sterile penis, he is an adequate sexual partner for his mother and has nothing to envy in his father … so that he may be able to pretend to himself and to others that his pregenital sexuality is equal, if not superior, to genitality.” Today we revisit Chasseguet-Smirgel’s 1984 masterpiece, Creativity and Perversion. It is important to utter her meaning again in our time.
Chasseguet-Smirgel believed that the male child’s mechanism for pretending, for transforming his inferior prepubescence into sexual potency (“please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”), was based on tools he had at hand and based on processes in his own body. “All that is taboo, forbidden or sacred is devoured by the digestive tract, an enormous grinding machine disintegrating the molecules of the mass thus obtained in order to reduce it to excrement … One basic intention: to reduce the universe to faeces, or rather to annihilate the universe of differences (the genital universe) and put in its place the anal universe in which all particles are equal and interchangeable.” “In reality, in order to have a genital penis and to procreate, it is necessary to grow up, to mature, to wait, whereas faeces are a production common to adult and child, woman and man. The two differences—between the sexes and between generations—are abolished at the anal level. Time is wiped out.”
(For more on the bending of space-time, black-hole/shithole psychodynamics, and the anal destruction of difference, read my 2017 piece for the Daily.)
Psychotherapist Patricia Gosling writes that Chasseguet-Smirgel “thinks that perversion constitutes a universal temptation … to attack reality by attempting to dissolve or deny all limits and boundaries and all differences. It wishes to rise above the ordinary laws of time and space … the construction of a substitute reality where anything can become anything else as a defense against the pain of having to accept one’s relative place in reality.”
“I was never intimidated by my father.” —Donald Trump, The Art of the Deal
“Because he has not projected his Ego Ideal onto his father and genitality, he has not introjected his father’s genital attributes. The resulting identification gaps constitute a major obstacle to a real sublimation process. Idealization tends more toward aestheticism than creation, and when creation nevertheless develops, it often bears the stamp of aestheticism.” —Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel
What Chasseguet-Smirgel means by “aestheticism” here is “the need to idealize the environment, the scenery … Everything that surrounds the Ego is like a mirror in which it is reflected. This mirror must be refined, and in exquisite taste in order to disguise anality, covering it with a thousand glittering jewels.”
“That White House is a real dump.” —Donald Trump, reported by USA Today
“Under President Donald Trump, the White House will have new carpets, chairs with clawed feet, and plenty of golden eagles for decorations.” —Reported by Business Insider
“The ideal and idealistic conception of art corresponds to the fantasy of an Ideal Ego, dissatisfied with its successive incarnations, incapable of recovering its lost perfection, the one it had at the dawn of life. At the same time, it tries to place the subject in the centre of a ‘charmed circle’ … His Ego, basking in the wonderful light that surrounds it, will be thereby transfigured … This scenery gets to express itself, so to speak, in the subject’s Ego thus idealized.” —JCS
“The fear that anality may be unmasked, and, with it, the illusion upon which psycho-sexuality has erected itself, emerges explosively in The Picture of Dorian Gray. You surely are familiar with the plot. A handsome young man possesses a portrait of himself painted by a friend. Whereas his features remain amazingly youthful as the years go by, in spite of his progressive descent into infamy, it is the portrait that alters and ages, until it is repulsive to behold. Here, idealization appears clearly as a means of masking sadism and anality … Anality is not so much changed by the idealization process as it is merely covered with a coating of glittering jewels.” —JCS
“What does ‘disguised’ mean? I am under the impression that these presentations are marked with the sign contrary to that of the original presentations. The shining and the glittering are the opposite of the dull and the uniform … excrement … It is possible to detect anality not only behind the glittering ornament, but also in its very brilliancy.” —JCS
“Idealization implies extreme closeness to what is being masked. It is an unstable and fragile process … ever-near persecution. This is because, at any time, anality threatens to burst through the thin, glittering shell covering it and to reappear in broad daylight, like the hideous corpse of a drowning victim coming back to the surface, a process which is very clearly described at the end of The Picture of Dorian Gray … Idealization is only a thin film disguising an unchanged material, a mechanism aiming at masking the self.” —JCS
God, what a rotten time we are living in. Won’t it be lovely when the Hittite agricultural god Telipinus returns to remind us of the positive connotations of the phallus, as psychoanalyst Roberto Speziale-Bagliacca lists them: “the production of pleasure, research, nourishment, creativity, loss of self-control, fertilization, not to mention healthy exhibitionism”? To remind us of katsujinken, the sword that gives life?
In the next article in this series, we will review Chasseguet-Smirgel’s “A Short Essay on the Apocalypse,” moving on from shitholes and fecal pseudo phalluses to blood and semen; to the alt-right insult cuckservative and to the popular accusation “hey cuck how many illegals did you let come in your wife today” as a translation of how many alien bodies have penetrated the tribe or the motherland; to “build that wall” as an attempt to seal the mother’s body and “lock her up” (in a burka, maybe?); and to our old friend Blut und Boden.
Until then, try to enjoy constant terror of the overfilled, exploding body—of all humanity perishing in a child’s big-button, anal-sadistic nuclear tantrum.
J. D. Daniels is the winner of a Whiting Award and The Paris Review’s Terry Southern Prize. His recent work appears in Esquire, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Oxford American. His collection The Correspondence was released this month in paperback by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.