Impossible Births: Childbirth Beyond the (M)other in Jacques Lacan and Mina Loy

By: Genevieve Smart

Abstract: In its analysis of Mina Loy’s 1914 poem “Parturition” alongside Jacques Lacan’s theory of the Real, this article considers how childbirth problematises dominant notions of subjectivity, gender, and temporality. Beyond the identity category of ‘mother,’ it begins by examining childbirth as an intersubjective phenomenon which complicates the distinctions between inside and outside, self and (m)other, and man and woman. It then explores how childbirth disrupts linear notions of temporality in Loy and Lacan. Far from the ultimate ‘beginning,’ childbirth is portrayed as a psychological substratum which rises from the subconscious throughout one’s lifetime, and as the goal of the death drive. Finally, it explicates the ways in which Loy and Lacan centre childbirth in theories of artistic and cosmic creation. In both writers, parturition is regarded as a phenomenon which is able to challenge, and therefore reconfigure, the dominant logics which underpin our sense of the ‘possible.’