In this outstanding new collection, philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy takes up his perennial themes—community, embodiment, being-with, literature, politics, sense, and meaning—as part of a deep and mature appreciation of the fact that we are richly, joyfully, and thoroughly sexual beings.
In a concise but extremely important essay, “The ‘There Is’ of the Sexual Relation,” Nancy responds to Lacan’s dictum that “there is no sexual relation” and makes a radical argument for the central place of the sexual relation as our originary mode of being with one another. “The Birth of Breasts” is a beautiful reflection on human anatomy and the image and reality of the breast that draws on literature and poetry from Sappho to Beckett.
In “Strange Foreign Bodies,” Nancy revisits the philosophical territory of the relation between mind or spirit and body but reminds us that bodies are at once familiar to us and also irredeemably strange. “The Body of Pleasure” explores the body as the site of essentially finite pleasure, “finite because it reaches the end, the limit where the body tends to lose all form, becomes matter, an impenetrable mass. But this end also forms the touch of the outside and with it the joy of the world.”
Finally, “The Sexual Relation—and Then” builds on the insight into the central place of the sexual relation by considering specifically the generative possibilities of sex and the fact that we all came to be as the product of sexual relations.
Nancy’s Corpus, published in English in 2008, was the philosopher’s most sustained consideration of embodiment to date. Now, in Corpus II, he carries that work in new directions which constantly remind us that human bodies are sexed and sexual bodies.