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 Take, for example, another larger­-than-life A|X retail display. What are we looking at here? The previous image—a spec(tac)ular ménage­ à trois—gathers humorous force through a unilateral chain of vectorial displacements: he likes she likes he likes him (a tired trope given a minor twist). This image, by contrast, builds angular momentum through multilateral (if partial and abortive) subversions of gender and power roles. Now, if we first isolate the visual tropes and narrative devices, we may better see how they interdepend (literally, how they ‘hang together’). Who’s “we”? As in situ consumers, we look at the display; as marketers or analysts, we look to assess the total situation, including the material image and its ideal consumers—both its (active?) participants and its (passive?) spectators. Insofar as we have no access to an ‘objective’ viewpoint, we must be equipped to project ourselves into a variety of conflicting subject­-positions. This is, in reality, easier done than said. In practice: when I encounter such advertising, with whom am I bound to identify, being a (directly actual) male or (indirectly hypothetical) female target? By what means? To what ends?

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Genders255.jpg


 Each psyche is bound to a reflexive matrix of identifications,  among which Lacan’s alienated compare to Jung’s projective insofar as the underlying mechanisms are determined by collective formal constraints which are empirically manifest in/as/by individuals. In Lacanian terms, repeated instances of non­-conscious specular capture compile a catalogue of semblables (re­-assembled re-semblances, if you will; from Lat. simulare, whence Eng. simulate) in which our own images are conflated with those of others. These phantasmic ‘statues’ reside at once inside (identified as) and outside (alienated from) our persons. In more folk­-psychological terms, my ‘self-image’ is modeled first directly on (by, in, as) my body­-image—my whole form as my ‘eye’ sees it, reflected in actual mirrors, and second indirectly by my ego­-image (or ‘ideal ego’) as my “I” refracts it through virtual intersubjective mirrors. If, by Irigaray’s logic, a involuntary, objectified female “subordination” follows from the voluntary, subjectivized norm of male ordination (nomination, entitlement), thus canceling her would­-be subject position, then how (or where) do we situate the female spectator

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