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Coming Together: The Six Modes of Irigarayan Eros




Luce Irigaray's provocative vision of eros is often expressed in what Elizabeth Grosz calls “rambling and apparently disconnected” language, and nowhere in Irigaray's texts is it presented as a coherent account. With the goal of elaborating the significance of Irigaray's vision, I here set out to construct such an account. After first defining the Irigarayan erotic encounter as a paradoxical conjunction of “separation and alliance,” I then aim to show that its structure may be productively interpreted in terms of six co-present modes: (i) wonder, the affective mode; (ii) touch, the sensuous mode; (iii) transgression, the subjective mode; (iv) fluidity, the elemental mode; (v) future, the temporal mode; and (vi) threeness, the numerical mode. From this interpretation, I argue, there emerges a new understanding of the immense power of Irigarayan eros as a “sexual or carnal ethics” and as a constitutive force not only for embodied subjectivity and intersubjectivity but also for sexual difference itself.