Abstract

This article analyzes how the (a)temporal and Traumarbeit structures found in Sigmund Freud's case-narrative Aus der Geschichte einer infantilen Neurose (1918), known as “The Wolf Man,” are built into Esteban Echeverría's short story “El matadero” (“The Slaughterhouse” 1871), one of the foundational texts of Latin American literature and Argentinean culture. For Freud, the Wolf Man's dream repeats the “primal scene” of his parents' coitus a tergo which had given birth to the phallus as the site of his pure lack, his beating fantasies and the threat of castration. Similarly, “El matadero” is the narrator's dream which indicates to him his constitutional lack located in the site of the sex organs of his ego personifications, the characters “bull” and “unitario.” These blind spots in the visual field propel the narrator's desire to know, first, if the bull has testicles and, second, the totality of the unitario's anatomy before he is to be sodomized. However, the synchronic juxtaposition of both lacks (bull and unitario) closes these gaps and foregrounds the traumatic encounter with the phallus qua nonlanguage void, Real (the disintegration of the Symbolic/Imaginary that negates the ego formation). This results in the unexplainable corporal fragmentation of the unitario, the narrator–dreamer's persona.

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