SOMETHING TO BE SCARED OF
of fear, alternating with optimal but precarious states of balance. Fear and object proceed together until the one represses the other. But in which one of us is that fully successful? HANS IS AFRAID OF THE UNNAMABLE And yet, the fear of which one can speak, the one therefore that has a signifiable object, is a more belated and more logical product that assumes all earlier alarms of archaic, non-representable fear. Spoken fear, hence subsequent to language and necessarily caught in the Oedipus structure, is disclosed as the fear of an unlikely object that turns out to be the substitute for another. Another "object"? That is what Freud believes when he hears the story of little Hans who is afraid of horses. He detects the fear of castrationâ€”of his mother's "missing" sexual organ, of the loss of his own, of the guilty desire to reduce the father to the same unmanning or to the same death, and so forth. This is astonishingly true, and not quite so. What is striking in the case of Hans, as little as he might be, what Freud does not cease to be astonished by, is his stupendous verbal skill: he assimilates and reproduces language with impressive eagerness and talent. So eager is he to name everything that he runs into the unnamableâ€”street sounds, that ceaseless trade activity involving horses in front of the house, the intensity with which his father, a recent convert to psychoanalysis, is interested in his body, his love for small girls, the stories and fantasies that he (the father) sexualizes to the utmost; the somewhat elusive, somewhat frail presence of his mother. All of this, which has already considerable sense for Hans without having found its significance, is doubtless distributed, as Freud says, between narcissistic conversation drive and sexual drive. It all becomes necessarily crystallized in the epistemophilic experience of Hans who wants to know himself and to know everything; to know, in particular, what seems to be lacking in his mother or could be lacking in himself. More generally, however, the phobia of horses becomes a hieroglyph that condenses all fears, from unnamable to namable.
Powers of Horror-Julia Kristeva