Sex, Dialectics and the Misery of Happiness

Greg Tuck


This paper offers a reading of Todd Solondz Happiness (1998) in relation to Lacan’s notion of sexual difference.  It argues that both the film and theorist present a ‘logic’ of sexuality and sexual difference which seems to owe much to Hegel’s master-slave dialectic but that in the end owes more to Kojève’s (mis)reading than to Hegel himself.  It outlines the usefulness of an expanded notion of the dialectic to understand sexual difference through the inclusion of the Hegelian figures of the stoic, the sceptic and the unhappy consciousness.  It also suggest that the priority of identity and non-identity to dialectic logic has been obscured by this focus on the master-slave relationship and that an analysis of the role of the autoerotic develops modes of sexual similarity and difference that cuts across heteronormative gender lines.  The anxiety both Lacan and the film seem to suffer with regard to autoerotic is then used to critique their sexual conservatism and their prescriptive rather than descriptive representation of sexual relationships.


Solondz; Lacan; Hegel; Dialectics; Sexual Difference; Masturbation

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