Discuss Cixous's creation of a theoretical Utopia through her writings, as analyzed by Toril Moi.

Toril Moi links the writings of Helene Cixous to utopias with Jacques Lacan’s concept of “the Imaginary.” Moi defines “the Imaginary” as a “space in which all difference has been abolished.” For Moi, utopias and Cixous’s writing seek to eradicate variance. Using excerpts from Cixous’s work, Moi argues that Cixous’s theories share many of the homogenizing, authoritarian, and fabulist traits of utopias.

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As you might already know, Toril Moi and Helene Cixous are two contemporary feminist theorist. In Moi’s book Sexual/Textual Politics, she discusses Cixous’s theories in a chapter called “Helen Cixous: An imaginary utopia.”

In this chapter, Moi analyzes the intricacies and paradoxes of Cixous’s ideas. Though I referred to...

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As you might already know, Toril Moi and Helene Cixous are two contemporary feminist theorist. In Moi’s book Sexual/Textual Politics, she discusses Cixous’s theories in a chapter called “Helen Cixous: An imaginary utopia.”

In this chapter, Moi analyzes the intricacies and paradoxes of Cixous’s ideas. Though I referred to her in the first paragraph as a feminist theorist, Cixous herself doesn’t identify as a feminist. More so, as Moi writes, Cixous “believes neither in theory nor analysis.” According to Moi, Cixous is most focused on “the Imaginary.”

That term, as Moi explains, comes from the French psychoanalyst and theorist Jacques Lacan. Neatly summarizing Lacan’s idea of “the Imaginary,” Moi defines the term as a “space in which all difference has been abolished.”

Moi supports her argument that Cixous’s concepts are founded on “the Imaginary” by including an excerpt from Cixous’s essay on Medusa. In the essay, Cixous writes how women are “sea, sand, coral, sea-weed, beaches, tides, swimmers, children, waves.”

Moi notes the water imagery and how it collapses boundaries and differences. A woman, symbolized by fluid water, can be everything from the sea to the sand.

All of the above leads Moi to the idea of utopias. Moi likens Cixous’s writing to a utopia because Moi believes “the Imaginary is common in utopian writing.” It’s hard to argue with her. If you’ve read utopian novels, like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, you might have noticed a lot of homogeneity and a significant lack of difference.

Moi also connects Cixous’s thoughts to the authoritarian drive that seems to impel most utopias. Moi’s emphasis on being all things might be freeing, but it might also be oppressive, proscriptive, or, to use Moi’s word again, “authoritarian.” The shape-shifting freedom turns into a type of subjection. You have to be all things whether you want to or not.

You might also note how Moi links Cixous's theories and utopia when she says both “constitute a flight from the dominant social reality.” Moi reminds the reader that women aren’t mythological, imaginary creatures. They are people and “social beings.” As people are flawed and imperfect, it’s hard for them to construct a flawless, perfect world—in other words, a utopia.

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