The Morgue: Seeing the Unrepresentable

By Laurie Laufer

The French verb “morguer” means “to look down on”. The Morgue has been one of the most visited Parisian monuments of the century. From the perspective of Freud’s writing on “infantile sexual theories”, we could say that the child comes here in order to form a sexual theory: to see is to understand. The body is here in sight in its raw nude state. The scopic drive, which incites the very large audience to “come and see”, draws on the articulation between violence, sex and death. The scandal provoked by this institution indeed corresponds to what it shows: the scandal of a flayed, naked, broken up body, vis-à-vis which the gaze becomes an “exercise in cruelty”. A scandal of showing, where nudity, in an unspeakable manner, weaves together horror and fascination.

  • psychoanalysis
  • mortuary
  • representation
  • death
  • mourning
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