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Tactile PoeticsTouch and Contemporary Writing$
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Sarah Jackson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748685318

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748685318.001.0001

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The Law of Tact

The Law of Tact

Freud and H.D.

(p.51) Chapter 3 The Law of Tact
Tactile Poetics

Sarah Jackson

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter addresses the ‘law of tact’ that pervades our everyday professional, social and familial exchanges. Focusing on the parallel taboos against touching in psychoanalysis and in the Judeo-Christian tradition, it discusses the ‘Noli Me Tangere’ scene when Jesus says to Mary Magdalene ‘Touch me not’, stressing the spacing and withdrawal that always interrupt contact. The chapter explores these biblical resonances in H.D.'s account of her psychoanalytic encounter with Sigmund Freud in Tribute to Freud, a prohibition that is replicated in her letters to Bryher. Drawing on the work of Jacques Derrida and Jean-Luc Nancy, the chapter re-reads the psychoanalytic relationship through the figure of Freud's dog, Yofi, arguing that H.D. and Freud perform the instruction to touch and at the same time demonstrate a tactful withdrawal.

Keywords:   dog, Noli Me Tangere, prohibition, psychoanalysis, taboo, tact, Jacques Derrida, H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), Sigmund Freud, Jean-Luc Nancy

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