So I'm looking for material in Garry M. Leonard's Reading Dubliners Again: A Lacanian Perspective, and I come across this bit of wisdom:
Lacan's theory suggests that all who read or analyze fiction do so to deny the fact of their own castration. People do this whether they are masculine or feminine subjects because both of these gender constructs are attempts to avoid knowledge of the symbolic castration. . . . For Lacan, castration refers to the fact that people are permanently incomplete and however much they try to complete themselves with language and other signifiers in the Symbolic Order, they are only dealing with substitute objects of desire that merely stand in for the unity they imagined in the mirror phase. The fear, in other words, is not of organ loss but of loss of the (fictional) unity of the "self." In deciphering the meaning of a story and in discovering the motivation of a character, they feel they are confirming the validity of the gender and identity myths that deny the Real of symbolic castration. Instead of seeing the "self" as a fictional construct, dependent on language, signifying chains in the Symbolic Order, and the gaze and Desire of the Other, they see themselves as autonomous beings in control of the reality that confronts them.
        [I forget what page--open it anywhere for more of the same.]

Gee, I had no idea.  I thought I just liked good stories.

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