Sookie and Symptom, Vampire and Void: Irruption of the Real in True Blood

If you have 21 minutes of your time that you don’t mind you’ll never get back, check out the presentation I delivered at The Real and the Intermedial conference last month at Sapientia University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. It’s an “interimplication” of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory and HBO’s seven-season-long series, True Blood.

Abstract: Sookie Stackhouse, the protagonist of HBO’s True Blood and Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries book series from which it was adapted, is presented as a telepath who has grown up knowing what people “really” think. From the first episode, however, moments suggest we view the narrative and its characters symptomatically – after all, she literally hears voices in her head. In so doing, True Blood becomes an illustration of Lacanian concepts of subjectivity and the Real. We first meet Sookie as a hyper-sexually-repressed 24-year-old virgin, molested by her uncle and left in the care of her grandmother, with whom she still lives after losing both parents as a child. The extimate judgmental and sexualized voices in her head can be read as a mechanism constructed to cope with traumatic loss and abuse, and to justify her repression. The introduction of vampire Bill Compton signals the irruption of the Real into Sookie’s Imaginary and Symbolic orders. His unreadable mind presents a void upon which to project her fantasies. The immediate attraction she feels for Bill, manifestation of both Eros and Thanatos and a man “between two deaths,” is pure jouissance. Sookie’s real desire, though, is to have a real desire.

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