By Elizabeth Stewart

ISBN-10: 1441116834

ISBN-13: 9781441116833

Exhibits how Benjamin’s strategies in regards to the individual’s event of the cloth international make major touch with post-Freudian psychoanalytic conception.

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Extra info for Catastrophe and Survival: Walter Benjamin and Psychoanalysis

Sample text

Language, too, suffers as it loses its communicative powers in the Baroque. Disarticulations of thought and language find their response and “solution” in the “restoration” of Calderón’s and the Counter-Reformation’s closed drama of fate and guilt, where power, authority, and stability are 28 Catastrophe and Survival reestablished by way of closures and stoppages that stand at the other extreme of the fragmenting stoppages of the martyr. Fate in these dramas of reaction is not what hangs over everyone in the form of ambiguity, as it is in the Trauerspiel, but is rather embodied and controlled by the king: In the drama of the Spanish dramatist [Calderón] fate emerges as the elemental spirit of history, and it is logical that the king alone, the great restorer of the disturbed order of creation, is able to conciliate it.

The best way to put it at this point would be to say that the Trauerspiel becomes neurotic and symptomatic and that it leaks unbound, non-signifying, and “suffering” language. To the extent that language is constitutive of subjectivity, in that locus in the Trauerspiel where the tragic individual in his unity and cohesiveness is no longer possible and transmissibility fails, subjectivity suffers a state of anomie. The modern subject, figured there in the crazed behavior and suffering of the tyrant-martyr and saint—which is simultaneously the site of the origin of the Trauerspiel itself—is invaded by the real in the Lacanian sense.

How . . melancholy it is to be named not from the one blessed paradisiacal language of names, but from the hundred languages of man, in which name has already withered, yet 34 Catastrophe and Survival which, according to God’s pronouncement, have knowledge of things. (Benjamin 1916/1996, 72–3) In modernity language itself has suffered a catastrophe. This is the situation in which baroque man finds himself. Nature’s lament, the sign of loss, is caused by what Benjamin in 1916 calls “overnaming” (the “hundred languages”), the single word that best sums up the physiognomy of the Baroque.

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Catastrophe and Survival: Walter Benjamin and Psychoanalysis by Elizabeth Stewart


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