“The Crane Wife” is an old Japanese folktale that belongs to the genre of “interspecies marriage” stories. This story can be also read as one of hospitality. The theme of the story is the prohibition “You must not look.” What exactly happens at the moment the taboo is broken and the act of hospitality breaks off? We can examine this problematic moment by referring to Jacques Derrida and Emmanuel Levinas. In so doing, it is revealed that a failure of hospitality can simultaneously be a hidden path to its “success.”
There is at least one thing Freud’s Inhibitions, symptoms and anxiety establishes clearly, and that is that “id” and “superego” are engaged in a merciless battle. Between the two, however, in this fight, the place of the ego is not easy to define. In a word, Freud’s inquiry into or demonstration about the nature of the concept of ego can be open to criticism, and this mostly because Freud himself has a strikingly ambiguous manner of dealing with a notion he introduced himself to form his second topology. Readers of Inhibitions, symptoms and anxiety may remember how Section V ended on a rather disparaging portrait of the ego, pointing out the inability of the said ego “to carry out its office of mediator.”
Departing from the intimate relationship between writing and reading in Kafka’s oeuvre, this article aims to illustrate the transference effect of literature staged by Kafka’s “The Judgment” (1912). As a text telling the story of a conflict between father and son, “The Judgment” evokes an Oedipal struggle. The article suggests that despite these Oedipal connotations, the text resists representation, foregrounding its performative force. Tracing this performative force in the itenerary of the letter that the son writes to his friend in Russia, the article engages with Lacan’s conceptualization of “letter” and “literality.” With the help of other Kafka readers, particularly Adorno, Benjamin, Blanchot, Deleuze and Guattari, and Derrida, the article concludes that “The Judgment” can be read as a text of transgression –both of the Oedipal law and the laws of literature– in which the effect of transference leads to an experience of jouissance.
This paper further pursues my lifelong fascination with two intriguing issues in-volved in poetic language. First, language is logical and conceptual; but poetry uses it, sometimes, to convey nonlogical and nonconceptual experiences. Secondly, poets frequently solve this paradox by two additional paradoxes: expressing emotions by nonemotional descriptions of the immediate physical environment (mainly, but not exclusively, nature descriptions), and having recourse to deixis in combination with the genitive construction “the ABSTRACT of the CONCRETE”, manipulating the abstract noun into the referring position (abstract nouns are the conceptual tool par excellence, but in certain conditions may generate emotional qualities). This paper presents my attempts during the past decades to account for these paradoxes, first in the vein of New Criticism, then relying on cognitive psy-chology, finally invoking various stages of brain research. The discussion is fo-cussed on two excerpts, by Apollinaire and Wordsworth, describing an exceptionally serene morning in the great city, Paris and London, respectively.
The faux documentary Lake Mungo (2009) chronicles the paranormal events that befall an Australian family after the drowning death of their teenage daughter, Alice. Troubled by sounds, photos, and video footage which suggest that Alice is not ‘gone,’ they embark on a series of efforts to find her. When they stumble upon a hidden ‘sex tape’ of Alice involved in an enthusiastic ménage a’ trois with the couple next door, they learn that the ‘fun loving girl with a zest for life’ has become a sexually transgressive woman. This study focuses on manifestations of the implied ‘punishment’ accorded Alice for her behavior which is suggested to be of both a temporal and spatial nature and meted out by both Puritanical supernatural agents and her own family. The former are presumably responsible for Alice’s ensuing premonitions of her death in which she finds herself trapped in her own drowned body as well as the drowning itself. However, Alice’s subsequent confinement to the family house as a ghost-like entity who watches but cannot interact is implied to be the result of her family’s refusal to let her go. In their various grief-stricken efforts to ‘raise’ her from the dead—from literally digging up her body, to faking manifestations of her in death—they have resurrected and ‘trapped’ her. Yet once they learn of her statutory rape, her subsequent traumatic premonitions, and discover presumably consolatory evidence that Alice is now with them in the house, they decide to sell and move away. This final, seemingly hostile act, would appear to be the final punishment– her temporal and spatial isolation apparently deemed to be an apt fate for a ‘good girl’ gone bad.
Risky Business (1983) and Home Alone (1990) are strikingly similar popular American films, family comedies. In both, the family conveniently vanishes and the son is left home alone, presented with the temptations of a newfound freedom which he promptly abuses, and then with seemingly overwhelming problems which he solves through ingenuity and risk-taking. Both are fantasies of the wise child in which adults are unsympathetic (Risky Business) or incompetent (Home Alone) and the child becomes the real adult. If we consider the superego as the internalized voice of the parents and of the culture, then both young protagonists are in revolt against the superego. In both films, we see the paradox of the child hero trashing his home in order to defend it. The two films present a rebellion against superego, home, and family not as an assault but as a defense of superego, home, and family. Both films represent the divided societal superego of America in the 1980s.
The title As You Like It suggests satisfaction of the audience’s fancies. We propose that the play’s construction incorporates the strategy of dreams, in which a dream wish is disguised by dream work: here the “wish” is the consummation of Rosalind and Orlando’s mutual desire, and the dream work includes elision of logic, magical thinking, displacement, condensation, and symbolization. The audience become dreamers, and the improbable plot the dream. The dream-like qualities of the play are enhanced in the Forest of Arden, the realm of snake and lioness and fairy-tales, a territory that evokes wishes and fears. Shakespeare’s use of condensation accounts for some of the variability in interpretation and perception of the plays.
The title of this article is based on Seneca’s description of the sacrifice of Polyxena in “The Trojan Women.” The fear, desire, and transcendence that the sacrificed maiden elicits in the audience put the feminine at the center of an experience of fear and wonder that characterizes Shakespearean romance. This paper explores the paradoxical, early modern concept of “amazement” in relation to traumatic wounding and gender. Focusing on Shakespeare’s late romances, especially Cymbeline and The Winter’s Tale, I link the experience of terror to a traumatizing “evil queen” archetype. This fantasy inspires a sense of amazement as terror and results in the punishment of another archetypal character, the sacrificed maiden. When the female figure returns as the redeeming maiden at the end of Shakespeare’s romances, she allows the male spectator to approach the terror and desire that the feminine inspire in him by providing him with an escape into fantasy.
Sookie Stackhouse, the protagonist of HBO’s True Blood, is a telepath who has grown up knowing what people “really” think. From the first episode, however, moments suggest we view her character symptomatically—after all, she hears voices in her head. The series then becomes an illustration of Lacanian concepts of subjectivity and the Real. Sookie is a sexually-repressed 24-year-old virgin, molested by her great uncle and left in the care of her grandmother, with whom she still lives after losing both parents. The extimate 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 in the Symbolic order. His unreadable mind presents a void upon which to project her fantasies, but their relationship, mirroring that of analyst and analysand, provides a way for Sookie to work through her symptoms.
The Book of Daniel is a fictionalized version of the case of the Rosenbergs, Jewish-American Communists electrocuted by the American government as atomic spies in 1953. It is told by Daniel Isaacson, child of executed spies, in the form of his doctoral dissertation, but the structure of the narrative reflects Daniel’s self-therapy. It mimics a psychoanalytic session, in which the analysand may relate family history, recent events, and dreams, all kinds of material in no apparent order, sometimes with radical shifts in tone, including laughter, anger, and tears. The patient may go off on tangents and free-associate to the material he brings up. In that case, the reader plays the role of the listening analyst, and Daniel’s occasional aggression against the reader can be considered a form of transference. What takes place in the narrative is the long-delayed process of Daniel’s mourning. Like a Holocaust survivor, Daniel is consumed by survivor guilt. Daniel’s self-reproaches and his making the reader complicit are part of his unfinished mourning; they are disguised reproaches against his parents, whom he cannot forgive for abandoning him and his sister Susan.
This article explores Immanuel Kant’s contributions to psychology (specifically, the “Dreams of a Spirit-Seer” of 1766 and the “Classification of Mental Disorders” of 1764) in order to illuminate some connections between critical philosophy and psychology. Early in his career, and, surprisingly, in texts about hallucinations and mental illness, Kant’s expositions on the malfunctioning, (or extraordinary functioning) of the mind demonstrated interests similar to those that guided his philosophy decades afterwards. Kant’s philosophy has been credited with informing later developments in psychology and psychoanalysis. But the article argues that Kant’s early work demonstrates that early psychology also informs modern critical philosophy.
Identifying Gilbert Osmond as the embodiment of evil is a commonplace observation in the voluminous commentary on Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady. However, critics of the novel have been remiss in providing a comprehensive examination of Osmond’s nefarious actions and the depraved personality behind them. This essay deciphers evidence previously overlooked to reveal that Osmond is even more unscrupulous and evil than has been conventionally observed. In addition, the essay demonstrates why James’s depiction of Osmond endures as a compelling and insightful psychological portrait. Enabling one to fathom this enigmatic character, Heinz Kohut’s psychoanalytic profile of “narcissistic rage” illuminates Osmond’s pathological condition and provides a motive for his malignancy.
This article addresses an idiosyncrasy in Michelangelo’s art: the consistent depiction of angels without wings. This iconographical feature is not adequately explained by Art Historical methodolgy. A psychological explanation is offered based on the fact that, during the short period of Michelangelo`s infatuation with a young man, Tommaso Cavalieri, imagery of winged angels, winged figures, and winged flight became prominent in Michelangelo`s art, while in his poetry he repeatedly addressed Tommaso as a winged angel. This article argues that Michelangelo drew upon the established metaphorical meaning of wings as symbolizing permissible Platonic love in order to convey passionate homoerotic feelings. It is proposed that the homoerotic significance of wings and winged nude figures led the deeply religious artist, who repeatedly denied his homosexual inclinations, to avoid them in his depictions of angels, so as not to desecrate his Christian art with his sinful feelings.
The essay tries to shed some light on Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. It starts with an analysis of a seemingly irrelevant detail: the difference between gold and diamonds. Gold must be seen as a symptom pointing to Willy Loman’s obsession for imitation, which can be accounted for by a specific form of pathological narcissism, itself caused by a faulty representation of the structure of fatherhood in his unconscious. From there, it will prove necessary to question the protagonist’s peculiar relation to naming, especially his use of the Name of the Father. The approach chosen will be interpretative systematically progressing from symptoms to structures that are both ever more abstract and specific. In other words, the problem raised is to determine how far one can go from a theoretical point of view in order to reconstruct the logic governing Willy’s unconscious.