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American Imago 62.1 (2005) 1-5
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Peter L. Rudnytsky
In assuming the editorship of American Imago in the fall of 2001, I signaled the direction in which I sought to lead the journal by giving my inaugural issue the title "The Significance of Psychoanalysis for the Human Sciences." Since that time, I have succeeded in implementing three major changes: including a limited number of book reviews in each issue, often with a dialogical component; inviting a distinguished colleague to serve as guest editor for the annual Fall issue; and always assembling the papers around a unifying theme, thus making every issue of the journal a "special issue." (Some prospective contributors, incidentally, have told me that they were under the impression that this means the articles published in American Imago are solicited. This is not the case. As is true of this issue, almost every essay comes in "over the transom," and I depend on the Derridean principle that la glu de l'aléa fait sens—the glue of randomness makes meaning—to impose my secondary revision on the primary process generated by the submissions we receive.)
Now, as we begin a new calendar year, I am pleased to be able to announce that, with the support of The Johns Hopkins University Press, we are changing the subtitle of American Imago from Studies in Psychoanalysis and Culture to Psychoanalysis and the Human Sciences. My reasons for wishing to place this fresh stamp on the journal were spelled out in my maiden Preface. In brief, although it is customary to oppose the Geisteswissenschaften or "human sciences" to the Naturwissenschaften or "natural sciences," the very act of positing an antimony between the "human" and "natural" sciences paradoxically also brings these terms into conjunction.1 The effect is to raise fundamental questions about the disciplinary identity of psychoanalysis. Is it a purely hermeneutic endeavor? A natural science? A combination of both? [End Page 1]
Since its founding in 1939 as the continuation of the original Imago going back to 1912, American Imago has taken as its purview the manifold relations between psychoanalysis and culture. To be sure, this remains our mission. But in casting our net as widely as possible, we refuse the conventional distinction between "pure" and "applied" analysis, since even an encounter between analyst and patient may be viewed as an "application" of theory, just as we do not prejudge what kind of "science" psychoanalysis may be. Like American Imago itself, the term "human sciences" is at once venerable and contemporary; and I invoke it ultimately as a way of reaffirming our claim to set the standard in psychoanalytic scholarship and to be the place where the academic and clinical worlds most rigorously and resonantly intersect.
With apologies to Professor Ed Cohen of Rutgers, author of Talk on the Wilde Side (1993), for the banalization of his title, I am delighted in this issue to offer five essays that examine the "wild side" in major monuments of American literature and culture. Both Sharon Talley, on Thoreau, and Julio C. Avalos, Jr., on Twain, probe deeply into the lives of their subjects—particularly their conflicted relationships to their mothers and the experience of sibling loss—to shed fresh light on their works. Talley takes up what F. O. Matthiessen termed "the varied play of all his senses" that distinguishes Thoreau from his contemporaries, highlighting the conflict between "the pleasure he derived from contact with nature" and "the fear of physical intimacy" that "pervades Thoreau's attitude toward touch." Drawing on key dreams from both Thoreau's childhood and adulthood, Talley reads the neglected Cape Cod as an anti-Walden, in which the untamable ocean (on which Thoreau refused to set sail) incarnates the "Rough" face of Mother Nature, by contrast with her "Smooth" face presented by his beloved lake.
Whereas Thoreau literally "walked on the wild side" when he hiked the Cape with his friend William Ellery Channing, Twain's excursions into the primitive are metaphorical. In an ambitious rereading of texts from both the early and late phases of his career, Avalos demonstrates "the pervasiveness of masochistic scenes and themes...