Origins and Ends of an Unenlightened Disease
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: Northwestern University Press
Title Page, Copyright
Introducing a book far more ambitious in scope and intent than this one, his Die Lesbarkeit der Welt (“The Legibility of the World”), Hans Blumenberg wrote, “The tenacity with which some things return and invent their metamorphoses calls for more insistent reflection than the constancy with which other things simply abide.” ...
Introduction: Original Questions
This is a study in the modern intellectual and cultural history of nostalgia— as a concept, idea, and experience. In the main, it will present this history as nostalgia’s theoretical history, through theoretical descriptions reflecting not only nostalgia’s changing meanings and intensities but also larger cultural shifts, ...
Chapter 1. Nostalgia’s Early Modern Origins: Cultural Backgrounds
Linguistic origins can tell us much about a word’s initial semantic charge as well as the historical moment that felt the need to create it. It was in the opening words to his dissertation (which I used as one point of departure in my introduction) that Johannes Hofer in 1688 coined his neologism, nostalgia, to identify the object of his inquiry ...
Chapter 2. Dr. Thomas Willis and the Science of Nervous Sensibility
Shakespeare’s couplet from The Merchant of Venice, “Tell me where is fancie bred, / Or in the heart, or in the head” (3.2.64), neatly sums up a question that had resounded throughout antiquity and that in his time, as a literal question, was still left largely unanswered: whether the soul was located in the brain or in the heart. ...
Chapter 3. Nostalgia’s Original Theories: Implications and Effects
Hofer was not only the first to give nostalgia its modern name but also to try to ascertain its precise etiology. His dissertation of 1688 starts with the initial hypothesis that images of objects are represented in the brain by way of the motion of animal or vital spirits (spiritus animales) in their respective channels of the nerves. ...
Chapter 4. The Ranz-des-Vaches
Building upon a new paradigm of nervous sensibility, I have argued, Hofer’s original theory of nostalgia (1688) configures an empiricist psychology of mind which learned to apprehend nostalgia’s recalcitrant resistance as an illustrative if ultimately pathogenic proof of its own logic. ...
Chapter 5. “Medical” Nostalgia and Its Uses in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Europe
This chapter will initially concern itself largely with much of what Brentano’s famous “Zu Straßburg auf der Schanz,” in feigning to be an original folk-ballad, discarded from the original “Deserteurlied” (“The Deserter’s Song”), as it was also called: nostalgia’s intricate yet also questionable relation to military life and medicine ...
Chapter 6. Critics of Nostalgia: Kant, Schopenhauer, and the Question of Time
In imaginatively interrogating the possibilities and impossibilities of a final homecoming, Wordsworth in “The Brothers” leaves the reader wondering about the question of time and identity, of the felt home no less than the feeling self. If only in that sense Wordsworth may seem unexpectedly close to Immanuel Kant’s interrogation of nostalgia ...
Chapter 7. Nostalgia’s Modern Translations
Nietzsche fashions his critique of Schopenhauer by way of an analogy between cultural or artistic and personal development; if literalized and severed from its subtle irony it would easily translate into an argument more familiar from the language of psychoanalysis. In its deceptively simple contours, ...
Chapter 8. Uncanny Acts of Violence
The historical accounts of aching nostalgics focused on victims not just afflicted but consumed by this mysterious disease. And yet there were also voices in the Enlightenment to note the eruption of violence afflicted upon those responsible or held responsible for their displacement. ...
Chapter 9. Postmodern Reencounters
To write nostalgia’s modern intellectual history, my previous chapters argued, is to follow nostalgia’s changing contours as both a real and theoretical phenomenon, a phenomenon made visible by real forces as much as by epistemological structures of perception. ...
Conclusion: The End of Nostalgia
“Philosophy is really homesickness. It is the urge to be at home everywhere” (“Die Philosophie ist eigentlich Heimweh—Trieb überall zu Hause zu sein”).1 Novalis’s words, perhaps the most famous statement on nostalgia, could not have had a more distinguished career. ...