Speaking the Unspeakable
Religion, Misogyny, and the Uncanny Mother in Freud's Cultural Texts
Publication Year: 2001
The "uncanny mother" is a primary theme found in Freud's texts involving fantasies of immortality and mothers as instructors in death. In other texts, Jonte-Pace finds a story of Jews for whom the dangers of assimilation to a dominant Gentile culture are associated unconsciously with death and the uncanny mother. The counterthesis appears in the story of anti-Semites for whom the "uncanny impression of circumcision" gives rise not only to castration anxiety but also to matriphobia. It also surfaces in Freud's ability to mourn the social and religious losses accompanying modernity, and his inability to mourn the loss of his own mother.
The unfolding of Freud's counterthesis points toward a theory of the cultural and unconscious sources of misogyny and anti-Semitism in "the unspeakable." Jonte-Pace's work opens exciting new vistas for the feminist analysis of Freud's intellectual legacy.
Published by: University of California Press
Download PDF (97.1 KB)
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
Download PDF (82.5 KB)
Download PDF (47.5 KB)
Download PDF (84.1 KB)
...mented on this project over the past several years. Peter Homans readearlier versions of chapters 3, 4, and 5. Jay Geller read chapters 3 and 4.and Judith Van Herik read the entire manuscript. Marilyn Edelsteinread chapter 2. The Person, Culture, and Religion Group invited me topresent part of chapter 1 at the meeting of the American Academy of...
Introduction. Misogyny and Religion under Analysis: Masterplot and Counterthesis in Tension
Download PDF (155.1 KB)
Freud’s Oedipal paradigm, characterized by death wishes for fathersand by erotic desires for mothers, constitutes what has been called his“masterplot” (Brooks 1989). It is the thesis for which he is best knownand which he saw as his “immortal contribution” to Western culture(SE 5: 453). The Oedipal masterplot, articulated in Freud’s earliest psy-...
1. The Counterthesis in “The Dream Book” and “A Religious Experience”: The Beginning and End of Interpretation
Download PDF (170.1 KB)
On November 19, 1899, about two weeks after the publication of TheInterpretation of Dreams, Freud wrote impatiently to his friend WilhelmFliess in Berlin, “It is a thankless task to enlighten mankind a little. Noone has yet told me that he feels indebted to me for having learnedsomething new from the dream book and for having been introduced...
2. Death, Mothers, and the Afterlife: At Home in the Uncanny
Download PDF (161.5 KB)
One of the sites at which the counterthesis emerges most clearly is thesite of death, the site of the fears and fantasies surrounding mortality.Freud’s interpretation of death is generally seen as supportive of theOedipal master thesis which shaped so much of his work. Cultural the-orist Peter Homans, for example, asserts, “In Freud’s mature psycho-...
3. Jewishness and the (Un)Canny: “Death and Us Jews”
Download PDF (151.7 KB)
Chapter 2 traced a “counterthesis” in Freud’s writings in three kinds ofimages, each associated with death, immortality, and the afterlife:images of dead mothers, images of mothers as instructors in death, andimages of uncanny maternal bodies. Showing that Freud used similarterminology to describe the heavenly afterlife (a “home in the un-...
4. The Sources of Anti-Semitism: Circumcision, Abjection, and the Uncanny Mother
Download PDF (134.7 KB)
Freud oVered several analyses of the sources of anti-Semitism. In mostof these, he assumed Oedipal conXicts to be at the root of anti-Semiticprejudices, focusing in particular on the castration fears evoked by cir-cumcision. As we have seen in other contexts, however, Freud’s analy-ses of castration anxiety often slip beyond the boundaries of the Oedipal...
5. Modernity, Melancholia, and the (In)Ability to Mourn: When Throne and Altar Are in Danger
Download PDF (146.6 KB)
In “Fetishism,” written just as he was Wnishing The Future of an Illusion,his most famous critique of religion, Freud addresses one of his favoritethemes: the adamant denial of the male child in the Wrst encounter withsexual diVerence. Here, he links the child’s anxious and defensiveresponse with the panic of the adult male whose political and religious...
Epilogue. Guessing at What Lies Beneath
Download PDF (134.5 KB)
Much of what we do as scholars involves creating or selecting patternswithin texts and fashioning those patterns into coherent narrativesabout the texts. We develop meaningful narratives out of other narra-tives in a process involving creation and discovery at the same time.Freud’s major creation and discovery was the Oedipal theory with...
Download PDF (139.1 KB)
Download PDF (167.8 KB)
Download PDF (568.2 KB)
Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2001