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Aberrations of Mourning

Laurence A. Rickels

Publication Year: 2011

Aberrations of Mourning, originally published in 1988, is the long unavailable first book in Laurence A. Rickels’s “unmourning” trilogy, followed by The Case of California and Nazi Psychoanalysis.

Rickels studies mourning and melancholia within and around psychoanalysis, analyzing the writings of such thinkers as Freud, Nietzsche, Lessing, Heinse, Artaud, Keller, Stifter, Kafka, and Kraus. Rickels maintains that we must shift the way we read literature, philosophy, and psychoanalysis to go beyond traditional Oedipal structures.

Aberrations of Mourning argues that the idea of the crypt has had a surprisingly potent influence on psychoanalysis, and Rickels shows how society’s disturbed relationship with death and dying, our inability to let go of loved ones, has resulted in technology to form more and more crypts for the dead by preserving them—both physically and psychologically—in new ways.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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Preface: Invitation to a Reprinting

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pp. vii-xii

"Reprinting" was one of the analogues Freud used to illustrate transference; the other image was haunting. My book is back! My thanks to Douglas Armato for arranging its ghost appearance with the University of Minnesota Press. ...

Aberrations of Mourning

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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. 1-21

On the sidelines of German intellectual history—Geistesgeschichte— ghostbusters can find, tucked inside a supplement to "Documentary Reports," the inside view of vampirism as the work of the Weltgeist.1 Geist is Geist: the intellect or spirit is, in German, always also a ghost. ...

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1. Avuncular Structures: Sigmund Freud/Friedrich Nietzsche

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pp. 22-59

Lessing's childhood portrait which, according to his own wish, depicted him reading a book is the Ur-portrait of the child. The idea of childhood was among the effects of the printing press; the new standard of literacy summoned the pupil who, until he became a differentiating reader of print, was not yet an adult. ...

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2. The Fate Of A Daughter: Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

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pp. 60-98

"A painter without hands who wanted to express the picture distinctly present to his mind by the agency of song," Nietzsche wagers in "On Truth and Lie in the Extra-Moral Sense," "will still reveal much more with this exchange of spheres, than the empirical world reveals about the essence of things."1 ...

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3. The Father's Imprisonment: Wilhelm Heinse

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pp. 99-119

According to Geistesgeschichte Wilhelm Heinse was a popular writer who, in his own lifetime, became the widow of his reputation and acclaim. And yet his untimely predictions of future achievements of the popular—the musical and military—Geist render Heinse one of the ghostwriters of the modern era. ...

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4. Necrofiliation: Antonin Artaud

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pp. 120-171

Post-psychoanalytic readings of the Schreber case have resituated madness, otherwise located beyond the outposts of communication, at the very switches of communication systems.1 With the emergence of the modern technical media, madness—Schreber's paranoia, for instance—increasingly amounts to direct, ...

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5. Regulations For The Living Dead: Gottfried Keller

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pp. 172-217

On a visit to Zurich Kafka made a point of visiting the "Keller-Rooms" but found them locked (versperrt).1 This "Versperrung," which had earlier kept Nietzsche from penetrating to Keller—though in Nietzsche's case it was Keller's sister Regula who intercepted the philosopher's approach— ...

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6. Burn Name Burn: Adalbert Stifter

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pp. 218-242

Through the telescope which emerges spectacularly in Stifter's "Condor" and "Mountain Forest" as embodiment of the narrative perspective, Rilke found reflected back, in at once magnified and dismantled form, a veritable primal scene: ...

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7. Warm Brothers: Franz Kafka

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pp. 243-293

On Kafka's side of the Tower of Babel, the heavens, the imperial palace, and the highest court still transmit the Old Testament double injunction whereby "the Law" invites entry or transgression and then renders itself inaccessible, as, by law, it must. ...

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8. Aristocriticism: Karl Kraus

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pp. 294-332

Walter Benjamin draws the analogy between visual media of magnification and psychoanalysis, which, in their separate takes, bring into focus that which otherwise remains outside a normal range of the senses. What film, for example, projects is in fact projected in psychoses, hallucinations, and dreams. ...

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9. The Unborn

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pp. 333-371

In his ultimate reckonings with melancholia, Freud found himself pushed back against the threshold of the womb. Two melancholies, Wolfman and Rank, delivered, on separate occasions, fantasies of traumatic birth and prenatal existence which threatened, in theory, to preempt Freud's Oedipal interpretation of anxiety. ...


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pp. 372-402


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pp. 403-409

E-ISBN-13: 9780816676903
E-ISBN-10: 0816676909
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816675951

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2011