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Showing posts from January 24, 2021

Analerotik and Q

  “The fantasy idea that a “child is being beaten” is confessed with surprising frequency by persons who have sought out psychoanalytic treatment either for hysteria or compulsive neurosis”. Freud’s essay, “ A child is being beaten: contribution to research on the development of sexual   perversion” is from 1919, the metapsychoanalytic years. It has not received the love that, say, the essay on narcissism has, but it seems relevant to the current moment. From the Satanic ritual abuse panic of the nineties to the Q panic of the 2020s, the frequency of a fantasized vision of child abuse at the center of a theory of a vast conspiracy is striking. It is a theory that has become a means of identification in the United States. The child abuse image has a long history in the cycle of moral panics that have modulated American history. Mostly, it is classed with a certain grassroots anxiety not shared by the higher social echelon – but that echelon is certainly capable of being moved by fabri

In the beginning was the pun

  “I was visiting Kyoto's Fushimi Inari shrine with a friend, who told me that the Japanese word for pun is oyajigyagu, or "old guy gag". Puns are the jokes older men tell. Wordplay does not float free from culture. ” This is a quotation from Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft article on puns in the TLS, which manages to avoid both Joyce and Lewis Carroll, but does stroll a bit with Lacan and Hegel. Wurgaft   begins with the audacious hint that the logos itself might have been a pun: in the beginning was the pun. And the theological paradox, here, is that a pun is inconceivable without a language, as well as the world. If the world begins as a pun, then it begins, as Nietzsche claimed, as a point in the eternal return of the same. Its beginning is as fictitious as its ending, and its puns are literal – the literal being   a pun that hasn’t found out about itself yet.   Perhaps we are living in a Finnegans Wake world, as Joyce-ians have long suspected, and causality is just the univ

Vandalism and the souring of the world

    There is a small subset of historians in France who have mulled the politics of vandalism, starting with James Guillaume’s “Gregoire and vandalism” in 1901. The locus classicus, here, is Abbe Gregoire’s speeches in the Assembly in 1794 against “vandalism”, which he saw as harming both the Republic and Christianity. In his memoirs, Gregoire famously wrote: “I created the world to kill the thing.” This is the type of claim that invites counter-claims, especially by that counter-claiming tribe, the philologists. They love nothing better than to trump the claim to some “first use” of a word by finding previous uses. The cross-breeding between the philologist and the historians of the Revolution – also a notoriously bickering tribe – has created marginal firefights for more than a century. Gabriel Springarth’s article in Annales historiques de la revoluition francaise from 1980 is entitled: On revolutionary vandalism (1792-1794) . It is an important summing up of the political imagery