Rob Weatherill – Psychoanalysis and the Night

THE LETTER 24 (Spring 2002) pages 99-110

If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skull, why then do we read it … A book must be an ice-axe to break the sea frozen inside us.

The contract binding the word and the world, the Covenent between logos and cosmos, held until the late nineteenth century in Europe and Russia. The break-up of this linkage virtually defines Modernity itself. Psychoanalysis was central in this endgame. Freud, after all, was called the ‘demoraliser’ by Karl Kraus, the influential Viennese satirist of the time. We have entered what Steiner ominously calls the ‘after-word’.

There are two key quotations around which I want to situate some developing thoughts:

1) ‘If thought is not measured by the extremity that eludes the concept, it is from the outset in the nature of the musical accompaniment with which the SS liked to drown out the screams of its victims’.

2) ‘ [J]ust as terror, and abjection that is its doublet, must be excluded from the regime of the community, so it must be sustained and assumed, singularly, in writing as its condition’.

Later we will take up where this extreme that must measure our thinking, or this horror that must be a condition of our writing, can be…

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