Sunday, July 16, 2006

It's official. I *am* a Melancholic

From Eric Santner's On Creaturely Life:

"The melancholic disposition is caught up in a 'desperate attempt to protect itself from the lost object and to adhere to it at least in its absence, so it might be said that the withdrawal of melancholic libido has no other purpose than to make viable an appropriation in a situation in which none is really possible. From this point of view, melancholy would be not so much the regressive reaction to the loss of the love object as the imaginative capacity to make an unobtainable object appear as if lost. If the libido behaves as if a loss had occurred although nothing has in fact been lost this is because the libido stages a simulation where what cannot be lost because it has never been possessed appears as lost, and what could never be possessed because it has never perhaps existed may be appropriated in so far as it is lost'. In this way melancholy comes very close to the modality of perversion that Freud called fetishism, that ingenious strategy of unconscious mental life that both avows and disavows a perception (of the missing maternal phallus) in a single symptomatic act or formation. 'Similarly' Agamben writes, 'in melancholia the object is neither appropriated nor lost, but both possessed and lost at the same time'" (91).

The inter-quote is from Agamben's Stanzas: Word and Phantasm in Western Culture.

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