"Catastrophe and Survival" addresses a blind spot in Benjamin scholarship: namely the way that Benjamin's thoughts regarding mental space, the mind-body problem, and the individual's experience of the material object world make significant contact with post-Freudian psychoanalytic confrontations with similar issues. Recent work on Benjamin's representations of the individual subjected to modern shock draws basic correlations between Benjamin and Freud. Still lacking is a discussion of a possible dialogue between Benjamin and Lacan and an account of the historical connections between Benjamin's work and contemporaneous post-Freudian psychoanalytic trends. This book supplies both. Elizabeth Stewart shows that all of these theories were deeply preoccupied with the mutual embeddedness of subject and object, with materiality, and with power. At stake are new ways of envisioning the ethical and political subject in and for the 21st century. The conjunctions of Benjamin and post-Freudian psychoanalysis show that the two sides actually need each other.
They contribute something to Benjamin scholarship that is at this point missing, and they clarify some of Benjamin's more opaque categories (such as 'redemption' and 'the messianic'); simultaneously they show how Benjamin can do something significant for psychoanalysis: bring to the surface the extent to which it is always already permeated with issues of power while also making it aware of its own status as a historically determined idea. The Benjaminian and psychoanalytic texts are largely contemporaneous. This book shows the complex lines of covergence between them in their shared cultural context and how they 'knew about' each other without knowing each other.
Table of Contents
PART I: PSYCHOANALYTIC BENJAMIN; Ch. 1: Walter Benjamin and Martyrdom: Trauerspiel; Ch. 2: The Saint and the Saint Homme (Sinthome): Benjamin and Lacan (Pt.1); Ch. 3: The Post-Catastrophic Subject: Benjamin and Lacan (Pt. 2); PART II: CULTURES OF MIMESIS; Ch. 4: Transformative Mimesis; Ch. 5: Mimesis and Catastrophe: Walter Benjamin and Psychoanalysis; PART III: BENJAMINIAN PSYCHOANALYSIS; Ch. 6: Survival: Walter Benjamin and Susan; Phantasmagoria and "Cocoon"; Epilogue.
Elizabeth Stewart is Assistant Professor of English, Yeshiva University, New York, USA. She teaches courses in European modernism, post-colonial literature, literature and philosophy, and literary and cultural theory. She is the translator and editor of Lacan in the German-Speaking World (SUNY 2004).