Laments and complaints are among the most ancient poetical forms and ubiquitous in everyday speech. Understanding plaintive language, however, is often prevented by the resentment and fear it evokes. Lamenting and complaining seems pointless, irreconcilable, and destructive. Language of Ruin and Consumption examines Freud's approaches to lamenting and complaining, the heart of psychoanalytic therapy and theory, and takes them as guidelines for reading key works of the modern canon. The re-negotiation of older--ritual, dramatic, and juridical--forms in Rilke, Wittgenstein, Scholem, Benjamin, and Kafka puts plaintive language in the center of modern individuality and expounds a fundamental dimension of language neglected in theory: reciprocity is at issue in plaintive language.
Language of Ruin and Consumption advocates that a fruitful reception of psychoanalysis in criticism combines the discussion of psychoanalytical concepts with an adaptation of the hermeneutical principle ignored in most philosophical approaches to language, or relegated to mere rhetoric: speech is not only by someone and on something, but also addressed to someone.
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Breite: 152 mm
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Juliane Prade-Weiss is Professor of Comparative Literature at Ludwig Maximilian University Munich, Germany. She is editor of (M)Other Tongues: Literary Reflexions on a Difficult Distinction (2013).
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: Getting a Hearing
Consuming Structures of Language
Lamenting in Theory
Terms of Plaint
The Coming Chapters
1. Understanding Plaintive Language: Freud
Complaint without a Cause: Treating Hysteria and Forgetting Laments in Modernity
Complaining and Wish-Fulfillment
Idiom of Plaint: The "Wolf Man's" Speech
Mourning, Melancholia, and Consumption
Metabolism of Plaintive Language
2. Ritual and Modernity: On Silencing Laments (with Aeschylus, Rilke, and Veteranyi)
Tale of Lament's Life and Death
Patterns of Looking at Ritual Plaints
"The Dead Are Hungry": Metaphor and Liminality
Antiphony: Response and Dissent
Ta(l)king Revenge: No End to Lamentation
3. Voicing Pain and Destruction: Wittgenstein and Scholem
Naming and Claiming Pain
Knowing and Doubting Pain
Complaint by Response
A Nasty Move: Silencing Plaints
Relationality and Symbol
4. Lament of Nature: Benjamin, with Herder
Trauerspiel and Tragedy: "the ear for lament"
Language as Such, and Terminology: Looking Away
Vanishing from History
Lament and Theory, Once Again
5. (No Way) From Complaining to Legal Action: Kafka
"with every complaint understanding [subsides]"
Understanding, Comprehension, Sympathy, and Inconsolability
Complaints, Vanishing into Juridical Action
Representation and Betrayal
Politics of Outcry: Claiming Justice
Conclusion: Transgenerational Trauma and the Inability to Lament
Juliane's equally groundbreaking and fascinating study on Lamenting and Complaining explores a form of language that is just as fundamental and counter-structural to society's functional forms of communication as the rhetorics of all-consuming love and passion. This is undoubtedly a landmark study of a highly disturbing and paradoxical type of discourse that seeks to communicate one thing above all: the failure of communication itself. * Torsten Hahn, Professor of German Philology, University of Cologne, Germany * Language of Ruin and Consumption is a nuanced and elegantly written book on a fundamental yet often overlooked feature of human language: wanting to be heard. As Prade-Weiss shows, this simple yet evocative fact of our language use has tended to languish on the margins of all the major theories of symbolization, communication, and expression: the structure that registers this want, the lament, cannot contain its own remedy, only dispatch a call with no addressee. Yet plaintive language also therefore outlines the chance to articulate that which is not annulled at the outset by an answer. Tracking the vocation of complaint from Aristotle to psychoanalysis, from classical tragedy through Rilke and Wittgenstein to Scholem, Benjamin and Kafka, this rich and suggestive book makes us rethink our most recent preoccupations with protest, public mourning, and reconciliation, and in the process uncovers grounds for registering our traumata for the future. * Julia Ng, Lecturer in Critical Theory and Co-Director of the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK * In this encyclopedic book, 'Klagen,' lament/complaint, speaks for itself at last. Pursuing the phenomenon across a huge set of languages and disciplines, Prade-Weiss discovers the weakness of all expressive models. They assimilate lament to speech. It is not a special kind of speech, whether for a psychological state or an ethical injury or a social tragedy. Lament is rather a paradigmatic moment of non-expression. Nothing is expressed in it, and this nothing makes a historical indigestion audible. Whether it appears as silence, wailing, inarticulate grunts, or other repetitions antagonistic to meaning, lament/complaint happens at a limit of language and gestures toward a trauma without words to speak for it in the dominant language. * Paul North, Professor of Germanic Language and Literature, Yale University, USA *
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