Affective Mapping: Melancholia and the Politics of Modernism by Jonathan Flatley

By Jonathan Flatley

The awesome declare of this publication is that residing on loss isn't really inevitably miserable. as a substitute, Jonathan Flatley argues, embracing depression could be a highway again to touch with others and will lead humans to productively remap their dating to the area round them. Flatley demonstrates doubtless disparate set of modernist writers and thinkers confirmed how aesthetic task may give us the potential to understand and alter our relation to loss.

The texts on the middle of Flatley’s analysis—Henry James’s Turn of the Screw, W. E. B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk, and Andrei Platonov’s Chevengur—share with Freud an curiosity in realizing the miserable results of inauspicious losses and with Walter Benjamin the wish that loss itself may turn into a method of connection and the root for social transformation. For Du Bois, Platonov, and James, the point of interest on depression illuminates either the historic origins of subjective emotional existence and a heretofore unarticulated group of melancholics. The affective maps they produce make attainable the conversion of a depressive melancholia right into a technique to have an interest on the planet.

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Extra info for Affective Mapping: Melancholia and the Politics of Modernism

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Probably no one contributed more to this practice than Emil Kraepelin, a contemporary of Freud, who developed his own program of clinical observation and research, producing a new system for the classification of mental illness. His influential Textbook of Psychiatry went through multiple editions and became a standard text. Constantly revising his clinical categories on the basis of new evidence and observations, Kraepelin made several important distinctions, but none as influential as the one between mood disorders (such as manic depression) and diseases of the cognitive faculties, such as dementia praecox (what we call schizophrenia today).

20 Despite this somewhat convoluted and contested definitional scene, there is a remarkable consistency in descriptions of a basic affective experience from the time of the Hippocratic writings through Augustine, William Langland, Shakespeare, Marsilio Ficino, Robert Burton, and Goethe right up to very recent writing on antidepressives and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). ”21 Other symptoms regularly referred to include feelings of hopelessness, an inability to experience pleasure or to sustain interest, self-loathing, guilt and shame, a tendency toward suicide, and a range of physical difficulties such as sleep disturbance, flatulence, and coldness in the hands and feet.

The result was not the normal one of withdrawal of the libido from this object and a displacement of it on to a new one, but something different, for whose coming-about various conditions seem to be necessary. The object cathexis proved to have little power of resistance and was brought to an end. But the free libido was not displaced on to another object; it was withdrawn into the ego. (249) The cathexis that had been attached to the object is disattached (as in mourning), but instead of being redirected to a supplemental internal hallucination and then, once the work of mourning has been completed, being made available for new attachments, it attaches to the ego itself.

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