By Judith Rossner
Initially released in paper shape, by way of Houghton Mifflin, 1983 (ISBN: 03953397)
From the New York Times bestselling writer of Looking for Mr. Goodbar— the tale of 2 girls, a psychoanalyst and her sufferer who aid one another via very various sessions of their lives.
When sunrise Henley, the attractive, gifted Barnard collage freshman steps into psychoanalyst Dr. Lulu Shinefeld’s place of work, she’s instantly intrigued. What can have pushed this lady to such severe degrees of melancholy? Over the process 5 years, Dawn’s weird and wonderful and tortured youth is drawn out, and either ladies are necessarily replaced.
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Nonetheless, thanks to this idea, a certain wisdom is acquired. The dissipation of even a single phantom cannot but indirectly touch the clandestine core of the ultimate abomination. ’ 42 Hauntings: Psychoanalysis and Ghostly Transmissions Cryptic truths That which we cannot understand is precisely that which we need to look at most closely, with respect and care, and without trying to place it into a network of meanings that will reduce its sting and distort its significance. This is one sense in which ghosts have to be granted their reality, which in turn is a source of criticism of psychoanalysis for being too quick to write off the occult as a solely psychological phenomenon.
Whichever the case, there is an elemental level of the residual, that which stays behind; and it is often here that a certain kind of psychic but non-psychological ‘truth’ resides. What we have so far is an amalgam of issues around otherness (the secret of the other), abjection and spectral truth. These come together psychoanalytically in the notion that what is most fundamental to each of us is also most ‘other’. Gordon’s (1997) understanding of ghosts as social events is articulated in the context of ‘The “Uncanny” ’ as a statement about how each subject is inhabited by social others.
The key uncertainty here is in the ‘beyond’ of Beyond the Pleasure Principle. If all drives aim to reduce the organism to rest, which is supposed to be the essence of pleasure, then there is no drive that is ‘beyond’. But Freud astutely recognises that whilst in theory this might be the case, the phenomenology of life is such that there is a complication around the nature of pleasure. Sometimes pleasure does indeed seem to be the ‘momentary extinction of a highly intensified excitation’. Sometimes, however, it resides in the increase of complexity, in the postponement of the discharge – something that can serve pleasure in the longer term by increasing tension (unpleasure) in the here and now.
August by Judith Rossner