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From the Library

Actually from my personal library, but a crucial text to what I’m thinking about here at the ICI.  Castiglia and Reed very thoroughly articulate a lot of what I’ve been considering with my work of the past several years.  Today I’m reading a chapter that considers “[t]he ways that melancholy preserves the possibility of the fantastic…(particularly through the work of Giorgio Agamben), for the fantastical and imaginary qualities of (Agamben’s) phantasm make it a vehicle for progressive social change.”

Agamben’s account of melancholy is the antithesis of the Freud’s sadomasochistic melancholic (who takes on the attributes of the lost desired object in order to deny loss) which is a trope often used to describe homosexuals.  For Agamben “[t]he “lost object,” as a phantasm…is the creation of the melancholic psyche, generated to forestall loss.  Melancholia as a projective fantasy thus “affects the paradox of an intention to mourn that precedes and anticipates the loss of the object” making viable “an appropriation in a situation in which one is really possible””.  They go on to state that “[r]ather than a sadomasochistic process of self-abuse, melancholy becomes an imaginative process of projective psychic realization.”


I guess the way this relates to everything is in thinking about loss (not just personal), as a part of the homosexual psyche can give us a way to produce a present that both remembers the traumas of the past and uses it to envision a more progressive and utopian future, not an inconceivable utopia but one that it connected to an already established past through the lost object and our memory of it.

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