Monday, December 1, 2008

Courtesy of a better note-taker

Hey, Nicole sent these along to me, thought I'd share:

From Project Muse:
-Ruth B. Phillips, Re-placing objects

-Janet Wolff, women at the whitney

-thomas h. kane, mourning the promised land

from jstor:
mark v barrow, the specimen dealer

Read all of them? Some of them?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Reading For Next Week

Could somebody post it to the blog.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

craigslist: damn liberalists


Monday, November 17, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Three Essays


i'm curious about the "overvaluation" of the sexual object (16) in this essay. He doesn't go very far into it, but the overvaluation of the whole body -- an "extension" of the overvaluation of the genitals" -- obscures even the subject's intellectual capacities, making the subject "submit to the [sexual object's] judgements with credulity": "thus the credulity of love becomes an important, if not the most fundamental, source of authority."

There's a lot of claims being made here: the "overvaluation" of the object's whole body sounds like people's tendency to love "even their beloved's flaws"; Freud implies that a subject's intellectual capacities or capacities for rational judgement are related inversely to "the credulity of love" or the libido; there's also the notion that love can become a fundamental source of authority. This question of authority in its relation to overvaluation needs further investigation, I think. That idea has a lot of implications.


many of us have been noting the (quite alarming) passage on the infant's treatment of his own feces, which first seem an extension of himself and represent a sort of "gift" (as they entail the same regulatory structures as the withholding/giving of any gift) and later take on the meaning of "baby" (babies being "born through the bowels"). Apart from the symbolic shift in the account here of the significance of the baby's own feces -- it is first an extension of his body, then (or perhaps simultaneously) the "gift" if is own body, then the meaning of "baby" itself -- apparently Freud (in an essay written three years later) attached another meaning to the infant's feces: "The connections between the complexes of interest in money and of defaecation, which seem so dissimilar, appear to be the most extensive of all" (Freud, "Character and Anal Erotism"(1908), 172).

This fascinating essay extends the "gift" metaphor and presents an unconscious connection between feces and money: "In reality, wherever archaic modes of thought have predominated or persist—in the ancient civilizations, in myths, fairy tales and superstitions, in unconscious thinking, in dreams and in neuroses—money is brought into the most intimate relationship with dirt. We know that the gold which the devil gives his paramours turns into excrement after his departure, and the devil is certainly nothing else than the personification of the repressed unconscious instinctual life"; "It is possible that the contrast between the most precious substance known to men and the most worthless, which they reject as waste matter (‘refuse’), has led to this specific identification of gold with faeces";"Every doctor who has practised psycho-analysis knows that the most refractory and long-standing cases of what is described as habitual constipation in neurotics can be cured by that form of treatment. This is less surprising if we remember that that function has shown itself similarly amenable to hypnotic suggestion. But in psycho-analysis one only achieves this result if one deals with the patients’ money complex and induces them to bring it into consciousness with all its connections. It might be supposed that the neurosis is here only following an indication of common usage in speech, which calls a person who keeps too careful a hold on his money ‘dirty’ or ‘filthy’"

In a letter to Wilhelm Fleiss from around 1897 to 1902: "“I can scarcely detail for you all the things that resolve themselves into … excrement for me (a new Midas!). It fits in completely with the theory of internal stinking. Above all, money itself. I believe this proceeds via the word ‘dirty’ for ‘miserly’”.

From "History of an Infantile Neurosis"(1918):"It is equally agreed that one of the most important manifestations of the transformed erotism derived from this source is to be found in the treatment of money,1 for in the course of life this precious material attracts on to itself the psychical interest which was originally proper to faeces, the product of the anal zone. We are accustomed to trace back interest in money, in so far as it is of a libidinal and not of a rational character, to excretory pleasure, and we expect normal people to keep their relations to money entirely free from libidinal influences and regulate them according to the demands of reality"(71)

This presents new questions on the status of the gift in Three Essays. Keeping in mind the radical (albeit, as we've seen, questioned) difference between gift economies and money economies, I'm wondering what differences Freud would make of the two. Is he simply being imprecise in one of the essays? feces can't really be the gift and money: we've been learning that the shift from economy to the other is a disjunctive shift between two disparate, though related, forms of economy.
I'm wondering if Freud first saw feces as "gifts", then corrected himself three years later when realizing they have more in common with money. Another option would be that for the infant, his own feces are "gifts"; but the "gift" character of feces develops into a "money" character when the infant grows up; Freud's own examples in the essay of miserly and constipated neurotics are only images of adults.


Marguerite's Questions

1. Freud keeps bringing up the notion of love in relation to sexuality, and I am wondering how such an abstract emotion fits into the formation of sexual objects and fetishes.

2. How do we go from the taking of nourishment to the orgasm?What is the connection between eating and sex, and is there any validity to or conclusion to be drawn from the link between the two?

3. Does pleasure always give rise to a need for greater pleasure?How does this fit in to a discussion of commodification and object desire?

4 (Essay on Fetishism). Freud describes the fetish as standing in for something (the mother's imagined phallus) that a boy once believed in and doesn't wish to forego. How does this fit in to a discussion of nostalgia?


Monday, November 10, 2008


How is the assignation of value in commodity culture potentially analogous to the object choice of the fetish?

Three Essays

I. Freud posits a definition of the normal beginning with an exploration of the abnormal: “The importance of these abnormalities lies in the unexpected fact that they facilitate our understanding of normal development” (7). What groups does this classification of “normal” exclude and what effect does this have on the applicability of Freud’s ideas?

II. “Whoever can solve this riddle [of infantile amnesia] would, I think, have explained hysterical amnesia as well” (41). Here, Freud posits an understanding of the abnormal as rooted in the normal, reversing the binary established in the first essay. How does this and other binaries (for example male/female, dirty/clean) function, and how are they variously destabilized and strengthened?

III. The section of the third essay entitled “The Finding of an Object” (88) suggests that human sexuality requires external physical supplement in order to achieve sexual satisfaction. How can this object, endowed with both personal and cultural significance, function like a commodity?