Nazi Psychoanalysis - Vol. 1

Nazi Psychoanalysis - Vol. 1

Nazi Psychoanalysis - Vol. 1

Nazi Psychoanalysis - Vol. 1


Written by one of the most incisive and interesting scholars of modern philosophy, theory and culture, Nazi Psychoanalysis studies the breadth of this phenomenon to clarify and deepen our understanding of psychoanalysis and of the 20th century itself.


Even without the general title of the three-volume project, we would know immediately what war is referred to in the title of the present volume. World War II is the only war we speak of, with such simple, axiomatic confidence, as having been “won.” We Americans, that is. (Ask Tom Brokaw, or Tom Hanks.) But in Only Psychoanalysis Won the War, the whole idea of winning, especially for Americans, becomes an issue.

American propaganda… never stopped constructing permanent victims whose makeshift struggle against all odds somehow at the precision of victory. Even when you're winning, Allied propaganda or group psychology to this day requires that you win—just like a victim. To win outright, right from the start, would turn even you into some kind of Nazi.

Psychoanalysis, however, is here excused from this condition of victorious victimhood and shown to be something like an outright winner after all, in that its intimate involvement (on both sides) in practically everything that was new about this war—in industry, technology, communications, propaganda, even aviation—contributed fundamentally to the development of an augmented entity that our author calls “greater psychoanalysis.” Perhaps we can gain perspective on this situation, and on the whole project of Nazi Psychoanalysis, by stepping back a quarter millennium or so.

To the extent that a main point exists, the main point of Johann Georg Hamann's Aesthetics in a Nutshell (1762) is probably that scripture and history, and indeed nature itself, are all versions of a single text, a single divine writing, and that the purport of that writing depends radically on how the reader approaches it, which in turn never fails to involve the question of who the reader really is. These last two ideas are set forth with perfect clarity, toward the end of Hamann's text, in a pair of quotations, the first in Latin from St. Augustine, the second in German from Luther. But rather than call Augustine by name, Hamann cites him as “the Punic church father, ” with a footnote mark on the word “Punic.” And if one follows that lead, if one descends here into what Laurence A. Rickels likes to call the text's “footnote underworld, ” one is dragged further and further away from anything like a main point. That “Punic” refers to Augustine's Carthaginian origins, Hamann doesn't bother to tell us; we're supposed to know. Instead, he begins . . .

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