The Mother in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: Psychoanalysis, Photography, Deconstruction

By Elissa Marder | Go to book overview

FOUR
Back of Beyond: Anxiety and the Birth of the Future

The trauma remains traumatizing and incurable because it comes from the
future. For the virtual can also traumatize. Trauma takes places when one is
wounded by a wound that has not yet taken place, in an effective fashion, in a
way other than by the sign of its announcement. Its temporalization proceeds
from the to-come.

—JACQUES DERRIDA, Rogues


BEYOND THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLE

Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920) is often thought to be Freud’s most philosophical work. It is not then surprising, that philosophers have devoted so much critical attention to it. As Jacques Derrida points out in his famous reading of Beyond in The Post Card, Freud’s most ambitious “metapsychological” work attempts to ground psychoanalysis philosophically while refusing to acknowledge its debt to philosophy.1 Many psychoanalysts, however, and particularly Americans, have regarded this book of “philosophy” as a bizarre aberration in Freud’s thinking and have excluded it from the accepted canon of psychoanalysis. One of the reasons that philosophers have found the book so interesting is that it offers a radical account of trauma and temporality in the form of “repetition compulsion.” Cathy Caruth’s important work on trauma, largely derived from a close reading of Freud’s description of the belated temporality of the repetition compulsion,

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