Literature and Psychoanalysis

By Edith Kurzweil; William Phillips | Go to book overview

ponders angels whose essence is not permanence but transience, whose newness is their nowness, or their flight from Nu to Nichts, as they praise and wait to be dissolved. Considering, then, that this scholar was doomed to wander, if not to flee, and that his major work had been on seventeenthcentury German literature, might he not have remembered the poet of that era who took the pseudonym " Angelus Silesius" for his Der Cherubinischer Wandersmann (The Cherub Wanderer), a collection of epigrammatic mystical verses? "Agesilaus," though a real and not a made-up name, seems to scramble "Angelus Silesius" into a single word, and Santander could suggest the mixed Santa/Satanic quality of Benjamin the pilgrim or some desired relation to Southern (Spanish and cabalistic) rather than Northern spirit of place through the name of this town.

What we are given, then, is the aura of a name: " Agesilaus Santander" is the quintessence of an anagram rather than a univocally decipherable writing. The scrambling is permanent and the meanings we recover are fugitive constructions, like the "new angels" in contrast to the old. The name may even accuse the maker of the name: it is "satanic" also in that. For it stands as the product of an artificial mysticism that evokes an "aura artificiel" in the manner of Baudelaire's "paradis artificiel." It betrays a fallen aura, mere aroma of aura, the whiff of a Turkish cigarette and eastern mysteries. Like "Xanadu" and "Kubla Khan" the name is an authentic fake, a given or proper name consumed by the imagination, the scar of a signature that belongs to no one. "Its traits had no human likeness." Benjamin's fantasy could be part of a book on hashish he meant to write. He continued to look, patiently and yet in flight, to the origin of all names in the garden God had planted eastward of Eden. Psychoanalysis: the Eden connection.


Notes
1.
Sartre's book on Genet, originally published in 1952, is translated by Bernard Frechtman as Saint Genet: Actor and Martyr( New York: G. Braziller, 1963). I refer chiefly to the section "A Dizzying Word" in book 1, which contains the story of Genet's "specular capture" ( Lacan's, not Sartre's, phrase) by the identity-imposing words "You are a thief." Freud's remarks on the "language of flowers" in The Interpretation of Dreams are found in the Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works ( London: Hogarth Press, 1953-74), 4:319-25, and 5:652.
2.
Sandor Ferenczi bioanalysis is in his Thalassa: Toward a Theory of Genitality

-361-

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