The force of [Heinrich von] Kleist's story "On the Marionette Theatre" . . . derives from roots deeply sunk into the soil of the past. It is a novel variation on a theme the first author of which may well be Plato. For according to Plato the human mind has been in the dark ever since it lost its place in the community of Truth, in the realm, that is, of the Ideas, the eternal and eternally perfect forms, those now unattainable models which man in his exile is able to see and recognize only as shadows or imperfect copies. And this Platonic parable of the damage suffered by man's soul and consciousness is not unlike the Fall as it is narrated in Genesis. The Fall was the consequence and punishment of man's free will that for the first time had asserted itself against the universal God and rejoiced in a consciousness and pleasure entirely its own—tragically its own; for man had to forsake the indwelling in the supreme Intelligence and thus the harmony between himself and Being as such. The reward for this betrayal was the embarrassment and shame of self-consciousness, the hard labor of maintaining himself in his state of separation, and, soon to follow, the murderous misdeeds of the self-will named Cain. Better to have no mind than a mind thus deprived and impoverished and cruel.
Erich Heller, Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities at Northwestern University, is the author of The Disinherited Mind: Essays in Modern German Literature and Thought; The Ironic Gentleman: Thomas Mann; The Artist's Journey into the Interior; and Franz Kafka. These books have also appeared in Germany in the author's own translations, and his Dir Wiederkehr der Unschuld [The return of innocence] was recently published there.
See also: "Fiction, History, and Empirical Reality" by Murray Krieger in Vol. 1, No. 2; "Psychoanalysis and the Marionette Theater: Interpretation is Not Depreciation" by Margret Schaefer in Vol. 5, No. 1
Dear Professor Heller . . . Your paper had started out superbly. It was a great aesthetic and cognitive pleasure to follow you as you guided us through the intellectual history of the main idea of Kleist's essay, from Plato through the biblical Fall of Man, to Schiller, and Kierkegaard, and Kafka. Indeed the perceptive listener's experience was so satisfying that his disappointment was doubled when he came to realize that all this erudition and beauty had been displayed only in order to serve as a contrast-providing background for the sharp delineation of a reductionistic explanation which you consider to be characteristic of psychoanalysis: the interpretation of the disturbance of man's naive, unselfconscious pre-Fall state as nothing more than a portrayal of sexual impotence—the reduction of a deep existential preoccupation to a case of phimosis.
I am certain that the relief I felt when you then took up Freud's demonological-neurosis paper was not an idiosyncratic response on my part but an experience shared by many open-minded listeners in your psychoanalytic audience. Let us, therefore, disregard the "text" of your sermon and consider the substantial questions that you raised after you turned to Freud; these are to my mind the most central ones that you undertook to examine in your—despite its disappointing aspects—splendid address to us. Put into my own words, your most important question was this: What is the purpose of the psychoanalyst's efforts outside the clinical setting, in particular when his contributions take the form of a pathography? That is, To what end do analysts study the psychopathology of the creators of great works? I, too, have asked myself this question, and since you read my old essay "Beyond the Bounds of the Basic Rule" (Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 7 [July 1960]: 567-86), you know some of my answers. But important basic questions are hardly ever answered once and for all; and I will, therefore, under the impact of your lecture, respond as if I had heard the question for the first time.
Heinz Kohut, M.D., is Professorial Lecturer in Psychiatry at the University of Chicago and a teacher and training analyst at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. His works include The Restoration of the Self, The Analysis of the Self: A Systematic Approach to the Psychoanalytic Treatment of Narcissistic Personality Disorders—which has appeared in German, French, and Italian translations—, The Restoration of the Self and collection of his essays, Scientific Empathy and Empathic Science. His "A Reply to Margret Schaefer"" was published in the Spring 1978 issue of Critical Inquiry.
See also: Heinz Kohut, A Reply to Margret Schaefer
Holistic reasoning brings out the sustained and sustaining integrity of a system, be it a person, a poem, a neighborhood, a corporation, a culture, a crime to be solved by Sherlock Holmes, or an act of dreaming. Identity theory thus extends Freud's method of dream interpretation, explicating free associations, to the whole life of a person. We can talk rigorously about unique individuals.
Yet that very talking is a human act, part of someone's identity, Freud's or mine. One has to distinguish (more sharply than Lichtenstein does, I think) between "primary identity," the hypothesis of a persistent sameness established "in" a person in infancy, and "identity theme," a second person's hypothesis for searching out a persistent style in what the first has done. In a strict sense, I can never know your "primary identity," for it is deeply and unconsciously inside you. Formed before speech, it can never be put into words. It is entirely possible, however, for me to formulate a constancy in your personal style—from outside you but through empathy. Any such formulation of an "identity theme" will, of course, be a function both of the you I see and of my way of seeing—my identity as well as yours. Another reason one can never know a "primary identity" is, then, that it is inextricable from one's own primary identity—if there is such a thing. But there are definitely identity themes because I can formulate them.
Norman N. Holland is professor of English and director of the Center for the Psychological Study of the Arts at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Two of his books, Poems in Persons (1973) and Five Readers Reading (1975), apply the concept of identity here developed to literary response. His contributions to Critical Inquiry are "Literary Interpretation and Three Phases of Psychoanalysis" (Winter 1976) and "Why Ellen Laughed" (Winter 1980).
To stress the subjectivity of the analyst is to accept the centrality of countertransference in the analytic relationship. Psychoanalysts have long recognized the importance of transference in the analytic setting—that is, the analysand's way of relating to the analyst in terms of his strong, ambivalent unconscious feelings for earlier figures (usually parents), a process whose successful resolution constitutes the psychoanalystic "cure." But, since the patient's transference is only experienced by the analyst through his countertransference responses, recent theorists have come to emphasize the importance of countertransference in psychoanalysis. In what Otto Kernberg calls its "totalistic" definition, countertransference refers to "the total emotional reaction of the psychoanalyst to the patient in the treatment situation."1 It is, therefore, a source of both empathic understanding and defensive misunderstanding, of distortion and insight. Hans Loewald remarks: "Since a psychoanalytic investigation can be carried out only by a human mind, we cannot conceive of one in which the analyst's [counter] transference and resistance are not the warp and woof of his activity."2
· 1. Otto Kernberg, Borderline Conditions and Pathological Narcissism (New York, 1975), p. 49.
· 2. Hans Loewald, "Psychoanalytic Theory and the Psychoanalytic Process," The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 25 (1970): 56. Cf. Heinz Kohut, "Introspection, Empathy, and Psychoanalysis," Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 7 (1959): 459-83. For a clear discussion of the background of the countertransference concept in Freud, see Humberto Nagera, et. al., Basic Psychoanalytic Concepts on Metapsychology, Conflicts, Anxiety and Other Subjects (New York, 1970), pp. 200-206. Two surveys of the literature on the topic are particularly useful: Douglas Orr, "Transference and Countertransference: A Historical Survey," Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 2 (1954): 621-70, and Kernberg, pp. 49-66.
Arthur F. Marotti, associate professor of English at Wayne State University, has written a number of essays on Ben Jonson, John Donne, Thomas Middleton, and Edmund Spenser. He is completing a book-length social-historical and psychoanalytic study of Donne's poetry and a book on Jonson; some of the theoretical assumptions behind both projects are discussed in this article.
See also: "Psychoanalysis and the Marionette Theater: Interpretation is Not Depreciation" in Vol. 5, No. 1
It is no accident that the book Benjamin wrote as a reader of himself, A Berlin Childhood, also begins with the description of a park, that of the Tiergarten zoo. However great the difference may seem between this collection of short prose pieces and Proust's three-thousand-page novel when viewed from the outside, Benjamin's book illustrates [his] fascination... A sentence in his book points to the central experience of Proust's work: that almost everything childhood was can be withheld from a person for years, suddenly to be offered him anew as if by chance. "Like a mother who holds the new-born infant to her breast without waking it, life proceeds for a long time with the still tender memory of childhood" (p. 152). Also reminiscent of Proust is the description of the mother who, on evenings when guests are in the house, comes in to see her child only fleetingly to say good night; so, too, is that of the boy attentively listening to the noises which penetrate into his room from the courtyard below and thus from a foreign world. The studied elevation of the newly invented telephone to the level of a mythical object is anticipated in Proust as well. And the relationship to and influence of the earlier work can be demonstrated even in the use of metaphor. But little is gained by this approach, and it would not be easy to refute the objection that such similarities lie in the authors' common raw material: childhood, the fin de siècle epoch, and the attempt to bring them both into the present.
See also: Shoshana Felman, Benjamin's Silence
Peter Szondi was professor of comparative literature at the Free University of Berlin at the time of his death in 1971. His many influential works include Theorie des modernen Dramas (1956), Versuch über das Tragische (1961), and a five-volume collection of his lectures. Harvey Mendelsohn is the principle translator of the fourteen-volume Dictionary of Scientific Biography; he is currently working on translations of a French commentary on Heraclitus and a selection of Szondi's essays to be published by Yale University Press.
However this may be, it is clear that the rhetoric of the self in American criticism will no longer do, any more than its accompanying interpretative codes of identity crises and mythic reintegration, and that a post-individualistic age needs new and post-individualistic categories for grasping both the production and the evolution of literary form as well as the semantic content of the literary text and the latter's relationship to collective experience and to ideological contradiction. What is paradoxical about Burke's own critical practice in this respect is that he has anticipated many of the fundamental objections to such a rhetoric of self and identity at the same time that he may be counted among its founding fathers: this last and most important of what we have called his "strategies of containment" provides insights which testify against his own official practice. Witness, for example, the following exchange, in which Burke attributes this imaginary objection to his Marxist critics: "Identity is itself a 'mystification.' Hence, resenting its many labyrinthine aspects, we tend to call even the study of it a 'mystification.'" To this proposition, which is something of a caricature of the point of view of the present essay, Burke gives himself a reply which we may also endorse: "The response would be analogous to the response of those who, suffering from an illness, get 'relief' by quarreling with their doctors. Unless Marxists are ready to deny Marx by attacking his term 'alienation' itself, they must permit of research into the nature of attempts, adequate and inadequate, to combat alienation."1
· 1. Burke, The Philosophy of Literary Form, p. 308. In fact, certain contemporary Marxisms—most notably those of Althusser and of Lucio Coletti—explicitly repudiate the concept of alienation as a Hegelian survival in Marx's early writings.
Fredric R. Jameson is the author of The Political Unconscious: Studies in the Ideology of Form. He is also the editor, with Stanley Aronowitz and John Brenkman, of the Social Text.
See also: "Methodological Repression and/or Strategies of Containment" by Kenneth Burke in Vol. 5, No. 2
Despite the persistent affirmations of the ill-informed, the great promise of semiotics is the possibility it represents of welding together both language and text analysis and the analysis of pragmatic and ideological context. It is merely a matter of judicious planning if attention has so far been directed primarily to distinctive aspects of techniques and texts rather than to the general character of the frames of reference within which they operate. And yet, as we know, investigations of the total functioning of culture have been carried out with far-reaching results. This has been so particularly when the areas examined have been those, like the mass media, in which the weight of individual contribution is small.
For culture in the widest sense of the term., the most highly elaborated hypotheses are those put forward by the Soviet semioticians, Lotman first among them. It is with these that I mean to deal here in an act of criticism which may also prove to be one of integration. Lotman's thought is clearly still in the making, and rather than follow out its likely developments, or, it may be, contradictions, it seems more helpful to get into its seams in an attempt to perceive alternative interlacings.
Cesare Segre, director of the Institute of Romance Philology at the University of Pavia and the president of the International Association for Semiotic Studies, is coeditor of the journals Strumenti Critici and Medioevo Romanzo and the series Critica e Filologia. "Culture and Modeling Systems" originally appeared in his Semiotica, storia e cultura (Padova, 1977); his previous contribution to Critical Inquiry, "Narrative Structures and Literary History," appeared in Winter 1976. John Meddemmen teaches the history of the English language at the University of Pavia. He has worked on predominantly linguistic aspects of contemporary Italian authors such as Montale and Fenglio.
Trilling's "larger naturalism," acknowledging as it does the value of mystery and the power of fact, aligns him with Arnold and Freud and Forster in an effort to synthesize the legacies of the Enlightenment and of the Romantic movement: conscious of the authority of the imagination, he "never deceives himself into believing that the power of the imagination is sovereign, that it can make the power of circumstance of no account" (OS, p. 41); committed to reason and to an ideal of rational order, he is yet continuously aware of the limits of reason, of the rational intellect's potential tyranny over the emotions, of those forces within men and without which frustrate the mind's will to organize and control experience.1 And this "larger naturalism," with its emphasis upon "a social tradition," implicates Trilling in a particular view of the novel - a view which may be said to inform all of his thinking but which achieves its fullest and clearest expression in such well-known essays as "Manners, Morals and the Novel" and "Art and Fortune." "The novel," he remarks in the first of these polemics, "...is a perpetual quest for reality, the field of its research being always the social world, the material of its analysis being always manners as the indication of the direction of man's soul” (LI, p. 205).
· 1. Nathan A. Scott, Jr., makes substantially the same point in his superb and very nearly definitive account of Trilling's "Anxious Humanism" (Three American Moralists [Notre Dame, Ind., 1973], p. 170). Readers familiar with Professor Scott's study will recognize at once the deep and general indebtedness which I am pleased to acknowledge here.
Tom Samet is an instructor in literature at Douglass College, Rutgers University. He is currently preparing essays on Henry James and on Conrad and Hemingway. "The Modulated Vision" is part of a study, in progress, of Lionel Trilling and the Anxieties of the Modern.
In his travels, and in his accompanying readings, he had come to the conclusion that the essential secret of life was harmony. . . . And he proceeded to put his philosophy into practice by forcing order into the established world, translating the mystic word harmony into the practical word organisation.1
Harmony becomes organization. And Gerald dedicates himself to work, to feverish, totally absorbing work, inspired with an almost religious exaltation in his fight with matter. The world is split in two: on one side matter (the mines, the miners), on the other side his own isolated will. He wants to create on earth a perfect machine, "an activity of pure order, pure mechanical repetition"; a man of the twentieth century with no nostalgia for the superannuated ideals of Christianity or democracy, he wishes to found his eternity, his infinity, in the machine. So inchoate and mysterious is the imaginative world Lawrence creates for Women in Love that we find no difficulty in reading Gerald Crich as an allegorical figure in certain chapters and as a quite human, even fluid personality in others. As Gudrun's frenzied lover, as Birkin's elusive beloved, he seems a substantially different person from the Gerald Crich who is a ruthless god of the machine; yet as his cultural role demands extinction (for Lawrence had little doubt that civilization was breaking down rapidly, and Gerald is the very personification of a "civilized" man), so does his private emotional life, his confusion of the individual will with that of the cosmos, demand death—death by perfect cold. He is Lawrence's only tragic figure, a remarkable creation on a remarkable novel, and though it is a commonplace thing to say that Birkin represents Lawrence, it seems equally likely that Gerald Crich represents Lawrence—in his deepest, most aggrieved, most nihilist soul.
· 1. All quotations from Women in Love are taken from the Modern Library edition.
Joyce Carol Oates' works include the novels Childhood, Son of the Morning, and a collection of short stories, Night-Side. “Lawrence’s Götterdämmerung” is part of a larger work exploring tragedy and comedy. Her contributions to Critical Inquiry include "Jocoserious Joyce" (Summer 1976), and "The Picture of Dorian Gray: Wilde's Parable about the Fall" (Winter 1980).
I'm pleased to have been offered the chance of replying to Joseph Frank's criticisms ("Spatial Form: An Answer to Critics," Critical Inquiry 4 [Winter 1977]: 231-52). He is a courteous opponent, though capable of a certain asperity. . . . Frank complains that his critics appear incapable of attending to what he really said in his original essay. It is the blight critics are born for; and it is undoubtedly sometimes caused by the venal haste of reviewers, and sometimes by native dullness, and sometimes by malice. But there are other reasons why an author may sometimes feel himself to be misrepresented. One is that a genuinely patient and intelligent reader may be more interested in what the piece under consideration does not quite say than in what is expressly stated. Another is the consequence of fame. Frank's original article is over thirty years old; it crystallised what had been for the most part vague notions, ideas that were in the air, and gave them a memorable name. "Spatial form" entered the jargon of the graduate school and began an almost independent existence. The term might well be used by people who had never read the essay at all; or they might casually attribute to him loose inferences made by others from the general proposition—inferences he had already disallowed and now once more contests. It must be difficult, particularly for an exasperated author, to distinguish between these causes of apparent misrepresentation. But sometimes it can be done; and then it will appear that the effect of the first is far more interesting than that of the second cause. For the suggestion then must be that the author has repressed a desire to take a position which, in his manifest argument, he differentiates from his own. This, as it happens, is what he advances as an explanation of certain ambiguities in my Sense of an Ending; the least one can say is that it is perfectly possible.
Frank Kermode is the author of The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction, Continuities, and Shakespeare, Spenser, Donne: Renaissance Essays; his works also include The Classic and The Genesis of Secrecy. His contributions to Critical Inquiry are "Novels: Recognition and Deception" (Autumn 1974), "A Reply to Denis Donoghue" (Spring 1975), and "Secrets and Narrative Sequence" (Autumn 1980).
An adequate approach to any of Aristotle's qualitative parts of tragedy must be grounded in an understanding of their hierarchical ranking within the Poetics. Any "whole" must present "a certain order in its arrangement of parts" (1450b35-36),1 and in a drama each part is "for the sake of" the one "above" it. Contrary to Rosenstein's formulation, for instance, the Aristotelian view is that character as a form "concretizes" and individualizes thought as matter. Rosenstein's question as to whether "these . . . indeed form a genuine disjunction" (p. 552) should not even arise. By ignoring the hierarchy, and therefore collapsing it, Rosenstein weakens his otherwise sound assertion that tragedy is not philosophy. Such is the result, whether intended or not, of holding that "thought must also be some form or concretization of action, just as plot and character are" (p. 554). This vocabulary seems to suggest in the end that a tragic work is organized by philosophical "themes." "To understand spoken thought as an object of imitation in this manner is to understand it not merely as a content or object being imitated . . . but as the supposedly valid expression of an interpretation of the doings of the aesthetically worked world generally. . . . Thought in this sense becomes theme" (p. 558).
· 1. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations of Aristotle are from The Basic Works of Aristotle, ed. Richard McKeon (New York, 1941).
James E. Ford responds in this essay to Leon Rosenstein's "On Aristotle and Thought in the Drama" (Spring 1977). An assistant professor of English at Brigham Young University—Hawaii Campus, he is currently writing on interpretative theory.
See also: "Metaphor and Transcendence" by Karsten Harries in Vol. 5, No. 1
Let me repeat one of my main points of my article: that "all three subjects of tragedy—plot, character, and thought—are reciprocal and correlative concretizations of a particular action and that thought bears this relation and makes its appearance with respect to each . . . in a definite way."1 This would be "understanding the interdependence or reciprocity of the three objects of imitation as functioning dynamically within an organic unity" (p. 554n.). Thus, in one of the instances to which Ford refers, the question I raise as to disjunction of the three subjects of tragedy is not a question for me at all, except rhetorically, since it is based upon the suggestion of Jones, a view which I reject, but the mention of which allowed me to consider its possibilities first. (One sometimes reads anticipators who raise interesting possibilities which, on reflection, one is forced to discard but not forced not to mention.) In the other instance, and again with respect to Jones, the "double awkwardness" to which Jones originally refers is alleviated through clarification and interpretation by Jones himself, whose position in this matter I expand upon and interpret more widely. Thus, there is no "disjunction," and there is no "doubleness" of plot and action, nor, as I myself went on to show, any tripleness and quadrupleness either in relation of action, plot, character, and thought. Really, what we have here are different ontological orders of the subject of tragedy, a relation between the general and specific, the abstract and concrete, the concept and its instance, a relation like that of energy to the incandescent light (such that "energy" can be said to be "concretized" in "incandescent light").
· 1. "On Aristotle and Thought in the Drama," Critical Inquiry 3 (Spring 1977): 561.
Leon Rosenstein is an associate professor of philosophy at San Diego State University.