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Logics of Separation

Exile and Transcendence in Aesthetic Modernity


Michael Stone-Richards

This book is made up of a set of innovative close readings and meditations on the significance of the modes and logics of separation in the thinking of aesthetic modernity. Separation is defined in Hegelian and psychoanalytic terms as psychic processes in the formation of identity that necessarily entail self-division and estrangement in the emergence of subjectivity and social identity. This phenomenon, called subjection, has been at the core of psychoanalytic readings since the work of Melanie Klein.
The works under consideration in the volume include material by W.E.B. Du Bois, Frantz Fanon, C.L.R. James, Ralph Ellison, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, and Paul Celan, as well as the sorrow songs/Negro Spirituals. In each case the moment of passivity and modes of separation are approached as sites of inescapable conflict. The varying psychic, ethical, and political tensions underwriting this experience are examined in detail for each case study.


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Preface -ix


Preface The studies gathered in Logics of Separation: Exile and Transcendence in Aesthetic Modernity represent in every instance work that I was fortunate to be able to undertake whilst holding a visiting position teaching English and comparative literature in the Department of English at Stonehill Col- lege between 2003 and 2005. My students in “Reading Poetry,” “Modern Poetry,” along with my seminars on “Critical Theory,” “Violence and the Problem of Faith in the Avant-Garde” and “Celan and Prynne” will recog- nize, I hope, not only the subjects there covered but in many instances my debt. Whilst at Stonehill I undertook a particularly intense period of ref lection on the work of Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe which enabled me to explore the relationship between transcendence, the aesthetic and the question of mimetic powers. I was fortunate to meet Lacoue-Labarthe with his wife, Claire Nancy, in May 2004 in the most ideal of circumstances in Chicago thanks to my former graduate student Ms Ela Kotkowska and this encounter marked certain directions in this study. No book ends exactly as it was originally envisaged. To be sure, the problems approached in each chapter in this book were part of the origi- nal conception: the significance of exile and transcendence in aesthetic modernity as horizons of thought studied through the problems of subjec- tion, subjective appropriation, sounding, Bildung, violence and separation approached in terms of critical theory and close reading where poetic works are read – through their verbal, acoustic and formal fabrics – for thought, for their...

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