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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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Part I - Exile: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Two Commentaries -35


Part I Exile: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Two Commentaries Chapter 1 Towards a Reading of the Poetics of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictée Elle appelle, elle insiste, elle éclate dans chaque phrase qu’on lit. Mais elle reste sans objet. Si, après tout, cette certitude [d’être appellé] n’était rien? Si le plus vif de la mémoire était oubli sans fond? Alors la remé- moration ne serait plus tentative d’arracher au temps perdu quelques souvenirs pour les revivre. Elle serait ef fort pour s’avancer toujours plus loin dans l’oubli.1 — Michèle Montrelay, L’ombre et le nom (1977) Comment savoir que ce qui fait retour est bien ce qui avait disparu?2 — Jean-François Lyotard, Lectures d’enfance (1991) I The Opening Scene, Event, and Sounds: Pour quoi aller à la ligne Where does a work begin? The question may appear a simple one. May be, even, not the desired formulation, though a certain simplicity may have its value. It has never been a simple question, and even though a certain 1 “[The feeling of certitude] calls out, it insists, it bursts out in every sentence which one reads. But it remains without object. / If, after all, this certitude [of being called] was nothing? If the keenest part of memory was – endless – oblivion? Then remem- bering would no longer be the attempt to pull some recollections from lost time in order to re-live them. It would be the ef fort to move oneself always further within oblivion.” 2...

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