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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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Appendix II Customs Clearance: A Note on the Immigration Scenein “Calliope Epic Poetry” -415


Appendix II Customs Clearance: A Note on the Immigration Scene in “Calliope Epic Poetry” In “Calliope Epic Poetry” there is a scene of “Theresa Hak Kyung Cha” returning to Korea for the first time since the age of twelve. The scene is preceded by the American oath of citizenship. The two scenes have occa- sioned much misinterpretation as the pain that is depicted in the customs clearance is, for some, a statement about America. One day you raise the right hand and you are American. They give you an American Pass port. The United States of America. Somewhere someone has taken my identity and replaced it with their photograph. The other one. Their signature their seals. Their own image. And you learn the executive branch the legislative branch and the third. Justice. Judicial branch. It makes the dif ference. The rest is past. (D 56) The scene of the acquisition of American citizenship is then followed by: “You return and you are not one of them, they treat you with indif fer- ence. All the time you understand what they are saying” etc. (D 56), which becomes rich in ambiguity, for it may seem as though the passage is about an encounter with American customs after the return from abroad. The point, however, is precisely that the acquisition of American citizenship by the natively born Korean has served to complicate the status of being Korean, left exposed the Korean “smell[ing] filtered edited through progress and westernization” (D 57) to...

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