Romantic Psyche and Psychoanalysis
"The Abyss of the Past":
1. Schelling, The Ages of the World (1815), trans. Jason M. Wirth (Albany: State U of New York P, 2000), 31. Hereafter W3. The untranslated 1811 version (W1) is included in Manfred Schröter, Die Weltalter (C. H. Beck: München, 1946). References to the1813 version (W2), are to the translation by Judith Norman in Slavoj Žižek/F. W. J. Schelling, The Abyss of Freedom/Ages of the World (Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1997). References to German texts, when used, are given by volume and page number after the references to the English translation and, except for W1 and W2, are to Ausgewählte Werke, 10 vols. (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1966-8). W2 was not included in the Ausgewählte Werke, the version dated 1813 being actually the 1815 text. References to the German texts of W1 and W2 are therefore to the edition by Schröter. Translations from W1 are mine.
5. Hegel saw Schelling as not paying enough attention to "dialectic" and the labour of the negative. As Jürgen Habermas points out (47-51), however, after Bruno Schelling silently took account of this criticism first levelled against him in The Phenomenology of Spirit, embracing the negative affectively as well as logically, as Hegel (according to Habermas) did not.
7. The importance of geology to Ages is taken up in a different way by Grant, who is not concerned with geology as a science of deep time, but rather with transformative chemical processes occurring deep within the earth. Developing a chemistry rather than history of nature, Grant therefore aligns Ages with a radicalized Naturphilosophie and "physiology" (in Green 102-3), rather than with a radicalized "physiogony" as I am doing here.
8. For further discussion of natural history and the history of nature in Schelling see my "Spirit's Psychoanalysis: Natural History, The History of Nature, and Romantic Historiography." European Romantic Review 14:2 (2003): 187-96.
9. Robinet published the first four volumes of De la Nature in 1761-66. He added Volume 5 as Considérations philosophiques sur la gradation naturelle des formes de l'être, Les Essais de la Nature qui apprend à faire l'homme (Paris: 1768). Despite the title of the fifth volume, Robinet sees nature as possibly proceeding to forms beyond man. On Robinet see Lovejoy 269-83.
10. In addition, the 1815 version introduces the notions of crisis and the unconscious; it makes extensive reference to sickness—a notion completely absent from the 1813 version; and it emphasizes the Sisyphean structure of cosmic and personal history as an endlessly advancing and retreating movement.
11. Indeed the passages that set the tone for an irremediable darkening of enlightenment at the beginning of the third version are all clustered at the end of W2 (179ff.). Rather than "shroud[ing] the point of departure" for our reading "in dark night" (W3 3), they are dissolved and dissipated in a movement of expansion at the end.
13. Slavoj Žižek makes the important point about Schelling's invention of a theory of the drives in The Indivisible Remainder 27-32, 38. However, Žižek does not relate the drives specifically to the 1815 version: indeed he also discusses them in his essay "The Abyss of Freedom," which accompanies Judith Norman's translation of the 1813 text (14-21). My argument is that a theory of the drives emerges only in the more psychoanalytic 1815 version.
16. For the idea of non-knowledge see Bataille 111-18, 129-32. On the unthought, Foucault writes: "Man is a mode of being which accommodates that dimension—always open, never finally delimited, yet constantly traversed—which extends from a part of himself not reflected in a cogito to the act of thought by which he apprehends that part" (Order 322).
17. For a discussion of Mesmerism, magnetic sleep and hypnotism as part of the prehistory of "dynamic psychiatry" (a broader category that includes psychoanalysis), see Ellenberger 53-83. It is important to note, however, that Schelling, though obviously familiar with Mesmer's concept of the vital fluid, uses the term "magnetische Schlaf" in this section (Shröter 160-61), which Judith Norman loosely translates as "mesmeric" and not magnetic sleep (W2 158-59). Although I will argue that there is a greater presence of Mesmer in W3 than in W2, Mesmer did not see magnetic sleep as the only way of effecting the mesmeric cure or deploying magnets and magnetism (Ellenberger 72). Mesmer stressed the "crisis," while magnetic sleep (later called hypnotism) was more fully developed by the Marquis de Puységur (see Crabtree 38-53, 65). Eventually Mesmer took a position against magnetic sleep, partly because he wanted to avoid charges of occultism (Crabtree 54, 65). In W2 Schelling's discussion of magnetic sleep has the most affinities with the work of Puységur, whose Recherches, expériences, et observations appeared in 1811, and with G. H. Schubert's Ansichten von der Nachtseite der Naturwissenschaft (1808) and C.A.F. Kluge's Versuch eine Darstellung des animalischen Magnetismus als Heilmittel (Berlin, 1811). These thinkers all omit a certain violence that characterizes the psychoanalytic scene of Mesmerism itself in France. In general Mesmerism in the German Romantic tradition is more psychologically than medically oriented, but in a spiritualist way.
18. For a discussion of the importance to Schelling of Humphry Davy's theories of electromagnetism, see Wallen 122-28. Wallen's reading of W3 is quite different from mine, in that he sees the trope of vital fluid as organizing Schelling's entire ouevre, integrates the movements of contraction and expansion within the figure of "electromagnetic orgasm," and on this basis associates W3 with a philosophy of revelation, albeit in a Spinozistic rather than theistic form. The world-soul, of course, should not be seen as a conventionally organicist concept. Writing from a Deleuzian perspective, Iain Hamilton Grant distinguishes organicism from the notion of "organization" with which it is associated in Raymond Williams' Keywords (227-29). Grant argues that the world-soul "unconditions the subject of the organization. In other words, infinitely individuated parts never turn back on themselves to be sealed up into an organization, but proliferate unrestrictedly, as the 'positive force' of nature. . . . the World Soul cannot be approached as if it were a body" (132-33).
19. Indeed as Schelling puts it in 1811: "In the will that wills nothing there was no differentiation, neither subject nor object, but only the highest simplicity. The contracting will, however, which is the will to existence, produces in itself a divorce between the two [subject and object]" (22).
22. Semantically the material in W2 (156-58; 157-59) and W3 (68-97) is fairly similar; however the discussion of primary process (in effect) takes on a different colouring in light of the more darkly psychoanalytic and existential framing of W3 as a whole. W3 adds the figure of the mirror, the reference to "the potency of the beginning," and the notion of "counterprojection" to W2.
23. For different views about the date of Clara (which is normally placed at 1810) and about its relation to the Ages, see Steinkamp's Introduction (x-xvii). The entire text, which is in dialogue form, can be read as an example of the mesmeric dialogue outlined in the Introduction to Ages.
24. "Counterprojection" is Jason Wirth's translation: "Gegenwurf is an obscure and extremely difficult word to render. The general sense is that each order knows itself in contradistinction to what it is not. It sees itself only through having lost or betrayed itself such that the other half mirrors the other back to itself. One discerns one's ownmost through the foreign" (W3 143n).
25. The socially subversive effects of Mesmerism, which culminated in the establishment of a commission to investigate it, are described by Darnton. On the other hand, its place in the prehistory of psychoanalysis (or psychiatry) is taken up by Ellenberger. What Faflak does by taking it up in both these registers is to emphasize its socially disruptive potential, but to give that disruptiveness a long-term cognitive weight by developing mesmerism towards its future in psychoanalysis. See Faflak, Romantic Psychoanalysis (50-55) and "Philosophy's Debatable Land in Coleridge's Biographia Literaria" (136-43). Psychoanalysis, in other words, suggests the serious cultural and personal work for which the pseudoscience of Mesmerism prepares a space, while Mesmerism is the scene of a schizoanalytic potential in psychoanalysis (to evoke Deleuze and Guattari) that Freud seeks to contain. In its cultural effects, and also in its deployment by Schelling (who introduces something quite volatile into the Ages under the idealistic cover of the harmonization of the individual with the rhythms of the universal fluid), Mesmerism therefore functions as what Derrida calls a "hinge" that simultaneously closes down and opens up radical possibilities (Resistances 78-84).
26. The equivalent passage in W2 emphasizes positing, and does not mention the alternating advancing and retreating movement: "true progress [Fortschreiten], which is equivalent to an elevation [Erhebung], takes place only when something is posited permanently and immutably and becomes the ground of elevation and progression" (W2 135; 135)
27. Fascism has of course fascinated French intellectuals of the twentieth century. In "The Psychological Structure of Fascism," Bataille opposes fascism to monarchy and the state, even though both are authoritarian forms, on the grounds of a homogenizing force in the former which can be contrasted with the heterogeneity and disruptive force of a fascist authority that is not grounded in tradition or inheritance, and that is therefore profoundly unsettled and unsettling.
29. Such a reading could be described as "Žižekian," in the way it builds on Žižek's reading of Schelling as the "vanishing mediator" between absolute idealism and psychoanalysis. A theory of history is at the core of absolute idealism—something completely neglected in the readings of Schelling provided by Heidegger and Nancy. However Žižek himself reads Schelling only psychoanalytically, rather than extrapolating a theory of history and politics from Ages, which, however, one can find in his own work as read through Schelling.