Friday, November 12, 2010


Freud’s narratives of Melancholia & Mourning and The Ego and the Id claim that the ego is said to “turn back upon itself” once love fails to find its object and instead takes itself as not only an object of love, but of aggression and hate as well. Under Freudian context, pathological melancholia differs from normal mourning because the subject cannot successfully replace what has been lost. This loss of attachment to an object is understood in melancholia to be redirected toward the ego, which undergoes transformation in the psychic space to produce a new ego, a fresh yet scarred psychic object. The inability to declare such a loss signifies the retraction or absorption of the loss by the ego. Clearly, the ego does not literally take an object inside oneself but the failure that’s recognized after an attempted substitution of the lost object is the tenuous foundation for Freud’s melancholia. However Butler observes that “the turn from the object to the ego produces the ego, which substitutes for the object lost.” Freud’s essay presumes that love of the object comes first, and only upon the loss of the object does melancholy emerge. Consider closely, however, that there can be no ego without melancholia, that the ego’s loss is constitutive. Thus the narrative grammar that might account for this relationship is necessarily confounded from the start, a catch-22. In a sense, the reconstruction of the self is spurred by melancholia and its duality. Bhabha argues that melancholia is not a form of passivity, but a form of revolt that takes place through repetition and metonymy. The concept of melancholia as revolt can be derived from the Freud’s notion of ambivalence. While the ego is the self, the id is the one saying “I want to blow my fuckin brains out after examining Freud’s theories” and, yet, the superego is the one that ensures you’re still alive. A form of moral reflexivity is produced in which the ego splits itself to furnish an internal perspective by which to judge itself, despite the overpowering id. However, the aftermath of melancholia produces a severed balance. Can melancholia ever become labeled as normal? The recurring social deaths of the self can be implied on a universal subject. From childbirth, every child is perpetually redefining the self (evident when a baby starts crying when the mother leaves the vicinity). Though critics argue that a newborn cannot possibly have had developed a conscious, thus the lack of psyche typography; however, a vast population of modernity have and do share this rehabilitative experience. Are we really as sane as we think we are?

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