Afterword: Modern(ist) Cultures of the Death Drive
and the Melancholic Apparatus
In my view the danger arising from the inner working of the death instinct
is the first cause of anxiety.—Melanie Klein
To seek reality is both to set out to explore the injury inflicted by it—to turn back on, and
to try to penetrate, the state of being stricken, wounded by reality—and to attempt, at the
same time, to reemerge from the paralysis of this state, to engage reality as an advent, a
movement, and as a vital, critical necessity of moving on. It is beyond the shock of being
stricken, but nonetheless within the wound and from within the woundedness that the
event, incomprehensible though it may be, becomes accessible.—Shoshana Felman
The idea of cultures of the death drive developed in the preceding pages
moves on ground contested in many urgent, simultaneous debates—in
psychoanalysis, gender studies, literature, and the visual arts—and its epis-
temological and interpretative value derives from its willingness to join
them and show their relations. This project has addressed directly the
status of melancholia in the object-relations orthodox Freudian debate—
showing the dramatic bearing that such melancholia has for the con-
struction of postmodern subjectivity and ethics—and it has approached in
the context of Klein’s work the recurring problem posed for literary studies
by the troubled definitions of modernism and modernity. We have examined
in this light the emergence in the first decades of the twentieth century of a
concept of ‘‘culture’’ posed specifically against the Arnoldian tradition, and
we have briefly stressed in this examination the status of visuality in literary
modernism. This project has also been an attempt to contribute to the
Previous Page Next Page