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    Tom Allen, "Black Orchids" oil on canvas, 30 x 27", 2015

 

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In Aberrations of Mourning, Laurence A. Rickels explores a phantasmic Geistesgeschichte not addressed within the traditional framework of theories and histories that tend to emphasize Oedipal structures. As such, this study involves a reconsideration of certain basic tenets which inform the reading of literature, philosophy, and, indeed, psychoanalysis itself. Its main focus, however, is to suggest an interpretation of both reading and writing that goes beyond notions of patricidal writing that have received so much currency in the past few years.

In nine chapters, Rickels investigates literary texts and their aesthetic and semiotic theories to determine the breakdown of mourning throughout each name-bearing corpus. Since psychoanalytic hermeneutics, which remains inseparable from Freud's works, is the only context available for consideration of the place of aberrant mourning in a corpus, Rickels invokes this critical perspective at crucial junctures in his study. He is thereby able to delineate the precise contours, implications, and exclusions that the concept of mourning seeks to attain in Freudian psychoanalysis and in more recent psychoanalytic theory.

The problem of aberrant mourning, which has only begun to assert itself, demands further explication and illustration, and it is to this end that Aberrations of Mourning is offered. The authors Rickels analyzes were either part of Nietzsche's own select reading list or were themselves readers and, in a sense, writers of "Nietzsche." Rickels thus recasts a particular tradition in German letters, and poses the problem of aberrant mourning as a Nietzschean challenge to and within the Freudian system.


Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1988

More than anything else in society, mourning must be diluted and distilled; the corpse is beautiful and the 'hardened survivors' odor free. Alongside this disturbed relationship to the dead, mass media culture conducts that endless work of mourning Freud called melancholia. ... The cult of the dead in any given culture is coextensive with the media extensions of the senses current in that culture. Psychoanalysis, our culture's institution of mourning, keeps open lines of communication with the deceased which are precisely lines of telecommunication. Freud's disinterment of the phantom voices of the superego, for example, coincides with the advent of phonographic or radio recording... just as photography and film project and animate those phantoms which, in Totem and Taboo, haunt those who are unable to grant the dead proper burial. 
— Aberrations of Mourning

This book shatters the iron collar of German Studies in America. Brilliant and articulate, Professor Rickels exercises a rigorous erudition over works ranging from Lessing to Artaud. It is as if these works had fallen under a spell, responding willingly to the relentless demands of a master reader. Laurence Rickels’s work marks a moment in what I would call the New Wave sensibility in literary criticism. In the era following Vietnam, schizonomadic thought, and the technological incursions of the media, Aberrations of Mourning offers an urgently timed meditation on our cryptological era.
— Avital Ronell


Minneapolis University of Minnesota Press 2011

Examining our unresolved relationship with death:
Aberrations of Mourning, originally published in 1988, is the long unavailable first book in Laurence A. Rickels’s “unmourning” trilogy, followed by The Case of California and Nazi Psychoanalysis. Rickels studies mourning and melancholia within and around psychoanalysis, maintaining that we must shift the way we read literature, philosophy, and psychoanalysis to go beyond traditional Oedipal structures.

For Rickels, the link between technology and mourning isn’t merely Freudian and speculative, but also solidly historically grounded. In his excellent book Aberrations of Mourning, he points to the advent in the west of recording devices such as phonographs and gramophones before in fact mortality rates had been reduced by mass inoculation, even among the better off. Many middle-class parents, following the fad for recording their children’s voices, found themselves bereaved, and the plate or roll on which little Augustus’ or Matilda’s voice outlived him or her thus became a tomb. ‘Dead children,’ Rickels writes, ‘inhabit vaults of the technical media which create them.’ Bereavement becomes the core of technologies; what communication technology inaugurates is, in effect, a cult of mourning—indeed, Rickels even suggests replacing the word ‘mourning’ with the phrase ‘the audio and video broadcasts of improper burial’ . . . Researching my own novel C, which takes place during precisely this period of emergence, I found evidence everywhere to support Rickels’ claim.
— Tom McCarthy

This book shatters the iron collar of German Studies in America. Brilliant and articulate, Professor Rickelsexercises a rigorous erudition over works ranging from Lessing to Artaud. It is as if these works had fallen under a spell, responding willingly to the relentless demands of a master reader. Laurence Rickels’s work marks a moment in what I would call the New Wave sensibility in literary criticism. In the era following Vietnam, schizonomadic thought, and the technological incursions of the media, Aberrations of Mourning offers an urgently timed meditation on our cryptological era.

Avital Ronell

Aberrations of Mourning contributes to the vanguards of critical thinking by establishing connections not only between generations and cultures, but between this world and that absolutely other world: it continues the search for and recovery of those missing in history’s natural disaster—the disaster of nature.

Akira Mizuta Lippit

For Rickels, the link between technology and mourning isn’t merely Freudian and speculative, but also solidly historically grounded…And the literature that emerges in the age of communications technologies—modernist literature—is this cult’s expression, its record, its holy script.

The Guardian

Rickels’s project is at once captivating and ambitious. Aberrations of Mourning takes an intricate look at significant figures in the disciplines of literature, philosophy, and psychoanalysis.

Philip Roth Studies

 

Der "unbetrauerbare Tod": Der Verstorbene wird dem trauernden Körper einverleibt als unverdauter oder unbegrabener Leichnam, der wiederum das psychische Funktionieren des Überlebenden stört oder steuert. In Rickels kühner Herleitung finden die psychischen Störungen, die die fortdauernde Anwesenheit des Toten hervorruft, ihren Ausdruck als Schreiben auf den Krypten, welche gleichzeitig die Phantome übertragen. Damit entwickelt Rickels eine psychoanalytische Theorie des Spuks, die zugleich eine theoretische Abhandlung über Aufkommen und Wirkung der technischen Medien – von Druckerpresse und Photographie bis zu Telefon und Fernsehen – darstellt.
Rickels belegt seine Hypothese mit eindringlichen Interpretationen von Werken Kellers, Freuds, Shelleys, Stokers, Artauds und Kafkas. Obgleich er im Rahmen der Psychoanalyse bleibt, zeigt er doch, dass die mit der Beseitigung der Toten verbundenen Probleme sich nicht immer durch die Übersetzung in ödipale Ängste lösen lassen. In seinen Untersuchungen weist Rickels der Biographie erneuert ihren legitimen Platz in der Literaturwissenschaft, aus der Formalismus und Strukturalismus sie lange verbannt hatten.

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Friedrich Kittler, Vorwort

A cult classic that explores the concept of "California"

Focusing on the changing image of the West Coast through such varied social and cultural artifacts as bodybuilding, group therapy, suicide cults, milk-carton images of missing children, teenage slang, and surf music, Laurence Rickels offers a dizzying psychohistory of the twentieth century as crystallized in the symbolic configuration called California and considered in relation to German modernism, national socialism, and Freudian psychoanalysis.
In "cultural clips" that fast-forward and rewind through a variety of images, disciplines, and time zones, Laurence Rickels explores "California" as both an empirical place and a symbolic configuration. Focusing on the changing image of the West Coast to study politics, sexuality, and the effects of mass media in modern culture, The Case of California is Rickels' dizzying psychohistory of postmodernity.
In California, Rickels locates 'the intersection between technology and the unconscious' and thus reconstructs the political front of pshoanalysis which arose to combat National Socialism. California and Germany, he contends, are two coasts of an era that 'lets roll' in the Enlightenment and continues to this day. Kafka is the 'ultimate Kalifornian'. The fall of the Berlin wall and the San Francisco Earthquake appear 'symptomatically in sync'. And the invention of the California teenager - the archetypical adolescent - begins with 'a certain central European refusal of death'.
As he addresses an array of popcultural phenomena, Rickels situates the Frankfurt School of Adorno Benjamin, Horkheimer, and Marcuse within the Freudian system - and within the critical boundaries of deconstruction. Along the way he explores music and sound, mourning and the charge of sexual abuse, group and adolescent psychology, female sexuality, the convergence of religious and hysterical conversion, and the shifting status of writing and literature brought about through the rise of 'reproductive' media such as photography, film, and television.

California is where unending mourning achieves its society-wide manifestation (or massification) as sado-masochism, where the death wish yields to death drive (which takes a detour via suicide), and where the femininity of mourning constitutes the group's secret agenda, gender, and desire. The psychohistory that documents the intellectual migrations to the most modern of frontiers cannot but unfold or fold out a psychology of the ultimate idol of Freud's second system: the adolescent or Californian. But the two anchorpersons for this special report on California - Kafka and Thomas Mann - have been selected, according to the bicoastal logic of this case, from among Germanicity's teenagers at heart. In between: television covers the ins and outs of this psychoanalytic investigation of a global conspiracy - the Californian (and German) invention of adolescence.
— The Case of California

The Case of California is one of the most powerful attempts we have so far to establish connections between contemporary culture and certain German texts that are inseparable from modernity.
— Samuel Weber

Rickels has written an important book reading psychoanalyis at the end of our century. His intent is to complete Adorno's refiguring of Mickey Mouse into his own Rickelsian refiguration of Freud's project.
— Sander L. Gilman

Laurence Rickels is one of the few theorists today who is able to think technology through psychoanalysis and vice versa . . . .With California as the site of this encounter, Rickels takes Freud to the beach and California to the couch, picking up, in many ways, where the Frankfurt School left off.
— Artforum

Provocative (and often hilarious), The Case of California explores the 'bi-coastal logic of modernity,' with California as one coast and Germany as the other. . . . Startling and brilliant.
— San Francisco Bay Guardian


Reading from an array of psychoanalysts, theorists, techno-cultists, psychic disturbances and juvenile converts, Rickels frames the dynamic transference of episteme, ectoplasm from Germany to California and its subsequent impact on the survivors of this endopsychic re-location . . . In California, Rickels observes an entire population of unmourned dead (from splatter films’ zombies to neo-Christian vegetarians and ‘impostor’ adolescents) building bodies to house and preserve the perennial youth (unyouth) of their post-paternal and trans-psychoanalytic culture.
— Akira Mizuta Lippit



(The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991)(University of Minnesota Press 2001)

Metropolis, California, artUS





Bela Lugosi may-as the eighties gothic rock band Bauhaus sang-be dead, but the vampire lives on. A nightmarish figure dwelling somewhere between genuine terror and high camp, a morbid repository for the psychic projections of diverse cultures, an endlessly recyclable mass-media icon, the vampire is an enduring object of fascination, fear, ridicule, and reverence. In The Vampire Lectures, Laurence A. Rickels sifts through the rich mythology of vampirism, from medieval folklore to Marilyn Manson, to explore the profound and unconscious appeal of the undead.

 

What is a historical fact? It is after the fact. With vampirism, in any event, history comes after to give definition to an unformed body of symptoms. If one could scan, on rewind, the facts and rumors circulating as vampirism, at any given time or over time – in real time – what we would find before us is the polymorphous confusion of activities and desires that go down and out and under the name of vampirism. There are many, many ways in which one can become a vampire, many ways in which one can exercise one’s vampirism. And there are many different parts of the body where the blood can be sucked.
— The Vampire Lectures

It’s the ultimate book to give to anyone who makes fun of you for liking vampire
novels or films.
— Anne Rice


Rickels mines the study of cult phenomena, including vampire attacks, burial rituals, and sexual taboos that are recounted in legends, literature, and folklore. This vigorous contribution to literary and paranormal theory collections will enhance the pursuit of often remote scholarship into mythology and sorcery.
— Library Journal


In the vampire’s attempt to come to terms with his own need to kill, he becomes a proto-Übermensch, a material/maternal disrupter of the paternal line of reproduction, a subverter of the Law whose only law is incest. Now, this may not be your cup of tea, philosophically or otherwise, but it’s a genuinely intense brew. In fact, it’s almost creepy.
— Erik Davis

By Mourning's Light, ArtForum
Portrait of the Vampire Professor

The International Psychoanalytic Congress gathered in 1967 to define the clinical concept of "acting out." Thirty years later, our society, which once labeled those who exhibited excessive aggression as delinquent, celebrates outrageous public behavior. In Acting Out in Groups, writers, literary theorists, and cultural critics explore therapeutic descriptions of acting out in relation to the conduct condoned, even encouraged, on daytime TV talk shows, at political rallies, and in performance. Through a deconstruction of "acting out, " this collection seeks a new; performative style of critical discourse that incorporates the exuberance and intensity of acting out for analytical ends. Topics include the Jenny Jones murder trial; the response of psychoanalysts to the acclaimed documentary Crumb; the place of the Berlin Wall and other national symbols in German life; and the roles of aggression and discipline in childhood development.


The Jargon of Inauthenticity by John Mowitt PDF



Psychoanalysis was a symptom of everything the Nazis reviled: an intellectual assault on Kultur largely perpetrated by Jews. It was also, as this remarkable revisionary work shows, an inescapable symptom of modernity, practiced, transformed, and perpetuated by and within the Nazi regime. A sweeping, magisterial work by one of the most incisive and interesting scholars of modern philosophy, theory, and culture, Nazi Psychoanalysis studies the breadth of this phenomenon in order to clarify and deepen our understanding not only of psychoanalysis but of the twentieth century itself.

Tracing the intersections of psychoanalysis and Nazism, Laurence A. Rickels discovers startling conjunctions and continuities in writers as diverse as Adler and Adorno, Kafka and Goethe, Lacan, H. Rider Haggard, and Heidegger; and in works as different as Der Golem, Civilization and Its Discontents, Frankenstein, Faust, and Brave New World. In a richly allusive style, he writes of psychoanalysis in multifarious incarnations, of the concept and actual history of "insurance," of propaganda in theory and practice, of psychological warfare, Walt Disney, and the Frankfurt School debates-a dizzying tour of the twentieth century that helps us see how the "corridor wars" that arise in the course of theoretical, clinical, social, political, and cultural attempts to describe the human psyche are related to the world wars of the century in an intimate and infinitely complicated manner.

Though some have used its appropriation by the Nazis to brand psychoanalysis with the political odium of fascism, Rickels instead finds an uncanny convergence-one that suggests far-reaching possibilities for both psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic criticism.

3 Volumes: Only Psychoanalysis Won the War, Crypto-Fetishim, Psy-Fi

Nazi Psych Vol 1sm.pdf
Nazi Psych Vol 2sm.pdf
Nazi Psych Vol 3sm.pdf

Nazi Psychoanalysis, which marks the final installment of my trilogy on 'Unmourning', is committed, over and again, to the excavation of a missing era in all its materiality. In the course of the dig, as they all rose to consciousness, the materials kept on putting in uncanny connections between so many of the split-off, discontinuous segments of our standard tradition or reception of good modernism, good psychoanalysis. The influence we now see come out in the wash of materials overflowing from the nonstop productions of the military psychological complex relies on a sense of audience that puts on Freudian ears to listen behind the lines: out of the noisy wear and tear of resistance there emerges one genuine line of influence, the kind that represents real change. A clean tranferential cutting in of 'the father', say, into the place of the analyst or therapist can promote the immediate cause of healing; but in matters of influence, a matter psychoanalysis alone made an issue of its science, also in the sense that there was no influence until we learned how to interpret for the transference, the resistance, the defense, the intactness of a foreign corpus inside another's identity or identification indeed symptomatizes a host or ghost of issues, but does not, finally, give the measure of any influence. The least likely place to look, therefore, which was where previous studies of the Nazi history of psychoanalysis and the psychodynamic therapies tended to start and stop, is that small band of certified analysts who stayed on in Germany after 1933 [...]
— Nazi Psychoanalysis

He brilliantly traces discourses on the relationship between pilots and their aircraft, spinning out all kinds of associations around men and machines, treating psychoanalysis as a kind of privileged discourse on the ‘ongoing technologization of our bodies’ that ran through the twentieth century.
— Paul Lerner

The author’s knowledge of his own writing seems to produce a form of textuality that is forever sliding into the category of materiality . . . The author of Nazi Psychoanalysis has sought to develop a style that holds the line between a concern for content and a preoccupation with form in order to fight the restrictive nature of the modern symbolic order . . . Rickels’ liminal textuality combines the normal position of the analyst and the dislocated situation of the patient in a mode of writing that is always-already becoming coherent/incoherent. This is the mark of what I want to call his post-modern schizo-style . . . Rickels’ schizo-style allows us to see how psycho-pathologies emerge from the same hyper-reflexive modern moment that gave birth to psychoanalysis itself.
— Mark Featherstone

Mark Featherstone in Ctheory Review
Michael Dorland in Culture Machine

Untote und Wiederbelebte, wohin man blickt: Der Literaturwissenschaftler Laurence A. Rickels führt in seinen "Vampirismus-Vorlesungen" Bram Stokers Vampirroman "Dracula", Sigmund Freuds Psychoanalyse und den zeitgleich entstehenden Kinoapparat zusammen - und wird dabei selbst zum Vampir

VON EKKEHARD KNÖRER
Bram Stokers Vampirroman "Dracula" erschien im Jahr 1897. Zur selben Zeit entwickelte Sigmund Freud seine Psychoanalyse als Wissenschaft vom Unbewussten, und es entstand als Illusion des bewegten Bildes die technologische Aufnahme- und Projektionsapparatur des Kinos. In seinen "Vampirismus-Vorlesungen" unternimmt der Literaturwissenschaftler Laurence A. Rickels den Versuch, diese drei Phänomene zusammenzudenken. Mehr noch, Vampirismus-Diskurs und Psychoanalyse sind für ihn eins, genauer gesagt: "Psychoanalyse und Vampirismus sind die miteinander konkurrierenden Wissenschaften des Untoten". Dazu kommt das Kino: "Zerschneiden, sezieren und zusammensetzen ergeben im Prozess des Filmschnitts einen Corpus, der durch Projektion belebt oder wiederbelebt wird." Untote, Wiederbelebte, wohin man blickt. Der Vampir ist das, was tot schien, aber nicht ist. Er ist das, was wiederkehrt unter die Lebenden, ohne selbst lebendig zu sein. Er ist, mit Rickels gesprochen, die Verkörperung unserer Unfähigkeit, zu trauern. Freud sagt: Um zu trauern, müssen wir von dem, was gestorben ist, radikal Abschied nehmen, sonst bleiben wir ihm unglücklich verhaftet. Der Name für dieses Verhaftetbleiben ist eben "Melancholie" und der Vampir führt vor Augen, welche Anstrengung es kostet, die Melancholie zu überwinden. Man muss, anders gesagt, um trauern zu können, das töten, was tot ist, oder, mit der dem Thema angemessenen Drastik: dem, von dem man nicht los kommt, mit eigener Hand den Pfahl durchs Herz treiben. Erst einmal ist jeder Tote aber Vampir, geht um, in uns und auf der Leinwand. Das ist die Grundkonstellation, von der Laurence Rickels ausgeht. In 18 Vorlesungen - im Original waren es 26 - montiert er den Vampirismus, das Kino, die Psychoanalyse gegeneinander: in wilden Schnitten und Überblendungen. Er zieht aus seinem Material steile Thesen ("Bei Rache geht es vor allem um die Unfähigkeit, sein lassen zu können, dass die Dinge passieren und sich als andere ausgeben"), schroffe Behauptungen ("Vergessen Sie nicht, dass Lust alles ist") und erläutert beziehungsweise suggeriert Zusammenhänge zwischen Post und Spionage, Medientechnik und Emanzipation, Bram Stoker und Ödipus. Es gehen dabei Lektüren von Büchern und Filmen, Rekapitulationen der Psychoanalyse, Andeutungen, Umdeutungen und mehr oder minder gewaltsame Assoziationen in-, wenn nicht durcheinander. Das Buch ist sich dessen bewusst, es unterstützt und unterstreicht in seiner grafischen Gestaltung nachdrücklich diese Unordnung: mit einer Vielzahl unterschiedlicher Schrifttypen, mit grafischen Pointen (die Anführungs- und Abführungszeichen verstehen sich ausdrücklich als Vampirzahnsymbole) und der buchstäblichen Überlagerung von Texten. Die Stärke, die Schwäche dieser Vorlesungen, die eine einzige Gedankenflut und Gedankenflucht sind: Rickels lässt nichts aus. Er argumentiert nicht, sondern behauptet. Er nimmt sich, was er braucht an Thesen, von Freud und Lacan (später auch Friedrich Nietzsche), um die fiktionalen Filme und Texte zu erläutern. Da wird kannibalisiert, inkorporiert und projiziert, dass es eine Lust ist. Und wahrlich: Nichts Vampirisches ist Rickels fremd. Von Stoker - Vorgeschichte des Vampirismus inklusive - bis Anne Rice, von Ed Wood bis Andy Warhol, von Tod Browning bis Ken Russell. Und nichts liebt der in Santa Barbara lehrende Rickels, dessen aufs Akademischste antiakademischer Habitus manchmal etwas geradezu penetrant Kalifornisches hat, so sehr wie die flotte Formulierung, das kalauernde Wortspiel. Manchmal kapituliert der von seiner Vorlage mitunter arg ins Rudern gebrachte Übersetzer Egbert Hörmann, dann wird in anderer Schrifttype das Original zwischen die Zeilen gestreut: "All this, by the way, can be and has been taken clitorally." Post-Punk-Freudianismus nennt Rickels das in der Einleitung selbst. Mal reißt es hin, mal nervt es kolossal. Kalt lassen einen diese "Vampirismus-Vorlesungen" keinesfalls.

 

 

Seit 1974 macht Ulrike Ottinger Filme, die sich zwischen fiktionalem Kunstfilm und postmoderner Dokumentation bewegen.  Ihre Arbeit umfasst zudem Fotografie und Theaterproduktionen, die international rezipiert wurden.  Laurence A. Rickels Buch untersucht vor allem Ottingers Filme vor dem Hintergrund der Geschichte des Kunstfilms, der, seitdem  Hollywood seine eigene Alternative produziert, in der Kunst und dem Dokumentarfilm weiterhin existiert. Die Studie verfolgt zudem das Ende des alten Europas und die euphorische Substitution dieses Verlustes in einer Welt der Differenz,  dem Aufeinandertreffen mit dem Anderen am Rande der Großleinwandkultur.  Rickels analysiert scharf Ottingers von Metamorphose und Allegorie gekennzeichnete Bildsprache und verknüpft ihre Arbeit mit einer psychoanalytische geprägten Medientheorie. Übersetzt v. Michaela Wünsch und Marietta Kesting. 


Nie hat sie sich davon dazu verleiten lassen, allein denen zuliebe zu arbeiten, die das lieben, was sie sehen lässt – und darüber neue Sprachen finden, wie etwa Laurence A. Rickels in seiner taghell seherischen Monographie -- Dietmar Dath

Laurence A. Rickels offers analyses of Ulrike Ottinger’s films, as well as her photographic artworks, situated within a dazzling thought experiment centered on the history of art cinema. In addition to commemorating the death of a once-vital art form, this book also affirms Ottinger’s defiantly optimistic turn toward the documentary film as a means of mediating present clashes between tradition and modernity, between the local and the global.

If the veil of journalism that automatically drops between the writer and the contemporary artist cannot be peeled away, then “peal” the veil, let its press of opinion, belief, appreciation, rejection ring out, up, in a “first contact” with the other that it displaces, conceals, but by which it must also be impressed, however ephemeral and mumbling the traces.
— Ulrike Ottinger. The Autobiography of Art Cinema

Ottinger’s filmic subjects—the marginal, the freak, the exile, or the nomad—find their way into the fabric of Rickels’ text; detours into tangential literary evaluations, psychological musings, lengthy quotations, and even interviews with Ottinger herself work together to form a word-montage augmented by Ottinger’s own photographic work. For instead of choosing stills from those films being discussed, Rickels intersperses Ottinger’s photographs taken before and during filming to underscore his thoughts on the films in each chapter. Paired with his textual journeys into numerous arenas from journalistic history to Freudian psychology to Thomas Edison, these photos remain not static, but instead take on a nomadic quality as they wander among the words. The passion for collecting identified as central to Ottinger’s work here has been virally contracted. Additionally, Rickels’ language—playful, impish, and at times even joyfully impudent—celebrates the natural artifice present in Ottinger’s approach to difference and the marginal.
— Carrie Smith-Prei

Angela McRobbie in Screen

Ottinger Updates:
Rest in Pieces, Texte zur Kunst
Magni-Fire Essay, artUS
The Untied, artUS



Milton’s Paradise Lost. Goethe’s Faust. Aaron Spelling’s Satan’s School for Girls? Laurence A. Rickels scours the canon and pop culture in this all-encompassing study on the Devil. Continuing the work he began in his influential book The Vampire Lectures, Rickels returns with his trademark wit and encyclopedic knowledge to go mano a mano with the Prince of Darkness himself.

Revealing our astonishing obsession with Satan in his many forms, Rickels guides us on an entertaining and enlightening journey down the darkest corridors that film, music, folklore, theater, and literature have ever offered. “The Devil represents the father,” Rickels writes in the opening pages, setting the stage to challenge foundational interpretations of Freudian psychology. The Devil presents not the usual fantasy of immortality, he explains, but instead provides victims with a paternal origin. Until their preordained deadline is reached, the Devil’s pitch goes, people will enjoy the pleasure of uninterrupted “quality time” without the threat of random death. Rickels terms it “Dad certainty”: you know where you came from and you know where you are going. Despite the grim outlook, Rickels keeps the proceedings amusing, with extravagant wordplay and buoyant prose.

A stunning cultural and psychological analysis, The Devil Notebooks shows how the prince of occult has been used—throughout history and across cultures—to represent people’s primal fear of authority and humanity’s universal suffering. Sharing this cultural moment with the idea of evil being bandied about in our political discourse, the supposed satanic influence of pop music on our children, and a wildly popular book series on the end of the world, The Devil Notebooks is a sweeping and timely work that sheds light on the source of human fear and dread in the world.

The Devil does not grant the fulfillment of the get-well or be-dead wishes of immortality neurotics. The Devil doesn’t give immortality – while every other occult figure extends life to the point of unsettling boundaries between life and death. The Devil gives a certain amount of time and the deadline. Artists, thinkers, even professors (like Dr. Faust) are given to appreciate the Devil’s grants of quality time, of a span of time uninterrupted by the randomness of death or by any other suddenly pressing inhibition.
— The Devil Notebooks

Cultural criminologists are likely to be attracted to Rickels’ attention to the expressive, aesthetic and emotional qualities of the Devil fictions he examines. Most importantly, his focus on the Devil as a figure of certainty is provocative precisely because it allows for the examination of a subject that has been marginalized in cultural criminology and criminology in general: the law-abiding citizen. As neither criminal nor victim but potentially both, the law-abiding citizen is the taken-for-granted background entity in the imagination of criminologists, particularly if criminology is defined as the study of crime, criminal and the criminal justice system.
— Anita Lam

The Devil Notebooks establishes the astonishing extent to which contemporary pop culture has been preoccupied with demons, succubi, possession, aliens, >sexuality of all kinds, and the end of the world. The Devil, then, offers up a counter-history of humankind—a history from below as it were—that Rickels deploys with verve in a truly fascinating and important study of how and why the world as we know it has gone to Hell.
— Michael Dorland

Encounters with the Devil: Devil Fictions and Demonic Writing, Anita Lam

For years, noted writer Laurence A. Rickels often found himself compared to novelist Philip K. Dick—though in fact Rickels had never read any of the science fiction writer’s work. When he finally read his first Philip K. Dick novel, while researching for his recent book The Devil Notebooks, it prompted a prolonged immersion in Dick’s writing as well as a recognition of Rickels’s own long-documented intellectual pursuits. The result of this engagement is I Think I Am: Philip K. Dick, a profound thought experiment that charts the wide relevance of the pulp sci-fi author and paranoid visionary.

I Think I Am: Philip K. Dick explores the science fiction author’s meditations on psychic reality and psychosis, Christian mysticism, Eastern religion, and modern spiritualism. Covering all of Dick’s science fiction, Rickels corrects the lack of scholarly interest in the legendary Californian author and, ultimately, makes a compelling case for the philosophical and psychoanalytic significance of Philip K. Dick’s popular and influential science fiction.

If the andy is our close-to-home tendency to repress mourning in the course of building up the in-group bonds of rebellion and denial, then the Und of mourning, we must admit, doesn’t come easy; it comes toward us – for example via mutation across species – as the other, the answering other.
— I Think I Am: Philip K. Dick

 

 

A Deleuzoguattarian rhizome that deterritorializes a wide array of psychic, anthropological and literary assemblages, I Think I Am: Philip K. Dick is the most compelling and philosophically creative book in the growing library of PKD Studies.
D. Harlan Wilson

Rickels does not force the fictions into the mold of his mostly psychoanalytic concepts, but rather bounces the concepts off the texts and leaves the reader to work out what they have dislodged.
— Science Fiction Studies

Rickels does not merely invite readers to see Dick’s work the way he does; instead, the theoretical framework invites a broader vision that includes and projects outward from science fiction and fantasy.
— Studies in Popular Culture

Aside from its perfect fit of critic and subject, Laurence A. Rickels’ book provides the most thorough and exhaustive reading of Philip K. Dick’s literary work that exists. He goes through all the novels literally, both the science fiction works and the so-called mainstream novels Dick did not publish in his lifetime. The reader of science fiction should welcome a book like this, which is both knowledgeable of the SF tradition and creatively analytical. I could not put this book down once I began to read it.
— George Slusser

If the purpose of any interpretation is to build a case, then on some level Rickels – though obviously creating a ‘corpus’ of work whose sole trajectory is to breach the realm of the dead – does the opposite; he unravels, unearths (note the prefix) those universes that lie entombed, inside us. What emerges above all are the terrible introjections that are shared across Dick’s novels, the I that is abyssal, death that ‘indwells’ (p. 340) organisms and systems, our ‘inevitable grounding – our being ground up – inside the tomb world’ (p.343). Looking at ‘y(our)’ work, Dick, Rickels, the cracks that open up dispel whatever border lines there might be between the living and the (un)dead, or, as it may be, reality and hallucination; writing is urged toward or ‘over and über’ death, the tomb worlds with which contact is established.
– parallax

Gerry Canavan in Novel

 

Lässt sich aus der Figur der Seelenprüfung, die Daniel Paul Schreber in seinen Denkwürdigkeiten eines Nervenkranken entwickelte, in den Werken von Philip K. Dick, Aby Warburg, Ludwig Binswanger, Ian Fleming und Melanie Klein ein gemeinsames Gedankenexperiment ableiten? Ja.Mit Hilfe symptomatischer Metabolisierungen dessen, was Freud als Realitätsprüfung bezeichnete, führt Rickels die Androiden-Bilder der Pop-Kultur, den Empathie-Test für Menschlichkei und Ian Flemings James Bond gekonnt zusammen. Die Konfrontation mit der Wirklichkeit des Verlusts erweist sich hierbei als signifikant. Im Kontext von Dicks Werk legt Rickels die Ruinen der Realitätsprüfungen frei, die im Leid animalischer und psychotischer Subjekte erkennbar sind und Verlust implizieren. Er verweist dabei auf einen Ansatz zur Überwindung eines zerstörerischen Bestandteils der jüdisch-christlichen Traditionen des Speziesismus. Ian Flemings James Bond-Erzählungen stellen im Kampf von Autor und Protagonist um die inne15re Welt einen Versuch zur Abgrenzung gegen den Verlust dar. Auch in Melanie Kleins Auseinandersetzung mit Hamlet muss die innere Welt , als Kernpunkt psychischer Realität, mittels Realitätsprüfung durch Trauer gegen Angriffe des Verlusts in der äußeren Welt verteidigt werden.

 

Ian Fleming whittled the effigy of James Bond out of his experiences with the British naval intelligence during World War II. After the publication of his first Bond novel, Casino Royale, in 1952, 007 quickly became a cultural icon in the Cold War and a fixture in our collective consciousness. In SPECTRE, Laurence A. Rickels examines Fleming’s novels and film adaptations like never before, looking awry at Bond through the sieve of psychoanalytic theory, history, and Kulturindustrie. Within the Bond universe, SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) is the global terrorist organization run by supervillain Ernst Stavro Bloefeld. Fleming added SPECTRE late in the game for the crossover into the film medium. The ghostly amalgam of perpetrators and victims of the Nazi era, SPECTRE deconstructs and manipulates the opposition of the Cold War, its repression of the recent past, in order to promote the welfare of an organization that is in every sense an underworld. For Rickels, SPECTRE is a theoretical apparatus whereby he monitors and measures the flows, intensities and codings of the Bond universe while using it to read other texts, ranging from the writings of Goethe, Shakespeare and Derrida to the post-Freudian theories of Melanie Klein. This visionary, richly allusive study breaks new ground while extending ideas developed in such works as Aberrations of Mourning and Nazi Psychoanalysis. Rickels’ approach is at once playful and pointed as he looms over Bond and lays him bare on the chaise.

Contemporaneity is the signature of every Bond film, although each time engineered “anew.” This commemorates Fleming’s own hard-won ability (asserted in time for the transfer to film) to mix it up with the uninvited leftovers of the recent past. It is by the mourning work of integration that history itself becomes contemporary.
— SPECTRE

 

Laurence A. Rickels schreibt in diesem Buch die deutsche Literaturgeschichte anhand der Erkenntnisse und Inhalte dessen, was Sigmund Freud die "Unterwelt der Psychoanalyse" nannte, um.

In seinem Artikel "Zur Geschichte der psychoanalytischen Bewegung" aus dem Jahr 1914 identifizierte Freud diesen Ort als das Objekt des Widerstands zu seiner Theorie schlechthin. Die Studie verfolgt die gespenstische Unterwelt – als Theorie der "Untrauer", die sich an Freuds Interpretation des Unheimlichen orientiert – in den Werken Goethes, Lessings, Luthers und Nietzsches sowie in Freuds Gesamtkorpus selbst. Dieser Band ist eine Wiedereinführung der deutschsprachigen Leserschaft in den von Rickels mit seinem maßgebenden ersten Buch Aberrations of Mourning herbeigeführten theoretischen Paradigmenwechsel. Es ist eine Interpretationsart, die zwischenzeitlich neue Pfade des Einflusses und der Unterstützung beschritten hat. Tom McCarthy beispielsweise nannte Aberrations of Mourning als Inspiration für seinen 2012 auf Deutsch erschienenen Roman K.

In I Think I Am. Philip K. Dick, Laurence A. Rickels investigated the renowned science fiction author’s collected work by way of its relationship to schizophrenia (as concept and condition). In his new book, Germany. A Science Fiction, he focuses on psychopathy as the undeclared diagnosis implied in flunking the empathy test. The switch from psychosis to psychopathy as an organizing limit opens up the prospect of a genealogy of the Cold War era, which Rickels begins with a reading of Dick’s The Simulacra and follows out with readings of Simulacron 3, Fahrenheit 451, The Day of the Triffids, This Island Earth, Gravity’s Rainbow, and many other genealogical stations.

Nazi Germany hosted the first season of realization of science fantasy with the rocket at the top of this arc. After WWII, the genre had to delete the recent past and begin again within the new Cold War opposition. Certainly the ancestral prehistory was still intact (as seen in the works of, for instance, Jules Verne and H. G. Wells). But at the bulk rate of its generic line of production, SF would henceforth become native to the Cold War habitat.

This study addresses the syndications of the missing era in the SF mainstream, the phantasmagoria of its returns, and the extent of the integration of all the above since some point in the 1980s. Rickels works through the preliminaries of repair that must be met in a world devastated by psychopathic violence before mourning can be even a need. While I Think I Am was the endopsychic allegory of Dick’s corpus, Germany takes the corpus as a point of context for the endopsychic genealogy of the post-WWII containment and integration of psychopathy.


"It is that literature of the purge that Rickels finds so complex and fascinating and that he works to explicate in this explosion of a book." —SFRA Review

"Combining the psychoanalytic vocabulary of Jacques Lacan with the deconstructive methods of Jacques Derrida, Rickels arrives at a deconstruction of psychoanalysis not unlike the 'schizoanalysis' of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. At its best, Rickels’ prose is a vehicle of pithy brilliance, but his skill as a close reader is what makes Germany: A Science Fiction most compelling." —Rain Taxi

"Germany is not necessarily a work of consolation so much as it experimentally aims to establish ways of thinking about the preliminaries of repair. Rickels formulates a methodology that constitutes and is constituted by a paradox of absence and loss. . . . [A] galvanizing critique, Germany is haunted by trajectories of doppelgängers that comprise 'the continuity shot of German science fiction'—from vampires and robots to the V-2 rocket, from Romanticism to Modernity, from Germany to California." —Extrapolation

"Germany: A Science Fiction is based on the idea that Nazi Germany was 'the first realized science fiction' and that all of the major themes in postwar sf—space travel, time travel, dystopias, alternate histories, etc. reflect the psychopathology of Nazism. In other words, Rickels argues that the history of sf cannot be properly understood without taking into account its inherent yet (until now) overlooked Nazi component." —Science Fiction Studies

"It could be said that each of the fictions in Rickels’ treatment present an allegorizing logic meant to contain the disaster of the failure to mourn. In two senses: of the 'disaster' in and as the repeated failure of mourning, and of the disastrous real of mourning as failure, a constitutively impossible obstacle to mourning’s ownmost possibility. Rickels is as univocal as Freud in this regard: because death is, for the unconscious, an impossibility, it is always in the context of the encounter of mourning that this impossibility is repeatedly staged . . . Rickels' work continues to seek where it cannot help but find, to our uncanny bewilderment and edification, the catastrophe in our midst." —theory@buffalo

theory@buffalo

The Psycho Records



The Psycho Records follows the influence of the primal shower scene within subsequent slasher and splatter films. American soldiers returning from World War II were called "psychos" if they exhibited mental illness. Robert Bloch and Alfred Hitchcock turned the term into a catch-all phrase for a range of psychotic and psychopathic symptoms or dispositions. They transferred a war disorder to the American heartland. Drawing on his experience with German film, Hitchcock packed inside his shower stall the essence of schauer, the German cognate meaning "horror." Later serial horror film production has post-traumatically flashed back to Hitchcock's shower scene. In the end, though, this book argues the effect is therapeutically finite. This extensive case study summons the genealogical readings of philosopher and psychoanalyst Laurence Rickels. The book opens not with another reading of Hitchcock's 1960 film but with an evaluation of various updates to vampirism over the years. It concludes with a close look at the rise of demonic and infernal tendencies in horror movies since the 1990s and the problem of the psycho as our most uncanny double in close quarters.

 

James Reich
Sensitive Skin Contributors 2016 Favorites – Books, Movies, TV, Art, Performance and Music – Reasons to Live

Laurence A. Rickels’ The Psycho Records, Wallflower Press
The most interesting, challenging, and eclectic psychoanalytic theorist of our time, Larry Rickels puts the serial killer, the voyeur, killer mascots, slashers and zombie fathers under his Freudian lamp. There is no writer who works the seams of between academia and B-culture with Rickels’ intelligence and connoisseurship.

 

Times Literary Supplement Review

Audio Interview_Laurence A. Rickels, "The Psycho Records" (Wallflower Press, 2016)


The Blot: A Supplement



In this supplement to Jonathan Lethem’s novel A Gambler’s Anatomy, the renowned novelist engages in a concerted transatlantic dialogue with cult theorist Laurence A. Rickels, exploring the vicissitudes of popular culture and the profound influence of Philip K. Dick on their respective lines of flight. Foregrounding the introjections between California and Germany, they address a range of ideas, subjects and figures, from B-movies, science fiction, Wile E. Coyote and the Devil to trauma theory, Freud, Hitchcock and German Expressionism. Animating their zone of interrogation is the “blot”—an algorithm of innuendo, an uncanny defamiliarization of reality and “truth” wherein the trajectories of meaning and desire fold into themselves like an origami in flames.

Introduction by Jonathan Lethem

Der integrierte Vampir (und was damit zusammenhängt)


Bereits mit dem Titel Geprüfte Seelen erweiterte der Autor den Begriff Integration im Rahmen der psychoanalytischen Theorie Melanie Kleins einer „inneren Welt“ aufgegebener Objektbeziehungen. Das Konzept einer integrierenden Trauer wird von Rickels in Der integrierte Vampir über D. W. Winnicotts Analyse asozialer Tendenzen konsequent weiter ausgeführt und auf das sozio-historische Problem der Eindämmung psychopathischer Gewalt angewandt. Rickels deutet die Aktualisierungen des Vampirmythos im 21. Jahrhundert als Figuren der Integration, deren Spuren er auch im Science-Fiction Genre der Nachkriegszeit ausmacht: in den Zukunftsvisionen „deutscher Science-Fiction“, die er als verschlüsselte Integrationsgeschichte Deutschlands nach dem Zusammenbruch des Dritten Reiches liest. Der Fokus liegt dabei auf jener der Fähigkeit zu trauern vorgelagerten Phase der Integration, die Klein als Wiedergutmachung bezeichnet. Im Wechseln zwischen Science-Fiction-Lektüren und Fallstudien zur modernen Kunst zeichnet die Untersuchung ein Portrait der Nachkriegswelt, das weder die Zerstörung noch die unhaltbaren Assoziationen außer Acht lässt, die auf den Spuren der Trauer entstehen und die eine Wiedergutmachung nachzeichnen muss. Im Schlusskapitel über die Kunstaustellung „Checkpoint California“ übernimmt „Kalifornien“ die Rolle der „Science-Fiction“ im Diskurs über die Integration Deutschlands.