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Freud and fundamentalism: The psychical politics of by Stathis Gourgouris

By Stathis Gourgouris

On the middle of this quantity are questions on the psychic elements of the modes of pondering we name fundamentalist-that is, pondering that disavows multiplicities of which means, abhors allegorical parts, and strives towards an exclusionary orthodoxy that codifies not only its personal global yet that of its adversaries, itsothers. The essays tackle transcendentalist orthodoxies of every kind, no matter if spiritual or secularist. Fundamentalist components in psychoanalysis itself also are put in query, whilst psychoanalytic considering and perform is explored as a style of information that finally unravels fundamentalist tendencies.The texts during this assortment symbolize a big selection of disciplinary standpoints. Their total aspiration is to interrogate discourses of orthodoxy, literalism, exclusion, and dogma-that is, discourses keen about monolithic (monolingual, monological, monolateral, monomythical, and positively monotheistic) encounters with the world.

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On the other hand, a purely psychic instinct is a contradiction in terms, and, more importantly, in that case neither perversion nor neuroses would have anything to do with instinctual life. A confusion arises: ‘‘The simplest and likeliest assumption as to the nature of instincts would seem to be that in itself an instinct is without quality. . ’’14 Instincts are close to Musil’s understanding of a petty middle-class man (they are without qualities); their qualities come, however, not from the psyche but from the body and its aims.

Dispensationalism intensifies this death drive with the notion of the rapture, a vision of salvation for elect believers whom the Father will transport suddenly aloft, sparing them the tribulation suffered by those left behind. If religion is, as Freud says, a regressive longing for the father, then fundamentalists are the most religious of the religious, the most infantile of the infantile. The ‘‘fundamentalist’’ and the ‘‘death drive’’ are twins: they came into being simultaneously, in 1920. 5 At first glance, the coincidence of timing highlights the distance between the two events, between Buffalo and Vienna, between American Protestants and a European Jew, between militant faith and resolute iconoclasm.

The war in fact coincided with a heightened separatist impulse among premillennialists following their failure to integrate successfully with the established denominations. The postwar configuration of conservative concerns gave greater emphasis to social issues, including resistance to the teaching of evolution, support for prohibition, and, in a less clear but unmistakable way, tolerance for the racism that contributed to the rapid rise of the Ku Klux Klan. In short, a theological debate grew into a culture war, with some participants feeling that the fate of civilization was at stake.

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