Proximities to Death: Freud’s Dream of the Double


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Part of a larger book project entitled, Double or Nothing: Uncanny Ontology, this essay is a reading of the motif of the double in selected theoretical writings of Freud. As I note in the essay, I both track a deconstructive logic at work in Freud’s text while also myself engaging in a phenomenological technique called “eidetic variation” in the broader interests of understanding the double. While it begins with his essay on Dostoevsky, the main texts it concentrates on were both groundbreaking theoretical texts in Freud’s prolific career, the first, Totem and Taboo, because of Freud’s incursion into and use of anthropological research, the second, Beyond the Pleasure Principle, because of its highly speculative nature and because of the challenge it presented to what had been one of the central theoretical underpinnings to the psychoanalytic enterprise. My essay confirms the sense in which the motif of the double provided a fundamental and inescapable armature for the working out of Freudian theory, while it also posed a threat to that theory.

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