Head Cases by Elaine P. Miller

By: Elaine P. Miller

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While philosophy and psychoanalysis privilege language and conceptual distinctions and mistrust the image, the philosopher and psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva recognizes the power of art and the imagination to unblock important sources of meaning. She also appreciates the process through which creative acts counteract and transform feelings of violence and depression. Reviewing Kristevas corpus, Elaine P. Miller considers the intellectuals aesthetic idea and thought specular in their capacity to reshape depressive thought on both the individual and cultural level. She revisits Kristevas reading of Walter Benjamin with reference to melancholic art and the imaginations allegorical structure; her analysis of Byzantine iconoclasm in relation to Freuds psychoanalytic theory of negation and Hegels dialectical negativity; her understanding of Proust as an exemplary practitioner of sublimation; her rereading of Kant and Arendt in terms of art as an intentional lingering with foreignness; and her argument that forgiveness is both a philosophical and psychoanalytic method of transcending a stuck existence. Focusing on specific artworks that illustrate Kristevas ideas, from ancient Greek tragedy to early photography, contemporary installation art, and film, Miller positions creative acts as a form of spiritual inoculation against the violence of our society and its discouragement of thought and reflection.
Publication Date:
18 / 02 / 2014

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