Archaeology of Criticism



We are "whole" to almost no one, least of all ourselves. Instead we move in a world of social roles, interaction rituals, and elaborate game-playing . . . ." [Morris Berman, The Reenchantment of the World 19 (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1981)]

"The individual in the ordinary circumstances of living may feel more unreal than real; in a literal sense, more dead than alive; precariously differentiated from the rest of the world, so that his identity and autonomy are always in question.... He may not possess an over-riding sense of personal consistency or cohesiveness. He may feel more insubstantial than substantial, and unable to assume that the stuff he is made of is genuine, good, valuable. And he may feel his self as partially divorced from his body." [R. D. Laing, The Divided Self 43 (New York: Pantheon Books, 1969)]

"Each soul at some time or another demonstrates illusions and depressions, overvalued ideas, manic flights and rages, anxieties, compulsions, and perversions. Perhaps our psychopathology has an intimate connection with our individuality, so that our fear of being what we really are is partly because we fear the psychopathological aspect of individuality. For we are each peculiar; we have symptoms; we fail, and cannot see why we go wrong or even where, despite high hopes and good intentions. We are unable to set matters right, to understand what is taking place or be understood by those who would try. Our minds, feelings, wills, and behaviors deviate from normal ways. Our insights are impotent, or none come at all. Our feelings disappear in apathy; we worry and also don't care. Destruction seeps out of us autonomously and we cannot redeem the broken trusts, hopes, loves." [James Hillman, Re-Visioning Psychology 55 (New York: Harper Colophon ed., 1977)]

"If one's conscious life is too rigid, too regimented, then the surface may crack at times, and we are unprepared for the strange emotions or sensations we experience." [Anais Nin, The Novel of the Future 17 (New York: Collier Books, 1970)]

"We know that to be human is to be neurotic in some ways and to some degree; there is no way to become adult without serious twisting of one's perceptions of the world." [Ernest Becker, Escape From Evil 155-56 (New York: Free Press, 1975)]

"[A] symptom not only expresses an underlying psychic process but also may represent a positive attempt by the unconscious to force the individual into a process of consciousness, the aim of which is a progressive realization of the Self." [Russell A. Lockhart, Words as Eggs: Psyche in Language and Culture 9 (Dalles, Texas: Spring Publications, 1983)]

"Our deeper experience may have on record that we really feel worthless, helpless, dependent, mediocre, inadequate, finite: this is our unconscious speaking, and when the ego cannot oppose any positive images to counteract these negative ones, we have the nightmare, the terrible revelation of our basic uselessness." [Ernest Becker, The Birth and Death of Meaning 69 (New York: MacMillan, 2nd ed., 1971)]

"The ongoing text of our everyday language games (speech and actions) is disturbed by apparently contingent mistakes: by omissions and distortions that can be discounted as accidents and ignored, as long as they fall within the conventional limits of tolerance. These parapraxes (errors), under which Freud includes cases of forgetting, slips of the tongue and of the pen, misreading, bungled actions, and so-called chance actions, indicate that the faulty text both expressed and conceals self-deception of the author. If the mistakes in the text are more obtrusive and situated in the pathological realm, we speak of symptoms. They can be neither ignored nor understood. Nevertheless, the symptoms are part of intentional structures: the ongoing text of everyday language games is broken through not be external influences but by internal disturbances." [Jürgen Habermas, Knowledge and Human Interests 219 (Boston: Beacon Press, 1972)]

"The detachment of the word from the lived reality it presents, while crucial for a whole range of tasks on the level of technique, may represent not an advance but a degeneration of linguistic usage for the purposes of a philosophy which seeks to grasp and evoke the sense of being." [Erazim Kohák, The Embers and the Stars: A Philosophical Inquiry into the Moral Sense of Nature 53 (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1984)]

"Careerism demands detachment. To succeed in school, the child begins to detach himself from crippling fear of failure. To sell himself, he detaches himself from feelings of shame and humiliation. To compete and win, he detaches himself from feelings of empathy and compassion. To devote himself to success at work, he detaches himself from family feelings. Ultimately, to gain his goals, he is detached from social responsiveness.

The psychological meanings of detachment require explanation. Detachment is sometimes a self-protective necessity . . . . Detachment also allows us to stand back from pain and humiliation and take stock of ourselves objectively. In this sense, detachment implies a temporary expedient; the individual is still capable of full experience and is not alienated from himself.

In one form of spiritual development written about by mystics, detachment has a totally different meaning; it implies not being attached to things and images, including self-images. In contrast to the careerist goals of the detached corporate manager the spiritual aim is to overcome greed and fear and thus strengthen the heart. Free from possessive attachments, the mystic experiences self and others even more deeply; he is able to enjoy life more because he is not fearful of losing what he has" [Michael Maccoby, The Gamesman: The New Corporate Leaders 172-173 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1976)]


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