Leitmotif Siegfried: A Lecture by Laurence Rickels
Monday, October 17, 2016 | 5:30pm | Deutsches Haus at NYU
The NYU Department of German and Deutsches Haus at NYU present “Leitmotif Siegfried,” a lecture by Laurence A. Rickels.
World-renowned author, Laurence Rickels, reenters the exchange between Walter Benjamin and Alexander Mette, which led to Mette’s review of Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels in Imago and brought Benjamin to consider the clinical picture of schizophrenia, the topic of Mette’s dissertation-book, which he in turn reviewed. While this contact underscores Benjamin’s interest in the clinical picture of psychosis (he subscribed at this time to Schreber’s Memoirs and to Freud’s analysis of the document), which Rickels sees as fundamental to Benjamin’s understanding of the melancholic mode of allegory, Rickels‘ emphasis this time lies on the research Mette pursued as bona fide psychoanalyst in Nazi Berlin. After his 1934 book on the psychoanalytic elaboration of Nietzsche’s Apollo/Dionysus dyad was censored, Mette turned in a 1939 study to the interpretation of dreams recorded during the recent past. What links and separates the German dreams from 1917, 1926, and 1935 amounts to an allegory of the instrumentalization of adolescence in the Third Reich, between its re-absorption within the fairy tale of childhood and its elevation to the position of superego. Mette‘s final psychoanalytic study in 1940, which was also his last publication during the Nazi years, consolidated the dream insights in a “depth psychological” interpretation of the childish clown as the ultimate delegate of Dionysus.
After thirty years teaching at the University of California, in 2011 Laurence A. Rickels accepted the professorship in art and theory at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Karlsruhe as successor to Klaus Theweleit. Since 2006, he has held the Sigmund Freud Chair in Media and Philosophy at the European Graduate School in Saas Fee, Switzerland. Rickels is the author of Aberrations of Mourning(1988), The Case of California (1991), Nazi Psychoanalysis (2002), The Vampire Lectures (1999), The Devil Notebooks (2008), Ulrike Ottinger: The Autobiography of Art Cinema (2008), I Think I Am: Philip K. Dick (2010), SPECTRE (2013), Germany: A Science Fiction (2014), and The Psycho Records (2016).