Sociality and Magical Language: Nietzsche and Psychoanalysis

Language and Psychoanalysis 1 (8):83-97 (2019)
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On a certain reading, the respective theories of Freud and Nietzsche might be described as exploring the suffered relational histories of the subject, who is driven by need; these histories might also be understood as histories of language. This suggests a view of language as a complicated mode of identifying-with, which obliges linguistic subjects to identify the non-identical, but also enables them to simultaneously identify with each other in the psychoanalytic sense. This ambivalent space of psychoanalytic identification would be conditioned by relational histories. On one hand, this might lead to conformity within a system of language as a shared, obligatory compromise formation that would defend against the non-identical; magical language, typified in Freud’s critique of animism and in Nietzsche’s critique of “free will” guided by absolute normative signifiers (“Good” and “Evil”), would be symptomatic of this sort of defense. On the other hand, given other relational histories, it may produce the possibility for more transitional modes of identification, and thereby modes of language that can bear its suffered histories, and lead to proliferation of singular compromise formations. It is suggested that while the former is historically dominant, Nietzsche and various psychoanalytic thinkers contribute to conceiving of the possibility of working ourselves towards the latter.
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