It is the sign pointing towards the dead-end of life on the symbolic level of language. The American society of the 50s, patriarchy, the fight against communism, and various social readings have been put at play to account for such a radical choice Kappes , but this negates the repetition of a signifier without a signified attached to it. Journals This has led to some work on the question of whether the diagnosis was apt, with different trends in criticism fighting over whether melancholia was a better word than depression Alexander , depression being discarded in the field of psychoanalysis because it is not precise enough to distinguish psychosis from neurosis.
Freud equates the melancholy mood to that of a pathological mourning that leads to painful dejection, an incapacity to love, and inhibition.
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This in itself enables us to draw a parallel between the radical aspect of the death imagery identified above and the description of the melancholy state. Current research enables critics to go beyond the description of the mood, which is so radical that it is likely to be a screen diverting the listener away from the facts that are uncovered in the process. Social norms in this case function as the ideal version of the subject and because the self is fully identified with them, there is no room for a welcome deviation from the norm.
All current work on melancholia has effaced the link to narcissism that could be found in Rank for example Freud. Which is you. It would seem to confirm that if the story is so stereotypical, it is also because it is the expression of a melancholy vision of the world that the American society of the 50s and 60s certainly helped make collective. Another possible way of looking at this would be to note that the signifier produces many meanings that reveal how dysfunctional it is in its operation.
I am not ugly.
I am even beautiful The mirror gives back a woman without deformity The nurses give back my clothes, and an identity It is usual, they say, for such a thing to happen. It is usual in my life and the lives of others.
I am one in five, something like that. I am not hopeless. I am beautiful as a statistic. Here is my lipstick… I am on the old mouth The red mouth I put by with my identity.
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The streets may turn to paper suddenly, but I recover From the long fall…. As for a fall. I am no shadow. Collected Poems et passim. But how about the eyes, the eyes, the eyes? Mirrors can kill and talk, they are terrible rooms In which a torture goes one can only watch. The face that lived in this mirror is the face of a dead man Do not worry about the eyes.
This notion that the subject cannot be entirely lodged in the image, whether a mirror like here, or a photograph like in The Bell Jar — when Esther is asked to choose a symbol to be pictured with in the next edition of the magazine and she cannot accept the prop nor the act of being photographed and is forced out of the studio, crying.
The absence of an image that captures the subject evokes the stepping offstage that is at the heart of the suicidal act. Like the object that she is, the quality of the image is left alone, discarded and dejected, reduced to a tortured object, a point of horror that she is a witness to, but the last line suggests that there is nothing for us to do but avert the eyes.
No meaning will come out of it. It may not be surprising that the functioning of melancholia was then more operative than in other contexts, at a time when the USA had established a system of general surveillance of dissonant or discordant voices, especially non-masculine ones, in the fight against Communism.
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If some argued that hysteria was the illness of the 19 th century Gubar and Gilbert , schizophrenia that of the early 20 th century Showalter and Laing , melancholia could be seen as the logical symptom of the 50s and 60s, when normativity and consensual thinking were of paramount importance to safeguard the danger within. Poets in particular became associated with the dissonant voices through the two movements of the Beat Generation and confessional poets: all confessional poets were institutionalised in nursing homes or treated by psychiatrists.
Social problems therefore were considered by some as a solipsist, introspective exploration that was highly dysfunctional and should be treated:. Snodgrass, Anne Sexton, John Berryman, Theodore Roethke and Sylvia Plath turned poetry into a place of self-exploration, dramatizing unresolved conflicts and drawing upon highly intimate matters in first person poems. The dead language that is spoken and which prefigures the suicide hides some Thing that was buried alive. Spiderlike, I spin mirrors, Loyal to my image, Uttering nothing but blood — Taste it, dark red!
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And my forest My funeral, And this hill and this Gleaming with the mouths of corpses. The deconstruction of syntax and the juxtaposition of words are confusing and allow for multiple, contradictory explanations. Cultural and social context. Free download. Book file PDF easily for everyone and every device. Cultural and social context file PDF Book only if you are registered here. Cultural and social context book. Cultural and social context Bookeveryone.
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