Monash University
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"I am the fucking reaper": Glamorama, Schizophrenia, Terrorism

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-05-17, 11:21 authored by Angela Woods
If we can say that madness has come to occupy a "common place" inside culture and specifically "inside" cultural theory, the figure of the schizophrenic exists at the intersection of three distinct theoretical trajectories in contemporary literary and cultural studies. For the psychoanalytic critic, each schizophrenic symptom encodes a psychic secret, and invites decryption of the kind Freud and his successors made famous in their analyses of the Schreber case. For others, such as Judith Butler and Slavoj Žižek, schizophrenia marks the limits of subjectivity: exiled to a "psychotic abyss outside the symbolic domain," the schizophrenic designates that which is beyond the intelligible. In contrast to Freud's 'readable symptom' and Butler's 'unreadable sign,' Marxist and post-Marxist theorists read the schizophrenic as 'a sign of the times,' as the exemplary subject of postmodernity. In Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari's Anti-Oedipus, Fredric Jameson's "Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism," and Jean Baudrillard's The Ecstasy of Communication, specific psychopathological processes in schizophrenia are deployed to diagnose a distinctive psychic structure, one inextricably linked to Western culture in the late twentieth century. These theorists, I suggest, have reinvented the "sacred symbol of psychiatry," positioning the schizophrenic as both postmodernity's anarchic revolutionary (Deleuze and Guattari) and its obscene victim (Jameson and Baudrillard).


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