With George Lucas’s Star Wars, we entered the Heimat of blockbusters, which lies in the borderlands of the fantasy and science fiction genres folding out of and staggering a contest that J. R. R. Tolkien inaugurated in the 1930s around his introduction of a new or renewed genre. The critique addresses the genre or style as well as the faculty, the wayward kin of the imagination, which philosophy and psychoanalysis applied to ethics and poetics, respectively.

Science fiction failed to predict the digital relation, but fantasy did not so much succeed in its anticipations as draw benefit from the basic resemblance of fantasying to the new relation’s special effects. If the fantasy that is true is no longer the Gospel (which was Tolkien’s grounding definition) but instead digitization, then fantasy indeed verges on the dread prospect that modern philosophical ethics ever sought to contain: the deregulation of wish or will. According to Freud in ‘The Poet and Fantasying‘, the constitutive fantasy arc in every daydream, which takes off from an idealized past and jump cuts to the future of wish fulfillment and circumvents the present, is a bridge that will fall down. Its defective cornerstone is the Zeitmarke or date mark that indelibly stamps the present moment that triggered the fantasying that denies it. By its date mark, a fantasy is historicization waiting to happen, the mortal recoil of its flight.

Walter Benjamin’s derivation of modern allegory from the shortfall of Christianity’s purchase on the future can be seen to apply to the failure of science fiction’s predictive service, which commits the genre to read in the ruins of its forecasts. By its right or wrong extrapolations science fiction indwells the present between a crypt and a date mark, the span of allegorical legibility it visits upon fantasy’s once and future realm. In this presentation, I will focus on the instance of crypt transmission across the borderlands of fantasy and science fiction binding The Tempest to The Picture of Dorian Gray.

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. He taught there as successor to Klaus Theweleit until 2017. During spring semester 2018 Rickels was the Eberhard Berent Visiting Professor and Distinguished Writer at New York University. He continues to offer seminars in media and philosophy at the European Graduate School (Saas Fee, Switzerland and Malta) where he holds the Sigmund Freud Chair. 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).

In English
Organized by

Wilhelm Brüggen (BIPP), Monika Englisch, and Andreas Gehrlach (HU Berlin); a cooperation of the BIPP, the Department of Cultural History and Theory of the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, and the ICI Berlin

Further details:

The lecture series Psychoanalytic and Cultural Theory devotes itself to the influence of psychoanalysis on cultural theories at large as well as to particularly poignant applications of psychoanalytical research to current cultural phenomena. The central psychoanalytic concepts of Freud and his successors are to be taken up in an open and non-partisan perspective fashion and applied to the cultural, political, and economic phenomena encountered today. Whereas early psychoanalysis dealt primarily with the family as it was shaped by bourgeois Victorian society, current research increasingly focuses on extreme kinds of individualization, social uncertainties and threats, as well as on new digital and technological cultural techniques. The series would like to develop, new, critical, and innovative readings of psychoanalytic theory and combine them with concepts and ideas from the humanities and from cultural critique.

Lecture Rickels

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