Jacqueline Rose - The Plague

Author: Rose, Jacqueline
Title: The Plague: Living Death in Our Times
Publisher: Fitzcarraldo Editions
Year: 2023
Link: https://worldcat.org/en/title/1342250236

page 14:

In the thought of Simone Weil, it is only in admitting the limits of the human that we will stop vaunting the brute illusion of earthly power, as if we owned the world we live in.

page 26: (writing about Simone Weil)

Thought can be revolutionary or counter-revolutionary, but in so far as it goes beyond the world as known and seen, it is always the enemy of domination. Like love, thinking is 'corrosive' for the social order.

page 63 - 64:

In a relatively unknown section of Thoughts for the Times on War and Death, written in 1915, Freud describes the birth pangs of ethical life arising when man (sic), as yet unsullied by civilization, confronted the mix of emotions -- despair, rage, hatred and pleasure -- that he experienced in the face of death, especially towards those he loved most. ... Out of this mix arises the first ethical commandment, 'Thou shalt not kill': 'It was acquired,' he writes, ' in relation to dead people who were loved as a reaction against the satisfaction hidden behind the grief for them; and it was gradually extended to strangers who were not loved, and finally even to enemies.' But, he observes, with an eye to the unfolding war, such an embrace of everyone, enemies included has been lost to so-called 'civilized man', together with the 'vein of ethical sensitiveness' that accompanied it.
When teaching Freud, I use these lines to convey to students that, at decisive moments, he was far less ethnocentric than is often assumed. But what makes these thoughts so relevant today is the implied message, one that is barely audible at a time when the exile of the psyche to the outskirts of existence -- like death in the time of Walter Benjamin -- is the unshared secret of the hour. Only if you admit your ambivalence even towards those you love most is there the faintest chance that you will reach out across the world to everyone, including your putative enemies: to China, for example, a country the Western world is now being told to hate; to black men being mown down on the streets; to the citizens of another country which, in the race for Covid-19 vaccine, may just be ahead in the game; to all those who are also suffering, whether from war or pandemic, or, like everyone else, simply from the fact of being human.

page 76:

'The evolution of civilization,' Freud wrote in Civilization and its Discontents, 'is the struggle for life of the human species.'

page 86:

There is a limit to how much we can psychically tolerate. This remains the fundamental insight of psychoanalysis, never more needed than today.

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