Thursday, May 7, 2015

Theses Drawn from Planetarity

The following is from "Planetarity," Chapter Three of Death of a Discipline by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, published in 2003 by the Columbia University Press and based on the Wellek Library Lectures in Critical Theory she delivered in May 2000. The following excerpts amount to just a few pages from a much longer text and are divided (by me) into numbered theses -- most of them shorn from the context of specific close textual readings that give them their specific vitality -- but each one of which comments in this form on key themes from our course.


The meaning of the figure is undecidable, and yet we must attempt to dis-figure it, read the logic of the metaphor. We know that the figure can and will be literalized in yet other ways. All around us is the clamor for the rational destruction of the figure, the demand for not clarity but immediate comprehensibility by the ideological average. This destroys the force of literature as a cultural good… [T]o learn to read is to learn to dis-figure the undecidable figure into a responsible literality, again and again. It is my belief that initiation into cultural explanation is… a training in reading.


I propose the planet to overwrite the globe. Globalization is the imposition of the same system of exchange everywhere. In the gridwork of electronic capital, we achieve that abstract ball covered in latitudes and longitudes, cut by virtual lines, once the equator and the tropics and so on, now drawn by the requirements of Geographical Information Systems. To talk planet-talk by way of unexamined environmentalism, referring to an undivided "natural" space rather than a differentiated political space, can work in the interest of this globalization… The globe is on our computers. No one lives there. It allows us to think we can aim to control it. The planet is in the species of alterity, belonging to another… and yet we inhabit it, on loan…. When I invoke the planet I think of the effort required to figure the (im)possibility of this undrived intuition.


To be human is to be intended toward the other. W provide for ourselves transcendental figurations of… this animating gift: mother, nation, god, nature. These are names of alterity, some more radical than others. Planet-thought opens up to embrace an inexhaustible taxonomy of such names… If we imagine ourselves as… planetary creatures rather than global entities, alterity remains underived from us; it is not our dialectical negation, it contains us as much as it flings us away… We must persistently educate ourselves into this peculiar mindset.


One will have to look out for what Raymond Williams calls the preemergent around the corner, suppressed by a specifically metropolitan moment that emphasizes the uneven and asymmetrical global digital divide. The "preemergent" leads us toward a "structure of feeling." … But thinking of institutional attitudes to be fostered by pedagogy, we do not need to tap those modes, we need only remember them. The altered attitudes toward language learning, areas versus nation-states, figure versus rational expectations… can no doubt be plotted as a "structure of feeling," if that is the language we prefer. The scenario that I am constructing would suggest that the dominant figuring of "prehistory" as cyberpresent or science fiction adventure would interfere with the emergence of the figuration of an undecidable planetary alterity.


The country… is not simply the prenational as opposed to the national. It is also the… mass of the national, to which the blood rushes first and that becomes continuous with the exchange of the Earth. The Earth is the paranational image that can substitute for international and can perhaps provide, today, a displaced site for the imagination of planetarity. The choice of the blood rushing back as the first move, the description of the rural as a specifically national mass, and the inclusion of the trade-related word "redistribution" … seeks to undo the contradiction between the national and the rural.


Just as socialism at its best would persistently and repeatedly wrench capital away frm capitalism, so must the new Comparative Literature persistently and repeatedly undermine and undo the definitive tendency of the dominant to appropriate the emergent… Training in such persistent and repetitive gestures comes, necessarily, in the classroom… This is not an easy "positional skepticism of postmodernist literary and cultural studies," but something to worked through in the interest of yoking the humanities, however distantly, with however few guarantees, to a just world… If we want to compete with the hard "science"(s) and the social sciences at their hardest as "human science," we have already lost, as one loses institutional competition. In the arena of humanities as the uncoercive rearrangement of desire, he who wins loses.


In this era of global capital triumphant, to keep responsibility alive in the reading and teaching of the textual is at first sight impractical. It is, however, the right of the textual to be so responsible, responsive, answerable. The "planet" is, here, as perhaps always, a catachresis for inscribing collective responsibility as right. Its alterity, determining experience, is mysterious and discontinuous -- an experience of the impossible. It is such collectivities that must be opened up with the question "How many are we?" when cultural origin is detranscendentalized into fiction -- the toughest task in the diaspora.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Big Data As Spectacle: A Bonus Comment By Way of Our Missed Meeting Last Week

First being is degraded into having, then having is degraded into appearing, and now appearing is degraded into targeting....

We have arrived at the "targeting" phase of Spectacle. In the specifically digital-networked Spectacle since the turn of the millennium -- after which mass-mediation is no longer defined by broadcast and press publication -- what Debord called the Opium War of "enhanced survival" (his condensation of the Benjaminian War Machine in the Epilogue of "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility" with the Adornian "manufactured needs" of the Culture Industry chapter of Dialectic of Enlightenment) has given way to a panoptic profiling/targeted marketing harassment promising to confer both legibility and individuation for consumer subjection, an operation absolutely continuous with at once the Big Data profiling framing every subject for eventual legal prosecution and the biometric profiling tagging every subject for ongoing medical experimentation (digital networked bioremediation by Big Pharma) and/or eventual effective targeting by drone (the drone is synecdochic for the range of collateral damaging demanded by disaster capitalism).

Quite relevant to this telling of the tale is Naomi Klein's latter day elaboration of the Debordian account back in No Logo, in which an advertizing practice originating in the false individuation of mass-produced consumer goods via the brands they bear eventuated in the global/digital moment in the false individuation of mass-consumers via the brands they buy. As in Debord, the degrading of already degraded having into "appearing" seduces spectator-subjects through something a bit like Althusserian interpellation, offering up social legibility, usually by means of subcultural signaling of identifications and dis-identifications, through the citation -- via conspicuous consumption -- of already-available scripts and stage-settings (the grownup living room on the glossy cover of a furniture catalog, the rebellion of a concert t-shirt, the romance of over-expensive coffee, the reassuring daydreams of futurological projections and displacements).

There is a threat inhering in the Althusserian hail -- yes, a threat to rather than resource for hegemonic management -- should just enough hails ring out (hey, you, hey, You, hey, YOU!) the subject turning and turning and turning to meet the would-be authority might be left more dizzy than docile -- might even make the reflective turn of thought-made-act to which Arendt looked for a last miraculous hope of redemption from  tyranny. But is this threat recontained (or rendered more efficient, in case the threat was never more than delusive anyway) in the targeted hail of the networked-data profile? Can we resist the authoritarian hail of the profile that authors you for you? The Big Data Hail scans the iris and the gait and the buying history and the message trail and the credit rating at once to collapse the indetermination of multiple readings depriving you -- in a privation yielding a last vestige of privacy -- of the singular selfhood that becomes the target, knows enough more than you about you do to aggregate the into the heavy hand of the Spectacle, a knowing so authoritative the transferential brute-force alone at hand might re-write you in the image of the profitably congenial profile before you know enough to know it?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Immortality by William S. Burroughs

"To me the only success, the only greatness, is immortality." -- James Dean, quoted in James Dean: The Mutant King, by David Dalton

The colonel beams at the crowd . . . pomaded, manicured, he wears the satified expression of one who has just sold the widow a fraudulent peach orchard. "Folks, we're here to sell the only thing worth selling or worth buying and that's immortality. Now here is the simplest solution and well on the way. Just replace the worn-out parts and keep the old heap on the road indefinitely."

As transplant techniques are perfected and refined, the age-old dream of immortality is now within the grasp of mankind. But who is to decide out of a million applicants for the same heart? There simply aren't enough parts to go around. You need the job lot once a year to save 20 percent, folks. Big executives use a heart a month just as regular as clockwork. Warlords, paying off their soldiers in livers and kdneys and genitals, depopulate whole areas. Vast hospital cities cover the land; the air-conditioned hospital palaces of the rich radiate out to field hospitals and open-air operating booths.

The poor are rising in mobs. They are attacking government warehouses where the precious parts are stored. Everyone who can afford it has dogs and guards to protect himself from roving bands of parts hunters, like the dreaded Wild Doctors, who operate on each other after the battle, cutting the warm quivering parts from the dead and dying. Cut-and-grab men dart out of doorways and hack out a kidney with a few expert strokes of their four-inch scalpels. People have lost all shame. Here's a man who sold his daughter's last kidney to buy himself a new groin-appears on TV to appeal for funds to buy little Sally an artificial kidney and give her this last Christmas. On his arm is a curvaceous blond known apparently as Bubbles. She calls him Long John; now isn't that cute?

A flourishing black market in parts grows up in the gutted cities devastated by parts riots. In terrible slums, scenes from Brueghel and Bosch are reenacted; misshapen masses of rotten scar tissue crawling with maggots supported on crutches and cans, in wheel-chairs and carts. Brutal-as-butchers practitioners operate without anesthetic in open-air booths surrounded by their bloody knives and saws.

The poor wait in parts lines for diseased genitals, a cancerous lung, a cirrhotic liver. They crawl towards the operating booths holding forth nameless things in bottles that they think are usable parts. Shameless swindlers who buy up operating garbage in job lots prey on the unwary.

And here is Mr. Rich Parts. He is three hundred years old. He is still subject to accidental death, and the mere thought of it throws him into paroxysms of idiot terror. For days he cowers in his bunker, two hundred feet down in solid rock, food for fifty years. A trip from one city to another requires months of sifting and checking computerized plans and alternate routes to avoid the possibility of an accident. His idiotic cowardice knows no bounds.

There he sits, looking like a Chimu vase with a thick layer of smooth purple scar tissue. Encased as he is in this armor, his movements are slow and hydraulic. It takes him ten minutes to sit down. This layer gets thicker and thicker right down to the bone-the doctors have to operate with power tools. So we leave Mr. Rich Parts and the picturesque parts people their monument, a mountain of scar tissue.

As L. Ron Hubbard, founder of scientology, said: "The rightest right a man could be would be to live infinitely wrong." I wrote "wrong" for "long" and the slip is significant-for the menas by which immortality is realized in science fiction, which will soon be science fact, are indeed infinitely wrong, the wrongest wrong a man can be, vampiric or worse.

Improved transplant techniques open the question whether the ego itself could be transplanted from one body to another, and the further question as to exactly where this entity resides. Here is Mr. Hart, a trillionaire dedicated to his personal immortality. Where is this thing called Mr. Hart? Precisely where, in the human nervous system, does this ugly death-sucking, death-dealing, death-fearing thing reside? Science gives only a tentative answer: the "ego" seems to be located in the midbrain at the top of the head. "Well," he thinks, "couldn't we just scoop it out of a healthy youth, throw his in the garbage where it belongs, and slide in MEEEEEEEE?" So he starts looking for a brain surgeon, a "scrambled egg" man, and he wants the best. When it comes to a short-order job old Doc Zeit is tops. He can switch eggs in an alley.

Mr. Hart embodies the competitive, acquisitive, success-minded spirit that formulated American capitalism. The logical extension of this ugly spirit is criminal. Success is its own justification. He who succees deserves to succeed; he is RIGHT. The operation is a success. The doctors have discreetly withdrawn. When a man wakes up in a beautiful new bod, he can flip out. It wouldn't pay to be a witness. Mr. Hart stands up and stretches luxuriously in his new body. He runs his hands over the lean young muscle where his potbelly used to be. All that remains of the donor is a blob of gray matter in a dish. Mr. Hart puts his hands on his hips and leans over the blob.

"And how wrong can you be? DEAD."

He spits on it and he spits ugly.

The final convulsions of a universe based on quantitative factors, like money, junk, and time, would seem to be at hand. The time approaches when no amount of money will buy anything and time itself will run out.

This is a parable of vampirism gone berserk. But all vampiric blueprints for immortality are wrong not only from the ethical standpoint. They are ultimately unworkable. In Space Vampires Colin Wilson speaks of benign vampires. Take a little, leave a little. But they always take more than they leave by the basic nature of the vampire process of inconspicuous but inexorable consumption. The vampire converts quality-live blood, vitality, youth, talent-into quantity-food and time for himself. He perpetrates the most basic betrayal of the spirit, reducing all human dreams to his shit. And that's the wrongest wrong a man can be.

Personal immortality in a physical body is impossible, since a physical body exists in time and time is that which ends. When someone says he wants to live forever, he forgets that forever is a time word. All three-dimensional immortality projects, to say the least, are ill-advised, since they always immerse the aspirant deeper in time.

The tiresome concept of personal immortality is predicated on the illusion of some unchangeable precious essence: greedy old MEEEEEEEE forever. But as the Buddhists say, there is no MEEEEEEEE, no unchanging ego.

What we thing of as our ego is defensive reaction, just as the symptoms of an illness-fever, swelling, sweating-are the body's reaction to an invading organism. Our beloved ego, arising from the rotten weeds of lust and fear and anger, has no more continuity that a fever sweat. There is no ego; only a shifting process as unreal as the Cities of the Odor Eaters that dissolve in rain. A moment's introspection demonstrates that we are not the same as we were a year ago or a week ago. "What ever possessed me to do that?"

A step toward rational immortality is to break down the concept of a separate personal, and therefore inexorably mortal, ego. This opens many doors. Your spirit could reside in a number of bodies, not as some hideous parasite draining the host, but as a helpful little visitor. "Roger the Lodger . . don't take up much room . . show you a trick or two . . never overstay my welcome."

Take fifty photos of the same person over an hour. Some of them will look so unlike the subject as to be unrecognizable. And some of them will look like some other person. "Why, he looks just like Khrushchev with one gold tooth peeking out."

The illusion of a separate, inviolable identity limits your perceptions and confines you in time. You live in other people and other people live in you- "visiting," we call it-and of course it's ever so much easier with one's Clonies.

When I first heard about cloning I thought, what a fruitful concept: why, one could be in a hundred different places at once and experience everything the other clones did. I am amazed at the outcry against this good thing not only from men of the cloth but also from scientists, the very scientists whose patient researdch has brought cloning within our grasp. The very thought of a clone disturbs these gentlemen. Like cattle on the verge of stampede, they paw the ground mooin apprehensively. "Selfness is an essential fact of life. The thought of human nonselfness is terrifying."

Terrifying to whom? Speak for yourself, you timorous old beastie cowering in your eternal lavatory. Too many scientists seem to be ignorant of the most rudimentary spiritual concepts. They tend to be suspicious, bristly, paranoid-type people with huge egos they push around like some elephantiasis victim with his distended testicles in a wheelbarrow, terrified, no doubt, that some skulking ingrate-of-a-clone student will sneak into their very brains and steal their genius work. The unfairness of it brings tears to his eyes as he peers anxiously through his bifocals.

Cloning isn't ego gone berserk. On the contrary, cloning is the end of the ego. For the first time, the spirit of man will be able to separate itself from the human machine, to see it and use it as a machine. He is no longer identified with one special Me machine. The human organism has become an artifact he can use like a plane, a boat, or a space capsule.

The poet John Giorno wondered if maybe a clone of a clone of a clone would just phase out into white noise like copies of copies of tape. As Count Korzybski used to say: "I don't know, let's see."

But ultimately, I postulate, true immortality can be found only in space. Space exploration is the only goal worth striving for. Over the hills and far away. You will know your enemies by those who attempt to block your path. Vampiric monopolists would keep you in time like their cattle. "It's a good thing cows don't fly," they say with an evil chuckle. The evil, intelligent Slave Gods.

The gullible, confused, and stupid pose an equal threat owing to the obstructive potential of their vast numbers. I have an interesting slip in my scrapbook. News clipping from the Boulder Camera. Picture of an old woman with a death's-head, false teeth smile. She is speaking for the Women's Christian Temperance Union. "WE OPPOSE CHILD ABUSE, INTEMPERANCE, AND IMMORTALITY."

The way to immortality is in space, and Christianity is buried under slag heaps of dead dogma, sniveling prayers; and empty prayers must oppose immortality in space as the counterfeit always fears and hates the real thing. Resurgent Islam . . . born-again Christians . . . creeds outworn . . . excess baggage . . . 'raus 'mit!

Immortality is prolonged future, and the future of any artifact lies in the direction of increased flexibility capacity for change and ultimately mutation. Immortality may be seen as a by-product of function: "to shine in use." Mutation involves changes that are literally unimaginable from the perspective of the future mutant. Coldblooded, nondreaming creatures living in the comparatively weightless medium of water could not conceive of breathing air, dreaming, and experiencing the force of gravity as a basic fact of life. There will be new fears like the fear of falling, new pleasures, and new necessities. There are distinct advantages to living in a supportive medium like water. Mutation is not a matter of logical choices.

The human mutants must take a step into the unknown, a step that no human has taken before.

"We were the first that ever burst into that silent sea."

Recent dream research has turned up a wealth of data, but no one has assembled the pieces into a workable field theory.

By far the most significant discovery to emerge frm precise dream research with vounteer subjects is the fact that dreams are a biological necessity for all warm-blooded animals. Deprived of REM sleep, they show all the symptoms of sleeplessness no matter how much dreamless sleep they are allowed. Continued deprivation would result in death.

All dreams in male subjects, except nightmares, are accompanied by erection. No one has proffered an explanation. It is interesting to note that a male chipanzee who did finger and dab paintings, and was quite good too, went into a sexual frenzy during his creative acts.

Cold-blooded animals do not dream. All warm-blooded creatures including birds do dream.

John Dunne discovered that dreams contain references to future time as experienced by the dreamer. He published his findings in An Experiment with Time in 1924. Dream references, he points out, relate not to the event itself but to the time when the subject learns of the event. The dream refers to the future of the dreamer. He says that anybody who will write his dreams down over a period of time will turn up precognitive references. Dreams involve time travel. Does it follow then that time travel is a necessity?

I quote from an article summarizing the discoveries of Professor Michel Jouvet. Jouvet, using rapid eye movement techniques, has been able to detect dreaming in animals in the womb and even developing birds in the egg. He found that animals like calves and foals, who can fend for themselves immediately after birth, dream a lot in the womb and relatively little after that. Humans and kittens dream less in the womb and are unable to fend for themselves at birth.

He concluded that human babies could not walk or feed themselves until they had enough in practice in dreams. This indicates that the function of dreams is to train the being for future conditions. I postulate that the human artifact is biologically ddesigned for space travel. So human dreams can be seen as training for space conditions. Deprived of this vital link with our future in space, with no reason for living, we die.

Art serves the same function as dreams. Plato's Republic is a blueprint for a death camp. An alien invader, or a domestic elite, bent on conquest and extermination, could rapidly immobilize the earth by cutting dream lines, just the way we took care of the Indians. I quote from Black Elk Speaks by John Neihardt:

"The nation's hoop is broken and scattered like a ring of smoke. There is no center any more. The sacred tree is dead and all its birds are gone."

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Freud and Schreber: Psychoanalysis Brought to Crisis


We have hitherto been dealing with the father-complex, which was the dominant element in

Schreber’s case and with the wishful phantasy round which the illness centred. But in all of this

there is nothing characteristic of the form of disease known as paranoia, nothing that might not

be found (and that has not in fact been found) in other kinds of neuroses. The distinctive

character of paranoia (or of dementia paranoides) must be sought for elsewhere - namely, in the

particular form assumed by the symptoms; and we shall expect to find that this is determined, not

by the nature of the complexes themselves, but by the mechanism by which the symptoms are

formed or by which repression is brought about. We should be inclined to say that what was

characteristically paranoic about the illness was the fact that the patient, as a means of warding

off a homosexual wishful phantasy, reacted precisely with delusions of persecution of this kind...

a number of cases of paranoid disorder which have come under observation. The patients whose histories provided the material for this enquiry included both men and women, and varied in race, occupation, and social

standing. Yet we were astonished to find that in all of these cases defence against a

homosexual wish was clearly recognizable at the very centre of the conflict which underlay the

disease and that it was in an attempt to master an unconsciously reinforced current of

homosexuality that they had all of them come to grief. This was certainly not what we had

expected. Paranoia is precisely a disorder in which a sexual aetiology is by no means obvious; far

from this, the strikingly prominent features in the causation of paranoia, especially among males,

are social humiliations and slights. But if we go into the matter only a little more deeply, we shall

be able to see that the really operative factor in these social injuries lies in the part played in

them by the homosexual components of emotional life. So long as the individual is functioning

normally and it is consequently impossible to see into the depths of his mental life, we may doubt

whether his emotional relations to his neighbours in society have anything to do with sexuality,

either actually or in their genesis. But delusions never fail to uncover these relations and to trace

back the social feelings to their roots in a directly sensual erotic wish. So long as he was healthy,

Dr. Schreber, too, whose delusions culminated in a wishful phantasy of an unmistakably

homosexual nature, had, by all accounts, shown no signs of homosexuality in the ordinary sense

of the word.


I shall now endeavour (and I think the attempt is neither unnecessary nor unjustifiable) to show

that the knowledge of psychological processes, which, thanks to psycho-analysis, we now

possess, already enables us to understand the part played by a homosexual wish in the

development of paranoia. Recent investigations! have directed our attention to a stage in the

development of the libido which it passes through on the way from auto-erotism to object-love."

This stage has been given the name of narcissism. What happens is this. There comes a time in

the development of the individual at which he unifies his sexual instincts (which have hitherto

been engaged in auto-erotic activities) in order to obtain a love-object; and he begins by taking

himself, his own body, as his love-object, and only subsequently proceeds from this to the choice

of some person other than himself as his object. This half-way phase between auto-erotism and

object-love may perhaps be indispensable normally; but it appears that many people linger

unusually long in this condition, and that many of its features are carried over by them into the

later stages of their development. What is of chief importance in the subject’s self thus chosen as

a love object may already be the genitals. The line of development then leads on to the choice of

an external object with similar genitals - that is, to homosexual object-choice - and thence to

heterosexuality. People who are manifest homosexuals in later life have, it may be presumed,

never emancipated themselves from the binding condition that the object of their choice must

possess genitals like their own; and in this connection the infantile sexual theories which attribute

the same kind of genitals to both sexes exert much influence.

After the stage of heterosexual object-choice has been reached, the homosexual tendencies are

not, as might be supposed, done away with or brought to a stop; they are merely deflected from

their sexual aim and applied to fresh uses. They now combine with portions of the ego-instincts

and, as ‘attached’ components, help to constitute the social instincts, thus contributing an erotic

factor to friendship and comradeship, to esprit de corps and to the love of mankind in general.

How large a contribution is in fact derived from erotic sources (with the sexual aim inhibited) could

scarcely be guessed from the normal social relations of mankind. But it is not irrelevant to note

that it is precisely manifest homosexuals, and among them again precisely those that set

themselves against an indulgence in sensual acts, who are distinguished by taking a particularly

active share in the general interests of humanity - interests which have themselves sprung from a

sublimation of erotic instincts.

In my Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality I have expressed the opinion that each stage in

the development of psychosexuality affords a possibility of ‘fixation, and thus of a dispositional

point. People who have not freed themselves completely from the stage of narcissism - who, that

is to say, have at that point a fixation which may operate as a disposition to a later illness - are

exposed to the danger that some unusually intense wave of libido, finding no other outlet, may

lead to a sexualization of their social instincts and so undo the sublimations which they had

achieved in the course of their development. This result may be produced by anything that

causes the libido to flow backwards (i.e. that causes a ‘regression’): whether, on the one hand,

the libido becomes collaterally reinforced owing to some disappointment over a woman, or is

directly dammed up owing to a mishap in social relations with other men - both of these being

instances of ‘frustration’; or whether, on the other hand, there is a general intensification of the

libido, so that it becomes too powerful to find an outlet along the channels which are already

open to it, and consequently bursts through its banks at the weakest spot. Since our analyses

show that paranoics endeavour to protect themselves against any such sexualization of their

social instinctual cathexes, we are driven to suppose that the weak spot in their development is

to be looked for somewhere between the stages of auto-erotism, narcissism and homosexuality,

and that their disposition to illness (which may perhaps be susceptible of more precise definition)

must be located in that region...

In taking the view, then, that what lies at the core of the conflict in cases of paranoia among

males is a homosexual wishful phantasy of loving a man, we shall certainly not forget that the

confirmation of such an important hypothesis can only follow upon the investigation of a large

number of instances of every variety of paranoic disorder. We must therefore be prepared, if

need be, to limit our assertion to a single type of paranoia. Nevertheless, it is a remarkable fact

that the familiar principal forms of paranoia can all be represented as contradictions of the single

proposition: ‘I (a man) love him (a man)’; and indeed that they exhaust all the possible ways in

which such contradictions could be formulated.

The proposition ‘I (a man) love him’ is contradicted by: (a) Delusions of persecution; for they loudly assert:

‘I do not love him - I hate him.’ This contradiction, which must have run thus in the unconscious, cannot, however, become conscious to a paranoiac in this form. The mechanism of symptom-formation in paranoia requires that internal perceptions - feelings - shall be replaced by external perceptions. Consequently the

proposition ‘I hate him’ becomes transformed by projection into another one: ‘He hates

(persecutes) me, which will justify me in hating him.’ And thus the impelling unconscious feeling

makes its appearance as though it were the consequence of an external perception:

‘I do not love him - I hate him, because HE PERSECUTES ME.’

Observation leaves room for no doubt that the persecutor is some one who was once loved. (b)

Another element is chosen for contradiction in erotomania, which remains totally unintelligible on

any other view: ‘I do not love him - I love her.’

And in obedience to the same need for projection, the proposition is transformed into: ‘I observe

that she loves me.’

‘I do not love him - I love her, because SHE LOVES ME.’ Many cases of erotomania might give an

impression that they could be satisfactorily explained as being exaggerated or distorted heterosexual fixations, if our attention were not attracted by the circumstance that these infatuations invariably begin, not with any internal perception of loving, but with an external perception of being loved. But in this form of paranoia the intermediate proposition ‘I love her’ can also become conscious, because the contradiction between it and the original proposition is not a diametrical one, not so irreconcilable as that between love and hate: it is, after all, possible to love her as well as him. It can thus come about that the proposition which has been substituted by projection (‘she loves me’) may make way again for the ‘basic language’ proposition ‘I love her’.

‘It is not I who love the man - she loves him’, and he suspects the woman in relation to all the

men whom he himself is tempted to love.

Distortion by means of projection is necessarily absent in this instance, since, with the change of

the subject who loves, the whole process is in any case thrown outside the self. The fact that the

woman loves the men is a matter of external perception to him; whereas the facts that he himself

does not love but hates, or that he himself loves not this but that person, are matters of internal


‘It is not I who love the women - he loves them.’ The jealous woman suspects her husband in

relation to all the women by whom she is herself attracted owing to her homosexuality and the

dispositional effect of her excessive narcissism. The influence of the time of life at which her

fixation occurred is clearly shown by the selection of the love-objects which she imputes to her

husband; they are often old and quite inappropriate for a real love relation - revivals of the nurses

and servants and girls who were her friends in childhood, or sisters who were her actual rivals.

Now it might be supposed that a proposition consisting of three terms, such as ‘I love him’,

could only be contradicted in three different ways. Delusions of jealousy contradict the subject,

delusions of persecution contradict the verb, and erotomania contradicts the object. But in fact a

fourth kind of contradiction is possible - namely, one which rejects the proposition as a whole:

‘I do not love at all - I do not love any one.’ And since, after all, one’s libido must go somewhere,

this proposition seems to be the psychological equivalent of the proposition: ‘I love only myself.’

So that this kind of contradiction would give us megalomania, which we may regard as a sexual

overvaluation of the ego and may thus set beside the overvaluation of the love-object with which

we are already familiar.

The most striking characteristic of symptom-formation in paranoia is the process which deserves

the name of projection. An internal perception is suppressed, and, instead, its content, after

undergoing a certain kind of distortion, enters consciousness in the form of an external

perception. In delusions of persecution the distortion consists in a transformation of affect; what

should have been felt internally as love is perceived externally as hate...

fixation... is the precursor and necessary condition of every ‘repression’. Fixation can be described in this way. One instinct or instinctual component fails to accompany the rest along the anticipated normal path of development, and, in

consequence of this inhibition in its development, it is left behind at a more infantile stage. The libidinal current in question then behaves in relation to later psychological structures like one belonging to the system of the unconscious, like one that is repressed....

Since I neither fear the criticism of others nor shrink from criticizing myself, I have no motive for

avoiding the mention of a similarity which may possibly damage our libido theory in the estimation

of many of my readers. Schreber’s ‘rays of God’, which are made up of a condensation of the

sun’s rays, of nerve fibres, and of spermatozoa, are in reality nothing else than a concrete

representation and projection outwards of libidinal cathexes; and they thus lend his delusions a

striking conformity with our theory. His belief that the world must come to an end because his ego

was attracting all the rays to itself, his anxious concern at a later period, during the process of

reconstruction, lest God should sever His ray-connection with him, - these and many other details

of Schreber’s delusional structure sound almost like endopsychic perceptions of the processes

whose existence I have assumed in these page as the basis of our explanation of paranoia. I

can nevertheless call a friend and fellow-specialist to witness that I had developed my theory of

paranoia before I became acquainted with the contents of Schreber’s book. It remains for the

future to decide whether there is more delusion in my theory than I should like to admit, or

whether there is more truth in Schreber’s delusion than other people are as yet prepared to