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Malcolm Bowie (1943–2007)

Författare till Proust Among the Stars

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Inkluderar namnet: Malcom Bowie

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Verk av Malcolm Bowie


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This is my third book by Malcolm Bowie, and while it is clear that he is an erudite and sophisticated critic, I have yet to be satisfied by any of his work. This sentiment has only grown with Psychoanalysis and the Future of Theory, the published version of a series of lectures that Bowie gave on this topic.

The only piece that promises much of value is the title essay, which contrasts Freud's fascination with memory and the past, Augustine's notion of lived time, and Heidegger's notion of futurity. Bowie focuses most of his attention on the influence of Heidegger's concept of time on Lacan, although this last part is desperately lacking in focus.

The other pieces in the book are utterly bland and have little or no connection to Lacan: a meditation on Freud's relationship to art (Ch.2), a technical and rather pointless comparison of painting and music (Ch.3), and an inexplicable discussion of Freud's relationship to the "European unconscious" (Ch.4).

The one redeeming feature of the book is its appendix, which features an interview in which he puts forward ideas in a manner that is a thousand times more interesting and appealing than any of the earlier content in the book. In fact, this interview is probably the only part of the book worth reading; the rest is pretentious, albeit highly-educated nonsense.
… (mer)
vernaye | May 23, 2020 |
In this book, Malcolm Bowie provides yet another "Lacan for beginners" text that was obviously popular at the time. Bowie is well-equipped to undertake such a task, with a vast knowledge of the material and a writing style that is generally easy enough to follow (although I suspect readers who are entirely new to Lacan will still find it a challenge).

Bowie's book has a bit more of a historical sense than some other books of this kind. As such, he opens with a chapter on the complex relationship between Freud and Lacan, observing cannily that "Lacan's argument is conducted on Freud's behalf and, at the same time, against him" (p.7).

The rest of the book is organized into a kind of "greatest hits" of Lacanian concepts, starting with an explanation of Lacan's notion of the divided subject (Ch.2). Bowie moves from there to the relationship between language and the unconscious (Ch.3), the development of Lacan's three registers of the real, symbolic, and imaginary (Ch.4), an explanation of the symbolic phallus (Ch.5), and an overview of how Lacan's final years were spent exploring mathemes, knots and other more obscure theoretical concepts (Ch.5).

Bowie's book is a solid but unremarkable introduction to Lacan. It is readable and goes over the basic concepts, although in terms of theoretical scope I would probably recommend Joël Dor's [b:Introduction to the Reading of Lacan: The Unconscious Structured Like a Language|262773|Introduction to the Reading of Lacan The Unconscious Structured Like a Language|Joël Dor||254712] ahead of this one.
… (mer)
vernaye | May 23, 2020 |
Malcolm Bowie's book sets out to look at the interplay between theory and fiction in Freud, Proust, and Lacan. "'Theory' and 'fiction are, after all, alternative names for the verbal productions of those who indulge in an 'as if' thinking about the world," he reasons in the Introduction (pp.5-6).

The structure of the book is straightforward enough: Chapter 1 focuses on how Freud turns to fiction in order to think through his theory, a pattern that is reversed in Chapter 2, where Bowie examines how Proust's characters theorize and philosophize in the course of his fiction. Chapter 3 then brings together Freud and Proust to consider their shared interest in questions of language and sexuality.

The final two chapters on Lacan seem rather out of place here. Chapter 4 is largely an overview of Lacan's main theories, especially with regard to Lacan's formula that "the unconscious is structured like a language," while Chapter 5 examines how Lacan uses literature in talking about psychoanalysis. Bowie seems refreshingly suspicious of Lacan's use of literature - too often, he intimates, Lacan uses literature on the provision that it behaves as an obedient servant of the more important discourse of psychoanalysis. He also makes a fascinating contrast between the implicit way Hegel uses Karl Moor, the protagonist of Schiller's The Robbers, with the explicit way that Lacan replaces Moor with Alceste (from Molière's The Misanthrope) in order to make a similar point.

The epilogue is an extended meditation on how the varying dilemmas of Bowie's titular authors reflect the fate of Actaeon, the way the theory has a tendency to turn on the writer of fiction (Proust), or the fiction to turn on the writer of theory (Freud).

Bowie presents his ideas in an elegant and erudite package. Nonetheless, I never really felt as though this book, despite glimpses of brilliance, quite came together as a coherent and forceful argument.

… (mer)
vernaye | May 23, 2020 |


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