Chapter

/ “Anyone with Half an Eye”: Blackness and the Disaster of Narcissism in Quicksand

Dorothy Stringer

in Not Even Past

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780823231478
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823241088 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823231478.003.0004

Series: American Literatures Initiative

/ “Anyone with Half an Eye”: Blackness and the Disaster of Narcissism in Quicksand

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All criticism is speculative, both an open-ended inquiry and, as etymology indicates, a reckoning with and through the “seeing” that structures our thinking so fundamentally. Shepherdson describes narcissism, critical and otherwise, as “deadly,” “disaster,” “catastrophe,” and above all, “trauma.” Freud's examples of such compulsive repetitions included children's games of loss and absence, played over and over, neurotic patients' repetitive acting-out, veterans' recurrent, troubling dreams, and, most importantly for our present concerns, poetry, in a discussion of Tasso that identifies the “moving” quality of his epic poem Gerusalemme Liberata with its figure of a magically repeated wound. Shepherdson notes that the tale of Narcissus is “a story in which blindness and sexual difference are brought together, and a story of punishment as well.”

Keywords: criticism; Freud; compulsive repetitions; Tasso; Gerusalemme Liberata; Shepherdson; Narcissus; narcissism

Chapter.  8900 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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