Mad Lib

Marjorie Garber

in Loaded Words

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780823242047
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823242085 | DOI:
Mad Lib

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In 1909, Sigmund Freud came upon a pamphlet written by Karl Abel, a specialist in ancient languages, which seemed to him to have an uncanny resonance with his own recent work on dreams. Decades later, Jacques Lacan would assert that the unconscious was structured like a language. In the political realm, double agentry is known as counterintelligence. Jacques Derrida's Freudian reading of Michel Foucault's idea of madness is directly cognate to this discussion of language as a double agent. Freud's collective term for what an earlier era called madness was psychosis. Decades before the word lib appeared as an abbreviation and a combining form for various kinds of liberation, from women's lib to gay lib to children's lib, the phrase mad libs had made its way into American popular culture. This chapter considers the idea of madness as linguistic counterintelligence, and, concurrently, the observation that (in English at least) madness itself was a double agent, seeming to signify both the most exalted and the most abjected states of human fantasy: both infatuation and insanity.

Keywords: Sigmund Freud; dreams; Jacques Lacan; Jacques Derrida; Michel Foucault; madness; mad libs; double agent; insanity; counterintelligence

Chapter.  7890 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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