In the Midst of Life

Eric L. Santner

in On the Psychotheology of Everyday Life

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2001 | ISBN: 9780226734873
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226734897 | DOI:
In the Midst of Life

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Two disarmingly simple prose texts, one written by Robert Walser and the other by Franz Kafka, introduce readers into one of the central preoccupations of German-Jewish thinkers Sigmund Freud and Franz Rosenzweig. The problem is that of inhabiting the midst, the middle of life. In his short story, “The End of the World,” Walser tells of a child's search for the outer limits of the space of human habitation we call the world. Kafka left a short prose sketch that tells the story of a philosopher who sought after groups of children playing with a top. This chapter focuses on the ways in which both Freud and Rosenzweig give us the means to think the difference between holding ourselves responsible for knowing other minds and accepting responsibility for acknowledging other minds in all their insistent and uncanny impenetrability. By reading Freud and Rosenzweig together, the chapter hopes to offer insights into what it calls the psychotheology of everyday life. The discussion as a whole moves between different levels and aspects of fantasy and defense.

Keywords: middle of life; fantasy; defense; Robert Walser; Franz Kafka; Sigmund Freud; Franz Rosenzweig; psychotheology; everyday life; minds

Chapter.  5686 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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