ONLINE - Catherine Malabou: A Reading of Freud's Beyond the Pleasure Principle: COVID-19 and the Death Drive

March 01 | 18:00

Please note that this event takes place online only. External interested parties can register for the ZOOM event at the following address and will be sent the login details: anmeldung@cmb.hu-berlin.de

Catherine Malabou (Kingston University London / University of California Irvine)

At the time when Freud wrote Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920), the First World War's scars were still very visible, and the Spanish flu (1918-2020) had killed millions of people. This extraordinary work was the written in the wake of a post-war and post-pandemic context. Hence its reflection on trauma, the compulsion to repeat and the death drive. Freud's leading question is to determine what kind of — symbolic, psychic, political — order takes over when the quest for pleasure and the tendency to avoid unpleasure cease to be the laws of the psyche, and repetition, suffering, despair, and obsession take over. Is it anarchy (as the expression beyond the principle, as a perfect translation of the Greek "anarkhia" induces) or the expression of an absolute drive for mastery (Bemächtigungstrieb)?

Kommentar: Amy Allen (Penn State University).

As part of the series

Essential to Society? Franco-German and European Perspectives on the Social Repercussions of the Crisis

We are living through an unprecedented global health crisis. COVID-19 and the ensuing   state of affairs have profoundly unsettled our social structures, affecting not only our mental and societal well-being, but also the state of our political and financial frameworks. It has retraced new boundaries between private and public life and intensified the presence of technology in our daily lives. It has compelled us to reconsider our relation to the sciences and the environment. In recent months politicians, researchers and the media offered attempts, ranging from apocalyptic prophecies to ecological utopias, to imagine what the world could look like once the crisis subsides. Yet not only the future, but also the current repercussions of the crisis on diverse facets of our society must urgently be reflected upon.

It is in this context that the Centre Marc Bloch, Berlin, a Franco-German centre for research in the social sciences and humanities with a special focus on Europe’s transformations and position in a global world, seeks to open the discussion to the wider public by launching an online seminar. This discussion series will bring together researchers from a wide range of fields, such as history, philosophy, sociology, political sciences, anthropology, cultural studies, public health and ecology, in order to consider the effects of the pandemic on our society in medias res. We believe the past can assist us in understanding whether the present crisis consists of an exceptional event or an extended transmutation, whether it may strengthen or disrupt our social structures and political organisations, and whether or not it will lead to a genuine revaluation of what is considered "relevant" or "essential" to society. The analysis of society by social sciences and the humanities in times of crisis may permit us, then, not only to take stock of that which transpires, but also to tackle imminent social transformations.

Kontakt: noa.levin(at)cmb.hu-berlin.de