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Stanzas

Word and Phantasm in Western Culture

1992
Author:

Giorgio Agamben
Translated by Ronald L. Martinez

Stanzas

Through rereadings of Freud and Saussure, Agamben proposes a radical reconfiguration of the epistemological foundation of Western culture.

Through rereadings of Freud and Saussure, Agamben proposes a radical reconfiguration of the epistemological foundation of Western culture.

Stanzas is a fascinating blend of philology, medieval physics and psychology, the psychoanalysis of toys, and contemporary linguistics and philosophy. In this unique work, Giorgio Agamben attempts to reconfigure the epistemological foundation of Western culture. He rereads Freud and Saussure to discover the impossibility of metalanguage and of synthesis that could be reflected in the transparency of signs. There is no “superior language” that can read the obscure scenes of the unconscious, and the “symbol” is always the return of the repressed in an improper signifier.

This impossibility leads Agamben to the problem of representation. He argues that because language is the locus of the production and storage of phantasms, all real objects are fractured by phantasmic itineraries that in turn divide poetry and philosophy, joy and knowledge.

Stanzas

Giorgio Agamben teaches philosophy at the College International de Philosophie in Paris and at the University of Macerata in Italy. He has written numerous books. Also published in translation by the University of Minnesota Press are Language and Death: The Place of Negativity (1991) and The Coming Community (1993).

Ronald L. Martinez is associate professor of Italian at the University of Minnesota.

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