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Cavell, M. (1998). Beyond the Pleasure Principle—Reading and Re-reading. Elfriede Löchel. Pp. 681-714. Psychoanal Q., 67(3):534.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Beyond the Pleasure Principle—Reading and Re-reading. Elfriede Löchel. Pp. 681-714

(1998). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 67(3):534

Beyond the Pleasure Principle—Reading and Re-reading. Elfriede Löchel. Pp. 681-714

Marcva Cavell

The concept of the death instinct developed by Freud in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, and since then more ignored than debated, is approached by the author from a specific angle. By tracing Freud's quest for the “Beyond” (which he ultimately gave the name of “death instinct”) and spelling out the contradictions and inconsistencies that come to light in the process, she demonstrates that these latter are not grounded in the concept but in the nature of the subject itself, in other words, that the “Beyond” is a rhetorical mis-en-scène inscribed into the text. With reference to the subtle meanings of the there/not-there game and the interplay between the notions of eros and death instinct, Löchel shows that the assumption of a death instinct is an inner-theoretical necessity which Freud did not, however, have the metalinguistic resources to handle. The author contends that if there are sexual and life instincts, there must also be something beyond. Representation needs the death instinct as something representation-less in the same way as writing needs an empty page. The death instinct—by no means a purely conceptual imperative—is the price that has to be paid for psychic representation.

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Article Citation

Cavell, M. (1998). Beyond the Pleasure Principle—Reading and Re-reading. Elfriede Löchel.. Psychoanal. Q., 67(3):534

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