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Slavoj Zizek/Robert Schumann-The Romantic Anti-Humanist

Slavoj Zizek/Robert Schumann-The Romantic Anti-Humanist

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This article is taken from Slavoj Zizek's "The Plague of Fantasies"
This article is taken from Slavoj Zizek's "The Plague of Fantasies"

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What is music at its most of the big Other (beloved

the big but in the real of his or her

own fides mercy; her love on us ... ).

Music is thus an attempt to provoke the 'answer of the Real': to rise

'miracle' of which Lacan apropos of the

his or her hand out to me ,' The historical referred

concern music - musical

the moment when music renounces the endeavour to the answer of the Other.

One of the easiest ways to discern this inherent

to follow the vicissitudes of ensembles. In

ensembles in the finale of Act II

Figaro),

of music is

intersubjectiuitv shines and is none the less frictionless way; the

but the a harmonious multitude-in-conflict becomes

very of Fidelia, the 'Mir ist so wuriderbar", a kind of

direct to Mozart: of the music, the nnnnprll"

Mozartian magic has already the cannot but

strike us as somehow contrived, a mechanical of the formula,

At the end of this road lies the III of

here intersubjectivity proper is and what we get in exchange is a kind of ecstatic immersion in which the multitude of voices is drowned in the same flow.

Our point, is that this passage from Mozart to does

every voice retains its full included in the ensemble in a

192

ROBERT SCHUMANN' THE

NTIC

a loss:

subjectivity. Suffice it to recall - in Fidelio - Pizarro's

Welch' ein ' from Act I, which bears witness

UtC>Vt,1.'VS his Evil in a way which is

never far from since his very cunningness and

thoroughly conspicuous Mozart's Don Giovanni, who

announces Romantic lacks proper : he remains a machinelike

deprived of any Beethoven's Pizarro

discloses an intense destructive which there is no

Mozart's universe, he still declares his Evil in a way which

the post-classicist of character. For that one has to wait for

Alberich in Wagner's Rheingold: Alberich's great monologue 'Bin ich

frei? Wirklich frei?' involves the of a universe in

which even an evil person is not simply with his victim,

caught in a cobweb of and fate his control, and thus a

victim himself."

Furthermore, music is not historical in the abstract sense

according to which each determinate type of music is

only within a given but also in the sense that each

kind of of

variations on Mozart's opera is one epoch's remembrance of another epoch - that is to say, Liszt's view of Mozart's Don who is the reinterpretation of a previous configuration. vVe thus have three Don

Ciovannis: (1) the burlador, the combination of

buffoon and trickster, who dashes from one adventure to another in

search of pleasure; (2) Mozart gives this a Romantic twist

turning him, at his into a proto-Byronic 'demonic'

personification of diabolical a kind of ethical hero

this perspective, all his adventurous conquests pave the way

encounter with the Stone when Don Giovanni bravely

ordeal and refuses to renounce his ; (3) this Romantic

hero is not to be confused with Liszt's late-Romanticist a little bit like Liszt himself - a decadent and

abstract spirituality and perverse

The easiest way for today's listener to character of our most elementary musical

193

THE PLAGUE OF FANTASIES

its

Viennese classicism: after the retreat of to this emergence of the melody is its ance signalled by the often-observed fact that a decade after

a long, 'beautiful', self-enclosed melody all of a sudden becomes 'objectively impossible'; this observation provides the proper background to the well-known vicious that Mendelssohn's melodies begin well but finish badly, losing their drive and ending in a resolution (his overture 'Fingal's Cave', or the concerto which marks a clear melodic regression with to Beethoven's violin concerto). Far from a sign of Mendelssohn's weakness as a composer, this failure of the melodic line bears witness, to his sensitivity towards the historical those who were still able to write 'beautiful melodies' were kitsch composers like

On the other for that reason Mendelssohn was

not a full Romantic: Romanticism 'arrives at its notion' (to

put it in Hegelese) only when this failure is included and becomes a positive factor of, the desired effect. Cesar Franck's Prelude, Choral and Fugue,

the supreme case of none the less a nice

of the of the which

forced to abandon

endeavours to reach the ~AAA'''~',

its effort as it were, to fall back."

2

This failing melody condenses the innermost logic of Romanticism." Romanticism in its opposition to Classicism can be best grasped the different logic of memory: in Classicism, memory recalls happiness (the innocence of our etc.), while the Romantic memory recalls not a direct past happiness but a past in which future happiness still seemed possible, a time when hopes were not frustrated - memories here are 'those of absence, of that which never was'." The loss deplored in Classicism is the loss of what the once while the Romantic loss is the loss of what one never had. Therein lies the 'loss of a loss'; another way to put it is to paraphrase the Gospel

194

ROBERT SC

N: THE RO

C

possess. That is to say: what the

but is an absence which do not have the desired

this 'sacrifice of sacrifice'. In one

heroine - whose husband

- does

dedicates her entire life

mourning has been in vain - she never had, she lost the loss

she lost what of the lost husband which

sustained her life .... One finds the same reversal in La Princesse de when it is revealed that Madame de

was unfaithful to him in the most way."

For that reason, Romanticism is linked to the motif of melan-

Crucial to the of is the distinction between

loss [perte] and lack [manque]:8 lack is co-substantial with while loss

designates the moment at which desire loses its dialectic

'dialectic of desire') transfixed

HH00A''';<'. The lost

the Derridean 'the lack has its proper this distinction and to conflate loss -

and For this reason,

way,

is the [le desir pur] " a desire which is not desire for

but a direct desire for the lack itself when I desire another

person, I desire the very void at the centre of his so that I am

not ready to any service in 9 That is to say: there is

an intersection between drive and and this intersection

different when viewed either from the of drive or

that of desire: if is desire viewed from the

(perceived within the of

the perspective (perceived within the of desire - that

the logic of lack. 10 Is not Hitchcock's Vertigo the in 11lIOldULllU'llL

which also demonstrates how this loss is not the worst that the subject? That is to say: the film's thesis is object is none the less 'possessed' in its very

195

then con-

THE PLAGUE OF FANTAS S

is of

is

of an which gives rise to the

how does the object-gaze become a fetish? reversal from the

which gives to this very ,rn,nr,«,

see that, the true of

reflection-in to-self by means of which the object that fascinates him

becomes the gaze In this sense

ical , gaze and voice are 'reflective' objects,

Lacanian 'rnathemes' a under minus small 'self-consciousness' is also a reflection which arises

of the of

I

this in his universal doubt and reduction to cogito, which also involves a passage the moment of radical madness? Are we thus not back at the well-known passage from [enaer Realphilosophie where ence of pure Self qua 'abstract negativity', the

, the contraction-into-self of the subject, as the

This notion of the of the world' as the kernel

'Schellingian' in that it subverts the

between the of Reason and the

the no longer animal and not yet

the of Reason, is the moment of 'cogito and madness', this radical

dimension of the subject as Night - not the to

196

ROBERT SCHUMANN: THE ROMANTIC

of into the pure Self And the

demoniac at the

in its massive presence, electricity."!

At the highest artistic the structural failure of full finds its ultimate expression in Schumann's songs. Schumann and the 'religious

kitsch' of and so on, are the two

opposed versions of the dissolution of Viennese of the classical

sonata form as Adorno insisted again and stands for the

utopian moment of reconciliation between individual and and Law. Religious kitsch attempts to retain authentic collective

ence in the guise of massive works of sacred the

its pretension to realize this endeavour is the

cization of the religion is reduced to a all that matters is the

in a sacred

Schumann, on the contrary, stands for the ence bereft of its support in the ultimate madness. Schumann's true his attempts to gain respect

not reach far beyond a rather academic In contrast to

Berlioz as Mendelssohn put it, 'with all his effort to go stark

[he] never once succeeded', Schumann tried but was violently drawn into madness. The of religious kitsch to render collective experience radical subjectivism (in the reduction of authentic

thrilling subjective of the religious ritual), while

radical reduction to comes much closer

deadlock of the individual's social position.

Schumann's crucial contribution lies in the way in

cizes' the between the sung melody and

merit: it is no longer the voice which renders the

reduced to or, at

melodic line it is still with Schubert). With

197

THE PLAGUE OF FANTASIES

voice no

from the solo vocal since the

between vocal and piano lines - there is no

nor in which the is

full'. It is as if the melody's proper place is on some elusive, HA',U",.,,>A'J" __ third level which echoes in both of the levels that the listener

C;-'-""'MJ,U',C status of 'unheard AH'_'L'UY the gap between the musical structure and its material actualization; this gap occurs in two opposite forms: (1) a composition is written as a formal structure which is relatively neutral with to the medium of its actual as a kind of formal matrix which does

not all the details of its the Goldberg

Variations, which can be performed on on on

organ ... ,); (2) secondly, and more interestingly, the polyphonic structure is so complex that it is simply impossible to follow it by ear;

the ideal listener must be at least with the

of the

material realization is the main

listener's satisfaction. The supreme is second

(fugue) of Bach's three sonatas for solo in which the

structure is condensed in one instrumental

hear one violin we

it with other unheard lines,

multitude of melodic lines in their interaction.

the actual condensation to one line is no

means simply suspended: the key element of the artistic effect is that we

are aware all the time of how we hear only one line.

is the transcriptions of Bach's solo sonatas for organ or the

trio or quartet, even when are of the retain ali

of 'vulgarity,' even obscenity, as if, when we 'hear it all', some ' .... VH~'l.HL".n'" void is filled in - the elementary definition of

The Romantic return to the 'unheard melody' which follows the Classicist to establish the perfect transparency of the structure, in which every musical line is potentially audible, is the exact opposite of this pre-Classicist polyphony: what has to remain unheard here 'is not the abstract form but the sensuous conception', 12 an impossible sound. Therein lies the central paradox emphasized by Rosen: the very fact that Romanticism abolishes the gap between the structure and its realization, that it suspends the autonomous status of the formal and makes the material-vocal actualization of the composition, up to the details of the performance, of its very conception, gives rise to an

198

ROBERT SCHUMANN: THE

a passage from arises:

attacked twice, but a double release without a second attack is nonsense on

14

This inaudible' sound an case of the

Lacanian objet petit a, in so far as it is irreel in the sense that Lacan

uses this term apropos of his of lamella: 'This organ be called " in the sense that the unreal is not the H<"a..>;,U<'U

in direct contact with the real.'!" As with the ReaL That is to substance

for what is lost when the

substance is has the status of a pure semblance and can never become

for that reason, Lacan determines the irreel lamella as

one should be able to discern the echo of the Event in Stoic logic). The alien from

name, for example, is 'real' as the pure elusive semblance whose

shape and the same goes for trauma, the traumatic

which is also irreel in the sense of

the Real the horrible formless

maternal substance beneath but itself a

pure semblance.

4

One can now see in what the 'event Schumann'

use Alain Badiou's

199

E PLAGUE OF

month of , the very first song of

succession is somehow mixed up, so that we do have

middle and an but not in that order

and ends with what to standard

expectations, the middle

into a

(as well as the

thus

... no wonder

recitative be watchful and aware!', as if, in its

moment, the all of a sudden withdraws from its

immersion into the seductive lure of the to the madness of the loss of the

melodic

• Song 8 of Dichterliebe if the little flowers

this sense a kind of inversion of . the

fails in its

so that when the words are over the conclusion

explodes in an excessive outbreak of We are not here with

the standard coda which adds itself to the 'official' conclusion of the melodic line (two outstanding Beethoven's Fidelia overture and, in Mozart's The Nlagic Flute, the conclusion of Tamino and Pamina's

duet after the ordeal of water and ; in this

involves a defined reversal. The first three stanzas of the song express the standard between the innocent of

200

ROBERT SCHUMANN: THE ROMANTIC

the very frame of the song; what is at stake in this rage is knowledge: she knows and doesn't care ....

In the of this of course, is the poet's wounded

narcissism: he is in search of and consolation - that he is

in search of an Other from whose of view he would be nr,nnpr!lv

Unfortunately, the very one who is in a him is the

cause of his trouble; for this reason, the and docile

sadness turns into the aggressive rage below the

surface for a long flames out. What we have here is the fundamental Schumann invention of 'an absolute coincidence of words and music, but a coincidence reached for the

be

We encounter an even more refined of this 'coincidence of

words and music reached a in 'I can't understand it'

Frauenliebe und , where the loses its vocal autonomy: at the

point the singer's voice the line continues on the

piano, so that the to grasp what goes on 'is

translated into music impossibility of realizing the conception

19 in a structural way, 'the significance arises from

the impossibility of musical realization' - the very failure to transmit proper message transmits the message of shock and Here again we meet the 'barred' subject which emerges through

failure to find the

adequate signifying rv=r-rr-e c r=

subject (the 'content' in the symbolic chain which rpl·WF·~pnT~

him) an 'answer of the Real'

representation .

• In the last poem of Frauenliebe

woman bemoans her lover's we have a case

At the moment of after the

my inwardness, / The curtain falls /

201

THE PLAGUE OF FANTASIES

1S HU""'"" it, its very absence makes it even more

in the listener's mind out of the void left Again, the absence of the full melody, of its climax, renders it more its pure presence ....

• In a similar song from the male cycle Dichterliebe as I

dreamed'), the same structure of absence is to its extreme.

Three times, the poet reports the content of his which has moved

him to tears and caused his violent awakening: in the inverted

he first laments the death of the beloved girl, then the fact that she abandoned him he dreams that she still loves

him. We thus recede from the future through the to the past (the

in which the song's narrative takes of course, is the

predicament of the abandoned lover the dream about the beloved's death is clearly the realization of the poet's death wish). Again the is crucial here: in the first two stanzas it is sparse, just a couple of tones which punctuate the vocal melodic line without following and the in the third stanza,

when the poet's is animated the memory of the

he is 'in his element', he comes to life. The

~l;;,H""H.U by the sudden animation of the piano

louder and more

own - are for

emotional gravity. when the awareness

all this is lost imposes itself again, the vocal line its very climax, and what follows is merely the piano accompaniment to the first two stanzas: a long silence is a couple of short tones, followed again by an excessively long silence which, in its turn, is interrupted by two short piano tones which conclude the song. The status of these sparse tones interrupting the silence is radically ambiguous: they can be read as a da capo senza fine, a strangely protracted conclusion which none the less brings about an 'effect of closure', simultaneously, as a fragmentary remembrance of the absent melodic line - that is, a gesture which makes palpable the final breakdown of the vocal melodic line, which resonates all the more powerfully in the listener's mind for not being heard .... 21

202

ROBERT SCHUMANN: THE RO

C

and what is crucial here is not to confuse man

the Lacanian qua $ is the very outcome of the 'death of man'. For

humanism is which

of with the Kantian break

in we IS

how one should read the famous 'inner voice Schumann (in the written score) as a third line between the two

lines, and lower: as the vocal melodic line which remains a non-

vocalized 'inner voice', a kind of musical the

Derridean 'crossed-out' we

but not on a theme', a series of variations without the

ment without the main melodic line

music for the eyes in the

Schumann composed a 'concert without orchestra', a kind of counter-

to Bartok's 'concert for orchestra'c) This to be

reconstructed on the basis of the fact that the first and third levels

and the left-hand lines) do not relate to each other

- their is not that of an immediate rn"rr.~~

account for their one is thus

a 'virtual' intermediate level

reasons, cannot be Its status is that of an "",..",~~u.nL-'

can exist in the guise of a that is to say,

would annihilate the two melodic lines we hear in 'A Child is Being Beaten', in which the middle was never conscious and has to be reconstructed as the missing link between the first and the last scene).

Schumann brings this absurd self-reference

the same two yet this time the score

contains no third absent melodic no inner voice - what is absent

here is the absent melody, that is, absence itself How are we to

notes at the level of what is acutally to be

repeat the previous notes? The actually notes are r1pnrmp

what is not of their constitutive lack - or, to

lose even that which never had.

203

THE PLAGUE OF FANTASIES

of the subject', signals its

emergence of the 'barred' subject. however,

we enter the domain of drive: in drive, the loss itself is so we

no longer have the infinite longing for the lost object constitutive of desire (for that reason, Humoresque is a strangely joyous and exuberant

free of any remainder of flabby roman tic longing). And in so far as the subject's very being hinges on the efficient absence of an impossible

'lost object', the 'loss of a loss' in drive what Lacan calls

destitution' .

Is not the 'inner voice' as the paradox of a voice which cannot be materialized thus an case of the Lacanian objet petit a? As we have seen, we have in Humoresque two series of notes at the

level of their positive features (of what is actually , are exactly the

same; the difference lies in a different to their constitu-

tive to the 'inner voice'. In a good of

these two series of notes somehow 'sound different',

are the same - is this not the very definition of objet petit a, in

so far as objet a is the unfathomable the je ne sais

which is to be found nowhere in reality, yet whose presence or

to appear 'entirely different'?

to say that Schumann, in his 'variations without a the Deleuzian notion of subjectivity as le pli, the fold

substantial content: it is only when we have variations without a a series of folds without a firm substantial content, that the is no longer a(nother) Substance. In the traditional Romantic song, the subject is still defined by the substantial content of the inner wealth expressed by his voice, to which the piano provides the backfold; all that remains in Schumann is the fold itself, deprived of

which is as too 'substantial' to be able to express the

void of subjectivity in an appropriate way. The only way to evoke the subject is to express it as a void around which the fold of 'variations without a theme' circulate.

Another way to it is to say that Schumann was the first 'anti-

humanist' in music: what his musical practice accomplishes is the passage

204

ROBERT SCHUMANN' THE ROMANTIC

oneself' ,

of which 'infinite longing' is constitutive of that one finds in Schumann the musical

AI::,,'Cll,"-ll process of the of the immediate substantial content into

In order to maintain a minimum of has to

his being to some 'little

the Lacanian sense of the term: an found element

which stands for the innermost This

discernible in the way in which Schumann

of melodies borrowed from other composers

as with the motif in 'Florestan'

is first intruded as a H"::dllHJ.~ flow of the

this intruder is into the compo-

sition's main texture, so that at the end it loses its external character and of the

205

THE PLAGUE 0

IES

very

6

contrasts, whose logic cannot be grounded in a single universal rule. In Classical variations (say, in Beethoven's Diabelli we first get the theme 'as such', followed the multitude of its variations: as one would

in Schumann, the 'theme' is simply However - and it is

here that Schumann's differs from the 'deconstructionist' notion of a of variations without the original - these 'variations' do not all

weight: there is a section which 'sticks out' because

character of a musical exercise rather than a full-blown

'The dansantes]'. the

with the written list of the

sections provides another section

CReplique') is followed by , a section which is written

and cannot be What are these

The subtitle of Carnaual is 'Miniature scenes on four notes [Scenes mignon.nes sur quatre notes]', and provides these four notes, the

musical of which condenses a series of mnemonic

associations: the young Schumann's

friend at the time when he Carnaual, came from the Bohemian

town of a name whose four letters are identical to the letters of the word 'Schumann' which have note in German musical (where 'H' stands for and 'B' for B flat). Moreover, if we read 'As' as A we get another variant of the musical so that we obtain three brief series: SCHumAnn flat - C - B - ; ASCH (read

as: A flat - C - ; ASCH as: A - E flat - C - B). In his Psychanalyser,

Serge Leclaire " reports on a treatment which

the of in his term poord jeli, a

condensation of a multitude of mnemonic traces patient's love for a

girl called a reference to etc., etc.). Do we not encounter of the same order in Schumann's

The multitude of Carnaual is thus arranged around two nodules: 'Sphinxes' - which, as it were, the of enjoyment' only m the mode of mute writing - and 'Lettres dansantes, which are what the title indicates, the of

206

ROBERT SCHUMANN: THE

C

thus pivots around reference: a series of bare it in Kantian terms, pn~tr\rp cannot actually be synthorne, a formula of

very exclusion some recordings, 'Sphinxes' is

of a dozen protracted tones, The effect is uncanny, as if we had

'through the looking-glass' and entered some forbidden UVHUUU,

beyond (or, the frame - or, more

as if we had sight of some entity outside its proper element

seeing a dead squid on a no longer alive and rrr'>r,''''

the . For this reason, the uncanny mystery of these notes

a sudden change into vulgarity, even - it is no wonder that the

most proponent of was none other

than one of the kitsch composers of serious

music,

into account the central role

mann's universe (not is one of the Carnaual

but Papillons is the title of another of his

as we have

attention not as a

but also as a term which involves the

OpposItIOn to larva as its as well as to the

moth as a 'butterfly of the night [papillon de nuit] ,

the biological meaning of - so, for

refer only to the enigmatic statue-riddlcl ). of the whole Carnaval, as it were, in its

, a which HA"HA~CA.m

seems as if a butterfly has started to fly

One should evoke here the lineage of larva and

to a fascination with the which is as a

of soul [psyche], and the transformation of stands for the soul which sheds psyche also means 'butterfly'I) What larva

207

of the Notion's self-mediation). Kant was the first to detect this crack in the ontological edifice of reality: if (what we experience as)

given 'out there', to be nprr,p"'·PrI

an artificial composite constituted rlr,.,hnn - that is, through the act of transcendental synthesis - then the crops up sooner or later: what is the status of the uncanny X which precedes constituted reality? It was of course, who gave the most detailed account of this X in his notion of the Ground of Existence - of that which 'in God Himself is not God': the 'divine madness', the obscure pre-ontological domain of 'drives', the pre-logical Real which remains forever the elusive Ground of Reason which can never be grasped 'as such', in the

very of its withdrawal ....

For an idea of this pre-ontological we can again recall the

scene from Brazil in in a high-class restaurant, the waiter recom-

mends the best items from the menu to his customers our

tournedos is , yet what the customers receive on

their choice is a colour of the meal on a stand

above the and on the plate itself a loathsome excremental

is not this between the image of the food and the Real of its

formless excremental remainder - between the ghostlike substanceless appearance and the raw stuff of the Real - to the gap that separates the raw stuff of 'sphinxes' from the multitude of 'butter-

flies', these brief of spectral appearances? This gap thus 'de-

realizes' the firm reality, changing it into a fragile mask beneath

which a life-substance; on the intersubjective

the psychological of 'another person' also dissolves into a multi-

tude of masks.

It has often been remarked that the universe of Carnaval is not the universe of people', but the universe close to the stories of E.T.A. Hoffmann or the expressionist paintings of Edvard Munch: a carnival in which we encounter a multitude of masks whose Beneath is between mechanical dolls and the horrifying substance of undead Life (ghosts). There is only one piece in Carnaoal in which this

THE PLAGUE OF FANTASIES

208

comes

RO ERT SCHUMANN THE ROMANTIC

universe 'Reconnaissance', another of Carnaoal in so far as it is

that the closest to an memorable

Schumann himself described this

octave of musical equivalent a love scene with unfocused lenses, sweet 'Romantic' music, and

so on. The is thus that the Carnaoal which

'firm , is the vel)' whose

close to musical kitsch.

7

ten us about Schumannian uUHuU"'5 rule about Schumann is that one cannot understand at all about his songs without into account their codas. In

his Dichterliebe, for the to the entire IS

coda which concludes 'In the in the

the midst of the which compares his beloved

of the Madonna in cathedral

Rhine.P The vague but none the less

coda on the fact that it into music the breakdown of

sublimation - that is, the movement from the sublime Madonna

m the words of the song) to the treacherous and woman, the

of the next song, 'I do not , in which the shattered

refuses to mourn her loss. back to our

music as the entreaty addressing the Other to stretch out his or her

to us: what becomes obvious in Schumann is the utter

entreaty, the way it also involves its yes, answer my

out your but not too far- keep your distance!

To let us jump to the

Romantic subject - there is a of the Romantic

not only 'out-Wagners himself', but also

late Romanticism to properly modern music. Gurrelieder is

209

THE PLAGUE OF FANTASIES

band of soldiers as undead the late-Romantic by the melodrama (spoken song, Sprechgesang) which

announces the of the transformation of the nightl:y

roaming of the 'undead' into the celebration of the new daylight,

of reawakened 'sane' nature, At this the Romantic

which stands for the of the world', whose innermost

by the new uayH~~lH

UlA,LdULlllY close to the one caricatured in the after a cat or a dog is hit on the head with a

starts to and to see birds and

its head?

The with which Gurrelieder concludes thus

the

a blessed idiot

break down in utter and reduced to babble. For this

reason, there is about the exces-

declamation of the Sprechgesangwhich concludes

Gurreliedcr: an denaturalized nature, a kind of mocked

not unlike the debauchee to add spice to his

games, rnimicks a young innocent girl, .. , The achievement of

Gurrelieder is that it renders the very passage from late-Romantic excessive expressionist to the idiotic numbness of the Sprechgesang.

Notes

1, See Jacques Lacan, Le Siminaire, livre VIII: Le Paris: Edi tions du Seuil 1991,

2, See Ivan Nagel, Autonomy and Men)', Cambridge, Harvard University Press 1991.

3, Here one can also perceive clearly how historical development proper differs from

mere natural evolution: in an evolutionary process, one shape passes into another, and the

210

ROBERT SCHUMANN: THE ROMANTIC

by passage from Jane Austen to Emily 'depth' of subjectivity, Beethoven loss of intersubjectivity proper mechanical device; as if the 'deep' subjects were all too aggressive and intense for their interaction to be co-ordinated in a harmonious ensemble.

the point of intersubjective

4, a level entirely different from

encounters this same

of the failure of finale of Cosifan tulle (i.e.

fails) is moment of its truth. See Mladen Dolar, 'La femme-machine', New Formations 23

(Summer 1994).

5. Here I draw on Charles Rosen's admirable The Romantic Generation, London: Harper Collins 1996.

6. Ibid., p. 175. 7, Significantly, this truth is articulated in the guise of a

narrated to the Princess de Cleves by her husband); as in Elective

the proper ethical attitude of 'not compromising on one's desire' is about two youthful lovers from a small village, told by a visitor to the mansion.

S. See Brigitte Balbure, the entry 'Melancolie ', in Dictionnaire de la /JSydwnalyse, ed.

Roland Chemama, Paris: Larousse 1993.

9. See Bernard Baas, Le Louvain: Peeters 1992.

to of depression: in its most

elementary form, the depressed subject has severed his with the universe of intentions

and meanings, his embeddedness and active participation in intersubjective activity; as

Heidegger would have put it, what 'depression' is the attitude of active

ment, of 'care [Sarge]'. This link with Heidegger is substantiated by the

status of temporality: according to Heidegger, past, and future are

interwoven (the subject's present consists in the his out of his

thrown, through his past, into his determinate depression, time

reduced to a uniform, monotonous duration.

11. For a more detailed account of this 'night of the world', see Slavoj 'The Abyss

of Freedom', in F.VI'j. Schelling, The Ages ofthe W(f(ld, Ann Arbor: Michigan University Press 1997.

12. Rosen, The Romantic Generation, p. 11.

13. Ibid.

14. Ibid.

15. Jacques Lacan, 'Position of the Unconscious', in Reading Seminar Xl, ed. Bruce Fink et al., Albany, NY: SUNY Press 1995, 274.

16. See Alain Badiou, L'f~lre et Paris: Editions du Seuil1988.

17. The first steps in this direction had been taken already by Schubert, say, in his Death. and the Maiden: the main death motif is first played on the piano alone; the maiden's - which answers with a different, more active and lively, melodic line thus functions kind of escape from or desperate defence against it; the voice of death then takes motif first played on the piano, gently inviting the girl not to be afraid and to herself to it.

IS. Rosen, 77,P Romantic Generation, p. 67.

19. Ibid., p. 6S.

20. Ibid., p. 114.

21. The comparison of this song with the last song of Frauenliebe also the question of sexual difference with regard to how the subject reacts to beloved. Man's reaction is one of wounded narcissism: he inflates and disnlaces the !:,rirl has abandoned him through sudden unexpected death, her, remaining transfixed on her loss and thereby transfonning its lament of satisfaction; woman, on the contrary, undergoes the 'loss of a loss', that is, she retreats

211

212

depression' , has disconnected

THE PLAGUE OF FANTAS ES

Psvchrmnlsser. Paris:

Schumann refers to as to the father-river (,Vater Rhein') which shelters

the image of the beloved; the barely concealed lethal dimension of this image in Song 7 of the Liederkreis (Opus 24) cycle, which presents the Rhine

the surface, but and death in its depths) as the of

""'U.uc,, conceals perfidy in the river, summoning us to its depths, we of death - Woman as one of the Names-of-the-Father.

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