Guest Editors' Introduction

Boldrini, Lucia and Mussgnug, Florian. 2008. Guest Editors' Introduction. Comparative Critical Studies, 5(2-3), pp. 115-124. ISSN 1744-1854 [Article]

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‘I shall have to speak of things, of which I cannot speak’, writes Samuel Beckett in The Unnameable, ‘but also, which is even more interesting, but also that I, which is if possible even more interesting, that I shall have to, I forget, no matter’. Listening to the voice of folly can be like this: an endless flow of inconsistencies, of contradictions, sayings and unsayings; a tantalising, mischievous mockery of speech –unable to go on, unable to end. And yet – as this volume shows – we are irresistibly drawn to folly, its promises, its whispers of ‘even more interesting’ things: of how we are split between conscious and unconscious, familiar and unfamiliar, same and other. For psychoanalysis, folly is not only a site of hidden truths; it is also, perhaps more importantly, a source of unconscious freedom, a momentary escape from our obsession with rules and order. According to Christopher Bollas, the unconscious self is like a fool, who ‘raises potentially endless questions about diverse and disparate issues’ and thereby provides us with a ‘separate sense’, which opens us to others and to our own creative potential. As Rachel Bowlby elegantly puts it, folly is a ‘soul-mole’, forever shovelling our secrets out into the light: ‘there’s no possible moment of release or resignation when the mole might stop vainly, interminably working away’. Folly’s subversive, creative soliloquies reveal to us a psychic ‘underground repertoire of secrets’; they challenge our established knowledge and invite us, as Bolwby shows, to endless, titillating games of ‘suppression and confession’. For Anne Duprat, this deep-seated playfulness explains folly’s close relation to fiction: what makes them so atone is their ‘capacity of creating alternative representations of the world — and thus of re-figuring the world depicted by reason or history – […] but also their paradoxical structure, and hence the instability of their speech acts, which deny, suspend, or do not seriously guarantee the truth of their statements’.
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English and Comparative Literature


October 2008Published

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04 Nov 2010 14:36

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02 Mar 2023 11:05

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