Aesthetics of Violence and Destruction: A Lacanian Psychoanalytic Reading of Edgar Allan Poe’s Horror Tales
|Keywords:||愛倫坡的恐怖小說;愛倫坡的美學;拉岡派精神分析;死亡驅力;Poe/s horror tales;the death drive||Issue Date:||2006||Abstract:||null
By means of a Lacanian reading, this thesis aims to illustrate that Poe’s horror tales parallel his theory of beauty. Most of his horror tales are characterized by a lack of the external world, violations of the law, and/or a doubling relationship with others. In psychoanalytic terms, the external world, the law, and the others play a crucial role for a child to be a desiring subject, and they are subsumed by Lacan in his notion of the Symbolic. The Symbolic is constituted by the Name-of-the-Father/nom du père, that is, the incest taboo in Freudian terms. That is to say, Poe’s tales present a world where the Symbolic is either absent or falling. Under such a condition, the characters, thrust by the death drive, head for destruction of others and/or self-destruction. On the other hand, in his theory of beauty, Poe proposes the existence of an immortal human instinct for beauty. This instinct, implied in the texts, is one which desires for self-torture. Meanwhile, through a close reading of Poe’s theory and works and a comparison between Poesque beauty with traditional ones, mainly Burke’s and Kant’s, we find that Poesque beauty, defined as an effect, is the perceptual or sensational effect. While an artist pursues Poesque beauty, he or she is looking for the sensational effect produced by self-torturing; he or she is heading for his or her self-destruction. Thus, Poe’s horror tales and his theory of beauty echo each other, and both embody the death drive. While Lacan suggests in his Seminar VII that the death drive may initiate the subject into “creation ex nihilo” or the Symbolic into its reform as shown by Antigone’s case, the death drive manifested in Poe’s tales and theory leads one no more than self-destruction.
|Appears in Collections:||外國語文學系|
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