Romantic Psyche and Psychoanalysis
"The Abyss of the Past":
Psychoanalysis in Schelling's Ages of the World (1815)
Tilottama Rajan, University of Western Ontario
Focusing on the differences between the three versions of Schelling's _Ages of the World_, this paper takes up the invention of psychoanalysis in the third (1815) version. The third version, unlike the more idealistic first and second vesions, intoroduces terms such as the unconscious, inhibition, and crisis, contains a crucial section on mesmerism, and is structured around the trauma of onto- and phylogenesis. The paper also explores the larger epistemic consequences of looking for a return and retreat of the origin of psychoanalysis before its institutional emergence. This essay appears in _Romantic Psyche and Psychoanalysis_, a volume of _Romantic Circles Praxis Series_, prepared exclusively for Romantic Circles (http://www.rc.umd.edu/), University of Maryland.
Nature, Schelling says, is "an abyss of the past." Or in Hegel's words, it is "an alien existence in which Spirit does not find itself," "the Idea in the form of otherness," as "the negative of itself" (Philosophy 3, 313). In this paper I argue that the science, or rather history of nature, could be seen as a laboratory for a psychoanalysis avant la lettre. For in The System of Transcendental Idealism Schelling had already described nature by the term "unconscious," though only in the sense of something non-conscious or non-voluntary that works synchronously with spirit (208, 210). But in Ages of the World (1815) nature is the unconscious of spirit in ways closer to the modern sense of the term unconscious. Nature is the traumatic core of spirit, which begins not as spirit but as "soul, which dwells within matter" and the "inner life" (W3 69). Focusing on the third extant version of Ages (1815), I argue that the history of nature in German idealism is the site where concepts such as inhibition, drive, archetype, "crisis," the primal scene of trauma, and the (im)possibility of remembering and working through this trauma to enlightenment, receive their earliest expression. Indeed Schelling even uses the term "unconscious" in what will become its psychoanalytic sense, when he writes:
There is no consciousness [Bewusstsein]without something that is at the same time excluded and contracted [ausgeschlossen und angezogen].That which is conscious excludes that of which it is conscious as not itself. Yet it must again attract it precisely as that of which it is conscious as itself, only in a different form [Gestalt]. That which in consciousness is simultaneously the excluded and the attracted can only be the unconscious [das Bewusstlose]. (W3 44; 10:68).
Moreover, psychoanalysis is the form as well as content of the 1815 version, which inscribes itself within a movement of return or unworking. As Foucault writes, "whereas all the human sciences advance towards the unconscious only with their back to it . . . psychoanalysis . . . points directly towards it, . . . not towards that which must be rendered gradually more explicit by the progressive illumination of the implicit, but towards what is there and yet is hidden" (Order 374). Similarly, it is not that nature in Ages is the prelude to spirit. Rather, because "all evolution presupposes involution," spirit must perpetually return to its nature, to "the darkness and closure . . . of primordial time'" and "the self-lacerating madness [that] is innermost in all things" (W3 83, 103). Nor is this recursiveness confined to the text; it extends to an entire topology that marks the place of the third version in the body of Schelling's work. For the text's reversion to the beginnings of the world also puts under erasure its own originary moment: the moment of the dawn of transcendental idealism as a shape all light that later becomes the philosophy of revelation. This moment, recapitulated in the Introduction to all three extant versions of the Ages, is accomplished ontotheologically in the first, and mythopoeically in the second, which in fact describes its own "first distant beginning toward a revelation [Offenbarung]" (W2 143). But it is abandoned to the future in the third version as the impossibility of emerging from the past except theoretically.
Yet, if the 1815 Ages both enacts a profoundly psychoanalytic movement, and evolves a matrix of psychoanalytic concepts, one cannot fairly say that it is "about" psychoanalysis. It is more (yet also not entirely) about history, as what Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno will later call "natural history." For The Ages returns to the theory of history (and its three ages or periods) sketched at the end of The System, to provide a psychoanalysis of this history: to disclose that history cannot begin without a psychoanalysis that may well make history impossible, in the Hegelian sense of a transition from nature to spirit and from necessity to freedom. This deconstruction in turn proceeds by way of a psychoanalysis of God or metaphysics, as the transcendental guarantor of Idealist history. In short, if The Ages invents psychoanalysis, it does so not as the still unnamed science of psychoanalysis but as a new orientation for understanding history, philosophy, and even "revelation." Moreover this new "interscience," in Jacques Derrida's term ("Titles" 205-6), is produced not as positive knowledge, but through a radically transferential, indeed counter-transferential, relation with what it reads, be it history or nature. Thus the term Hemmung or inhibition, as David Farrell Krell points out (74-77), already existed in the First Outline of a System of the Philosophy of Nature (1799). But because it was not part of a history, it was not yet resistance, inhibition in the psychoanalytic sense of something foreclosed or not known. In The Ages, then, it is the grasping of nature as historical that analogically generates a psychoanalysis that exists only transferentially and not as a positivity. More specifically it is through the history of nature as human nature, the enfolding of phylogeny in ontogeny, that psychoanalysis is intergenerated. "One who could write completely [von Grund aus] the history of their own life," Schelling says, "would also have, in a small epitome, concurrently grasped the history of the cosmos" (W3 3; 10:13). Which is not to say that one can write one's history, which is itself enveloped in a prehistory that exceeds it, the prehistory of life, of being.
In what follows I want to take up the way psychoanalysis emerges in the 1815 Ages within an interdisciplinarity that recasts all particular disciplines—history, ontology, nature, and psychoanalysis itself—as part of absolute knowledge. Positive sciences, Schelling writes, are those that "attain to objectivity within the state" and are "organized in so-called faculties" (University Studies 78-79), thus existing in and for themselves as reified and instrumentalized entities. Or as Hegel argues, positive sciences are sciences that do not recognize their concepts as finite, as capable of being unbalanced by their "transition into another sphere" (Encyclopedia 54). They are thus constituted as what Pierre Bourdieu calls "fields," with their own self-confirming rules and "regularities," their own "network" of "objective relations between positions" within which a particular kind of "capital is . . . efficacious" (94-114). Absolute knowledge, by contrast, is not total but unconditional knowledge, the following of a particular direction or connection for its own sake, without regard for its potential to "derange" the whole (Schelling, First Outline 26). Thus in Ages Schelling gives geology an "archeological" role (in Foucault's sense) in the science of nature, even at the cost of disturbing a Naturphilosophie through which philosophy had colonized Nature as a region of spirit. By reading history and geology through each other and thus psychoanalytically, he pursues knowledge of these spheres and knowledge itself absolutely. To be sure psychoanalysis in Schelling's day had not yet "attained to objectivity" within an organization of knowledge. But by seeking the return and retreat of its origins in Schelling, we recover its vitally metaphorical functioning outside of its constitution as a finite science in the late Nineteenth Century. In other words an implicit question in this paper is also what it means to see Romanticism as "inventing" psychoanalysis, as Joel Faflak puts it. What does it mean to articulate psychoanalysis through a transference onto Romanticism or Schelling, and thus to understand it unconditionally: outside of any disciplinary institutionalization or social outcome that might make it a "positive" science?
In the System Schelling had already positivized history as the culmination of his project. History is the "first step out of the realm of instinct" where man, like "the animal," as Schelling says in anticipating the Ages, was confined "to an eternal circuit of actions in which, like Ixion upon his wheel, he revolves unceasingly" (199, 202). Echoing Kant at various points, including in his imagining of a "universal constitution" or league of nations that will be the culmination of world-history (198), the role Schelling gives nature in this history is one of aesthetic and teleological ordering. Indeed history, art and nature are coordinated in the System within a closed pattern of regulated metaphoric transfers that forwards the goals of Idealist philosophy. Comparing history to a play guided by "an unknown hand," Schelling thus writes of a single "spirit who speaks in everyone" so as to compose it as "a progressive . . . revelation of the absolute" (209-10). As in Ages, there are to be three periods: the "tragic period" where there is only "blind life," the emergence of "lawful" nature in Rome, and the rule of "providence" when "God" will finally "exist" (210-11). Schelling will return to the fabulous scene of this white mythology in the Introduction to Ages: an epic overview in lyric form of past, present and future, which he kept largely unchanged through the three extant versions from 1811 to 1815. In the Introduction to Ages, Idealism, to adapt what Schelling says of the will in 1813, "produces itself out of itself" through a form of auto-affection in which two beings, "one questioning and one answering," become as one through the impossible paradox of a "silent dialogue" (W2 137, 115). This "inner conversation" (xxxvi) interiorizes dialectic in a way that makes Schelling vulnerable to Hegel's criticisms of his transcendental idealism. It resembles nothing more than the subterfuge of a pure "expression" sheltered within "the transcendental monadic sphere of what is my own" that Derrida in his analysis of Husserl in Speech and Phenomena associates with the tropes of "meaning as soliloquy" and the "voice that keeps silence" (32, 39, 70). As I shall suggest, the hermeneutic fiction set up here as a guide to how we are to produce the text as "the unanimity of the expressing and the expressed" (W2 177), is elaborated in 1813 in the section on magnetic sleep as a form of pure (un)consciousness and transcendental "self-relationship" (Speech 69). This section in 1815 will take on a completely different meaning by virtue of two infinitesimal but crucial shifts in wording. These shifts, in turn, completely recast the relation of the text to an Introduction that it leaves behind as a horizon that it struggles im-possibly to rejoin: a space no longer folded into the interior of the text but left utterly outside, as a supplement.
Schelling himself initially uses the term "history of nature" in his First Outline Of A System of the Philosophy of Nature, distinguishing it from what Kant calls natural history as the "description of nature" (44), in the sense of "extended" as opposed to "thinking nature" (Metaphysical Foundations 4). For Foucault "the history of nature" is the "counterscience" that unworks the positivism of this natural history. Despite its name, the classical discipline of natural history had no sense of time; rather it spatialized nature so as to make the world totally legible within discourse, excluding what could not be brought into "a taxonomic area of visibility" (Order 133-35,137). Even Kant's idea of natural history as a "systematic presentation of natural things at various times and places" (Metaphysical Foundations 4; my emphasis) involves a foreshortening of time as space, wherein the past is taxonomically organized as the property of the present. By contrast the history of nature, as Foucault defines it, emerges around geology and biology, as opposed to botany for example. In the history of nature time actually becomes "a principle of development for living beings in their internal organization" (Order 150): in biology because the animal, unlike the plant, exists on "the frontiers of life and death" (277); and in geology because the notion of receding geotemporal strata introduces a historicity into nature that pushes it towards the limits of knowability.
If we wanted to speak of a history of nature in the true sense of the word, we should have to picture nature as though, apparently free in its productions, it had gradually brought forth the whole multiplicity theoreof through constant departures from a primordial original; which would then be a history, not of natural objects (which is properly the description of nature), but of generative nature itself. (System 199)
What makes the history of nature in the 1815 Ages a counterscience rather than a further example of Idealist science is its turn from anthropogenesis to psychoanalysis. For even though the 1813 version contains discussions of archetypes and magnetic sleep, it is only in 1815 that psychoanalysis emerges in its full trauma. Both the earlier versions are highly idealistic. In 1811 Schelling locates the past in a "time before the world" which, like Eternity in Blake's (First) Book of Urizen, is pure "limpidity," and which promises a similar "indifference" "after the world" (W1 11, 29, 37). He postulates three distinct "periods" (and periods of philosophy) which together result in the "completed time" that is the future. These periods are part of an enlightenment guaranteed by the Trinity (82ff.): a myth that sublates the recognition of "God" as a "life, subject to suffering and becoming" (Philosophical Investigations 274) within ontotheology as anthropology (W1 67-68), and that confines the trauma of the "rotary movement" to a paganism that is decisively past (38-39). This is to say that the 1811 version, although like all three versions it contains only one book on the "past," is the complete work that Schelling later unworked, because each period contains "the whole of time" (82). Less theological but even more visionary is the much briefer 1813 version. Indeed the 1813 text omits entirely the passages on the rotary motion that recur throughout the third version. Consequently, if there is an "unconscious" that unfolds in history (the word is only used as an adjective), it is not a psychoanalytic unconscious, but simply an existence before existents. The troubling potential of this ex-sistence or il y à (later elaborated by Emmanuel Levinas) is in effect veiled in the language of spirit, as the past is figured as a "tranquil realm" (W2:148), and eternity as a space where the "will produces itself . . . without eternity knowing": "produces itself absolutely—that is, out of itself and from itself" (138, 137). Given this being that does not have to know what it knows, history develops unproblematically through nature as a "ladder of formations" that is still conceived as a prophetic poem, in which the "creative spirit" sees the "spirits of things" and "make[s] them corporeal" so as to "unfold a complete image of the future world" (154).
By contrast, at the heart of the third version is the revolutionary turbulence of a "rotatory movement that never comes to a standstill," and which Schelling compares to an "unremitting wheel" and the "self-lacerating madness" of Dionysiac music (W3 20,103). The two wills comprizing this madness, one "negating" and the other "freely effluent," were already present in the 1813 version (W2 144), in contrast to the System, where there was only the will as "outgoing activity" (System 193) or expression. But unlike the 1813 version, which schematizes the two forces in a dialectic of distinct wills, or in contrast to the 1811 version, which sees the negating force as a usurper (W1 23), in 1815 the two wills constitute an "annular drive . . . in which there is no differentiation": neither "a veritable higher nor a veritable lower" (W3 20), as the two exchange places, each becoming the outside or inside of the other, in a relation of folding rather than of contraries leading to progression. As there is no distinction between lower and higher, but only a "circulation" between them (20), so too there is none between nature and history as a "higher potency" of nature (University Studies 103): the raising to self-consciousness of what had been implicit in nature. Consequently in 1815 there is no longer a "true beginning" that does not "always begin again" but becomes the "ground of a steady progression," nor is there a "veritable end in which a being persists that does not need to retreat from itself back to the beginning" (W3 20). Rather in Schelling's deconstruction of the Hegelian logic that underwrites an Idealist history, the third, the synthesis he had continued to project in 1813 (W2 144), is itself a moment in the cycle. For to escape this cycle the "unity" would have to be "outside the antithesis." But this is impossible, since the unity would then have to "exclude" antithesis, which would make it the opposite of, and thus still within, the antithesis (W3 36-37). Put differently, the "third" that is the synthesis is "incapable of continuance," because "each of the three has an equal right to be that which has being" (36, 19).
Several other things distinguish the 1815 text. Most significant is the form of the text's content: the transference of the section on the rotary motion closer to the beginning, and the section on Dionysian madness (W1 42-43) closer to the end (W3 102-3), such that the negating potency contains rather than being contained in the text. Not that idealism, as the "soul of philosophy" (Philosophical Investigations 236), is absent from this version. But the text is turned back on itself, as what was concealed in the unexamined interior of Being is brought out, while this interior that folded the world into itself is now only on its horizon. Thus the famous passage on the disavowal of the "negative" and the human "predilection for the affirmative" is also transposed from the end in the second version (W2 140) to the beginning in the third (W3 6). Within this derangement of the original structure, there is a pivotal rethinking of Hemmung as inhibition rather than simply a limitation similar to Blake's definition of reason in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell as the "outward bound of energy." Briefly Hemmung in the First Outline and the Introduction to it is thought within a rhetoric of the prolific (as Blake calls it), that is simply an inversion of Fichte's dialectic of the I and the not-I. For Fichte it is the I which meets resistance in the Not-I; for Schelling it is the infinitely expanding force of the Not-I (the vital force in nature) that is curbed by a force of defining resistance. But in 1815 inhibition is rethought within a theory of lack, wherein selfhood is "self-wanting [sich-wollen]" that through which "a being withdraws itself or cuts itself off from other things" and is "exclusively itself" and "from the outside and in relation to everything else, purely negating" (W3 16; 10:30). This is to say that the negative that resists any positing, the "darkening that resists the light" or "obliquity that resists the straight" (W3 6) is now constitutive of a being that would otherwise "sink back into universal being" (92).
In a further radical shift, the 1815 version recasts the wills as compulsive rather than voluntaristic, which forces us to confront what Slavoj Žižek calls "the Real of the drives." By contrast the 1813 text had been more purely about "freedom" (W2 172), and that too the Idealist freedom sought in the System (192, 195-96) rather than the more difficult freedom of the Freedom essay, where freedom is compulsively entwined with necessity. For while Schelling in 1815 still uses Kraft or Potenz more than Trieb to describe the two wills, they are now structured as drive because of the way they are interlocked in, and can only be configured within, an Umtrieb (annular drive) whose rotary motion defines the very notion of drive as a positing caught and turned back upon itself, an "auto-castration" (103; 10:143), or freedom that (never quite) emerges from the heart of necessity. Schelling had already used the notion of drive (Trieb) in the System, but as a Fichtean and expansive form of will, geared towards an "object" and towards "self-interest," even if "blindly" (System 185-86, 194, 189; 7:571). But the notion of the drive as a rotary motion or Umtrieb means that the drive has only itself as an object and is fundamentally a force of contraction into the self. This darker and more psychoanalytic notion of drive was already implicit in the word Kraft which, as Pascal David points out, is etymologically linked to Krankheit (illness), "which occurs when the organism turns its force against itself," as in a muscular contraction to which Kraft is also related (335). Nevertheless, it is the notion of an Umtrieb that turns each of these forces back on itself and into the other that is crucial here, rendering the expansive force as well as the force of contraction a drive. This is to say that it is the obsessiveness of their entwinement within the Umtrieb that makes the two wills drives as well as "powers," which in 1811 and 1813 produce history seamlessly, while the drives produce it more unreadably by darkening the enlightenment whereby will becomes representation.
A drive is not a primordial positive force, but a purely geometrical, topological phenomenon, the name for the curvature of the space of desire, i.e. for the paradox that, within this space, the way to attain the object is (a) not to go straight for it (the safest way to miss it), but to encircle it, to 'go round in circles'. Drive is this purely 'topological' distortion of the natural instinct which finds satisfaction in a natural consumption of its object.
Thus the 1815 text is punctured by words like "madness," "self-laceration," and "revulsion." This last is Schelling's term for the involution by which nature, as in the case of planets rotating on their own axis, "evolves itself out of its own powers," yet not by any "peaceful eisemplasy [Ineinsbildung] of forces" (103, 91-92; 10:128), such as was envisaged in the earlier Naturphilosophie, or in the process of the will in 1813 producing "itself absolutely—that is, out of itself and from itself" (W2 137). Nevertheless, if at the core of nature as the dark heart of history is something Žižek calls psychosis (Indivisible 31), the text is the analysis of this "madness," framed as a process in which there is a "questioning being" and an "answering being, an unknowing being that seeks knowledge and an unknowing being that does not know its knowledge" (W3 xxxvi). This famous phrase from the Introduction, which describes a visionary hermeneutic in the first two versions, always already contained the trace of something else: an unknowing that returns the cogito to its unthought, a non-knowledge at the heart of "knowing" that becomes the very core of the epistemology of the third version. In 1813, this non-knowledge is short-circuited by the section on magnetic sleep, which comes close to the end of the text, and expands the trope of "silent dialogue" or "inner . . . conversation" in the Introduction (W2 115; W3 xxxvi). Enacting as well as glossing the earlier dialogue, the magnetic cure in 1813 effects a "decision" between the two wills (W2 172), from which the future unfolds archetyp(ologic)ally through a hermeneutics of "spirit." Again, the end of the text, with its unfolding of the archetypes out of the wisdom of "deepest antiquity" (161-62), thus circles back to the beginning, to the Introduction where "the archetypal image of things slumbers" within "the memory of all things" (114). The magnetic cure also functions as a key to reading the 1813 text, through a kind of slumber in which the outer, analytic potency is stilled so as to release the visionary forces within.
In 1815 the discussion of magnetic sleep is just as much a mise-en abime of our relation as analysands to the medium or mediation that is the text. But in the third version, where it is placed far from the end, this section becomes far more problematic, even though Schelling reproduces much of the same material. For by introducing the supplement of psychoanalysis through the figure of "guidance [Leitung]" (W3 69; 10:100) so as to resolve a problem in the 1813 version—that of how to ground freedom and spirit in a subject—, Schelling shifts this silent dialogue from hypnosis to analysis. And that too, an interminable analysis, given that the guidance that connects the "higher" and "lower" principles can never be final. For as we shall see, the higher must constantly become lower and the lower again higher, in the rotary motion that characterizes Schelling's dialectic and distinguishes the structure of this text from the teleological form of the 1813 version.
The word guidance is significantly absent from the 1813 version, where magnetic sleep unfolds independently of any agency or affect, in the pure unconsciousness of "spirit" (W2 158-60). Schelling's interest in magnetism and somnambulism, which are often seen as part of the prehistory of psychoanalysis, marks an early concern on his part with unconscious phenomena that goes beyond the mere use of the word unconscious (bewusstlos) in The System (7:607) to mean non-voluntary. If we are to discern a "psychoanalysis" in the 1813 version, it would have to be in this section, since in Mesmerism we are dealing specifically with a sick being, a being that is affectively and not just philosophically self-different. But in fact Mesmerism in 1813 is still connected to Schelling's early interest in a vital fluid that is the physiochemical proof of the world-soul (Weltseele), and it involves the rebalancing of the inner chemistry (as in humoural theory) with this larger universal chemistry. As Henri Ellenberger points out, Mesmerism in Germany unlike France was a serious science in which chairs were instituted at the universities of Berlin and Bonn, and which engaged artists and philosophers; it was an "experimental metaphysics" leading to powers of vision (77-82). In line with this philosophical as well as therapeutic understanding of Mesmerism, magnetic sleep in the 1813 Ages provides a mechanism for healing the tension between the two wills, since it is predicated upon "the separated poles of a magnet" being in a "state of constant, unconscious longing [unbewussten Sehnsucht], by virtue of which they strive to come to each other" (W2 136; 136). For as Schelling had said in 1799, annotating the concept of magnetism: "Nature is originally identity—duplicity is only a condition of activity because Nature constantly strives to revert into its identity" (First Outline 117n).
In magnetic sleep, moreover, this healing is unconscious, encapsulating what we shall see is a problem pertaining to the production of the subject, and thus history, in the first two versions. Briefly, in all three versions, if we are to move from eternity to time, the will must "produce itself out of itself and from itself [aus sich selbst and von sich selbst]" (W2 137; 137)—an idea(l) that Schelling repeats almost obsessively throughout the 1813 version. In 1811 Schelling has no means of imagining this transition, except to assume it happens. Thus in 1813 he realizes that the being that is "selfless and completely immersed in itself" must "attract a subject" if it is to become actual (W2 123-24). Yet he remains mesmerized by a notion of this auto-production as absolute autonomy: a problem that goes back to the imagining of "freedom" in the System in terms of a "pure will" that is self-determining (System 185-93). As in Derrida's analysis of the Husserlian idea of expression, the will must come out of itself while remaining wholly inside: in expression the "meaning intends an outside which is that of an ideal ob-ject; this outside is then ex-pressed and goes forth beyond itself into another outside, which is always 'in' consciousness." Through this sleight-of-hand "expressive discourse," as Derrida observes, avoids any need "of being effectively uttered in the world" (Speech 32). In the 1813 Ages the process by which the will "produces itself out of itself" thus remains purely ideal. This is all the more so as the subject in whom this happens seems absent from the process—which is indeed the nature of the magnetic cure. Put differently the mode of the 1813 text is expansive. Missing from this version is the sense, so powerfully present in 1815, of a force of contraction. For if the will were to contract itself into a real subject—a contraction that Schelling recognizes in 1815 as crucial to the formation of a subject (W3 16)—then the very nature of "freedom" would be radically altered, as indeed it is in the Freedom essay.
the power [is] . . . given to one man to transcend that outer potency and return another man to the free inner relations of life, so that he appears dead externally, while internally a steady and free connection of all forces [Zusammenhang aller Kräfte] emerges from the lowest up to the highest. (158; 160)
Magnetic sleep, in other words, allows for a bracketing of the external world that concentrates and (di)stills actuality back into its potentiality. However, in the more humanistic Ages (1813) this depotentializing is finally aimed at "returning" the soul "to its potency" (W3 69). It is not aimed at reducing "human spirit" "into soul [which] becomes effective by willingly subordinating itself to God" (Habermas 70), but rather at raising soul to spirit. There are therefore three "gradations" in magnetic sleep as described in the 1813 Ages: a simplification of the six stages outlined in C.A.F. Klüge's 1811 textbook on the subject, which culminate in "Universal Clarity" or the "removal of veils of time and space," such that "the subject perceives things hidden in the past [and] future" (Ellenberger 78). In the lowest of Schelling's stages the "life-spirit [which is the] intermediating essence between body and spirit" heals "the disorders of the body." This allows, in the next stage, for a "free relation" by which spirit becomes both an instrument of, and a slate for, [the] higher principle . . . on which this higher principle is able to read what lies concealed within itself." Finally, in the highest stage "the process of freedom spreads up to what is eternal of the soul itself" (W2 159). All this time the empirical self is asleep, like Blake's Milton on his couch in Eternity. Once the transcendental self has been freed from the spectre of the outer potency, we have made "the first, distant beginning toward a revelation" (143), through a liberation of the archetypes [Urbilder] that makes Mesmerism still very much part of an aesthetics rather than a psychoanalysis of history. These archetypes, then, which "stream out from the innermost part of creative nature," are "visions of future things," through which the "will of eternity . . . externalize[s] itself" in "expression" (W2 161,167).
The concept of expression that dominates the last pages of the text marks the strongly logocentric character of the 1813 version, which Schelling prepared for printing but then abandoned because, according to his son Karl Schelling, it "falls into utter falsehoods" at the end (W2 180n). Moreover, as the figure that orchestrates this end in the same way that the Trinity had done in 1811, magnetic sleep symptomatically embodies the very essence of transcendental idealism as a philosophy that produces itself inside itself through a hypnotism of itself, thus sidestepping the labour of the negative. This interiorization that is part of transcendental idealism had been described in the System, where Schelling concedes that it is immaterial how "the self determines itself, whether through the subjective determining the objective or vice versa," since in the latter case "the external object actually has no reality per se, being simply a medium for the . . . expression" of "the pure will" (System 193-94; emphasis mine).
In 1815, however, there are several changes that complicate magnetic sleep as a trope for transcendental idealism. First, in a crucial passage to which we shall return, Schelling introduces the word guidance into the first stage of magnetic sleep:
The lowest rung would be where the crisis is posited (gesetzt wird) or where the material of human nature is liberated [in Befreiung gesetzt wird]. . . . Each subordinated nature, whose guiding connection with its higher principle is interrupted, is sick. But it is precisely this guidance (Leitung) that is always restored, at least for awhile, by magnetic sleep. Either what has been unnaturally intensified by this magic, and has sunk into deeper sleep, is restored to its potency (and hence, to its potentiality with respect to the higher principle), or the life that has been excessively weakened and oppressed by the higher principle becomes free for a moment and breathes again. (W3 69-70; 10:99-100)
Moreover, if we look closely, it seems that the crisis in 1815 may not be resolved so much as opened up. It is opened up first of all by the rotary logic of the text, within which the linear schema of three stages is untenable, because each of the three has "an equal right to be that which has being" (W3 19). But it is also opened up by Schelling's actual account of the crisis. For in describing the transference of the lower into the higher that constitutes guidance, he admits to a "potency [and] potentiality" of the lower that has been "excessively weakened and oppressed by the higher principle." If the higher is oppressive, then the higher must itself be part, even a cause, of the crisis. Put differently, since each principle has an equal right to be that which has being, any principle that constitutes itself as higher so as to limit what Schelling in 1809 had called freedom risks being oppressive. But this is, if not to negate, at least to put any form of guidance under erasure. Indeed in returning not thrice but twelve times to the first book of Ages, in revolving about the "axis" of his own thought in a "revulsion" that seeks absolute (self)knowledge (92), Schelling questions all the forms of guidance he himself offers through such figures as the Trinity in 1811, or the archetypes in 1813 and even 1815.
To be sure the notion of higher and lower principles was also in the 1813 version, where it was also a question of liberating the lower. But what is different here is that within the logic of folding in the third version the higher and lower principles, or the outer and inner potencies, are structural positions whose content is not fixed. This constant reversion of each into the other means that the valence of the higher, as either a principle of healing or a force of oppression, is also constantly changing. We already have a sense of the oppressiveness of "higher" principles such as totality in Karl Schelling's note to the 1813 version, which unexpectedly goes on to take up the concept of disease. In contrast to Hegel's theorization of disease as caused by the contraction of the part away from the whole into its own separate selfhood (Philosophy 428), and in contrast to some of Friedrich Schelling's own disavowals of evil and illness (W3 48), the note attributes disease to the coerciveness of the whole:
Disease is only possible to the extent that all forces and organs of life are subjugated to a common exponent, whereby the individual [das Einzelne] is sacrificed to the whole [zum Opfer des Ganzen] and must follow in a direction that is inappropriate for it or against its nature. (W2 160n; 162n)
In short in the 1813 version we witness a straightforward transference of the lower into the higher that continues seamlessly through the gradations of the psychic process. But in the 1815 version the crisis that is the first gradation threatens to derail the entire process, insofar as the relation between higher and lower is unstable and countertransferential. The crisis that is (psychic) illness is the freedom of the lower against the higher. As a result the guidance regulating the healing transference of the lower onto the higher is itself threatened, since we no longer know what is lower and what is potentially higher. The entire section therefore goes back to the problematic of evil explored in the Freedom essay. There Schelling, by thinking disease in terms of freedom—the freedom of the part to separate from the whole, or of the individual to separate from the goals of the species—, rethinks the very relation between good and evil, higher and lower, and thus rethinks the very nature of freedom.
If we work back to the beginning of the section on magnetic sleep, the counter-transferential nature of the process, which is what renders it a "crisis" in a psychoanalytic sense, becomes more evident. Here Schelling expands on the mesmerizing of the subject to detail something potentially far more chaotic than the integration of forces from "the lowest to the highest" (W2 158) that he still wants to attribute to the second stage of magnetic sleep in 1815 (W3 70).
Two different and, in a certain respect, opposed states, share human life. The waking person and the sleeping person are inwardly altogether the same person. None of the inner forces that are in effect in the waking state are lost in sleep. . . . All forces of the person during the waking state are apparently governed by a unity that holds them together . . . [and] communally expresses them (or is their exponent). But if this link is dissolved . . . then each force retreats back into itself and each tool now seems to be active for itself and in its own world. A voluntary sympathy enters the place of the externally binding unity, and while the whole is outwardly as if dead and inactive, inwardly the freest play and circulation of forces [das freieste Spiel und Verkehr der Kräfte] seems to unfold. (W3 68; 10:98)
The "crisis" was of course important to Mesmer, though he avoided its full radicality by dealing with it only physiologically and seeing it as cathartic or curative. Mesmer famously induced crises in his patients to bring the disease to a head. These crises, moreover, were potentially uncontrollable: "sometimes a crisis ignited in one patient induced similar crises in others in the group" (Crabtree 14). Schelling does not use the word "crisis" in the 1813 Ages, focusing instead on the so-called "gentler crisis" of magnetic sleep promoted by Mesmer's follower the Marquis de Puységur. Puységur took Mesmerism in a more visionary and eventually spiritualist direction that dominated its reception in German Romanticism. Similarly the 1813 Ages refers only to a "disorder in the body" that is no sooner named than resolved (W2 159), in keeping with the text's idealization of magnetic sleep as a harmonizing of the chemistry of the individual with the cosmic fluid of the world-soul. While the 1813 version stresses the reconnecting of conflicting forces, the explanation of "crisis" in the Stuttgart Seminars (1810) is more revealing:
All crisis involves some kind of exclusion. . . . By means of a process of veritable alchemy, good and evil are separated, and evil will be altogether expelled from the good; an entirely healthy, ethical, pure, and innocent nature will result from this crisis. It will comprise nothing but true being . . . freed from all false being. (Stuttgart 242)
The crisis for Mesmer also has this function of katharsis and exclusion, involving "an effort of the living body to throw off an illness" and marking "the general action and effort of Nature to restore the disturbed harmony" (Crabtree 65). Yet it is precisely this repressive notion of crisis, the resolution of which requires the supplementary trope of alchemy, that Schelling psychoanalyzes in the 1815 Ages. For Mesmer's crisis is in effect a pharmakon, the unleashing of a certain violence and disorder in the psyche—hence the revolutionary pathogens with which his work was associated. In fact part of Mesmer's hesitation about Puységur's induced somnambulism was that it might really be an intensification of mental disorders such as madness, epilepsy and convulsions (Crabtree 65). But then, this could surely be extended to Mesmer's own notion of crisis.
In magnetic sleep as Schelling develops it in 1813 following Puységur, "all the powers" are present, but "in subordination to the Ideal" (Stuttgart 242). But the material added in 1815 registers a crisis of the Real, closer to the hysteria of the crises Mesmer actually induced. In this darker version of the opening up of primary process, "all the forces of the person" forcibly unified in the waking state are present, but are unbound so that each is "active for itself" (W3 68) in a psyche that dissolves into a body without organs. The body without organs, as Deleuze explains, "is not defined by the absence of organs," but is a "hysterical" body defined by an "indeterminate organ" or by "the temporary and provisional presence of determinate organs" (Francis Bacon 47-48). In this sense, the mesmeric crisis of 1815 anticipates the darker side of "double consciousness" that was to emerge in the work of Puységur's successors, culminating in Charcot and Freud. Nor is it surprising that Schelling finds himself developing the more disturbing implications of magnetic sleep, given how he had already complicated the allied figures of a cosmic fluid and world-soul in The First Outline by thinking them through John Brown's theory of "excitability" as the core of life (106-40). For excitability, even if in a physiochemical rather than psychological way, introduces a volatility, a certain restlessness of the negative, into the world-soul as the embryo of the "world-spirit." This volatility comes to a head in the Appendix on disease as the expression of the "organic individual" whose "perspective" is excluded by the 'higher' perspective "provided for the whole of organic nature." In disease there is a reassertion of "the original duplicity," the "constant restoration" of which prevents the organism from "sinking back into absolute homogeneity," and which means that "the organism never ceases to be its own object." Moreover, disease is by no means an aberration since it has "the same factors as life" (159-60), and is a disclosure of the pathological within the normal.
That the crisis in 1815 is "posited" means it is forced out into the open as a psychic, and not inevitably therapeutic, crisis. And indeed that a crisis "lies buried within" any self-constitution or event was already conceded by Schelling in the 1813 Ages. Here he admits that if "what-is were actually to be posited "we would "discern in it the conflict of those inner principles that we must recognize in everything that is." As he further elaborates, though the "expressing [das Aussprechende]" or "(the essence of the copula, as one would have to say in the language of logic) can only be one. . . . this does not prevent the expressed [das Ausgesprochene] . . . from being Two that are opposed" (W2 127; 126-27). The point is made parenthetically, so that we do not experience the trauma of this expressing as exclusion: what Žižek calls "castration" or "the passage from S (the full 'pathological' subject) to $ (the 'barred' subject)" that "marks our entry into language" ("Hegel" 190). But the crisis buried in Schelling's own expressing of this inner division as only a problem of logic in 1813 explodes in 1815 in the passage on magnetic sleep, where the unity that holds the "inner forces" together in the waking state and "communally expresses them (or is their exponent)" collapses (W3 68). As if alluding back to the terms used in 1813, Schelling describes this "crisis" of mesmeric sleep as one in which "the external copula that coerces and dominates people" is severed so that "each principle is again posited in its freedom" (67). This freedom in turn takes us back to the beginning of the world , where the planets, to evoke Maurice Blanchot, are produced out of disaster. In this primal scene of autogenesis "each single particular nature commences with the rotation about its own axis and hence, manifestly, in a state of inner revulsion" or "anxiety." Emerging when "the two opposed forces in initial nature are brought to a common denomination," this nature then becomes a "gathering together" that "cannot persist" because of its underlying "inherent contradiction" (W3 91-92).
If the crisis of a rotary movement exists at the origin of beings, and indeed being itself, then there can be no history in the sense of what Schelling calls "actual history": a "series of free actions through which God . . . reveal[s] itself" (49). A "true beginning," Schelling writes in describing a more conventional Hegelian history, would be "one that does not always begin again but persists," so that there is a "steady progression" and not an "alternating advancing and retreating movement" (20). A "veritable end" is likewise one that "does not need to retreat from itself back to the beginning" (20). But for this progress to occur, there must be a decisive separation between present and past: "no present is possible that is not founded on a decisive past," and "no past is possible that is not based on the present as something overcome" (42). Yet the present itself "cannot persist," let alone be overcome, if what is "gathered together" and expressed contains "two opposed forces." This unbearable contradiction repressed by expression is one that Schelling locates at the very origin of things, in what Žižek calls the "psychosis" in which God, "upon 'contracting' being as an illness . . . gets caught in the mad . . . alternation of contraction and expansion" ("Hegel" 191). This psychosis, for Schelling, results in the emergence of the first objects in nature as "rotary wholes [rotatorischen Ganzen]," created in the most "violent revulsion," since everything that "becomes can only become in discontent" (W3 90-91;10:128-29). "Hence, scarcely has [this whole] . . . felt the common denomination and the conflict of forces when it wants to separate" (91), which is to say that anything posited must almost immediately be deconstructed.
To be sure, the account of the world's creation as a series of "rotary wholes" has to do with nature, not with freedom. More specifically, Schelling is describing the creation of the planets. But one cannot avoid sensing in the background of the text and the prominence accorded to the rotary movement the crisis that would also mark Shelley's Triumph of Life a few years later. Shelley's last poem rethinks Romanticism, and indeed history itself, as the interminable analysis of its revolutionary ideals figured in the rotary movement of the Car of Life and the involution of the narrator's magnetic sleep within the crisis of 'Rousseau's' waking dream. Evoking the same event, "the revolution of a gifted people" as Kant calls it (Conflict 153), Schelling describes it in similar terms to those he will use in his account of the mesmeric crisis, which therefore acquires a certain resonance as a historical crisis:
If an organic being becomes sick, forces appear that previously lay concealed in it. Or if the copula of the unity dissolves altogether and if the life forces that were previously subjugated by something higher are deserted by the ruling spirit and can freely follow their own inclinations and manners of acting, then something terrible becomes manifest . . . which was held down by the magic of life. . . . For when the abysses of human life open up in evil . . . we first know what lies in the human in accordance with its possibility. . . . If we take into consideration the many terrible things in nature and the spiritual world that a benevolent hand seems to cover up from us, then we could not doubt that the Godhead sits enthroned over a world of terrors. (W3 48-49)
This is to say that if the rotary movement of history as its own psychoanalysis stalls "actual" history, it is also this psychoanalysis that produces a very different kind of history. For in the first two versions there was no history because there was no subject, no real explanation of hypostasis and beginning. The problem of history in both texts can be stated as that of a will that "produces itself out of itself," and is therefore "unconditioned," "pure freedom." But this will that "wants nothing" and "knows no differentiation" is really the stilling of what Schopenhauer calls will, and is thus without "effectivity" (W1 15; W2 137). To explain the transition from eternity to time Schelling, as we have seen, must construct the will as subject: the "subject" is the means by which a being "completely immersed in itself" can "step forth from . . . potentiality into activity" (W2 123-24). Yet it is unclear how a subject can be engendered "at the heart of the objective" (W1 35) if the will is a non-will. Schelling therefore sees this subject as produced "unconsciously," through a peaceful eisemplasy of the two wills, in which the second, "actively opposed to eternity," also engenders itself spontaneously, and without "know[ing] what it does" (W1 18; W2 136-37). But immaculate as this conception of a "will, generated out of itself" is (W2:140), such a will cannot be a subject. And indeed in 1813 this will produces itself "not out of, but rather in eternity" (137), in a transcendental rather than real genesis. Or to adapt what Žižek says of the late philosophy of revelation, "God possesses in advance his existence" ("Hegel" 190-91) and does not personally suffer the force of contraction.
In 1811 it is the figure of the Trinity that protects God from his existence, while in 1813 this role is played by an unconsciousness crystallized in Schelling's idealization of magnetic sleep. For insofar as there is an unconscious in 1813 it functions as a form of anesthesia, painlessly producing "an urge to become conscious, of which eternity itself does not become conscious" (W2 136). But in 1815 Schelling introduces the crisis of the drives as the interminable analysis of the higher and the lower by each other. The drives mediate between the primal narcissism of Being and the differentiated subject, thereby also producing an unconscious closer to that of psychoanalysis, and a history that must be responsible to this psychoanalysis. The drives are the way an in-different Being that would otherwise be "eternally in itself" (W1 16) produces itself as subject, but only because this non-difference never existed, since the "annular drive" is now "among the oldest potencies" rather than coming later as a "supplement" (W3 92). For "the will that wills nothing" is now not the beginning, but the "Other" that is "outside and above all potency," beyond "obsession and nature" (23-24), which is to say outside life. What this also means is that though the text's psychic "action" appears to be before the beginning, in a pre-history that the will yearns to leave behind, because there never was a prior time, it is already in history as the impossibility of any dialectical enlightenment.
The drives produce the self as a "rotary whole" in which "the negating primordial force" (7) is also "elevating and creating" because the "selfhood [Selbstheit]," turning around itself and contracting away from universal Being, "eccentrically seeks . . . its own foundational point" (92; 10.129). But the text is not about the production of a psychotic subject and is rather about understanding the drives: their affect, consequences and interrelation. For the very notion of the annular drive already contains a form of self-reflection, even if in a blind way, since each drive is the object of the other: a reflexive structure that is part of Schelling's deeply deconstructive unworking of self-consciousness as enlightenment. This revolving around itself or revulsion that is (not yet) self-consciousness is a historical responsibility, for those who would grasp "the history of the cosmos" must confront "what is concealed in themselves . . . the abysses of the past that are still in one just as much as the present" (3-4). Indeed as we have already intimated, the "rotary whole," in contrast to the whole that demands the subordination of its parts, is a simultaneously psychotic and critical structure. As such it produces historical and hysterical forms-in-process such as the French Revolution or fascism as theorized by Bataille, but within a rotary rather than linear movement which, far from establishing these forms in a present we move beyond, forces them to return into themselves and interrogate their very foundations.
If the Ages is not "about" psychoanalysis as a positivity but only as a topology, is it about history? But the question then is what history might result from this text? One could argue that spirit's difficulty in emerging from the darkness of matter makes Ages a forerunner of negative dialectics, whether in the form of a "natural history" (in Adorno and Benjamin's sense) that exposes spirit to the suffering of history; or in the form of a utopianism that discerns in the "dark ground" of history "something not yet made good that pushes its essence forward" (Habermas, Philosophical-Political 63-64, 71). Schelling calls this something "soul," as the ideal principle that is not spirit and dwells in matter, and that can "come out" only if it is "enveloped and retained by the negating force as by a receptacle" (W3 69, 57-58). Or one could argue that the history shadowed in this text through the development of "freedom" in its most radical sense is a post-anthropological history that Schelling draws out of the physiogony of Robinet and Charles Bonnet. Such a reading would align Schelling with the post-Heideggerian thought with which Peter Fenves also aligns the late Kant. Or one could generate a psychoanalytic politics from the Ages that sees the creative "potency" in evil without imagining that there can ever be a history without psychosis.
But such readings, while persuasive in different ways, posit a theory of history at the cost of not seeing history itself as also something cathected onto being, nature or self. That is to say the shrouding of all things in a past that marks their finitude makes history too, as historicity, a counterscience that maintains with the sciences a "relation that is strange, undefined, . . . and more fundamental than any relation of adjacency in a common space would be" (Order 367). David Ferris takes up this interdisciplinarity wherein disciplines must be thought from their outside, in rethinking the very nature of interdisciplinarity with and against Kant's notion of the formation of new disciplines through a process of epistemic supplementation and transference. For Kant "The principles of a science are either internal to it, and are then called indigenous (principia domestica), or they are based on principles that can only find their place outside of it, and are foreign principles (peregrina)." For Kant, however, the supplementary constitution of a different form of knowledge through its borrowing from a foreign body of thought results in a new positivity: "the principle of one science, once borrowed," is "forgotten as another science or discipline emerges" whose "principle" and "guiding concepts" become "internal to it." By contrast, in a more modern interdisciplinarity that, we could argue, Romanticism invents, the formation of interdisciplines through a process of supplementation is the (in)completion of one discipline by another, in a process wherein disciplines in a positive sense remain a point of reference only in their "critical negation" (Ferris 1251-53). Or as Schelling says, the unconditioned can reveal itself only through "negations. No positive external intuition of [it] is possible" (First Outline 19). Rather, unconditional knowledge in Ages consists in a retreat from positive knowledge through the turning of all sciences into countersciences, as history is a contraction away from the plenitude of nature, and psychoanalysis a withdrawal from any positing of history.
Adorno, Theodor and Max Horkheimer. Dialectic of Enlightenment. Trans. John Cumming. New York: Continuum, 1987.
Bataille, Georges. "The Psychological Structure of Fascism." Visions of Excess. Trans. Allan Stoekl. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1989. 137-60.
---. The Unfinished System of Non-Knowledge. Trans. Michelle Kendall and Stuart Kendall. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 2001.
Bourdieu, Pierre and Loïc J.D.Wacquant. An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1992.
Crabtree, Adam. From Mesmer to Freud: Magnetic Sleep and the Roots of Psychological Healing. New Haven: Yale UP, 1993.
Darnton, Robert. Mesmerism and the End of the Enlightenment in France. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1968.
David, Pascale, trans. Les Ages du Monde: Fragments. By F. W. J. Schelling. Paris: Press Universitaires de France, 1992.
Deleuze, Gilles. Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation. New York: Continuum, 2004.
--- and Félix Guattari. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen R. Lane. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1983. 9-15.
Derrida, Jacques. Resistances of Psychoanalysis. Trans. Peggy Kamuf, Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1996.
---. Speech and Phenomena and Other Essays on Husserl's Theory of Signs. Trans. David B. Allison. Evanston: Northwestern UP, 1973.
---. "Titles." Eyes of the University. Trans. Jan Plug et al. Stanford: Stanford UP, 2005.
Ellenberger, Henri. The Discovery of the Unconscious: The History and Evolution of Dynamic Psychiatry. New York: Basic Books, 1970.
Faflak, Joel. "Philosophy's Debatable Land in Coleridge's Biographia Literaria." Romanticism's Debatable Land. Ed. Claire Lamont and Michael Rossington. London: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2007. 136-47.
---. Romantic Psychoanalysis: The Burden of the Mystery. Albany: State U of New York P, 2008.
Fenves, Peter. Late Kant: Towards Another Law of the Earth. New York: Routledge, 2003.
Ferris, David S. "Post-modern Interdisciplinarity: Kant, Diderot, and the Encyclopedic Project." Modern Language Notes 118:5 (2003): 1251-77.
Foucault, Michel. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. New York: Vintage, 1970.
Grant, Iain Hamilton. "'Philosophy Become Genetic': The Physics of the World-Soul." The New Schelling. Ed. Judith Norman and Alistair Welchman. New York: Continuum, 2004. 128-50.
Green, J. H. Vital Dynamics: The Hunterian Oration Before the Royal College of Surgeons in London. February 17th 1840. London: William Pickering, 1840.
Habermas, Jürgen. "Dialectical Idealism in Transition to Materialism: Schelling's Idea of a Contraction of God and its Consequences for the Philosophy of History." The New Schelling. Ed. Judith Norman and Alastair Welchman. New York: Continuum, 2004. 43-89.
---. Philosophical-Political Profiles. Trans. Frederick G. Lawrence. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT P, 1985.
Hanssen, Beatrice. Walter Benjamin's Other History: Of Stones, Animals, Human Beings and Angels. Berkeley and Los Angeles: U of California P, 1998.
Hegel, G. W. F. Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Outline, in Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences in Outline and Critical Writings. Ed. Ernst Behler. New York: Continuum, 1990.
---. The Philosophy of Nature. Trans. A. V. Miller. Oxford: Clarendon, 1970.
Kant, Immanuel. The Conflict of the Faculties. Trans. Mary J. Gregor. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1992.
---. Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. Trans. and ed. Michael Friedman. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2004.
Krell, David Farrell. Contagion: Sexuality, Disease and Death in German Idealism and Romanticism. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1998.
Lovejoy, A. O. The Great Chain of Being. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1942.
Lupton, Julia Reinhard. Afterlives of the Saints: Hagiography, Typology, and Renaissance Literature. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1996.
Marquard, Odo. "Several Connections Between Aesthetics and Therapeutics in Nineteenth-Century Philosophy." The New Schelling. 13-29.
Rajan, Tilottama. "F. W. J. Schelling." The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism. Ed. Michael Groden, Martin Kreiswirth and Imre Szeman. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2004. 842-845.
---. "Spirit's Psychoanalysis: Natural History, The History of Nature, and Romantic Historiography." European Romantic Review 14:2 (2003): 187-96.
Robinet, Jean-Baptiste. De la Nature. 4 vols. Paris: 1761-66. Volume 5: Considérations philosophiques sur la gradation naturelle des formes de l'être, Les Essais de la Nature qui apprend à faire l'homme. Paris: 1768.
Rossi, Paolo. The Dark Abyss of Time: The History of the Earth & The History of Nations from Hooke to Vico. Trans. Lydia G. Cochrane. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1984.
Rudwick, Martin. Bursting the Limits of Time: The Reconstruction of Geohistory in the Age of Revolution. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2006.
Schelling, F. W. J. Clara or, on Nature's Connection to the Spirit World. Trans. Fiona Steinkamp. Albany: State U of New York P, 2004.
---. First Outline of a System of The Philosophy of Nature. Trans. Keith R. Peterson. Albany: State U of New York P, 2005.
---. On University Studies. Trans. E. S. Morgan. Athens: Ohio State UP, 1966.
---. Philosophical Investigations into the Nature of Human Freedom and Related Matters. Philosophy of German Idealism. Ed. Ernst Behler. New York: Continuum, 1987.
---. Stuttgart Seminars. Idealism and the Endgame of Theory: Three Essays by F.W.J. Schelling. Trans. and ed. Thomas Pfau. Albany: State U of New York P, 1994.
---. System of Transcendental Idealism. Trans. Peter Heath. Charlottesville: UP of Virginia, 1978.
Scribner, F. Scott. "A Blasphemous Monologue: Technologies and Metaphysics of the Imagination in Schelling's Ages of the World." Schelling Now: Contemporary Readings. Ed. Jason M. Wirth. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2005. 147-62.
Wallen, Martin. "The Electromagnetic Orgasm and the Narrative of Primordiality in Schelling's 1815 Cosmic History." Schelling Now. 122-34.
Williams, Raymond. Keywords. London: Fontana, 1976.
Žižek, Slavoj. "The Eclipse of Meaning: On Lacan and Deconstruction." Slavoj Žižek: Interrogating the Real. Ed. Rex Butler and Scott Stephens. New York: Continuum, 2005. 206-30.
---. "Hegel, Lacan, Deleuze: Three Strange Bedfellows." Slavoj Žižek: Interrogating the Real. 183-205.
---. The Indivisible Remainder: An Essay on Schelling and Related Matters. London: Verso, 1996.
1. Schelling, The Ages of the World (1815), trans. Jason M. Wirth (Albany: State U of New York P, 2000), 31. Hereafter W3. The untranslated 1811 version (W1) is included in Manfred Schröter, Die Weltalter (C. H. Beck: München, 1946). References to the1813 version (W2), are to the translation by Judith Norman in Slavoj Žižek/F. W. J. Schelling, The Abyss of Freedom/Ages of the World (Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1997). References to German texts, when used, are given by volume and page number after the references to the English translation and, except for W1 and W2, are to Ausgewählte Werke, 10 vols. (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1966-8). W2 was not included in the Ausgewählte Werke, the version dated 1813 being actually the 1815 text. References to the German texts of W1 and W2 are therefore to the edition by Schröter. Translations from W1 are mine.
5. Hegel saw Schelling as not paying enough attention to "dialectic" and the labour of the negative. As Jürgen Habermas points out (47-51), however, after Bruno Schelling silently took account of this criticism first levelled against him in The Phenomenology of Spirit, embracing the negative affectively as well as logically, as Hegel (according to Habermas) did not.
7. The importance of geology to Ages is taken up in a different way by Grant, who is not concerned with geology as a science of deep time, but rather with transformative chemical processes occurring deep within the earth. Developing a chemistry rather than history of nature, Grant therefore aligns Ages with a radicalized Naturphilosophie and "physiology" (in Green 102-3), rather than with a radicalized "physiogony" as I am doing here.
8. For further discussion of natural history and the history of nature in Schelling see my "Spirit's Psychoanalysis: Natural History, The History of Nature, and Romantic Historiography." European Romantic Review 14:2 (2003): 187-96.
9. Robinet published the first four volumes of De la Nature in 1761-66. He added Volume 5 as Considérations philosophiques sur la gradation naturelle des formes de l'être, Les Essais de la Nature qui apprend à faire l'homme (Paris: 1768). Despite the title of the fifth volume, Robinet sees nature as possibly proceeding to forms beyond man. On Robinet see Lovejoy 269-83.
10. In addition, the 1815 version introduces the notions of crisis and the unconscious; it makes extensive reference to sickness—a notion completely absent from the 1813 version; and it emphasizes the Sisyphean structure of cosmic and personal history as an endlessly advancing and retreating movement.
11. Indeed the passages that set the tone for an irremediable darkening of enlightenment at the beginning of the third version are all clustered at the end of W2 (179ff.). Rather than "shroud[ing] the point of departure" for our reading "in dark night" (W3 3), they are dissolved and dissipated in a movement of expansion at the end.
13. Slavoj Žižek makes the important point about Schelling's invention of a theory of the drives in The Indivisible Remainder 27-32, 38. However, Žižek does not relate the drives specifically to the 1815 version: indeed he also discusses them in his essay "The Abyss of Freedom," which accompanies Judith Norman's translation of the 1813 text (14-21). My argument is that a theory of the drives emerges only in the more psychoanalytic 1815 version.
16. For the idea of non-knowledge see Bataille 111-18, 129-32. On the unthought, Foucault writes: "Man is a mode of being which accommodates that dimension—always open, never finally delimited, yet constantly traversed—which extends from a part of himself not reflected in a cogito to the act of thought by which he apprehends that part" (Order 322).
17. For a discussion of Mesmerism, magnetic sleep and hypnotism as part of the prehistory of "dynamic psychiatry" (a broader category that includes psychoanalysis), see Ellenberger 53-83. It is important to note, however, that Schelling, though obviously familiar with Mesmer's concept of the vital fluid, uses the term "magnetische Schlaf" in this section (Shröter 160-61), which Judith Norman loosely translates as "mesmeric" and not magnetic sleep (W2 158-59). Although I will argue that there is a greater presence of Mesmer in W3 than in W2, Mesmer did not see magnetic sleep as the only way of effecting the mesmeric cure or deploying magnets and magnetism (Ellenberger 72). Mesmer stressed the "crisis," while magnetic sleep (later called hypnotism) was more fully developed by the Marquis de Puységur (see Crabtree 38-53, 65). Eventually Mesmer took a position against magnetic sleep, partly because he wanted to avoid charges of occultism (Crabtree 54, 65). In W2 Schelling's discussion of magnetic sleep has the most affinities with the work of Puységur, whose Recherches, expériences, et observations appeared in 1811, and with G. H. Schubert's Ansichten von der Nachtseite der Naturwissenschaft (1808) and C.A.F. Kluge's Versuch eine Darstellung des animalischen Magnetismus als Heilmittel (Berlin, 1811). These thinkers all omit a certain violence that characterizes the psychoanalytic scene of Mesmerism itself in France. In general Mesmerism in the German Romantic tradition is more psychologically than medically oriented, but in a spiritualist way.
18. For a discussion of the importance to Schelling of Humphry Davy's theories of electromagnetism, see Wallen 122-28. Wallen's reading of W3 is quite different from mine, in that he sees the trope of vital fluid as organizing Schelling's entire ouevre, integrates the movements of contraction and expansion within the figure of "electromagnetic orgasm," and on this basis associates W3 with a philosophy of revelation, albeit in a Spinozistic rather than theistic form. The world-soul, of course, should not be seen as a conventionally organicist concept. Writing from a Deleuzian perspective, Iain Hamilton Grant distinguishes organicism from the notion of "organization" with which it is associated in Raymond Williams' Keywords (227-29). Grant argues that the world-soul "unconditions the subject of the organization. In other words, infinitely individuated parts never turn back on themselves to be sealed up into an organization, but proliferate unrestrictedly, as the 'positive force' of nature. . . . the World Soul cannot be approached as if it were a body" (132-33).
19. Indeed as Schelling puts it in 1811: "In the will that wills nothing there was no differentiation, neither subject nor object, but only the highest simplicity. The contracting will, however, which is the will to existence, produces in itself a divorce between the two [subject and object]" (22).
22. Semantically the material in W2 (156-58; 157-59) and W3 (68-97) is fairly similar; however the discussion of primary process (in effect) takes on a different colouring in light of the more darkly psychoanalytic and existential framing of W3 as a whole. W3 adds the figure of the mirror, the reference to "the potency of the beginning," and the notion of "counterprojection" to W2.
23. For different views about the date of Clara (which is normally placed at 1810) and about its relation to the Ages, see Steinkamp's Introduction (x-xvii). The entire text, which is in dialogue form, can be read as an example of the mesmeric dialogue outlined in the Introduction to Ages.
24. "Counterprojection" is Jason Wirth's translation: "Gegenwurf is an obscure and extremely difficult word to render. The general sense is that each order knows itself in contradistinction to what it is not. It sees itself only through having lost or betrayed itself such that the other half mirrors the other back to itself. One discerns one's ownmost through the foreign" (W3 143n).
25. The socially subversive effects of Mesmerism, which culminated in the establishment of a commission to investigate it, are described by Darnton. On the other hand, its place in the prehistory of psychoanalysis (or psychiatry) is taken up by Ellenberger. What Faflak does by taking it up in both these registers is to emphasize its socially disruptive potential, but to give that disruptiveness a long-term cognitive weight by developing mesmerism towards its future in psychoanalysis. See Faflak, Romantic Psychoanalysis (50-55) and "Philosophy's Debatable Land in Coleridge's Biographia Literaria" (136-43). Psychoanalysis, in other words, suggests the serious cultural and personal work for which the pseudoscience of Mesmerism prepares a space, while Mesmerism is the scene of a schizoanalytic potential in psychoanalysis (to evoke Deleuze and Guattari) that Freud seeks to contain. In its cultural effects, and also in its deployment by Schelling (who introduces something quite volatile into the Ages under the idealistic cover of the harmonization of the individual with the rhythms of the universal fluid), Mesmerism therefore functions as what Derrida calls a "hinge" that simultaneously closes down and opens up radical possibilities (Resistances 78-84).
26. The equivalent passage in W2 emphasizes positing, and does not mention the alternating advancing and retreating movement: "true progress [Fortschreiten], which is equivalent to an elevation [Erhebung], takes place only when something is posited permanently and immutably and becomes the ground of elevation and progression" (W2 135; 135)
27. Fascism has of course fascinated French intellectuals of the twentieth century. In "The Psychological Structure of Fascism," Bataille opposes fascism to monarchy and the state, even though both are authoritarian forms, on the grounds of a homogenizing force in the former which can be contrasted with the heterogeneity and disruptive force of a fascist authority that is not grounded in tradition or inheritance, and that is therefore profoundly unsettled and unsettling.
29. Such a reading could be described as "Žižekian," in the way it builds on Žižek's reading of Schelling as the "vanishing mediator" between absolute idealism and psychoanalysis. A theory of history is at the core of absolute idealism—something completely neglected in the readings of Schelling provided by Heidegger and Nancy. However Žižek himself reads Schelling only psychoanalytically, rather than extrapolating a theory of history and politics from Ages, which, however, one can find in his own work as read through Schelling.