In 1946 Adorno and Horkheimer wrote that “the enlightened world radiates disaster triumphant.” Enlightenment — progressive knowledge and mastery of the environment aimed towards more free relations and experiences — had somehow accelerated into its opposite. Knowledge and mastery pushed to their extremes became indistinguishable from destruction.
These thinkers of the Frankfurt School famously turned to the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud to supplement their Marxist analyses of society, reason and subject. Since the collapse of their proposed “marriage of Marx and Freud,” psychology and social theory have grown apart to mutual impoverishment.
Death and Mastery: Psychoanalytic Drive Theory and the Subject of Late Capitalism recasts the famous antagonism in the subject between Eros and the Death Drive with reference to a third term: the under-emphasized “drive to mastery.”
How does “mastery” function across both fields of psyche and society? How can the different aspects of mastery — as an ability cope with an environment as well as a potential for harmful and controlling domination — be separated, but also held in relation? What can this dialectic of mastery tell us about the kinds of subjects typical of late capitalist societies?
This monthly reading group will explore the question of mastery and subjectivity through a reading of Death and Mastery. We will engage in close readings and discussion of the text. These sessions are free and open to anyone interested.
WHERE? Good Karma Café @ 9th and Pine
WHEN? First meeting February 7, 2017. “Introduction”
For pdfs of readings email Greg Gabrellas at email@example.com