By Tom Ratekin
Analyzes modern memoirs of terminal disease from a psychoanalytic perspective.
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Extra info for Final Acts: Traversing the Fantasy in the Modern Memoir
Always I am underdistanced, too close to memory, too close to my past” (1993, 59). Only when traumatic events, such as his divorce or his cancer diagnosis, upset this protective distance does White risk looking closer at these objects of memory and desire. After the traumatic shift, he changes his position relative to the object by writing about it in a different way, in a different genre. ,” published posthumously, reveals the importance of the sublime object in White’s thought. As Žižek explains, “The sublime object is ‘an object elevated to the level of das Ding’ ” (1989, 194), and the impenetrable Thing2 is the focus of 30 Final Acts White’s attention in this brief, disorderly piece of writing: “How close now, how perilous the thing must be, the stamping of the beast upon the shore”3 (59).
White uses autobiographical writing to create a holding environment in which he can explore the connections between his memory and the symbolic structures that have shaped him. His analysis of the ﬁction and his life presents a writer who has adopted an inﬁnite view in that he no longer looks for a particular solution or outcome but instead enjoys the absorption of the process itself. As seen in the passage previously quoted, White experiences a “luxurious sense of indulgent self-archeology” by “weaving backwards and forwards between childhood memory and recollections of the unﬁnished ﬁction” (35).
The traversal of fantasy and the cure will require a confrontation with death that ﬁnally enables the subject to renounce that which has provided security in the past. As Lacan explains in Seminar VII, As I believe I have shown here in the sphere I have outlined for you this year, the function of desire must remain in a fundamental relationship to death. The question I ask is this: shouldn’t the true termination of an analysis—and by that I mean the kind that prepares you to become an analyst—in the end confront the one who undergoes it with the reality of the human condition?
Final Acts: Traversing the Fantasy in the Modern Memoir by Tom Ratekin