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Scenes of ProjectionRecasting the Enlightenment Subject$
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Jill H. Casid

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780816646692

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816646692.001.0001

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Paranoid Projection and the Phantom Subject of Reason

Paranoid Projection and the Phantom Subject of Reason

(p.35) Chapter One Paranoid Projection and the Phantom Subject of Reason
Scenes of Projection

Jill H. Casid

University of Minnesota Press

Chapter one, “Paranoid Projection and the Phantom Subject of Reason,” is dedicated to developing the book’s core argument that early modern devices for casting an image--the camera obscura, the magic lantern, and their variants--constituted a way of knowing, a method with power-producing effects, that I characterize as “paranoid projection.” The chapter does so via the double move of providing a media genealogy for Freud’s theory of projection and by analyzing the magic lantern, camera obscura, and their variants as uncertain and incomplete exercises in paranoid projection. It makes the bi-directional historical argument that the theory of paranoid projection was developed from early modern devices for casting an image that also engaged in the very dynamics described by the theoretical concept. The chapter opens with Freud’s writings on projection and introjection. Rather than just rehearse the arguments of the well-known texts in which Freud casts out religion as a form of delusion (Civilization and its Discontents, Totem and Taboo, and The Future of an Illusion), I focus especially on the case study of the painter Christoph Haitzmann published in 1923 as “A Seventeenth-Century Demonological Neurosis,” setting it in important relation to Freud’s more familiar work on paranoid projection in the case of Schreber. The chapter critically questions the way in which the camera obscura has come to be construed as the model of a rational vision exercised by metropolitan European men of science. Setting the camera obscura in relation to the magic lantern and other uses of the dark room for the casting of images, the chapter examines early modern technologies for casting an image as an interrelated complex of optical machines that functioned as spectacular pedagogical tools, endeavoring to produce reason by trafficking in its seeming inverse, the wonder and magic for which the magic lantern was named. I analyze early modern texts on optics, mathematics, and physics from Johannes Kepler to Willem Jacob ‘sGravesande to account for the complex and contradictory interplay between instruments, cast images, and critiques of superstition and denunciations of the vulnerable spectator that frequently framed their presentation. The chapter explores the way in which early modern use of devices for image-casting engaged in an ambivalent dynamic of desire and fear between men, the goal of which was the production of the masculinized subject of rational vision, and argues that the production of this subject depended on the vigilant demonstration and subjective internalization of a paranoid version of projection.

Keywords:   Scenes of Projection, magic lantern, psychoanalysis, ego, paranoid projection, demonological possession, phantom subject of reason

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