Freud as a Thinker of the Social Body: Fear and Distress as Political Affects – A Conversation between Vladimir Safatle and Marcus Coelen

Lacan famously said that affects lie, and the only affect that doesn’t lie is anxiety. The question of affect is of course a dense topic in Freud, not quite emotion, not quite drive, perhaps something repressed, perhaps some kind of oozing of the repressed, all of which seems to make and break social bonds. What is the relationship between affect and language? What is the difference between affect, psychoanalytically speaking, and the more conventional ‘feeling’? While it is true that affect theory is enjoying new prominence within philosophy, it is likewise true that affects have been a point of contention throughout psychoanalytic history. In this conversation— centered around Vladimir Safatle’s new book, The Circuit of Affects: Political Bodies, Distress and the End of...Read More


Marcus Coelen – Psychoanalyst in Berlin and Paris; researcher affiliated with the University of Munich; editor and translator into German of Maurice Blanchot. “I would like to speak about “radical philology” in Freud. What I mean by this term is not so much the academic and institutional disciplines Freud admired and drew on, at times heavily (see e.g. the study on “The Uncanny”, “The Antithetical Meaning of Primal Words” or sections in “Totem and Taboo” or “The Man Moses”). It is, more importantly, a way of being affected by language itself, more precisely, in this ʻbeing affected by languageʼ what creates the contradictory necessities to stay attached, as closely a possible to the concreteness of the letter, but also to metamorphize i...Read More

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