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Irony and Illness

Recognition and Refusal

Michael Lambek

Proponents of irony can hardly propose a definite theory or even a definitive introduction to their subject. Here we intend merely to review the impetus for our volume and the suggestions we gave our bemused contributors.

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Fantasy in Practice

Projection and Introjection, or the Witch and the Spirit-Medium

Michael Lambek

What is the relationship of psychoanalysis to questions of dignity, self-respect and respect for others?1 How, ultimately can we link Freud with Aristotelian concerns for eudaimonia – human flourishing – and for phronesis – sustained moral judgement?2 If Freud rightly tempers Aristotle’s optimism, how might Aristotelian questions illuminate and complement Freudian forays into personhood? If repression is defined as a state of disconnection and disavowal, of nonacknowledgement of one’s own thoughts and acts, then it is morally and politically problematic. Repression generates projection, in which accountability is displaced onto others. However, I argue that in some instances, and given the appropriate cultural means, it may provoke a dialectical return. Such introjection provides the opportunity for gradual reconnection, recognition and, ideally, the acknowledgement of responsibility.

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Rheumatic Irony

Questions of Agency and Self-deception as Refracted through the Art of Living with Spirits

Michael Lambek

The story of a young man from the Western Indian Ocean island of Mayotte who was prevented from a career in the French army by an illness sent by a spirit who possesses his mother inspires reflection on the nature of agency. I suggest that spirit possession and the ill- nesses it produces are intrinsically ironic. The prevalence of irony implies not that we should disregard agency but that perhaps we should not take it too literally.

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Amira Mittermaier, Susan Harding, and Michael Lambek

A Portrait in Scenes by Amira Mittermaier

For Saba by Susan Harding

Recollections of a Friendship by Michael Lambek

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Paul Antze, Janice Boddy, Lawrence Cohen, Vincent Crapanzano, Andrew Lakoff, Michael Lambek, and Anne Meneley

Notes on Contributors

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Rohan Bastin, Marit Brendbekken, René Devisch, Allen Feldman, Ørnulf Gulbrandsen, Bruce Kapferer, Michael Lambek, Knut Rio, and Kari G. Telle

Notes on contributors