Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Reich Returns to the Scene

It's on to the next set of dissertation chapters, never mind that the ones I've turned in are decidedly imperfect and incomplete.
By happy chance, when I dropped by the university bookstore this morning in search of blue file folders (they did not have the shade of blue I use for my academic filing), I discovered a heavily discounted book on Wilhelm Reich.
Reich is, I might point out, one of the theorists discussed in Chapter 5, and until today his subsection was small and undeveloped. I knew enough about him to have the feeling he could be important, but I really had no desire to try to read his work in Czech translation, so I had been putting him off.
For those of you who might be wondering, this is that same Wilhelm Reich who wrote The Function of the Orgasm and died in an American prison after escaping the Nazis.
The more I read of/about Reich, just as the more I read of/about Fourier, the more I favor him. I am sure he was wrong or extreme about some of his ideas, but on the whole I like him. I am a bit skeptical of the historical validity of his idea (taken from Engels) that human society was once a peaceful, satisfied matriarchy that transmogrified into an evil, capitalist, repressed patriarchy, but this is partly because I'm unconvinced that women are innately better than men and partly because I really don't know what would have turned a contented society into one that sold its women and developed capitalism. I mean, one such society, perhaps, but globally?
Nonetheless, I think Reich's early work is impressive and very much attuned to surrealist ideas, at least as surrealism developed from the 1930s on. I will be picking through Bohuslav Brouk to see how often he mentioned Reich... And then there's Reich's opposition to the Rankian desire to return to the womb. Does this mean Štyrský would have rejected Reich in favor of Rank, or that he would have concluded Rank set out the problem and that Reich offered a solution? Inquiring minds want to know.

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Blogger Kristen said...

Apropos of nothing: My academic filing system is dominated by purple.

October 10, 2007 6:45 PM  
Anonymous bikerbar said...

I like Reich too. You should seek out Dusan Makavajev's film "Mystery of the Organism".

Reich must have been on to something, as he was destroyed by an uncomprehending world

October 20, 2007 9:11 PM  

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