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Music, Madness, and the Unworking of Language

by John T. Hamilton

John Hamilton investigates the way literary, philosophical, and psychological treatments of music and madness challenge the limits of representation and thereby create a crisis of language

Oedipus and the Sphinx: The Threshold Myth from Sophocles through Freud to Cocteau

by David Rice John T. Hamilton Almut-Barbara Renger Translated by Duncan Alexander Smart

When Oedipus met the Sphinx on the road to Thebes, he did more than answer a riddle he spawned a myth that, told and retold, would become one of Western culture s central narratives about self-understanding. Identifying the story as a threshold myth in which the hero crosses over into an unknown and dangerous realm where rules and limits are not known "Oedipus and the Sphinx"offers a fresh account of this mythic encounter and how it deals with the concepts of liminality and otherness. Almut-Barbara Renger assesses the story s meanings and functions in classical antiquity from its presence in ancient vase painting to its absence in Sophocles s tragedy before arriving at two of its major reworkings in European modernity: the psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freud and the poetics of Jean Cocteau. Through her readings, she highlights the ambiguous status of the Sphinx and reveals Oedipus himself to be a liminal creature, providing key insights into Sophocles s portrayal and establishing a theoretical framework that organizes evaluations of the myth s reception in the twentieth century. Revealing the narrative of Oedipus and the Sphinx to be the very paradigm of a key transition experienced by all of humankind, Renger situates myth between the competing claims of science and art in an engagement that has important implications for current debates in literary studies, psychoanalytic theory, cultural history, and aesthetics. "

Security

by John T. Hamilton

From national security and social security to homeland and cyber-security, "security" has become one of the most overused words in culture and politics today. Yet it also remains one of the most undefined. What exactly are we talking about when we talk about security? In this original and timely book, John Hamilton examines the discursive versatility and semantic vagueness of security both in current and historical usage. Adopting a philological approach, he explores the fundamental ambiguity of this word, which denotes the removal of "concern" or "care" and therefore implies a condition that is either carefree or careless. Spanning texts from ancient Greek poetry to Roman Stoicism, from Augustine and Luther to Machiavelli and Hobbes, from Kant and Nietzsche to Heidegger and Carl Schmitt, Hamilton analyzes formulations of security that involve both safety and negligence, confidence and complacency, certitude and ignorance. Does security instill more fear than it assuages? Is a security purchased with freedom or human rights morally viable? How do security projects inform our expectations, desires, and anxieties? And how does the will to security relate to human finitude? Although the book makes clear that security has always been a major preoccupation of humanity, it also suggests that contemporary panics about security and the related desire to achieve perfect safety carry their own very significant risks.

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