Hysteria, like hypnotic trance, may involve knowledge at a subliminal level, which can become conscious. The disturbance of hysteria might interfere with reflective self-consciousness—knowing that we know—or what the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio has called “the self as witness … the something extra that reveals the presence, in each of us, of events we call mental.” It is not strange to think that emotional shocks might derange this sense of self as witness.
…If hysteria involves an imaginative embodiment of traumatic emotional experience, it makes sense that restoring a perception of agency—the feeling of “I” in “I move”—may begin the process of healing. Every conversion patient has a story, and his or her personal narrative is vital to understanding the physiological theater of the symptom. The woman who saw her family taken away from her said that she wept for four years, and when she stopped weeping she was blind. In her case, and in the case of her fellow refugees, the transformation from witnessing horror to experiencing blindness can be described as symbolically perfect: the women’s bodies have become ambulatory metaphors of unbearable experience.
Hustvedt, Siri. “I Wept For Four Years And When I Stopped I Was Blind.” Harper’s. 1 December 2013. 19-23.
Charles Ray. “Handheld Bird.” 2006 / painted steel / 2 x 4 x 3 inches / 5 x 10 x 7 centimeters
Paul Celan reads “Todesfuge.”
"Schopenhauer made the desperate suggestion that human beings stop having sex because procreation only prolongs suffering." - Schirmacher, Wolfgang. “Living Disaster: Schopenhauer For the Twenty-First Century.” The Essential Schopenhauer.
Kosuth, Joseph. “One and Three Chairs.”
Shelf of Negation, Despair, Ambivalence.
Grave of Heinrich von Kleist and Henriette Vogel, the woman with terminal cancer he shot before himself in a suicide pact, with whom he had no intimate, platonic or romantic, relations, at the Kleiner Memorial in Berlin.