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Crossover QueriesDwelling with Negatives, Embodying Philosophy's Others$
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Edith Wyschogrod

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780823226061

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823226061.001.0001

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The Howl of Oedipus, the Cry of Héloïse

The Howl of Oedipus, the Cry of Héloïse

From Asceticism to Postmodern Ethics

(p.125) 8 The Howl of Oedipus, the Cry of Héloïse
Crossover Queries

Edith Wyschogrod

Fordham University Press

This chapter argues that the discursive formations within the episteme of asceticism are bound up with the self-imposition of corporeal and psychic pain or privation, but contends that not all pain and privation, even when self-generated, is ascetic. It claims that the cry of Oedipus, far from being akin to a scream uttered in response to physical injury, a biological reflex, is a distillate of a certain telos (“purpose”) and of a complex discursive formation, one that is different from asceticism. In what follows, four interrelated claims are considered. Within the structure of asceticism, gaps or fissures appear in its understanding of love, pleasure, and pain in the form of an eroticism that asserts and denies itself. This is especially evident in the correspondence of Héloïse d'Argenteuil and Peter Abélard. The view of the body that emerges presages a new, postmodern understanding of asceticism and its relation to ethics.

Keywords:   asceticism, pain, privation, Oedipus, eroticism, Héloïse d'Argenteuil, Peter Abélard, ethics, body, pleasure

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