The Airy Grave in Which Presence Is Sealed: Divine Providence and the Death Drive


In this essay the divide – and the possibility for reconciliation – between psychoanalysis and theology is examined. Drawing on the work of Sigmund Freud, the theologian Karl Barth, and the philosophers Luce Irigaray and Jacques Derrida, this essay explores to which extend the seemingly contradictory concepts of divine providence and the Freudian death drive can be seen as complementary. In order to interrogate this question, this essay considers a wide range of ideas: Irigaray's analysis of belief as an immanent aspect of the psychoanalytic project; the possibility of understanding Barth's concept of nothingness (das Nichtige) as a theological equivalent to the death drive; Barth's and Derrida's shared disruption of the binary opposition between life and death; the possibility of understanding Derrida's notion of the psychic archive as an equivalent to Barth's conception of God's fatherly preservation of His creation; and, finally, the way in which Irigaray's elemental philosophy of air, and particularly the image of the airy grave, might work as a mediator between divine and material concepts of eternal dwelling. This essay argues that these varied ideas, when thought together, provides a way of considering divine providence, and particularly divine preservation, within a psychoanalytic framework built around the death drive.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i18285368aXXXVIIn104p52

Keywords: Psychoanalysis; Theology; Providence; Death drive; The divine

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