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Chiasmi International

Volume 21, 2019

Merleau-Ponty, Literature, and Literary Language

Federico Leoni
Pages 135-147

Proust e la biologia. È possibile una letteratura di fantasmi?

This article examines the place of literature in the ensemble of Merleau-Ponty’s research, comparing the function it fills in the economy of his thought to the role other practices and other disciplines such as biology and psychology play in his philosophy. Each of these “discourses” offered Merleau-Ponty access to something comparable to a common phantasmatic substance, a common metaphorical stability of Being, that the biologist, the writer, and the psychoanalyst work on, each in their own writings and categories. But here emerges also a major question. To what extent does the language of Proust reveal itself up to the task of writing the phantasm, to what extent does it respond to this challenge? In what manner are the limits of his language, which are perhaps the limits of language itself, an obstacle to his project? And what is it that permits, at times, the sciences to obtain greater success in engaging in this way? Was it precisely the structure of metaphor that hindered Proust in truly writing encroachment, and the dimension of metonymy was, on the contrary, that in which a certain scientific discourse succeeded at setting itself up on the first try? If, finally and especially, metonymy was the very heart of metaphor, with more or less success touched by one or the other of the “regional” writings of the phantasm?

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