Judith Butler clarified the Israel/Palestine dilemma for me in Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism. Does anyone know of a book that would explain the underlying mechanisms behind the situation in the U.S. today in a similar fashion? I mean real theory, not journalism, based on French and German philosophy primarily? Something academic? There needs to be a way of thinking about what seem like unrelated issues and incidents and seeing how they fit together to make a coherent picture of what is happening here. As an American living in my country, I'm too close in to get the big picture.
In the meantime I'm reading Freud. In German. He has a very lucid and easy to understand style. For some reason he seems obscure in English translation. Much of his writing is free on Kindle download. What a treasurehouse. How would I ever have found these lesser known but fascinating pieces before?
Right now I'm looking at Der Mose des Michaelangelo (The Moses of Michaelangelo) his critique of the Statue of Moses in Rome. Freud makes very free use of the first person to explain his response to this work, and he comes up with some amazing insights. He cites many German critics of the 19th Century and compares their interpretations to his own.
The single most interesting thing he says in this essay is that before psychoanalysis and the discovery of the unconscious works like of art like this statue and character studies like Hamlet were about matters that at that time were reachable only through a great artist's insights. There was no theory of mind to explain the behavior of Hamlet or the possible state of mind that Michaelangelo was in when he sculpted this statue, or what he was trying to convey about Moses at this moment, when he spots his people worshipping the golden calf. (Of course Shakespeare's mind remains a mystery no one can solve.)
I got into all this because I was looking for Freud's work on Moses and Monotheism as a result of reading Edward Said's book, Freud and the Non-European. This book of Said's showed up on my Kindle. I did not order it. I share my account with family members, so I guess my daughter must have bought it. It is very good.