On Matricide: Myth, Psychoanalysis, and the Law of the Mother by Amber JacobsOn Matricide: Myth, Psychoanalysis, and the Law of the Mother by Amber Jacobs

On Matricide: Myth, Psychoanalysis, and the Law of the Mother

byAmber Jacobs

Hardcover | September 4, 2007

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Despite advances in feminism, the "law of the father" remains the dominant model of Western psychological and cultural analysis, and the law of the mother continues to exist as an underdeveloped and marginal concept. In her radical rereading of the Greek myth, Oresteia, Amber Jacobs hopes to rectify the occlusion of the mother and reinforce her role as an active agent in the laws that determine and reinforce our cultural organization.

According to Greek myth, Metis, Athena's mother, was Zeus's first wife. Zeus swallowed Metis to prevent her from bearing children who would overthrow him. Nevertheless, Metis bore Zeus a child-Athena-who sprang forth fully formed from his head. In Aeschylus's Oresteia, Athena's motherless status functions as a crucial justification for absolving Orestes of the crime of matricide. In his defense of Orestes, Zeus argues that the father is more important than the mother, using Athena's "motherless" birth as an example.

Conducting a close reading of critical works on Aeschylus's text, Jacobs reveals that psychoanalytic theorists have unwittingly reproduced the denial of Metis in their own critiques. This repression, which can be found in the work of Sigmund Freud and Melanie Klein as well as in the work of more contemporary theorists such as André Green and Luce Irigaray, has resulted in both an incomplete analysis of Oresteia and an inability to account for the fantasies and unconscious processes that fall outside the oedipal/patricidal paradigm.

By bringing the story of Athena's mother, Metis, to the forefront, Jacobs challenges the primacy of the Oedipus myth in Western culture and psychoanalysis and introduces a bold new theory of matricide and maternal law. She finds that the Metis myth exists in cryptic forms within Aeschylus's text, uncovering what she terms the "latent content of the Oresteian myth," and argues that the occlusion of the law of the mother is proof of the patriarchal structures underlying our contemporary social and psychic realities. Jacobs's work not only provides new insight into the Oresteian trilogy but also advances a postpatriarchal model of the symbolic order that has strong ramifications for psychoanalysis, feminism, and theories of representation, as well as for clinical practice and epistemology.

Amber Jacobs is a feminist theorist and writer. She is lecturer in English and critical theory at Sussex University, United Kingdom. Her work is currently concerned with the question of postpatriarchal futures in the fields of philosophy, psychoanalysis, and social theory. She lives in London.
Title:On Matricide: Myth, Psychoanalysis, and the Law of the MotherFormat:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.1 inPublished:September 4, 2007Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231141548

ISBN - 13:9780231141543


Table of Contents

PrefaceAcknowledgmentsPart I 1. Postpatriarchal Future2. Myth, Phantasy, and Culture3. Matricide in Theory4. Oedipus and MonotheismPart II 5. Oresteian Secrets: Decrypting Metis6. The Blind Spot of Metis7. Melanie Klein and the Phantom of Metis8. Metis in Contemporary Psychoanalysis9. Who's Afraid of Clytemnestra?10. Metis's LawPart III 11. Clytemnestra's Three Daughters12. The Latent Mother-Daughter13. Iphigenia Becomes Metis14. Virginity and Sibling IncestConclusion: The Question of ChrysothemisNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

A stimulating book.