L2. Engraphy and Ecphory: No Brain Required


In order to explain his theory of the ‘phylo-psyche’ in the 1920s, Eugene Bleuler would borrow generously from the late eighteenth-century theory of ‘organic memory’ or ‘mnemic psychology’. Prior to the emergence of a proper genetic theory or mechanism of inheritance, this briefly influential school of thought had attempted to explain instinctual behaviour by simply collapsing biographical memory into biological heredity: casting both as modalities of matter’s universal tendency toward inscription. Given the view of temporality lurking behind Spinal Catastrophism, movement in time is understandable primarily in terms of divergence in precocity or belatedness, differentia of tempo, and variant complexes of remembrance and forgetfulness. This inevitably lends itself to a vision of nature as a great system of retention. In particular, however, nervous systems were singled out and studied as the prime medium for nature’s processes of inscription and memorization. Indeed, the idea that autonomic processing and reflexive behaviours could be accounted for as a type of inherited, nonconscious memory formed the common backdrop against which Freud, Ferenczi, and Jung would develop their theories on the matter…