The Call of the Trance is a magnificent book that takes us to the unchartered frontiers of the forbidden. From initiation ceremonies to crises of hysteria, from suicide attempts to the ecstasies of witches, Catherine Clément explores in simple but scholarly terms the responses that civilizations have offered to the humanistic need for escape from the body. These “eclipses” from life and reality, pursued by people across cultures, are elusive and invariably inexpressible.
Clément details this phenomenon through the past and the present, from the witches of Loudun to current Mongolian shamans and from the eighteenth-century convulsionaries of Saint-Médard to Greeks of today, who follow in the footsteps of their earlier practices. Along the way, she questions the countless ways humans push back the limits of the mind and body, and she shows how, from Dionysian antiquity to our own day, the ecstasy of the trance state shows up in anorexia, rock music, rap, sexual reassignment, eroticism, and even Twilight-style vampire stories.
Catherine Clément, prominent French feminist, has published numerous essays and novels, including Opera: the Undoing of Women and Theo’s Odyssey.
Chris Turner is a writer and translator who lives in Birmingham, England. He has translated Jean-Paul Sartre’s The Aftermath of War, Portraits, and Critical Essays and André Gorz’s Ecologica and The Immaterial, all published by Seagull Books.