Problemi International 2:253-278 (2018)

Rachel Aumiller
ICI Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry
Following Freud’s analysis of the fragile line between the uncanny double and its comic redoubling, I identify the doubling of the double found in critical moments of Hegelian dialectic as producing a kind of comic effect. It almost goes without saying that two provides greater pleasure than one, the loneliest number. Many also find two to be preferable to three, the tired trope of dialectic as a teleological waltz. Two seems to offer lightness, relieving one from her loneliness and lacking the complications of a third who comes in between. And yet, we learn through Marx and Freud that the double (even the double of tragedy and farce) borders on something closer to horror than comedy. In the following, I would like to explore why four is funnier than two in my staging of dialectic as the doubling of the double or, to borrow a movie title from Laurel and Hardy, “Twice Two” (Roach et al. 1933a). I will begin by exploring the formulations of the double in the form of a pair of opposites and in the form of a pair of twins. The literary tropes of the double as the odd couple, on one side, and the twins, on the other, appear to serve very different narrative functions, which incite different kinds of affective responses from the audience. However, the form of the opposed double sometimes conceals the realization that the empty or fragmented content of the first is only reduplicated in the second. The “straight man” of the odd couple cannot see himself in his counterpart “the comic.” The redoubling of the double, however, forces not only the audience, but the original double on stage to confront what was already present, but unrealized, from the beginning. To illustrate this redoubling of the double within the opening of Hegel’s Science of Logic, I consider two short films by Laurel and Hardy in which the comic duo redoubles itself. The formula (2 x 2) produces a comic excess through the dialectical redoubling of there uncanny double.
Keywords Hegel, Marx, Freud, Lacan, dialectic, comedy, repetition
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