The “Unfolding Leaf” as Ariadne’s Thread

  • Dušan I. Bjelić


The labyrinth is the mythic space from which an Antic hero finds his way out by following Ariadne’s thread. This chapter argues that Goethe’s morphological studies on the metamorphosis of plants, which had influenced both thinkers’ language of intoxication, may work as an Ariadne’s thread inside the labyrinth of Modernity. For Goethe, the plant was an unfolding leaf, which signifies the mimetic powers of nature, and in such capacity it stood as an ideational intoxication in relation to his work. Cocaine and hashish are plant-based drugs, and in this regard, the very idea of a plant as nature’s mimesis, the chapter hypothesizes, offers a way out of “our narcotic Modernity.”


Obsessive Passion Primal Plant Dream Content Primal Phenomenon Wild Horse 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Adorno, Theodor, and Walter Benjamin. 1999. The Complete Correspondence 1928–1940. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Benjamin, Walter. 1999a. The Arcades Project. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  3. ———. 1999b. Selected Writings Vol. II, 1913–1926. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  4. ———. 2002. Selected Writings Vol. III, 1913–1926. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Boothroyd, Dave. 2006. Culture on Drugs. Narco-Cultural Studies of High Modernity. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Buck-Morss, Susan. 1991. The Dialectics of Seeing and the Arcades Project. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  7. Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari. 2003. Anti-Oedipus. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  8. ———. 2005. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  9. Derrida, Jacque. 1998. Resistances of Psychoanalysis. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Freud, Sigmund. 1968. Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud Vols. II, III, IV, V, VII, X, XVII, XVIII, XXI, XXII. London: The Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psychoanalysis.Google Scholar
  11. Goeschel, Christian. 2009. Suicides of German Jews, 1933–1945. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. 1970. Italian Journey: 1786–1788. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  13. Gray, Ronald D. 1952. Goethe the Alchemist. A Study of Alchemical Symbolism in Goethe’s Literary and Scientific Works. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Jones, Ernst. 1954. The Life and Work of Sigmund Freud, Vols. I–II. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  15. Miller, Elaine P. 2002. The Vegetative Soul. From Philosophy of Nature to Subjectivity in the Feminine. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  16. Potter, Will. 2011. The Green Is the New Red. San Francisco: City Lights Publisher.Google Scholar
  17. Redner, Harry. 1982. In the Beginning Was the Deed: Reflections on the Passage of Faust. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  18. Scholem, Gershom G. 1981. Walter Benjamin. The Story of a Friendship. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication of America.Google Scholar
  19. Steiner, Rudolf. 1950. Goethe the Scientist. New York: Antroposophic Press.Google Scholar
  20. Weinberg, Bennett Alan, and Bonnie K. Bealer. 2001. The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World’s Most Popular Drug. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dušan I. Bjelić
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of CriminologyUniversity of Southern MainePortlandUSA

Personalised recommendations