Freud’s discussion of uncanny [unheimlich] experiences focuses on their peculiar ambivalence. On his view, the uncanny is a paradoxical feeling of both familiarity and alienation. While Freud’s analysis of this paradoxical feeling does succeed in explaining it away, it does little to explain it. One might expect a psychoanalytical demystification of the real experience that is hidden behind the superstitious overtones of uncanny experiences. Instead, the uncanny is attributed rather anti- climactically to the combination of a previous superstition (maintained unconsciously) (...) and an entirely coincidental verification of that superstition. The implication is that there is no uncanny per se. There is no distinctive category of experience, the unique character of which tends to cause or encourage superstitious beliefs; rather, such beliefs are prerequisite to having the experience. In other words, the experience suits the belief, and not vice-versa. The uncanny is the fantasized verification of a repressed fantasy. It involves a breakdown of the reality principle and the projection of beliefs into the external world, rather than a peculiarity of feeling that can be linked intrinsically to a specific category of experience. I do not intend to reject this analysis in its entirety. The basic structure, repression and return, is sound. However, Freud’s analysis of the uncanny, which resolves uncanny ambivalence into the separate categories of consciousness and unconsciousness, merely reinstates the problematical opposition of das heimliche and das unheimliche, familiar and unfamiliar, within the mind rather than in the external world. The coincidence of the two feelings in uncanny experience cannot be explained without an intervening stage between repression and return. I will suggest that Freud’s characterization of uncanniness as the return, in superstition, of the repressed is a misplacement of the experience of uncanniness. The aesthetical feeling is the cause of, but not identical to, the projected superstitions and ideas which surround it. An explanation of the feeling of uncanniness must fall not on the side of the repressed, but on the side of consciousness. The import of my position is that the feeling of uncanniness refers, in a manner of speaking, to something “real,” rather than merely to infantile ideas projected upon the external world. Freud’s explanation makes the unconscious a kind of scapegoat to be blamed for imposing fundamentally irrational beliefs into our interpretation of present experience, in that way preserving a model of the conscious ego as autonomous, fundamentally attuned to reality and ultimately independent of the unconscious. I will argue, on the contrary, that the experience of the uncanny is not merely a falling back into irrational or infantile beliefs, but an experience of a deep disunity in personhood that rightly causes us to question our everyday confidence in the unity, independence, and rationality of our conscious sense of self. The ambivalence of the feeling has its source in an irresolvable ambivalence that can exist in consciousness, and not simply in an analytically resolvable psychical ambivalence between consciousness and the unconscious. (shrink)
Psychoanalysis, particularly as articulated by figures like Freud and Lacan, highlights the inherent division within the human subject—a schism between the conscious and unconscious mind. It could be said that this suggests that such an internal division becomes amplified in the context of generative art, where technology and algorithms are used to generate artistic expressions that are meant to emerge from the depths of the unconscious. Here, we encounter the tension between the conscious artist and the generative process itself, which (...) may yield unexpected, even uncontrollable results. -/- This paper, therefore, seeks to address this division within the modern subject and its relationship to technology, wherein the division within the living body is revealed through the presence of prosthetic elements, which mirrors the division brought about by the incorporation of language as a signifier. I argue that the amplification of this internal schism does not necessarily lead to a more fractured subject. Instead, generative art, bolstered by advancements in AI and machine learning, offers a unique opportunity for individuals to externalize and explore their minds in novel ways. -/- By examining contemporary works such as Hal Foster’s Prosthetic Gods, which stands as a pivotal exploration of the convergence between modernist art and psychoanalytic theory and Isabel Millar’s Psychoanalysis of Artificial Intelligence, this paper elucidates the profound implications of Freud’s vision of modern -/- subjectivity as Prothesengott (Prosthetic God) and address the questions concerning this technological imbrication of the human mind and body through the Lacanian framework. Although for Freud, Man does not become a real God, rather, the potential to transcend one’s limitations ascribes us to God-like qualities by seeking to generate new forms of life that go beyond merely reproducing nature — a transcention of the natural. Millar emphasizes that Freud observes that this is evidenced by the fact that these additional organs remain distinct from the organism and can never assimilate into it. One continually falls short of realizing the fantasy he envisions, opting instead to use his supplementary artificial organs to endlessly revolve around the objects of the drive. -/- This evolving relationship that the drive has with its technological objects, resounds in Lacan’s conception of “lathouse” which allows extimate objects to convert interiority (unconscious) into exteriority (conscious) and exteriority into interiority. The thesis of this paper seeks to employ this underutilized concept to understand the nature of human subjectivity and its bodily and structural relationship to generative art. Therefore, this paper emphasizes what really happens when we enter into this relationship with the lathouse, whereby this artificial object has effects in the "real of jouissance", where these Lathouses create a network, namely the Alethosphere. My goal is to argue that generative art as a technological development, can be seen as an extension to the development of the drive. Conclusively, I make the claim for generative art's potential to externalize the human creative drive by emphasizing the interplay between randomness and structure, and how it offers a means to surpass our inherent limitations by presenting an avenue for self-expression that transcends traditional modes of art. (shrink)
The hardcover version of the book Astrophotography: Concepts and Flows focuses only on the semiotics of art other than any technicalities covered in the Kindle eBook and paperback versions. With the arrangements in the concept of art and nuclear chemistry in its ecological terms conveyed in the meanings in art, the book is a selected series of the artworks in the photographic and installation art.
This article develops a theory of border subjectivity that considers the cybernetic role of narrative structures and mediation in political advocacy aimed at dreamers and DACA recipients. "Cybersujetos” are border subjects who are racialized by cybernetic systems and media narratives, but can resist control by repurposing cultural technologies. In assessing the limitations of journalism, literature, and film as outlets for political advocacy, this article finds that remediated representations of undocumented youth that attempt to expand their political agency can further alienate (...) them. Outdated stereotypes in representation are substituted with a proliferation of diverse but still racialized figures meant to demarcate "exceptional" candidates for naturalization, thus failing to challenge the normative parameters of citizenship itself and the militarized position of the US on the global stage. (shrink)
This article explores the cannibalistic dimensions of racial disgust and desire in Michel Houellebecq’s Submission. Situated within broader discourses of French déclinisme, Submis- sion offers a melancholic portrait of white nostalgia. Through the tastes and consumptive practices of his characters, Houellebecq depicts white identification as dependent on an ambivalent relationship to corporeal difference. Paying close attention to the mouth’s dual function as a site of ontological triage (sorting out the human from the non-human, the edible from the inedible) and ontological (...) transformation (converting dead matter into living flesh), I argue that cannibalist desire is integral to white nationalist anxiety. (shrink)
Why do painters paint? Obviously, there are numerous possible reasons. They paint to create images for others’ enjoyment, to solve visual problems, to convey ideas, and to contribute to a rich artistic tradition. This book argues that there is yet another, crucially important but often overlooked reason. -/- Painters paint to feel. -/- They paint because it enables them to experience special feelings, such as being absorbed in creative play and connected to something vitally significant. Painting may even transform the (...) painter’s whole sense of being. Thus, painting is not only about producing art, communicating content, and so on, but also about setting up and inhabiting an experiential space wherein highly valued feelings are interactively enabled and supported. This book investigates how and why this happens by combining psychoanalytical theorization on creativity with philosophical thinking on affectivity. It focuses on creative experience itself, and illuminates the psychological mechanisms and dynamics that underlie the affects at stake. Painters’ own descriptions of how they feel at work are used throughout to give an accurate, true-to-life portrayal of the experience of painting. -/- The strength of the book lies in its open-minded yet critical integration of contemporary psychoanalytic and philosophical thinking, and in its truthfulness to painters’ experiential descriptions of the painterly process. On the whole, it enriches our understanding of artistic creativity and sheds more light on how and why we come to feel the things we do. As such, the book will appeal to philosophers, psychoanalysts, and art researchers alike. (shrink)
This paper explores some connections between depictions of mortality in portrait-painting and philosophical (and psychoanalytic) treatments of our need to be recognized by others. I begin by examining the connection that Georg Simmel makes in his philosophical study of Rembrandt between that artist’s capacity for depicting his portrait subjects as non-repeatable individuals and his depicting them as mortal, or such as to die. After noting that none of Simmel’s explanations of the tragic character of Rembrandt’s portrait subjects seems fully satisfactory, (...) I then turn to Rousseau’s writing on our need for the recognition of others in order to argue that (1) it is at least as sources for the satisfaction of this need that other persons figure for us as irreplaceable (in a way that contrasts with the kinds of satisfaction that intersubstitutable things afford us); and that (2) it is exactly this kind of irreplaceability that Simmel is gesturing at in connecting the concepts of individuality and mortality in his writing on Rembrandt’s portraits. For the remainder of the paper I argue that the foregoing ideas are in fact central to the psychoanalytic writing of Melanie Klein, and in particular (a) Klein’s understanding the infant’s apprehension of other persons as internally related to their anxieties about the possibility of those persons’ irretrievable loss; (b) her understanding that it is as sources of recognition that others’ personhood is made salient to us; and (c) her treatment of portrait-painting as an activity for working through those aforementioned anxieties. (shrink)
In this paper we explain Wittgenstein’s claim in a 1933 lecture that “aesthetics like psychoanalysis doesn’t explain anything away.” The discussions of aesthetics are distinctive: Wittgenstein gives a positive account of the relationship between aesthetics and psychoanalysis, as contrasted with psychology. And we follow not only his distinction between cause and reason, but also between hypothesis and representation, along with his use of the notion of ideals as facilitators of aesthetic discourse. We conclude that aesthetics, like psychoanalysis, preserves the verifying (...) phenomena in their fullness. (shrink)
Drawing on texts in psychology, philosophy, and literature the paper argues that art avails us of a distance from ourselves. Art has a potential to change our perspective on monstrosity and to make us question our moral categories and presuppositions. The study focuses on a single painting by Paul Gavarni, Two Pierrots Looking into a Box (1852), which I have discovered holds two images in one representation. I turn to Gavarni's work in order to prompt a literal gestalt shift in (...) my readers. I direct the readers' viewing so that, at first, Gavarni's pierrots appear as handsome, albeit licentious youths, but then, through a shift in focus, I reveal their hideous, monstrous profiles. At this point, I argue that if we treat Gavarni's pierrots and the sorts of desires that they represent with single-minded opprobrium, then we run the risk of perpetuating the ugliness we scorn. There is, then, a double change in vision, which I seek to effect. The first one is the alteration of the visual, and the second, of the ethical perspective. The latter has to do with a realization that Gavarni's Pierrots can elicit from us — depending on how we see them — either complicity or reprehension, which is not so much a commentary on the drawing, as it is a reflection on ourselves (our biases, opinions, desires, values, etc.). The phenomenon that underlies the change in how we see what Gavarni portrays and how we, thereafter, relate to what we notice — the malleability of the human psyche — is what allows for and calls the many masking images we, ourselves, wear and perceive. The final question that I address in the paper is whether we can claim mastery over those images, which mask the monstrous or whether, if we do, then far from getting rid of the callous, the cruel, and the inhumane, we stand the risk of giving these expressions a freer playground? (shrink)
Primary and secondary processes are the foundational axes of the Freudian mental apparatus: one horizontally as a tendency to associate, the primary process, and one vertically as the ability for perspective taking, the secondary process. Primary process mentation is not only supposed to be dominant in the unconscious but also, for example, in dreams. The present study tests the hypothesis that the mental activity during REM-sleep has more characteristics of the primary process, while during non-REM-sleep more secondary process operations take (...) place. Because the solving of a rebus requires the ability to non-contexually condensate the literal reading of single stimuli into a new one, rebus solving is a primary process operation by excellence. In a replication of the dream-rebus study of Shevrin and Fisher (1967), a rebus, which consisted of an image of a comb (German: “Kamm”) and an image of a raft (German: “Floß”), resulting in the German rebus word “kampflos” (Engl.: without a struggle), was flashed subliminally (at 1 ms) to 20 participants before going to sleep. Upon consecutive awakenings participants were asked for a dream report, free associations and an image description. Based on objective association norms, there were significantly more conceptual associations referring to Kamm and Floß indexing secondary process mentation when subjects were awakened from non-REM sleep as compared to REM-awakenings. There were not significantly more rebus associations referring to kampflos indexing primary process mentation when awakened from REM-sleep as compared to non-REM awakenings. However, when the associations were scored on the basis of each subject’s individual norms, there was a rebus effect with more idiosyncratic rebus associations in awakenings after REM than after non-REM-sleep. Our results support the general idea that REM-sleep is characterized by primary process thinking, while non-REM-sleep mentation follows the rules of the secondary process. (shrink)
This chapter philosophically examines the transformation of “Walter White” into “Heisenberg,” as depicted in the television series Breaking Bad, in terms of Søren Kierkegaard’s “stages of life” and Carl Jung’s “process of individuation.” Though Walt’s transformation is an oft-discussed topic regarding Breaking Bad, there has yet to appear in the philosophical literature an examination of this transformation in terms of Kierkegaard and Jung. Such an examination is important since it also addresses a number of the questions regarding the shift in (...) Walt’s moral compass given his terminal prognosis. That is to say, Walt’s transformation into Heisenberg in terms of Kierkegaard and Jung provides a moral account of his decisions without sacrificing a notion of his free-will or accepting the imminence of death as justification for the perpetration of evil. (shrink)
In his critical and his later work, Kant recommends apathy to the moral agent faced with pathological phenomena. Notoriously, Kant even rejects compassion (Mitleiden) as pathological. A deconstruction of Kant's 'apathology', i.e. of his systematic treatment of compassion, reveals disgust as quasi-transcendental affect at the roots of the moral agent's apathy.