Thursday, 9 December 2010

Notes from The Uncanny by Sigmund Freud

Uncanny - realm of the frightening evokes fear and dread
We stray on the beautiful and positive and tend to advoid feelings of repulsion and distress

Two courses of investigation

1. Unheimlich (German) equivalents in english are uncanny, eerie and unhomely

2. Persons and things, sense impressions, experiences and situations goes on to suggest it's hidden nature from what these things have in common

Both courses approaches the frighting/ disturbing to what was once well known and familiar

Heimlich definition - belonging to the house, not strange, familiar, tame, dear and intimate, homely

"Uncanny and motionless like a stone statue" (Reis, 1919, 10) - objects that are still/ fixed are untrustworthy detect subtle attempts of movement that scare us

"Various shades of meaning that are recorded for the word 'Heimlich', there is one in which it merges with it's formal antonym, unheimlich... to what is concealled and kept hidden" (Freud, 1919, Pg 32) - How both terms differ due to subtle changes that unnerve us that was secrectly hidden away has now come into the open.

E.Jentsch singles out doubt whether an animate object really is alive and whether a lifeless object may not be animate, he refers to waxwork figures, ingeniously constructed dolls and automata. He adds the uncanny effects by epileptic fits and manifestations of insanity

Olimpia doll in Hoffmann's tale of Coppelius - tormented image that controls the mind to do bad things.

"With dolls, of course, we are not far from the world of childhood." (Freud, 1919, Pg14)
A child would imagine these dolls alive through play and are not afraid of them - a wish or belief for the uncanny

idea of double (the doubleganger) regarded as identical because they look alike

ORank studies connections that link double with mirror - images, shadows, guardian spirits, doctrine of the soul and fear of death

Dominance of a compulsion to repeat in unconcious mind, overides pleasurable principle and lend a demonic character to aspects of mental life manefests in small children and victims of neurosis

A living person can be seen as 'uncanny' credited with evil intent to harm us realised with the help of special powers

Uncanny effect of epilepsy or madness has same origin seeing manifestations of forces unexpected in a human being
Uncanny - the boundary between fantasy and reality are blurred

Mother's womb once homely and familiar for all human beings but reflecting on this later is  uncanny

Pictures or dolls coming to life
raising of the dead - what we were has become animate

Freud Sigmund, (1919), The Uncanny, Penguin Classics

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