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The Ambivalent Nature Of The Uncanny

Decent Essays
The notion of the uncanny is the key term for psychoanalysis and the psychoanalytical approach for interpretation of the art. The uncanny effect is ingrained not by something unfamiliar or something frightening but because it conveys something that has been lived through and exuded to the sphere of an unconscious. Freud’s 1919 essay of the same name - The Uncanny - has been written for literary, psychoanalytic, critical, however not art purpose at all. It has erupted into aesthetics discourse (Walsh 21). The notion of the uncanny constitutes an inevitable part of Freudian theory of repression. This notion exemplifies eruption of the retrospect events in the actual time, whereas mnemonic representation has been perplexed by fragments. Thus,…show more content…
The ambivalent nature of the concept of the uncanny can be traced in the oeuvres of Austrian Expressionist painter, Freud’s contemporary, Egon Schiele (1890 – 1918), whose artworks have been referred to as manifesting motifs of ‘sexuality, insanity, and death’ (Knafo 138). The oeuvres compel scrutiny of personal psychic borders, ‘primarily through repeated, merciless confrontations with […] identity, sexuality, and mortality’ (Knafo 134) that parallels the bourgeoning attention to psychoanalysis at fin-de-siecle Vienna that was depicted as ‘an isolation cell in which one is allowed to scream’ (Comini 2015, 254). As a result, this paper argues that Schiele’s art oeuvres are related to the notion of uncanny and therefore depict uncanniness in art, since his paintings are the outcomes reflecting his psychic past. This paper takes its main impetus through the Freudian theories mainly scrutinizing the concepts from his essay The Uncanny together with Green’s reflections on depression within motherhood with its further discussion of selected Schiele’s oeuvres, namely The Self-Seers I (Double Self-Portrait) (1910), The Self-Seers II (Death and Man) (1911), The Dead Mother I (Tote Mutter I) (1910), The Dead Mother II (The Birth of Genius) (1911) so as to demonstrate the texts’ pertinency for the analysis of art…show more content…
An important insight is the understanding of the background, of the era at the beginning of the 20th century. Freud’s thought evolves on a specific background around it, during the process of industrialization, development of the technologies from photo-cinematic inventions to the mechanisms applied in war. Visual arts such as painting, motion pictures, photography were aimed at mirroring an uncovered epoch and life in it, together with the military conflict and further militarization which aligned a human being to a machine, an ‘automaton’ (Freud 227), as a result these aspects threaten an ordinary, habitual way of life and trigger the inceptives of the uncanny sensations. Regardless the above-mentioned foray of cutting-edge machinery, Freud, nevertheless, derives the instances of sensus numinis from literary studies, namely Romantic and Gothic literature. These are the instances such as the opposition between being animate or inanimate which evokes ‘intellectual uncertainty’ (Freud 221) whether the events or the objects that are presented to the intended reader by the writer are legitimate or fictitious, in other words, whether the situation is ‘real’ or ‘imaginary’. A further source of the uncanny feeling that is delivered by Freud from psychoanalytical experience is anchored to the fear of castration (Freud 231). Freud refers this example to the
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