heimlich

what is it,wondered sigmund,
that makes u look in the eyes of a doll
and think/feel they R “uncanny”
*version of a freud stolen line
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Lecture Notes: Freud, “The Uncanny” (1919)

I. General Structure of the Essay

“Uncanny” divided into three sections:
Definition of the uncanny; definitions of the term itself; the semantic field of the opposition of the German words heimlich and unheimlich.
Examination of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s (1776-1822) short story “The Sandman” (1817) and a discussion of the psychoanalytic background and general context required for an understanding of the experience of the uncanny.
Deliberations on the effect of the uncanny, in particular its aesthetic instantiation in literature and fiction.
II. Definition of the Uncanny

Aesthetics and Psychoanalysis merged here. The uncanny is the subject of aesthetics. Why? Because it has to do with a certain kind of feeling or sensation, with emotional impulses. But in general aesthetics has neglected to study the uncanny, preferring to concentrate on beauty and, generally, on more positive emotions: the attractive, the sublime, etc. The uncanny is something fearful and frightening, and as such it has been neglected in the history of aesthetics. But Modernism marks a turn in asesthetics in general toward a fascination with the ugly, the grotesque: a kind of “negative” aesthetics. Freud’s essay makes a contribution to this supplement to the aesthetics of the “beautiful” by examining what we might call the aesthetics of the “fearful,” the aesthetics of anxiety.
Freud will wed psychoanalytic and aesthetic modes of thought to develop his theory of the uncanny; the theory remains incomplete if it fails to regard both of these. It is important to keep iun mind here that Freud interprets beauty in general as an “inhibited aim”: that is, as a sublimated reflection or manifestation of our erotic instincts and impulses. See in this regard the Freud Reader, p. 193.

–This essay provides a brilliant example—perhaps the most stunning one in all of Freud’s works—of the intertwining of psychoanalysis with another discipline: here, literary criticism.
ñIn this essay Freud plays the part of a literary critic who tries to explain the effect of a certain kind of literature; he is concerned with literary reception. Coherent with this literary orientation is the fact that he begins his analysis with philological considerations: the meaning of the word “uncanny” (unheimlich), its etymology, history, historical development, general use, etc.
What is the uncanny?
ñP. 195: Freud’s definition = uncanny as the class of frightening things that leads us back to what is known and familiar.
ñFreudís aim: to demonstrate psychoanalytically why this is the case.
–Only previous study of the uncanny = that of Jentsch: Jentsch’s conclusions:
ñFreud will take issue with both of these propositions.

ñStudy of the German words, heimlich and unheimlich (canny/homey; uncanny/unhomey).

1) Uncanny = fear of the unfamiliar

2) Uncanny = based on intellectual uncertainty

heimlich, first definition = I, a: belonging to the house; friendly; familiar; I, b: tame (as in animals); I, c: intimate, comfortable; i.e: secure, dometic(ated), hospitable.

heimlich, second definition = concealed, secret, withheld from sight and from others; secretive, deceitful = private.

ñNote the dialectic of these meanings, summarized on p. 200: what from the perspective of the one who is “at home” is familiar, is to the outsider, the stranger, the very definition of the unfamiliar, the secretive, the impenetrable.

ñThe term heimlich embodies the dialectic of “privacy” and “intimacy” that is inherent in bourgeois ideology. Therefore Freud can associate it with the “private parts,” the parts of the body that are the most “intimate” and that are simultaneously those parts subject to the most concealment (see p. 200). However, in Freud’s understanding the “heimlich” will also be something that is concealed from the self.

unheimlich: as the negation of heimlich, this word usually only applies to the first set of meanings listed above:

unheimlich I = unhomey, unfamiliar, untame, uncomfortable = eerie, weird, etc.

unheimlich II (the less common variant) = unconcealed, unsecret; what is revealed; what is supposed to be kept secret but is inadvertently revealed.

ñNote the implicit connection of this notion of the unheimlich to Freudís concept of the inadvertent slip of the tongue that reveals a hidden truth.  Schellingís definition (p. 199): “Unheimlich is the name for everything that ought to have remained secret and hidden but has come to light.” Unheimlich thus becomes a kind of unwilling, mistaken self-exposure.

Freud concentrates on the unusual semantics of these 2 terms:

heimlich I = known, familiar; unheimlich I = unknown, unfamiliar

heimlich II = secret, unknown; unheimlich II = revealed, uncovered

For a diagram of the complex semantic dynamics and oppositions Freud associates with these terms, click here.

The word heimlich thus has a meaning that overlaps with its opposite, unheimlich; the semantics of this word come full circle.
– Freud’s thesis: unheimlich, the uncanny = revelation of what is private and concealed, of what is hidden; hidden nopt only from others, but also from the self.

In Freudian terminology: the uncanny is the mark of the return of the repressed. (See p. 217)
. . .
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then i want to be
canny
a
doll
heimlich
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then i want to become
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heimlich


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