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11 DECEMBER 2013

Visceral Theory: Affect and Embodiment

"How can we think or write theory in the wake of poststructuralism? For a number of recent thinkers, one possible answer arrives in the often slippery category of affect, in the attempt to return theoretical attention not only to material conditions but specifically to the body and the intensities that traverse it. Such theorists are critical of the elevation of language over visceral, lived experience and interested in the ways that affects circulate publicly or are transmitted contagiously. 'The skin,' writes Brian Massumi, 'is faster than the word.' In different ways, they theorize affect–which they distinguish from emotion or feeling–as a per–personal and pre–linguistic entity about which they nonetheless attempt to speak. This class will constitute a joint experiment in how to think, write, and deploy the concept or concepts of affect. Readings will include selections from Baruch Spinoza, Sigmund Freud, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Brian Massumi, Kathleen Stewart, Teresa Brennan, Lauren Berlant, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and others. No prior reading will be assumed, but a willingness to struggle with and through nonlinear and experimental writing (both alone and with the group) will be an absolute necessity."

(Abby Kluchin)

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TAGS

Abby Kluchin • affect • affect theoryBaruch Spinozabody • Brian Massumi • differanceembodimentemotion • Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick • feelingFelix GuattariGilles Deleuzeintensities • Kathleen Stewart • Lauren Berlant • material conditions • per-personal entity • poststructuralism • pre-linguistic entity • Sigmund Freudskin • slippery category • Teresa Brennan • theorise affect • visceralvisceral experiencevisceral theory

CONTRIBUTOR

Liam Birtles
02 SEPTEMBER 2013

Retrospective exhibition of surrealist artist Meret Oppenheim

"Die Meret Oppenheim Retrospektive im Bank Austria Kunstforum zeigt Arbeiten aus allen Schaffensperioden Meret Oppenheims. Eine umfassende Schau, die Gelegenheit bietet, Meret Oppenheim abseits bekannter Klischees neu zu entdecken."

(Joseph Schimmer, 20.03.2013)

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
01 MARCH 2013

Interpretation is reactionary, impertinent, cowardly and stifling

"Interpretation in our own time, however, is even more complex. For the contemporary zeal for the project of interpretation is often prompted not by piety toward the troublesome text (which may conceal an aggression), but by an open aggressiveness, an overt contempt for appearances. The old style of interpretation was insistent, but respectful; it erected another meaning on top of the literal one. The modern style of interpretation excavates, and as it excavates, destroys; it digs 'behind' the text, to find a sub–text which is the true one. The most celebrated and influential modern doctrines, those of Marx and Freud, actually amount to elaborate systems of hermeneutics, aggressive and impious theories of interpretation. All observable phenomena are bracketed, in Freud's phrase, as manifest content. This manifest content must be probed and pushed aside to find the true meaning –the latent content –beneath. For Marx, social events like revolutions and wars; for Freud, the events of individual lives (like neurotic symptoms and slips of the tongue) as well as texts (like a dream or a work of art) –all are treated as occasions for interpretation. According to Marx and Freud, these events only seem to be intelligible. Actually, they have no meaning without interpretation. To understand is to interpret. And to interpret is to restate the phenomenon, in effect to find an equivalent for it.

Thus, interpretation is not (as most people assume) an absolute value, a gesture of mind situated in some timeless realm of capabilities. Interpretation must itself be evaluated, within a historical view of human consciousness. In some cultural contexts, interpretation is a liberating act. It is a means of revising, of transvaluing, of escaping the dead past. In other cultural contexts, it is reactionary, impertinent, cowardly, stifling."

(Susan Sontag, 1966)

Susan Sontag (1966). "Against Interpretation: And Other Essays". Farrar, Strauss & Giroux.

TAGS

1966 • aggressiveness • appearance • behind the text • contempt for appearances • cowardly • dead past • destroy • doctrine • dreamsexcavationhermeneuticshistorical interpretation • historical view • human consciousness • impertinent • individual lives • interpretationinterpretation of signsKarl Marx • latent content • liberating actmanifest contentmeaning • neurotic symptoms • observable phenomena • phenomenaphenomenon • philosophy and interpretation • reactionary • revising • revisionism • revolutions • Sigmund Freud • slips of the tongue • social events • stifling • subtext • Susan Sontag • textstheories of interpretation • transvaluing • troublesome text • true meaning • wars • women in cultural theorywork of art

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
27 JANUARY 2012

Adorno's ambitions for the constellation

"17. But I am eliciting these implications of Adorno's reservations about Gestalt because what they imply is what Adorno leaves unsaid here, namely the contrast with his ambitions for the constellation. I should caution here that Adorno sometimes uses the word 'constellation' to designate historically given, that is, already familiarized, ideological arrays or Gestalts [for example, Critical Models 138, 260]; my usage henceforth will connote 'constellation' in the sense Adorno valorizes, as a device with the potential to be turned, in somewhat the manner of the Brechtian V–effect, against such familiarizations (though just this dissident potential, of course, is what mid–century avant–gardists were seizing on in Gestalt). And as we'll see, the word's 'antithetical' reversals of meaning are themselves indices of the 'dialectical'–ness of Adorno's immanent critique. We might say that these 'antithetical' meanings––'constellation' as unconscious ideological synthesis versus 'constellation' as consciousness–raising estrangement; 'constellation' as object of critique, or as subject of it––are themselves a kind of constellation implying or encoding, concealing or de–familiarizing a narrative, that of the classic Enlightenment project summarized by Freud in the formula, 'making the unconscious conscious.' Adorno may 'repeat' an over–familiar constellation and then reliquify (or, Medusa–like, petrify) its 'congelations'; or he may present an unfamiliar and even shocking juxtaposition, whose estrangement is to provoke a new and heightened consciousness of the ideological condition in which we are entrapped. The historical image that results, ideological and critical all at once, appropriates the critical force we saw Adorno ascribing to the Benjaminian dialectical image, turning it, immanently, to estranging or defamiliarizing, sc. critical or (Hegel) 'negative' purposes."

(Steven Helmling, 2003)

Steven Helmling (2003). "Constellation and Critique: Adorno's Constellation, Benjamin's Dialectical Image", Postmodern Culture, Volume 14, Number 1, September 2003 | 10.1353/pmc.2003.0030

TAGS

antithetical • avant-garde • avant-gardists • Benjaminian • Bertolt Brecht • Brechtian V-effect • concealing • congelations • consciousconsciousness • consciousness-raising estrangement • constellations • critical force • critical models • critique • de-familiarising • defamiliarising • dialectical • dialectical image • encodingEnlightenment project • estrangement • estranging • familiarisations • Georg Hegelgestalt • gestalts • historical image • historically given • ideological arrays • ideological condition • juxtaposition • making the unconscious • Medusanarrative • object of critique • Sigmund Freud • subject of critique • Theodor Adorno • unconscious ideological synthesis • Walter Benjamin

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
07 NOVEMBER 2009

Manipulating Unconscious Desires: The Century of the Self

"Adam Curtis' acclaimed series examines the rise of the all–consuming self against the backdrop of the Freud dynasty.

To many in both politics and business, the triumph of the self is the ultimate expression of democracy, where power has finally moved to the people. Certainly the people may feel they are in charge, but are they really? The Century of the Self tells the untold and sometimes controversial story of the growth of the mass–consumer society in Britain and the United States. How was the all–consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interests?

The Freud dynasty is at the heart of this compelling social history. Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis; Edward Bernays, who invented public relations; Anna Freud, Sigmund's devoted daughter; and present–day PR guru and Sigmund's great grandson, Matthew Freud.

Sigmund Freud's work into the bubbling and murky world of the subconscious changed the world. By introducing a technique to probe the unconscious mind, Freud provided useful tools for understanding the secret desires of the masses. Unwittingly, his work served as the precursor to a world full of political spin doctors, marketing moguls, and society's belief that the pursuit of satisfaction and happiness is man's ultimate goal."

(InformationLiberation, 21 March 2006)

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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