Sunday, July 29, 2007

Culture and the Unconscious

This book was newly acquired by "our" librarian Dr. Erika Neuber (she has a few prefixes more). I grabbed it from the Institute´s library, when it was in the Newly Acquired section. First I did not know what to begin with it, since I am a sceptic and critical person. I respect, of course, the science psychology, but the question was: How would I accept a Western (1) scientific approach, namely the psychological one, to worldwide cultures? Wouldn´t this rather support - you name it! - euro-centric argumentation?

Three parts divide the book into fields, wherein articles are collected: The Introduction by Michael Rustin makes clear, that this book came from a series of conferences to focus on "different ways of thinking about the relations between Culture and the Unconscious" (Rustin 2007: 1). Rustin explains differing understandings of the unconscious from the view of psychoanalysis and creative artists´work. He refers Part 1 to the dialogue of various ways to inform each other, namely the academic psychoanalysis and cultural practices. Part 2 deals with the symbolization of trauma in artistic unconscious mental processes. Part 3 reflects clinical practitioners approach to works of art and their production.

In Part1 Psychoanalysis and Culture. Historical and Theoretical Encounters the reader finds six chapters:

  • 1 A City of Souls and the Soul of a City: Alfred Doeblin and the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute: This chapter was written by Veronika Fuechtner, who studied German literature, media, history and political science in Marburg and Berlin.
  • 2 A New Naturalism: On the origins of Psychoanalysis as a Social Theory of Subjectivity by Karl Figlio
  • 3 The Unconscious and the Other: Rescue, Inclusivity and the Eroticization of Difference in 1930s Vienna by Mica Nava
  • 4 Psychoanalysis and Culture in Secular Times by Michael Rustin
  • 5 Thinking Art and Psychoanalysis
  • 6 Michel de Certeau and the Possibilities of Psychoanalytic Cultural Studies by Ben Highmore

Part 2: Culture and Trauma as Working Through makes up an Introduction and four chapters:

  • 7 Everything to play for: Masculinity, Trauma and the Pleasures of DVD Technologies by Caroline Bainbridge and Candida Yates. This chapter analyzes DVD cinema consumption in relation to technological progress often related to masculinity.
  • 8 Landscape after Ruins by Phil Cohen
  • 9 "Father, Can´t You See I´m Burning?" Trauma, Ethics and the Possibility of Community in J M. Coetzee´s Age of Iron Sam Durrant
  • 10 Film, Feminism and Melanie Klein: "Weird Lullabies" by Suzy Gordon

Part3: The View from the Clinic, again an Introduction peers five chapters:

  • 11 Reality and Unreality in Fact and Fiction by Ronald Britton
  • 12 The Idealization of a Lost Object in Juliette and in Clinical Work by Debbie Hindle and Susie Godsil
  • 13 Grief in the Mother´s Eyes: A Search for Identity by Marguerite Reid
  • 14 Forever Young: Not Psychoanalysing Bob Dylan
  • 15 Psychoanalytic Perspectives on the Dionysiac and the Apollonian in Euripide´s Bacchae by David Bell

Finally, the Conclusion: Clinical and Academic Psychoanalytic Criticism authored by Susannah Radstone offers an explicit view on the Differences that Matter! Radstone goes back to Freud to start with statement, that "psychoanalysts have continued to write on culture and the arts" (Radstone 2007: 242). ___________________________________________________________________________________________

(1) Please refer to Maurice Godelier´s critique on the Western model of society

Bainbridge, Caroline / Susannah Radstone / Rustin, Michael / Yates, Candida (Editors) (2007) Culture and the Unconscious. London: Palgrave Macmillan


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