Aesthetic Anxiety: Uncanny Symptoms in German Literature and Culture. (Internationale Forschungen Zur Allgemeinen Und Vergleichende)
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Aesthetic Anxiety analyzes uncanny repetition in psychology, literature, philosophy, and film, and produces a new narrative about the centrality of aesthetics in modern subjectivity. The often horrible, but sometimes also enjoyable, experience of anxiety can be an aesthetic mode as well as a psychological state. Johnson's elucidation of that state in texts by authors from Kant to Rilke demonstrates how estrangement can produce attachment, and repositions Romanticism as an engine of modernity.
experiences in the texts examined above have a double function: they bring the inside out (as illustrated in the experience of depersonalization, in the desire to die at least a little) and the outside in (as in “fausse reconnaissance,” which is an attempt to live more expansively by internalizing something that does not belong to oneself). This double move is represented in mental disorders (such as in the case studies of Moritz’s Journal of Empirical Psychology and in the ill Balder in William
in terms of psychosomatic illness) continues into the twentieth century, when Heidegger relies and expands on Freud’s work in order to define an uncanny experience as one of an essentially primal anxiety, inseparable from the body and symptomatic of nervous illness.29 Part of the “structure of uncanniness,” according to Heidegger, is “being’s flight from itself” (“die Flucht des Daseins vor ihm selbst”). 30 But it is the awareness of the impossibility of escaping one’s own being, and of the
completely abstract. The works of all of these thinkers, even Schelling’s supposedly esoteric Clara, demonstrate a desire to understand real present suffering in part by determining the role that contemporary evocations of ancient myths play in that suffering. By foregrounding conversations between four characters about the relationship between death and immortality, and by focusing on an All Souls’ Day celebration, Clara seems concerned primarily with the possibility of life after death. It
past to present than either that of Kant’s disinterested spectatorship or of an overinvolved Romantic melancholy. It is at the intersection of feelings of entrapment and liberation, and of pain and pleasure, that psychoanalysis will later locate the individual’s chance to work through conflicts. In a usually late stage of a successful psychoanalytic psychotherapy, the individual remembers earlier pain and experiences the feeling of freedom, analogous to pleasure, that comes of the awareness of
demonic but logically explicable. Schlegel’s aestheticization of the Countess into a modern mystic and his esoteric fragments on animal magnetism are hardly examples of an 129 Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy show that the Romantic fragment is related to the concept of the ruin thusly: “Ruin and fragment conjoin the functions of the monument and of evocation; what is thereby both remembered as lost and presented in a sort of sketch (or blueprint) is always the living unity of a great