Friday, January 21, 2011

Freud's "The Uncanny"

Instead of talking about the films "The Lost Highway" or "The Hour of the Wolf", since I am not sure what happened in either, I will talk about Freud's essay on the unfamiliar. Freud has a very thick writing style and embeds a multitude of information between the lines of his text. I made this point in class, but I find most of Freud's discoveries and theories enlightening. The idea that a portion of human actions are unable to be controlled and are actually influenced by our subconscious has profound implications. Our ethical, political, and economic theories that are the groundwork for modern society relies heavily on the rational being, and if Freud's subconscious is to be believed, it undermines these theories. I think many people consider Freud and all of his theories as ridiculous because of his fascination with the Oedipus Complex and his wholly masculine ideas, but much of his writing is lucid, interesting, and compelling. As "The Uncanny" is concerned, Freud focuses on those instances where the familiar becomes the unfamiliar. To illustrate this point I will explore the example of "The Sandman" that Freud discusses. He outlines the plot of "The Sandman" which I will spare the reader from, but the idea of an automaton is a great example of the uncanny. Something that has human characteristics is a familiar and easily understandable concept. But when our main character discovers he has fallen in love with a wooden doll, the effect is uncanny. He recognizes the human features of the doll, but laced within this familiarity is the unfamiliar. Although Freud takes his analysis a step further than I will with his comparing the sandman's taking of the eyes as the castration complex, the uncanny is surely there. As we progress through the semester and encounter strange, fantastical movies, I am sure the uncanny will be a consistent theme.

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