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Play, Art, And Subject In Freud And Gadamer

1205 words - 5 pages

Play, Art, and Subject in Freud and GadamerThrough history, we have already seen the attempt in Plato's Ion to define the literary imagination. Now, in Sigmund Freud's "Creative Writers and Day-dreaming," we find an attempt to give a scientific explanation for the nebulous process of artistic creation on psychoanalytical grounds. Freud establishes that human desire leads us to alter the existing and often unsatisfactory or unpleasant world of reality with everything from fantasies and dreams to children's play and works of art. Decades after Freud's publication, Hans George Gadamer approaches the subject of play and art using hermeneutics (the field of literary or textual interpretation), ...view middle of the document...

Freud explains the elemental piece of this work, saying "You will see from this example the way in which the wish makes use of an occasion in the present to construct, on the pattern of the past, a picture of the future." (440) In this model, we see the subject not only as influential in this play process, but that the entire Freudian model of play is rooted in its relationship to the identity of the self or the individual. Freud relates his model of play to art by first stressing the societal unacceptability of the adult expression of play, going as far to say that the undisciplined adult who plays openly is comparable to the mentally ill. Since he finds creativity to be the expression of play, the artist is a public player, but he or she does not simply play in public through whatever medium they choose. Freud makes the distinction by saying that the artist "softens the character of his egoistic day-dreams [or play] by altering and disguising it, and he bribes us by the purely formal-that is, aesthetic-yield of pleasure which he offers us in the presentation of his fantasies," with something he refers to as "ars poetica (Latin for the art of poetry) in this context, most directly meaning the poetical effects. In the ars poetica, we find our pleasure in the recognized control that the writer exercises over his public presentation of play. Freud's model of play and art, while simple, is considerably problematic due to reductive nature which relates to his (also reductive) models of human psychology. We find holes in is overarching model for creativity, among those being his application of creativity to a niche art field of romantic and short story writers, along with novelists.Gadamer's work offers readers a much more complete and complex analysis of art - its existence, its truth, the primacy of play and loss of subjectivity - and the relationship between art and meaning. Freud emphasizes the content of a work of art more than the impact of art on its subject. Thus, there is a sharp contrast between this perspective and Gadamer's indirect response to Freud's theory on play and its relationship to art. Gadamer writes, "All playing is being played. The attraction of the game, the fascination it exerts consists precisely in the fact that the game tends to master the players." (373) The very act of playing itself absorbs the players, and...

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