The Uncanny

In Freud’s essay on the uncanny he writes

“Our analysis of instances of the uncanny has led us back to the old, animistic conception of the universe. This was characterized by the idea that the world was peopled with the spirits of human beings; by the subject’s narcissistic overvaluation of his own mental processes; by the belief in the omnipotence of thoughts and the technique of magic based on that belief; by the attribution to various outside persons and things of carefully graded magical powers, or ’mana’; as well as by all the other creations with the help of which man, in the unrestricted narcissism of that stage of development, strove to fend off the manifest prohibitions of reality. It seems as if each one of us has been through a phase of individual development corresponding to this animistic stage in primitive men, that none of us has passed through it without preserving certain residues and traces of it which are still capable of manifesting themselves, and that everything which now strikes us as ’uncanny’ fulfils the condition of touching those residues of animistic mental activity within us and bringing them to expression.”

What Freud readily dismisses is our own position. It is of course precisely our contention that these ‘residues and traces’ cannot be removed, but stronger than that, that their removal is an impossibility and that furthermore their repression through rationality represents a pathalogical repression itself. Freud believes that rationalism can secure an apophansis that excludes the the occult possibility, that this would be the mature disclosure of Being, so for him it is not a repressive in a negative sense, rather only a repression in the sense of infantile amnesia -presumably.




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