By Laurie Ruth Johnson
Esthetic nervousness analyzes uncanny repetition in psychology, literature, philosophy, and movie, and produces a brand new narrative concerning the centrality of aesthetics in glossy subjectivity. the usually terrible, yet occasionally additionally stress-free, adventure of hysteria will be a cultured mode in addition to a mental country. Johnson's elucidation of that nation in texts through authors from Kant to Rilke demonstrates how estrangement can produce attachment, and repositions Romanticism as an engine of modernity.
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Extra info for Aesthetic Anxiety: Uncanny Symptoms in German Literature and Culture (Internationale Forschungen zur Allgemeinen und Vergleichenden Literaturwissenschaft, Volume 141)
The uncanny can be a form of memorializing rather than just of perpetuating trauma; in uncanny spaces within and outside of the mind, trauma continues, but in mutated form, on levels psychological, social, and potentially political as well. In the only book-length study of the uncanny to date, Nicholas Royle writes that uncanny astonishment, dread, or even horror has the potential to remind us of others, and therefore to bring us back “home,”70 with all of the ambiguity that Freud says the word “home” entails.
10 The sublime is supposedly a unique, singular experience, whereas the uncanny is characterized by repetition. And yet the expansion of awareness that the sublime promises is also afforded by its dark aesthetic twin, the uncanny, and the uncanny may provide a better instrument for accessing the pain and pleasure of aesthetic horror, especially when, as is so often the case, that horror is linked to the awareness of decay and death. In turn, this awareness often manifests in the symptoms of psychological illness; studies of mental disorders beginning in the mid-eighteenth century are rife with speculation that the symptoms of these disorders are symbols not just of organic imbalances, but of emotional states, such as fear.
He examines essays on aesthetic theory written in nineteenthcentury England, such as Anne Laetitia Barbauld’s On the Pleasure Derived From Objects of Terror and An Enquiry Into the Kinds of Distress Which Excite Agreeable Sensations (1825), in order to analyze a Gothic aesthetics of fear already, in my view, anticipated by German philosophers and psychologists a few decades prior. , 1964) 11-25. 16 Moritz, Werke 3: 301. The Uncanny Before Freud 53 des Unheimlichen”), 17 and before Freud famously responds to that same essay, the uncanny is a substantial component of the aesthetics of fear.