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Essman, E. (2019). Sublime Subjects by Giuseppe Civitarese New York: Routledge, 2018; 172 pp. Fort Da, 25(2):60-68.

(2019). Fort Da, 25(2):60-68

Sublime Subjects by Giuseppe Civitarese New York: Routledge, 2018; 172 pp

Review by:
Eric Essman, M.A.

Sublime Psychoanalysis

The spell [that sublimity] throws over us prevails over that which aims at persuasion and gratification. Our persuasions we can usually control, but the influences of the sublime bring power and infinite might to bear, and reign supreme over every hearer.

— Longinus, 1st century AD

Eternity is in love with the productions of time.

— William Blake, 1790/1970

The mother's idiom of care and the infant's experience of this handling is one of the first if not the earliest human aesthetic.

— Christopher Bollas, 1987

Sublimation is only tangential to the sublime in the history of ideas. “The sublime” is a venerable category of aesthetic experience investigated by philosophy and poetics. “Sublimation,” historically its much younger cousin, is a psychological process allegorized in the alchemy of refining baser metals into gold. As described by Freud (1923, 1930), “sublimation” elevates and transforms, via aim- and object-inhibition, the sexual drives into the cultural treasure of art or science. Following Bion, Giuseppe Civitarese in Sublime Subjects (1918), his latest collection of essays, redefines “sublimation” developmentally as a primary mode of abstraction transforming raw sensations into protosymbolic forms, potentially yielding caregiver-child “atonement/at-one-ment” (p. 1).

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