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Leikert, S. (2017). ‘For Beauty is Nothing but the Barely Endurable Onset of Terror’: Outline of a General Psychoanalytic Aesthetics. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 98(3):657-681.

(2017). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 98(3):657-681

Interdisciplinary Studies

‘For Beauty is Nothing but the Barely Endurable Onset of Terror’: Outline of a General Psychoanalytic Aesthetics

Sebastian Leikert

(Accepted for publication 21 January 2016)

Even close to 80 years after Freud's words that psychoanalysis “has scarcely anything to say about beauty” (Freud, Civilization and its Discontents, SE 21, p. 82) the question of a specific psychoanalytic aesthetic is still faced with a deficit in theory. Since aesthetics is related to Aisthesis, the Greek word for ‘perception’, a psychoanalytic aesthetic can solely emerge from a psychoanalysis of perceptive structures. The term ‘kinaesthetic semantic’ is introduced in order to exemplify via music how perceptive experiences must be structured for them to be experienced as beautiful. The basic mechanisms - repetition of form (rhythm, unification) and seduction (deviation, surprise) - are defined. With the help of these mechanisms an intensive contact between perceiving object and kinetic subject, the physical self, is established. The intensive relatedness is a requirement for the creative process in art and also for psychic growth on the subject's level. The described basic mechanisms of the aesthetic process in music can also be encountered in painting and poetry. By the means of a self-portrait by Bacon it will be examined how, in art, terror and traumatization are represented via targeted disorganization of beauty endowing mechanisms, hence finding an enabling form of confrontation and integration of fended contents.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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