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Bollas, C. (1978). The Aesthetic Moment and the Search for Transformation. Ann. Psychoanal., 6:385-394.

(1978). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 6:385-394

The Aesthetic Moment and the Search for Transformation

Christopher Bollas, Ph.D.

For Masud Khan

The aesthetic experience occurs as moment. Eliseo Viva describes it as “rapt, intransitive attention” (quoted in Krieger, 1976p. 11). Murray Krieger (1976) writes: “What would characterize the experience as aesthetic rather than either cognitive or moral would be its self sufficiency, its capacity to trap us within itself, to keep us from moving beyond it to further knowledge or to practical efforts” (p. 11). A spell which holds self and other in symmetry and solitude, time crystalizes into space, providing a rendezvous of self and other (text, composition, painting) that actualizes deep rapport between subject and object. The aesthetic moment constitutes this deep rapport between subject and object, and provides the person with a generative illusion of fitting with an object, evoking an existential memory. Existential, as opposed to cognitive, memory is conveyed not through visual or abstract thinking, but through the affects of being. Such moments feel familiar, uncanny, sacred, reverential, and outside cognitive coherence.

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