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Sodré, I. (2017). Reflections on the Aesthetic Experience: Psychoanalysis and the Uncanny, by Gregorio Kohon, Routledge, Hove, 2016; 200 pp. £31.99. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 98(4):1249-1254.

(2017). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 98(4):1249-1254

Reflections on the Aesthetic Experience: Psychoanalysis and the Uncanny, by Gregorio Kohon, Routledge, Hove, 2016; 200 pp. £31.99

Review by:
Ignês Sodré

Robert Frost brilliantly describes the making of a poem: “Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting. … Read it a hundred times; it will forever keep its freshness as a metal keeps its fragrance. It can never lose the sense of a meaning that once unfolded by surprise as it went (Richardson, 2010).” Frank Auerbach quotes Frost and says that a painting, too, “is like ice on a stove. It is a shape riding on its own melting into matter and space, it never stops moving backwards and forwards” (Lampert, 2015b). The incorporation of ‘never stops moving backwards and forwards’ emphasizes the continuity of a sense of movement that encompasses all time tenses and also space: these great artists conveying perpetual transformation, mortality and immortality in one experience. This is the territory explored in Kohon's remarkable book, where the disturbing and enriching experience of the Uncanny is the linchpin holding the aesthetic (literature, painting, sculpture, architecture) and the psychoanalytical together; neither discipline there to supplement or to explain the other, but adding - as do the comparisons between many different works of art -to the sense of conviction and depth of each particular artistic/psychological event. Describing the uncanny is describing the indescribable - and yet, each new approach ‘thickens the plot’: each adds to the complexity of a world of paradox, ambiguity, chaos, labyrinths and black holes - and to moments of delight when a surprising connection is made which illuminates something not so clearly seen before.

[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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