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Tip: Understanding Rank

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

When you do a search, you can sort the results bibliographically alphabetical or by “rank”. What is Rank?

Rank refers to the search engine’s “best guess” as to the relevance of the result to the search you specified. The exact method of ranking used varies a bit depending on the search. In its most basic level, when you specify a single search term, rank looks at the density of the matches for the word in the document, and how close to the beginning of the document they appear as a measure of importance to the paper’s topic. The documents with the most matches and where the term is deemed to have the most importance, have the highest “relevance” and are ranked first (presented first).

When you specify more than one term to appear anywhere in the article, the method is similar, but the search engine looks at how many of those terms appear, and how close together they appear, how close to the beginning of the document, and can even take into account the relative rarity of the search terms and their density in the retrieved file, where infrequent terms count more heavily than common terms.

To see a simple example of this, search for the words (not the phrase, so no quotes):

unconscious communications

Look at the density of matches in each document on the first page of the hits. Then go to the last page of matched documents, and observe the density of matches within the documents.

A more complex search illustrates this nicely with a single page and only 15 matches:

counter*tr* w/25 “liv* out” w/25 enact*

There are a lot of word forms and variants of the words (due to the * wildcards) above that can match, but the proximity (w/25) clause limits the potential for matching. What’s interesting here though is how easily you can see the match density decrease as you view down the short list.

The end result of selecting order by rank is that the search engine’s best “guess” as to which articles are more relevant appear higher on the list than less relevant articles.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Wilson, E., Jr. (1984). Revue Fran├žaise De Psychanalyse. XLIV, 1980: Psychoanalytic Discourse and Abstract Art. Anita Kechickian. Pp. 47-63.. Psychoanal Q., 53:642-642.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLIV, 1980: Psychoanalytic Discourse and Abstract Art. Anita Kechickian. Pp. 47-63.

(1984). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 53:642-642

Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLIV, 1980: Psychoanalytic Discourse and Abstract Art. Anita Kechickian. Pp. 47-63.

Emmett Wilson, Jr.

The appearance of abstract art is virtually contemporaneous with Freud's own work. Freud, however, showed a gross misunderstanding of abstract art. In a letter to Abraham in 1922, his response to an abstract portrait of Abraham was to call it "horrible." He caustically suggested that such an artist might confirm Adler's theory that only a person afflicted by a grave perceptual defect would strive to become an artist. Psychoanalysis had certainly been no stranger to art, but art, as understood by Freud, was representational. It was always of something. What was interpreted was the content, the meaning which was given through the form. Abstract art, devoid of any such representational content, would seem to invalidate Freud's general approach. Kechickian argues that the problem has indeed changed, but that this does not invalidate the psychoanalytic view of art. Another approach becomes necessary. Abstract art is not a bearer of meaning already there. Rather, abstract art must be thought of as an object plus two subjects, the artist and the spectator. Such art is nonrepresentational. However, it is the product of human activity, an object produced by work. The artistic activity then becomes its own end, something which might be compared to the notion of games. Each work is productive of an original space. The colors and configurations vary from art work to art work. Hence the concepts of Winnicott on transitional space and transitional objects may be applicable. The author also refers to the work of Paul Schilder on body image. Schilder placed emphasis on a continuing process of internal construction and destruction, on the lability of the postural model. The spatializing activities of the artist in the construction of his object are then in a relationship with the variations in the configurations of his own body. For the artists with an abstract product, the goal is the moment the artist's senses work in equilibrium with the establishment of forms and colors which produce a unity. The artist puts outside of himself spatial elements of his own body image, starting from an undifferentiated point (e.g., an empty canvas). The work then becomes a stranger to him and rejoins the things in the world. The spectator encounters the abstract art object which is neither created by himself nor found in the sense of a completely exterior object. For the spectator, the art object is also situated in transitional space. Kechickian concludes that psychoanalysis has the concepts to analyze abstract art when viewed in this manner.

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Article Citation

Wilson, E., Jr. (1984). Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLIV, 1980. Psychoanal. Q., 53:642-642

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