Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Beyond the Pleasure Principle (Group Presentation)

My group presentation was on Sigmund Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle. We as a group sought to target Freud’s theory on compulsions and the pleasure we receive from them and the treatments that he came up with to put a stop to these compulsions. To simplify the theories by Freud, we used daily habits of biting nails, lips, moving arms and legs, touching facial parts, playing with hair to exemplify whether or not these habits bring forth pleasure or if they originate from past experiences. All four of us had to come up with questions that reflect those that Freud would ask our classmates if he were to be treating their habits- simpler versions of compulsions. Most of the questions that I came up with consisted of quotes from the book and followed with asking if they find that fact to be true about their habits. We decided we could pretend to be Freud for a day and diagnose the class. Another way I contributed was by making our power point slides. I asked my group members to send me the key points they wanted to discuss. The portion I focused on in Beyond the Pleasure Principle was the notion of transference neurosis. In this I described how and where it originated from and what it actually was. I mentioned how transference neurosis was originally an art interpreting. Because this technique did not solve the therapeutic problem, retracing from our memory to indicate where our resistances came from became the newest approach. It was a therapeutic treatment and the focus of it was to make the unconscious transgress in to our conscious mind. The only way in which to do this, according to Freud, was for the patient to re-experience/repeat the repressed material (that was forgotten) and to make it a part of the present as opposed to the past. Once the patient starts to remember, the analyst has to make sure this transference becomes a permanent part of the memory. Overall, the classes response to our presentation was a positive one and the experience I took from it was, to sum it up, very educational and highly enjoyable.

Can Someone Please Tell Me What Structuralism Is?

The term “structure” as we know it is a term that provokes the idea of order. Structuralism in the field of linguistics is based upon the realization that if human actions/productions have a meaning, there MUST be an underlying system of distinctions and conventions which makes this meaning possible. Semiology is a science that studies the life of signs within society. What constitutes signs? What governs them? Essentially, structuralism and semiology are inseparable from one another. Sings- the basic element of the language system- brings into light the two sides that create it: the signified and the signifier. The signifier is what one hears or sees (picture); signified is the mental image of the word (“tree”). This supports the theory that the words in our language are sound-images.

Works Cited
Saussure, Ferdinand."Course in General Linguistics." Literary Theory: An Anthology. Second Ed. Julie Rivkin & Michael Ryan, MA: Blackwell Publisihing Ltd. 2004. 59-71. Print.

Russian Formalists or American New Criticism… Which do you prefer?

Russian Formalism and American New Criticism are both ways in which one is able to look at a literary work, but in very different ways. Prior to the formalist movements in the late twentieth century, Russian formalism and American New Criticism was the study of literature that was concerned with everything about literature except language, from the historical context of a literary work to the biography of its author. The Russian Formalists were interested both in describing the general characteristics of literary language and in analyzing the specific devices or modes of operation for such language. Their most famous claim was that literary language consists of an act of defamiliarization. The Russian Formalist movement focuses more on the qualities of narrative/poetic language (literary devices) therefore, makes the approach a scientific and rational one. For literature to be literature it must constantly defamiliarize the familiar, and the only way to do that is through the use of devices.

However, the American new Criticism is anti-scientific and interested in the non-rational dimension of art. Two very well known terms are a part of a new critical legacy- intentional fallacy and the affective fallacy. According to the intentional fallacy, meaning resides in the verbal design of a literary work, not in statements regarding his/her intention that the author might make. According to the affective fallacy- the subjective effects or emotional reactions a work provokes in readers are irrelevant to the study of the verbal object itself, since its objective structure alone contains the meaning of the work. This approach informed the study of literature with a concern for traditional religious and aesthetic values of a kind being displaced by science.

Taking into account each approach and what their focuses are within literary texts and applying that to modern life, it is safe to say that critics in this day and time use the American New Criticism more than the Russian Formalist approach. We tend to be more captivated by the universal truth rather than the brilliance of technique in a work. Everything we see and breath is entertainment. One can say that this massive industry and the ideas that come along with it is a way in which to become more utopian- like. If we no longer take notice of the structure of things what else is there really that’s valuable? Are you not utterly disgusted of the constant defamiliarization of the same mass product in different forms? I know I am…

Works Cited

Rivkin, Julie and Ryan, Michael. "Introduction: Formalist." Literary Theory: An Anthology. Second Ed. Julie Rivkin & Michael Ryan, MA: Blackwell Publisihing Ltd. 2004. 3-6. Print.