Category: Brown, Norman O.

the artist according to dr. freud (quote)

Norman O. Brown’s LIFE AGAINST DEATH pp. 66-67

Thus the dialectic between art and society derives from the artist’s contact with the ultimate essence of humanity, which is also humanity’s ultimate goal: “History is the index of men born too soon.” And as for the artist, “Again and again someone in the crowd wakes up, he has no ground in the crowd, and he emerges according to much broader laws. He carries strange customs with him and demands room for bold gestures. The future speaks ruthlessly through him.” But as spokesmen for the essence and for the future, artists are the spokesmen for what is repressed in the present: “Their winged heart everywhere beats against the walls of their time; their work was that which was not resolved in the lives they lived.”

The artist is compared by Rilke to “a dancer whose movements are broken by the constraint of his cell. That which finds no expression in his steps and the limited swing of his arms, comes in exhaustion from his lips, or else he has to scratch the unlived lines of his body into the walls with his wounded fingers.” Art is a way of life faithful to the natural instincts, and therefore faithful to childhood: “Not any self-control or self-limitation for the sake of specific ends, but rather a carefree letting go of oneself: not caution, but rather a wise blindness; not working to acquire silent, slowly increasing possessions, but rather a continuous squandering of all perishable values. This way of being has something naive and instinctive [Unwillkürliches] about it, and resembles that period of the unconscious [des Unbewussten] best characterized by a joyous confidence, namely the period of childhood.” The child “has no anxiety about losing things.” Everything the child has sensed passes through his love, and is illuminated by it: “And whatever has once been lit up in love remains as an image, never more to be lost, and the image is possession; that is why children are so rich.” (Rilke’s thought is complemented by Freud’s remark on happiness: “Happiness is the deferred fulfillment of a prehistoric wish. That is why wealth brings so little happiness; money is not an infantile wish.”) The artist is the man who refuses initiation through education into the existing order, remains faithful to his own childhood being, and thus becomes “a human being in the spirit of all times, an artist.” Hence the artist tree is distinguished by profounder roots in the dark unconscious: “Artists extend much farther down into the warmth of all Becoming; in them other juices rise into fruit.”