Monday, April 15, 2013

"The Artist"

In intercourse with scholars and artists one readily makes mistakes of opposite kinds: in a remarkable scholar one not infrequently finds a mediocre man; and often, even in a mediocre artist, one finds a very remarkable man. Nietzsche Beyond Good and Evil-137

I've posted many times on the notion of the schizoid as artist, intellectual, and general contributor to culture. I can understand Lacanians who want to view art as mere semiotic not being able to understand this, but this idea encounters a lot of resistance with non-Lacanians too. Of course a person might want to be an artist because it's part of his mother's phallic image, because it's part of the ideal of adult masculinity in his culture, because a father-substitute groomed him in this direction, because he wants to express his uniqueness and doesn't have an affinity for numbers and doesn't have the strong will for dealing with others in business, because he wants to emphasize his good taste or increase his general attractiveness above others, because he wants to help a fallen father-substitute who has lost his ability.... etc.

There are so many motivations a person can have for being an artist. The non-schizoid artist might even become famous and wealthy. When I mention schizoid contributions it's not that they are the best artists in regards to public opinion. There are many authors or musicians that are appreciated now that in their time weren't popular. The idea that the people who really do appreciate aesthetics beyond the passions of their youth being associated with contemporary music and movies, and who will pass on the valuable old works while the new generation will only show interest in new aesthetics made during their time, has been around for a while. 

I think part of the problem is that transference to the artist/genius wants to make the person into a god-like being. I was impressed in Russia by how Lenin, and other intellectual or political heros were represented as being physically strong in their statutes- like supermen. As Nietzsche's aphorism points out, the talents artist or scholar can have a very drab and mediocre life and have none of the 'life' in his work in his interaction with others. The mediocre artist and scholar sometimes have their 'life' in their actual interactions with others; they are artists of life. Because many people can't see this the distinction is lost on them, and as Nietzsche points out with Goethe, sometimes there is a real artist who has 'overcome' himself and the shyness, timidity, greed, vanity, etc. that has limited his interactions with others and re-emerged to bring some 'life' back into his life and so he actually is "god-like", and this returns one to the notion real talent can belong to those who are artists of life.

I guess all this goes to show that clinicians still haven't been able to grasp how many of their patients are limited by very simple (oral, anal, etc.) superego prohibitions. They can't say no to others, they can't express simple anger, they can't break up with others they aren't interested in, they can't speak in public, they can't take compliments, (etc.) without feeling they are ungratefully taking the place of the idealized object. Conversely, they may have extreme pride that limits their satisfaction of sexual desire, their desire to be the one who contacts or reaches out to friends or their desire for company, they may limit their desire for admiration of their beauty because of pride in their inner values, they may limit all expression of competition from the pride they have in their very existence, etc.

The neurotics I see have the most mythical kind of life once you really try to fathom the motivations at work in the problems they talk about. 

These early forms of the superego can limit their life so much that it's really incredible that they were able to get by for sometime without sexual or social perversions. 



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