I think we are moving into the realm of aesthetics - art-object and subjective experience - which has a long philosophical history. Coleridge said that in reading poetry "the subjective and objective are instantly united".  I agree with those who think the art-object is a sensuous storehouse for knowledge about the mind and its workings; and that the problem  (or pleasure for that matter) lies in developing our capacity to see what is in it. As Larry said, psychoanalysis may or may not be useful in that respect. It depends how it's done - motivation, quality of perception, etc. - not things that are very easily judged.

Psychoanalytic awareness can improve the quality and depth of our response - and that's what we hope from it. But if applied arrogantly, psychoanalytic theorising can have the opposite effect, and block off the knowledge that is in the artwork. If in doubt we can forget about explaining it and just enjoy it - then at least its 'deep grammar' has a chance to get through unconsciously. Gut feeling? yes - as in all aesthetics (sense-based response) - but it is also evidence based, because it's a response to the Thing Itself, not merely to a Substitute that we have put there in the form of a hypothesis about the artwork.


On 18 May 2009, at 01:56, Norman Holland wrote:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: larry Lyons <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Sun, May 17, 2009 at 1:55 PM
Subject: Re: neuropsychoanalysis
To: Discussion Group for Psychology and the Arts <[log in to unmask]>

This message was  originally submitted by [log in to unmask]
(58 lines) ------------------

--- On Sun, 5/17/09, Norman Holland <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> From: Norman Holland <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: neuropsychoanalysis
> Date: Sunday, May 17, 2009, 7:06 AM
> Hi, all,
> Larry Lyons' phrasing:
> the knowledge stored in "Oedpus Rex" or
> "Hamlet"--not to mention "Lord of the
> Flies" or "Artificial Intelligence"--
> leads me to think that we are not paying sufficient
> attention to how
> we know things.  On the basis of hyopthesis testing,
> evidence,
> experiment, etc.?  Or by intuition, gut feelings, a sense
> that "this is
> right"?  I take it the knowledge stored in Oedipus or
> Hamlet is of the
> latter kind.  Notice how Freud's comment that the
> poets discovered the
> ucs before him muddles this distinction.
> It seems to me that much of contemporary psychoanalytic
> theory is of the latter kind: evidence-free, faith-based.
> A relevant comment from comedian Richard Pryor:  "Who
> ya gonna believe, your lying eyes or me?"
> As ever, Norm


Or, you could try to empty your mind of everything you have learned about psychoanalysis then try to make sense of Hamlet.  That would be a good psychological experiment.  Your gut instinct would tell you something really complicated was going on in the play, but...