Is innocence a deep seated habit, a synthetic DNA of being in denial of what one knows but steadfastly refuses to acknowledge? Is innocence a manufactured good? A commodity among many competitors? Its a disabling of experience. Its one of Freud’s central hypotheses: the primary function of consciousness is not to accept stimuli, to be absorbed by it, but instead, to attain protection from it. here is a space between between this unconscious memory and an awareness of the conscious act of recollection. Is it as Richard Halpern has asserted, ” the containment of the perverse under the sign of the normal.”
On one part, there is an assertion that abandoning traces of memory is repulsive, yet a counterclaim exists that consciousness will defend against the barrage of dings, bangs and shocks that menace the organism’s defense from without. In inability to filter this shock through the layers of padding, leads to the creation of trauma, which by that time is severe. The theory is that what saves the individual is the mediation process through substitutes and vicarious measures which protect, if only partially and may create its own mutant form of trauma.
According to Freud, terror, anxiety and panic arises when the consciousness can no longer deliver on its function of protection. Charles Baudelaire offers impressive images which can be understood with the help of Freud’s hypothesis. He often speaks of the ghost within which is the artist, before he is beaten,invaded and eaten whole with terror. Walter Benjamin has interpreted this battles of tensions as a kind of fermentation zone
able to stimulate artistic creation. It is simultaneously a type of
experience, which assumes creation and acceptance of lyricism, present in Baudelaire
only as a relic, that becomes “reborn”; If the receiving of the traumatic blow has become a norm of experience, this
occurrence indicates expiration, and a atrophy of the overall aesthetic experience. Shock, however, as an aesthetic principle,though both objective, real , and non-objective, does not allow poetic objects to be experienced in their own and original quality, but as something extraneous, de-naturalized, sickening, and morbid.
Baudelaire:For this reason I prefer to consider this abnormal condition of the spirit as a true grace; as a magic mirror wherein man is invited to see himself at his best; that is to say, as that which he should be, and might be; a kind of angelic excitement; a rehabilitation of the most flattering type. A certain Spiritualist School, largely represented in England and America, even considers supernatural phenomena, such as the apparition of phantoms, ghosts, &c, as manifestations of the Divine Will, ever anxious to awaken in the spirit of man the memory of invisible truths.Read More: http://www.lycaeum.org/~sputnik/Ludlow/Texts/Rats/poem.html …
Baudelaire: Besides this charming and singular state, where all the forces are balanced; where the imagination, though enormously powerful, does not drag after it into perilous adventures the moral sense; when an exquisite sensibility is no longer tortured by sick nerves, those councillors-in-ordinary of crime or despair; this marvellous state, I say, has no prodromal symptoms. It is as unexpected as a ghost. It is a species of obsession, but of intermittent obsession; from which we should be able to draw, if we were but wise, the certainty of a nobler existence, and the hope of attaining to it by the daily exercise of our will….Read More: http://www.lycaeum.org/~sputnik/Ludlow/Texts/Rats/poem.html a
Halpern:The philosopher Bernard Williams observed, “One symptom of deep-seated problems of the Freudian kind may be self-deception. But . . . there is a level of self-deception more subconscious than unconscious that can be dealt with by the virtues of accuracy and sincerity. That’s what we have those virtues for.” I would argue that Rockwell’s paintings occupy this level, and do so in complicated ways. Rockwell’s paintings do produce an innocent world, and to that degree they are acts of disavowal. But at the same time, under the guise of innocence, they often present potentially disturbing materials that they then dare the viewer to see and recognize. Rockwell’s work thus lays bare the mechanisms of disavowal. What Rockwell paints is not innocence itself but it
nufacture. And his work confronts the viewer with the ethical choice of seeing or not seeing. To be more specific: the “potentially disturbing” materials Rockwell offers to view are often sexual in nature, even perverse. Read More: http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/314405.html a
Rockwell was part of an industry—an innocence industry—along with fellow industrialists like Walt Disney and the director Frank Capra. All three purveyed a view of American culture that was patriotic, optimistic, and imbued with middle-class values, secure in the virtuousness and rightness of the American way. Perhaps all cultures nurse a sense of their own innocence and virtue, and thus engage in disavowal, since no country’s historical record is clean. But American culture is particularly addicted to this sense of itself, and thus has refined disavowal into a high art. Read More: http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/314405.html
Consumer society promotes an insidious demagoguery, making people believe that progress can only be achieved by denying the past. In good times, this leads to the desire to purchase new products long before the old ones are worn out. But in times of crisis this conviction can have grave political consequences, inspiring movements that promote ritual purification. Rather than resisting consumerism, fascism bears witness to its transcendence, the moment when political choices are presented like items in a shop window.Read More: http://zeek.forward.com/articles/116888/
Technologies of mass reproduction undo the value of art, but in so doing bring it into a new use, with new potentialities. Art is liquidated in order to prepare for what Benjamin calls its “exposed resurrection.” Yet importantly, such a resurrection implies risk as well as possibility. On the one hand, it enables a distraction of
affect from ‘the political’ that verges towards fascism. Benjamin had rightly feared that aesthetic reifications of
tradition—‘kitsch’ objects and ideals mobilised in film—would effectively assist the Nazi party to commandeer all sense of community in Germany. Technology destabilises tradition, and both ‘ends’ of the cultural spectrum resist this move: emissaries of ‘high culture’ make melancholic appeal to an ‘aura’ only discovered at the moment of its disappearance; and ‘low culture’ invents kitsch—ornaments and household knick-knacks that crudely and sentimentally represent an older order. As Goebbels was aware, kitsch is more successful than art pour l’art in recruiting a nostalgia for tradition: it takes up the new technology ironically—holding in suspension the juxtaposition between new technology and old art forms—and thus is able to harness sentiment to a radical, yet backward-looking, politics. Read More: http://parrhesiajournal.org/parrhesia11/parrhesia11_faulkner.pdf