Freud is dead. Freudian ideas are, alas, all too alive and well; alas given Popperian rejection as pseudoscience and the minor hitch of entire fields of knowledge having provided refutation: proper clinical and behavioural psychology, neuroscience, biochemistry, and the marvellous microcosmology of what happens in one’s gut. Freudianism is not just irrelevant or false: it can also be actively harmful when put into therapeutic practice.
Such is the fate of many a theory, and many a “science” whose solidity proves only temporary. The result can be further pseudosciences posing as knowledge, and anti-scientific moves and anti-knowledge movements. Or: the rise of further idolised deified Grand Theories, coupled with yet another wave of spiritual and/or religious belief.
Or: a continuing struggle between Lady Folly and Lady Fortune.
Such is the world.
But one Freudian idea remains true today. Like many of his more successful ideas, it’s an image, and a rather fine bit of imaginative imagery at that. Like much of his survival, it fits best into more imaginative parts of life and areas of knowledge. This idea is the uncanny, Unheimlichkeit. I think it’s got something to do with fortune, and maybe something to do with folly, but I’m still thinking that through.
Two curious coincidences this week, of comic fictions being so close to the bone as to be more true than an external reality that’s a fuzzy blurred version of this much clearer fictional picture, partly as the protagonists in external reality are themselves fuzzy and blurry and never this clear and direct.
The first is today’s Dilbert. It is uncanny for (at least) two reasons. The first will be obvious:
For the second uncanniness, (more…)