Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Uncanny

1.) The definition given by Freud for the uncanny was “infantile complexes which have been repressed are once more revived” or “primitive beliefs which have been surmounted seem once more seem to be confirmed.” These ideas presented by Freud on the uncanny differ from the way in which we now experience TV shows. For example, in the television show “Charmed”, when one of the witches performs magic, I don’t experience any feeling of the uncanny rather I am more mystified by the special effects of the production then by the idea of magic. I am not able to experience the uncanny in viewing shows like “Charmed” because in today’s society, TV is so saturated with shows dealing with the unknown and unique that as a viewer, I feel isolated from the event. Freud mentioned that the uncanny is accentuated by fiction stories that follow the realm of reality and then abruptly break with an uncanny event which is rarely seen in society. Even the employ of this device in television shows fail to bring out the uncanny effect because for something to be deemed uncanny, at least in my mind, it has to be plausible in our reality. It is impossible to achieve any degree of the uncanny in TV or any kind of fiction by Freud’s definition because of our pre-viewing knowledge of how TV shows are made and that they have an unreal origin.

2.) Society can still experience the uncanny through random chance. Freud alluded to this in his essay with his example of the repetitive number that could be encountered during the day. The uncanny is only experienced in reality for people in the twenty first century because every unreal facet of the culture has been thoroughly understood, and from this knowledge our primitive beliefs remain surmounted.
It is impossible for anyone ever to truly surmount the uncanny because for this to occur one must be omniscient. The uncanny effect regularly experienced in the twenty first century occurs when one is faced with an experience that is beyond his/her knowledge. In order to surmount the uncanny effect defined by Freud, one must have a complete knowledge of his/her setting and since scientific advancement is an on going event, the idea of someone overcoming the uncanny is invalid.
Surmounting the uncanny is correlated with being modern because in the twenty first century there is much that is known about the world that we live in, which in turn limits the amount of mystique experienced. People who live in less advanced societies experience the uncanny on a more regular basis because more things are beyond their conceptual scope of knowledge. For example, when the first man discovered fire he probably experienced a great degree of uncanny but now through advancement in our knowledge, fire ceases to mystify. Societies further advanced in the knowledge of their surroundings experience the uncanny less then the more primitive cultures.

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