martes, 15 de septiembre de 2015

history/memory mother/father Freud/Woolf

There are two thinkers for whom history and memory are essential in the process of development and the passing of life of the human beings. They are (of course) Freud and Virginia Woolf (yes, a writer, but why not? also a thinker, as many writers or artists, are thinker without a closed system).

Freud's influence over Virginia Woolf (and the generality of modernist literature) has been profusely considered and evaluated, not always coming to terms on the subject, even if nobody casts doubts on that influence Freud had on literature and arts of his period. The question could be how much Freud influenced Virginia Woolf, how direct or indirect such influence could be and how aware was Virginia Woolf of that and where such influence changed to confrontation to become criticism? Sure many other questions can be asked, but I think these are important to properly evaluate the relationship between the concepts of Memory and History of Freud and Virginia Woolf, where differences are important once the similarities are generally acknowledged and perhaps overvalued (through simplification).

Indeed Freud have a huge impact in the way arts were (and still are) sawn, and the new wings he gave to the exercises of mind and imagination probably compensate for the pseudoscientific deviation of many of their successors and even the psychoanalysis therapy itself (as a Philosopher very close to the scientific method like Mario Bunge, between others, has repeatedly stated) but it is not least significant the fact that he was (as every genius in his own epoch) fulfilling a demand regarding this issue. The worry about how the mind and memory work, the origin and treatment of mental disorders, and what the subject of the unconscious mind is was there when Freud appeared. Freud certainly marks a before and an after and put the unconscious mind at the centre of this matter.

Well, now we can see some (or a lot of) similarities between the concept of history and memory of both Freud and Virginia Woolf. For both of them memory has a main role in the shaping of the personality, both the own personal history and the history of society; so our relationship with our fathers marks our identity and character, but any important incident that affect the whole community also affect us, not only in the general way it affects that given whole community, but at an individual level too. And this affects us in a different manner depending on our personal history and the personality it creates, so we could say there would be a kind of dialectics between the way personal history affects us and the way general history does. I think there is little room to discuss the fact that Freud and Woolf are fully agree on this regard. This is clear in To the lighthouse and throughout Freud’s work.

But there is something we have to take into account: the fact that Virginia Woolf hadn’t read Freud yet when she wrote To the lighthouse. This does not mean Freud wasn’t influential on this Woolf’s work, but I think it should take us to dismiss a mechanical interpretation of such of the kind: Woolf read Freud > Woolf is stunned by Freud’s theory > Woolf start writing in a Freudian way.

Woolf was very aware of course of Freud’s writings and theories, since he was actually very influential to the Bloomsbury Group and specially James Strachey was very enthusiastic about him but, while Leonard Woolf could be considered a supporter, Virginia was much less excited about Freud and the novelty brought by psychoanalysis. Apparently, Woolf did not personally read Freud until 1939 shortly after he died, in fact[1]. Not reading him does not mean not being aware of his theories (in an unsystematic way nevertheless) but point out a lack of interest for them.

I think that, as many others at that time (especially artists, since this is actually the basement of their work), Virginia Woolf had an intuitive insight about what Freud tried to turn scientific, in such a way that it is very easy to convince oneself that Woolf wrote To the lighthouse with the psychoanalysis in mind, but in fact Woolf was following in her own way the same path Freud was.

It is true that after reading Freud the first time, Woolf took account on how many of the underlying subjects in To the lighthouse had been accurately described by Freud, especially in relation to the power of the past.

It is important to remark also that while to Freud arts are a mere palliative that never takes us to the definitive solution for our madness, to Woolf arts are actually the answer; arts as a way to connect with others and to share friendship and love, the only way to face our own madness and the madness of this world.

[1]Virginia Woolf meets Sigmund Freud, Julia Briggs, Canvas Issue 18

3 comentarios:

  1. La influencia del padre y la madre está fuertemente relacionada con energías planetarias, sol y luna. El ser humano tiende a proyectar estas energías en el padre (sol) y la madre (luna). Si los padres no estuvieran presentes en la infancia y adolescencia de alguien, esas energías se proyectarían en otras figuras (esto lo hemos visto miles de veces a través del cine y la literatura, el típico chaval que adopta al mafioso o al delincuente como figura paterna, pues el padre está ausente).

    Más que de padre y madre, sería interesante cuestionarse cómo el ser humano "rellena" las energías que están dentro de sí mismo proyectando, cual rayos de luz que necesitan de una superficie para ser percibidos. Igual que el significado vital o existencial no existe, sino que es una construcción individual, cada uno da valor a una serie de signos, nuestro interior tiene una base energética que se rellena cogiendo información y moldeándola. Es decir, poner el ojo en padre y madre es superficial, hay algo más detrás.

    1. Es superficial si se esencializa. El año pasado hablaba con un colega psicólogo y me transmitió una frase de alguien que decía algo así como que los padres que tenemos son el único momento de verdadera o mala suerte de nuestra vida. Desde el punto de vista de la contrucción social considero el punto de vista acertadísimo. De todas formas, confieso que, al menos en lo que a este contenido del blog se refiere, me interesa más el contenido literario (voluntario o no) de ciertas teorías que las teorías en sí mismas. Gracias por comentar. :)

    2. Me releo y siento vergüenza de mi redacción apresurada y poco cuidada :D