Re-Consideration on the Boundary: Re-Reading Freud’s Uncanny
This paper reconsiders the meaning of the term “Uncanny” through a re-reading of Freud’s Uncanny, and revises some noteworthy errors that appear in the Korean translation. The domestic translation of the “Disquieting Strangeness” displays only Jentsch’s interpretation. Freud’s Uncanny is, however, based on the desire of returning to the maternal body which is well-known and familiar to all people since primitive times. The emergence of the super-ego modifies this sentiment, and the ego feels it from then on as anxiety. In order to make this point, this paper reconstructs Freud’s demonstration of the etymological study on the German word “Unheimlich” from the psychoanalytical perspective.
In addition, Freud’s paper elucidates the Uncanny with a logical structure.
Strangely enough, it is a rather uncanny paper that evokes an uncanny feeling to its reader, and this paper pinpoints the reason in Freud’s methodology and rhetoric. Freud explained that the Doppelganger phenomenon can easily create the feeling of the Uncanny, which can be described as a fragmentation, a reversal as well as a duplication of the ego. Likewise, Freud used the following rhetoric in his paper: His ego “ich/I” is divided and reversed as “er/he” and duplicated even as “wir/we”. As a result, Freud’s Uncanny has become an uncanny writing between a scientific research paper and an artistic creation.
Furthermore, it is noteworthy that Freud used a more postmodern methodology, namely the author’s intellectual sensibility. Intellectual sensibility refers to the ability of empathy with intelligence, which plays a particularly important role in aesthetic experience. Therefore, at the heart of Freud’s study, there is The Sandman by E.T.A. Hoffmann, who is regarded as the unreachable master of the Uncanny by Freud. Based on Freud’s “Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming ”and Totem and Taboo: Resemblances between the Psychic Lives of Savages and Neurotics, this paper explains that aesthetic experience provides the experiences of young children and savages as well as neurotics. Thus, it is the psychoanalysis itself, which is per se uncanny, because it reveals all the hidden psychic power in all human experiences, both in real situations and fantasy.
The Uncanny is the feeling, which is somehow familiar, but at the same time unpleasant as well as frightening. It can be felt when the boundaries are unclear. However, this emotion provides an opportunity for the expansion of the boundaries because it departs from the psychic world of young children, savages and neurotics. Because this world is influenced by both animism and omnipotence of thoughts, what is regarded as the Other in this world symbolizes actually the Doppelganger of the ego. Besides, the fact that the concept of the Uncanny is particularly useful in research and application in various interdisciplinary studies especially in the digital age implies that the Doppelganger phenomenon has been increased in the digital world. With this background, this paper intends to contribute to understanding the concept of the Uncanny more precisely.