Question about Freud re: Surrealism

[Hans Bellmer, The Doll, 1936] About Freud’s bemusement about Surrealism, that they made him their patron saint, this piece, which you can read here, by Donald Kaplan is excellent.

“On his side, Freud was flattered by such benediction. When the sculptor Oscar Nemon asked him in 1931 how hefelt about his designation as the Patron Saint of Surrealism, Freud replied, “It is wonderful. The Surrealists send me their newspaper daily with a wonderful dedication on the first page.” However, Freud’s next remark conveys a rather familiar modesty with regard to certain cultural matters. “I
read it every day—but when I am finished with it—I have to admit—I do not find anything in the paper I really under stand” (Meng [1956]/1973, p. 351). This statement accords with what Freud observed about himself all along. His study of the Moses of Michelangelo (1914) begins: “I may say at once that I am no connoisseur in art, but simply a layman. I am unable rightly to appreciate many of the methods used and the effects obtained in art” (p. 211). As for modern art, Freud was intolerant….”

Donald M. Kaplan, “Surrealism and Psychoanalysis: Notes on a Cultural Affair” in American Imago , Winter 1989, Vol. 46, No. 4 (Winter 1989), 321.

There are also these letters from Freud to Breton published by Frederick Davis, which you can read here.

Many special thanks to Hannah R. Rubenstein for the long letter from Freud about Dali in the comment section to this post

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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5 Responses to Question about Freud re: Surrealism

  1. hedgehoghr says:

    1938).Letters of Sigmund Freud 1873-1939,51():448-449

    Letter from Sigmund Freud to Stefan Zweig, July 20, 1938 Sigmund Freud 39 Elsworthy Road London N.W. 3 July 20, 1938 Dear Stefan Zweig I really have reason to thank you for the introduction which brought me yesterday’s visitors. For until then I was inclined to 448

    look upon surrealists, who have apparently chosen me for their patron saint, as absolute (let us say 95 per cent, like alcohol) cranks. The young Spaniard,1 however, with his candid fanatical eyes and his undeniable technical mastery, has made me reconsider my opinion. It would in fact be very interesting to investigate analytically how a picture like this came to be painted. From the critical point of view it could still be maintained that the notion of art defies expansion as long as the quantitative proportion of unconscious material and preconscious treatment does not remain within definite limits. In any case these are serious psychological problems.

    As for the other visitor, I like putting obstacles in the path of a candidate in order to test the seriousness of his intention and increase his spirit of sacrifice. Psychoanalysis is like a woman who wants to be seduced but knows she will be underrated unless she offers resistance. If your Mr. J. takes too long thinking it over, he can go to someone else later on, to Jones or to my daughter. I am told that on going away you left something behind—gloves, etc. You realize that this means a promise to return. Cordially Your Freud Notes to “Letter from Sigmund Freud to Stefan Zweig, July 20, 1938”

    Ernst Freud Salvador Dali, born 1904. 449

    Hannah R. Rubenstein (Feibel) Hedgehog Productions/University of Bridgeport Mobile 860-916-8334


  2. dmf says:

    when yer losing even the Center left Hawks
    The Buffalo white supremacist terror attack and the brutality that marred the funeral of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh seemed distant events. But they were shaped by the same kind of racism and closely linked political forces.

    • zjb says:

      losing center left hawks is one thing, but the rothkopf and othres like it were really stupid, though: not really “the same kind of racism” and very different political frameworks

      • dmf says:

        neo-cons were never much for thinking things thru but they were always on the side of right-wing Zionism

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