Daydreamin’, and I’m thinkin’ of you..

Adam Phillips (again!), on Freud (again!!). ”Creative Writers and Daydreaming” (1908)..

“… In this paper Freud makes ‘the assumption that a piece of creative writing, like a day-dream, is a continuation of, and a substitute for, what was once the play of childhood’. And the play of childhood, in Freud’s view by this time, like the dreams and symptoms he had newly described, was a disguised representation of infantile sexual wishes. There is.. ‘a path that leads from our discussion of phantasies to the problems of poetic effects’. What distinguishes the creative writer is that – like the dreamer and the playing child – he has found a way of rendering unacceptable desires into shareable form. ‘Such phantasies, when we learn them’, Freud writes, ‘repel us, or at least leave us cold. But when a creative writer … tells us what we are inclined to take to be his personal day-dreams, we experience a great pleasure’. In this imaginative alchemy, pleasure is wrested from aversion. To be a poet is to be able to make the apparently impossible thing into an acceptably pleasurable transgression.”

…”The arts of poetry for Freud are clearly highly charged. Through this aesthetic ‘altering and disguising’ of his day-dream, the creative writer ‘enables us thenceforward to enjoy our own day-dreams without self-reproach or shame’. It is quite clear that, whether for Oedipal reasons – or what we might now call pre-Oedipal reasons – our day-dreams are guilty and shameful, and poetic techniques are required to perform the morally equivocal act of not merely making our desires acceptable to us but positively pleasurable. The art of poetry, in other words, is the art of being happily unacceptable in public, of making known one’s otherwise forbidden desires. The person referred to in this paper as the creative writer is an extraordinary double agent, a figure who doesn’t fit easily into either of Freud’s models of the mind… perhaps Freud’s figure of the creative writer is the ego in its best, or most satisfied, version. The poet is our last hope for happiness faced with the scarcity of the external world, the depredations of the super-ego and the voraciousness of the id. The poet is the person who can get away with it…”

Hey, baby – let’s get away.. let’s go somewhere.. far…



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