In Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud observed that the life-enhancing pleasure principle seems disrupted by something internal to the psyche. He took into account the possibility of a “death instinct” bent on returning the living organism to its origin of undifferentiated matter. In Beyond Pleasure: Freud, Lacan, Barthes, Margaret Iversen uses the writing of Freud, Lacan, the Surrealists, and Roland Barthes to elaborate a theory of art beyond the pleasure principle. Lacan was in close contact with the Surrealists and, early in his career, exchanged ideas with Dalí. This book offers a detailed reading of Dalí’s “paranoiac-critical” tour de force, The Tragic Myth of Millet’s Angelus, in which he demonstrates a method of interpretation that involves the projection and analysis of paranoid fantasies. The author later discusses the aesthetic dimension of the disintegrative death drive explored in Georges Bataille’s Eroticism and in Anton Ehrenzweig’s Hidden Order of Art, both of which inspired Robert Smithson. Iversen also takes up a postwar-era narrative that examines Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty. Beyond Pleasure shows that the aesthetics of Freud’s theory continue to resonate in the contemporary art world.
“This new book by Margaret Iversen is truly exceptional. Ranging across modern and contemporary art with remarkable adeptness, each of its chapters has a luster and perfection that reflects her profound knowledge of philosophical aesthetics and psychoanalysis. It is guaranteed to reinvigorate debate about art and psychoanalysis.”—David Lomas, University of Manchester
“It is very well written, making difficult Lacanian and other psychoanalytic concepts lucidly accessible and illuminating. It is extremely well informed with respect to the history of Lacanian psychoanalysis and its relations with Surrealism and art and film criticism. I am struck by the clarity of Iversen’s expression when she translates theoretical jargon into plain English.”—Murray M. Schwartz, Emerson College
List of Illustrations
1. Introduction: From Mirror to Anamorphosis
2. Uncanny: The Blind Field in Edward Hoppe
3. Paranoia: Dalí Meets Lacan
4. Encounter: Breton Meets Lacan
5. Death Drive: Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty
6. Mourning: The Vietnam Veterans Memorial
7. The Real: What Is a Photograph?
8. Conclusion: After Camera Lucida
About the Author:
Margaret Iversen is Professor of Art History and Theory at the University of Essex.