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The Psychoanalytic Review, 55:623-645 (1968-1969)

A Theory of Art and Aesthetic Experience


Pinchas Noy, M.D.

The artist, with his innate gift of penetrating into the realm of the unconscious and representing it in his work, has appealed to psychoanalytic thinking since its first days. reud percei!ed in the work of art another medium to unco!er the depth e"perience of man as it is #eing shaped in the artistic form (cf. his letter to $rthur %chnit&ler, 19''11). (n the work of art reud and his followers tried to find additional confirmation to display and !alidate the e"istence of dynamic forces of the mind which they had o#ser!ed in clinical e"perience. )o wonder then that in one of the great tragedies*+edipus ,e"*a constellation of these profound forces is seen at work, which has come to #e known as the +edipus comple". -ith the ad!ancement of psychoanalytic theory the language of art per se mo!ed into the center of interest. it was attempted to understand the laws go!erning its structure, to grasp what sets it apart from other modes of communication, and to disclose the secret of its effect on the percei!er. +!er the years a !ariety of opinion has #een put forth. /!ery school has tried to interpret this 0henom-menon along its own lines of reasoning, #ut all are agreed that the art medium e!okes a particular e"perience of satisfaction. The !arious schools separate on the 1uestion of whether this feeling of satisfaction should #e regarded as gratifying instinctual needs and the wishes aroused #y them, as reinforcing the !arious defensi!e needs, or perhaps as gratifying the need for mastering e"ternal and internal stimuli. ************* Thanks are due to 2rs. 2. risch of the 3epartment of 0sychiatry for her help in completing this essay. - 6'4 -

-ith the attempt to define the nature of aesthetic satisfaction psychoanalysis has 5oined an effort which has occupied philosophy for o!er a thousand years*to penetrate the secret of the 6artistic e"perience.7 This paper will attempt to re!iew #riefly the ma5or psychoanalytical theories, and an attempt will #e made to integrate them into a comprehensi!e theory to e"plain the meaning of artistic e"perience, with art #eing understood as a communicati!e medium that can grant such gratification. (n his analysis of the dream, the daydream and the 5oke reud approached the analysis of their meaning from two points of !iew8 first, the aspect of content, i.e., what is the meaning that is e"pressed in dream or 5oke, and second, the technical aspect, i.e., how the meanings are e"pressed, or #y what techni1ues content is represented and transformed. reud tries to e"plain the nature of the pleasure felt #y the listener on #eing told a 5oke. 9e assumes that this pleasure is a function of #oth these aspects, of the meaning as well as of the techni1ue of representation. #oth arouse pleasures he states8 The pleasure in the case of a tendentious 5oke arises from a purpose #eing satisfied whose satisfaction would otherwise not ha!e taken place (p. 11:). ; the techni1ues of 5okes are themsel!es sources of pleasure (p. 119). This assumption, like many others reud made in respect to the 5oke, may #e applied to the work of art. The pleasure deri!ed from art is linked to two aspects8 (1) pleasure deri!ed from the artistic contents which gratify needs and wishes, satisfy defensi!e needs, or represent attempts at mastering and control, (') pleasure deri!ed from the mental function of percei!ing, organi&ing and working-through artistic percepts. The distinction #etween content and form is generally accepted in the theory of art. <et it seems to the writer that this traditional di!ision is not compati#le with what is concei!ed in psychoanalytic theory as 6content7 and 6techni1ue.7 (n art, as in the dream, it is !ia the elements of form that many latent contents are e"pressed as well as in the manifest representational content. This interpenetration - 6'= of content and form was pointed out clearly #y reud in his studies of 2ichael $ngelo and >eonardo da ?inci. %ince in art meaning finds e"pression in elements of content as well as of form, it follows that form may #ecome content, a conclusion which renders the distinction #etween these two elements largely pointless. To o!ercome

this difficulty without sacrificing the spirit of reud@s approach to dream and 5oke, it is helpful to redefine #oth the meaning of art, and the means of art. These two aspects, as distinguished here, will #e discussed separately following a re!iew of the psychoanalytical literature rele!ant to each facet of the pro#lem. The 2eaning of $rt The psychoanalytic theory of art #egins with the concept of su#limation. reud notes,: 69ere we ha!e one of the origins of artistic acti!ity ;7 (p. '48). $ccording to this !iew, later e"panded #y +tto ,ank in 3er ABnstler, 18 all artistic acti!ity is moti!ated #y li#idinal energy. The !arious arts are modified e"pressions of this #asic energy, similar to what is presumed for the dream. -hen reud in his writings has occasion to discuss pro#lems of art, 8, 9, 1C he re!erts to his earlier comparison of art with daydream and phantasy. $ll three appear to him to #e circuitous ways of e"pressing unconscious wishes, the direct e"pression of which #eing for#idden. ,. %ter#a, 'D summing up reud@s conception of art, writes8 6The fundamental dynamic force at the root of a work of art is an unfulfilled wish of the artist. 5ust as in dreams and fantasies, the work of art represents this wish as fulfilled7 (p. 'D8. $ccordingly, the pleasure deri!ed from art #y the listenerEspectator originates in identification with the inner world of the artist as it is con!eyed in his creation. (t is this identification which ena#les the percei!er to feel an indirect gratification of his own wishes. reud1C writes that the artist 6; makes it possi#le for other people once more to deri!e consolation and alle!iation from their own sources of pleasure in their unconscious which ha!e #ecome inaccessi#le to them ;7 (p. 4::). The pro#lem is approached 1uite differently #y the /nglish school of 2elanie Alein and her followers, who ha!e contri#uted many significant essays on art. -hile reud regards the work of art as an indirect e"pression of hidden wishes and the artistic pleasure as gratification of these wishes, it is the aspect of defense, - 6'D em#edded in artistic e"perience and acti!ity, that is emphasi&ed #y the Aleinian %chool. or the latter, artistic acti!ity is particularly !alua#le as a defense against aggressi!e-sadistic dri!es and wishes. 2elanie Alein14 sets forth this idea when e"plaining children@s drawing acti!ities as a means to restore and recreate inner images and o#5ects which seem to ha!e #een destroyed #y force of unconscious

aggressi!e phantasies (p. '4D). The artist, accordingly, tries in his work to achie!e control of such destructi!e forces and thus to master them. Tarachow ': writes, 6$rtistic creation is magic #y which the artist controls dangerous, aggressi!e forces a#out him #y mastering these forces with his own hands ;7 (p. '''). The ego, in its plight with the destructi!e inner forces, clings defensi!ely to order, harmony and #eauty. This idea is also e"pressed #y ,ickman8 'C 6+ur need for #eauty springs from the gloom and pain which we e"perience from our destructi!e impulses to our good and lo!ed o#5ects. our wish is to find in art e!idence of the triumph of life o!er death ;7 (p. 414). %egal '= suggests that all lawfulness, regularity and rhythmics in art are 6; an unconscious demonstration of the fact that order can emerge out of chaos ;7F (p. 'C=). $rtistic pleasure is thus concei!ed #y the Aleinian school as the pleasure inherent in the mastering of destructi!e impulses, as the pleasure tied in with the feeling of !ictory. that unity, #eauty, order and harmony ha!e o!ercome the forces that threaten to throw the mind #ack into the chaos of dissolution and cessation. The Aleinian school does not distinguish #etween artistic creati!ity and passi!e en5oyment of art, since it is assumed that 6all aesthetic pleasure includes an unconscious reli!ing of the artist@s e"perience of creation7 '= (p. 'C=). (n an attempt to eliminate this distinction #etween artistic creati!e acti!ity and passi!e recepti!e en5oyment, >ee 1: introduces the concept of an 6aesthetic state of mind78 ************* There is a certain similarity #etween this approach and that of the Gestalt psychologists. The latter regard perception as an acti!e process in which percepts are organi&ed into orderly, symmetrical gestalts. This is done out of man@s defensi!e need to facilitate orientation in his en!ironment. ,. $rnheim,1 for instance, suggests that artistic pleasure is an effect of the harmony and symmetry within works of art, responding to man@s need to organi&e for himself the perceptual field into comprehensi#le patterns. - 6'6 $n aesthetic state of mind occurs as the unconsciously compelled need to achie!e an aesthetic synthesis among the institutions of the mind, and #etween it and the outside world, when ordinary integration is distur#ed #y destructi!e rage under the se!eral conditions descri#ed (p. 4CD).

The conception of art as a defensi!e acti!ity is not e"clusi!e to 2elanie Alein and her school. Hergler, ' in discussing the psychoanalysis of writers proposes that what find e"pression in the writer@s work are his unconscious defenses against unconscious wishes and fantasies rather than the wishes themsel!es, as assumed #y reud. +ther authors who accept the ideas of ego psychology regard art as an acti!ity of mastery, #ut they are di!ided on the 1uestion of what is #eing mastered. This approach is #est represented in the theories put forth #y Aohut 16 and Aohut and >e!arie, 1D on musical en5oyment. They maintain that #ecause 6sounds were once a threat to the weak psychic organi&ation of the infant,7 therefore 6; the archaic mental apparatus, whether in the infant, in primiti!e man, or, under special circumstances, in the adult, has the tendency to percei!e sound as a direct threat and to react refle"ly to it with an"iety7 (p. 49'). 2usic e"poses the percei!ing ego to an onslaught of noise stimuli which it manages to organi&e #ecause of the intrinsic lawfulness of their structure. 6Thus the playful mastery of the threat of #eing o!erwhelmed #y sounds #ecomes an en5oya#le ego acti!ity which contri#utes to the total en5oyment of music716 (p. 49'). $s with cognate theories relating to the other arts, this theory of music sees in art an acti!ity in which the ego, as children in play, re!erts to and reconstructs those painful situations in which it had once felt weak and helpless, the difference lying in the fact that now, unlike in the original e"perience, the ego is assured of conditions ena#ling it to master the e"perience. Aris, 1= who contri#uted much to the analysis of art, tried to esta#lish a theory #ased on the assumptions of ego psychology. 9is theory does indeed #ridge o!er the different approaches to the earlier hypotheses. Aris points out that no essential difference e"ists #etween that pleasure deri!ed from the satisfaction of ha!ing found an outlet for a hidden wish and that pleasure linked with the - 6': capa#ility of mastering and controlling such a wish. 9e argues (p. =D), 6The search for outlet acts as an aid to assuring or reesta#lishing this control, and the pleasure is a dou#le one, in #oth discharge and control.7 This summary re!iew shows that the !arious theories are not so contradictory. They differ, essentially, in the a!enues of approach to the same pro#lem, and tackled from this point of !iew, they may #e com#ined into one integrated theory.

$ll aspects of intrapsychic acti!ity can #e reflected and manifested in artistic acti!ity and e"perience. +n this point there is no difference #etween art and dream, fantasy, neurotic symptoms*in fact, any model of human #eha!ior. (t may #e assumed, accordingly, that any art may gratify the !arious sides participating in the psychic struggle. that is, the unconscious wishes in whate!er form of representation, the inner prohi#itions and demands of conscience, and the ego@s need for mastering and regulating the !arious elements. <et it is in the degree of gratification granted to the !arious sides to the intrapsychic struggle that one art differs from another. -hile in one work of art the ma5or aspect may #e the satisfaction of unconscious wishes, the dominant feature in another may #e the gratification of the need for mastering. $nother difference lies in the kind of wishes gratified #y this or that artistic medium, or in the modes of defense and mastering as they are reflected in the !arious forms of art. $s to the !arious forms of art, these may #e 1ualified according to a num#er of continua, such as the continuum from childlike to mature art, from primiti!e to comple" art, from pop art (including pornography) to 6high7 art. /!ery such continuum ranges #etween two distinct poles*indirect gratification of a !ariety of unconscious wishes #eing found at one pole and the component of mastery, control and defense at the other pole. (n the art of children, of primiti!e man, or in pop art, the prominent factor is pleasure-gi!ing through wish fulfillment. The popular forms are markedly distinguished from others #y an almost sensual stimulation, #y repetiti!eness and #y minimal accumulation of tension, any accumulating tension #eing discharged 1uickly and fre1uently. $dult, mature, 6high7 art, on the other hand, merely hints at gratification #y arousing tension and e"pectation of gratification, ne!er attaining it and ne!er allowing full discharge of tension. 2ature art is - 6'8 distinguished #y its richness in !ariations (as against simple repetiti!e-ness), #y the playful transformations, concealment and re-emergence in turn of the theme of gratification, and, moreo!er, #y the tendency to delay the discharge of tension, whether #y continuous accumulation or #y su#tle and partial discharge. $rt of this kind may play its pranks with the spectatorElistener, lift him to heights of e"pectation and tension, promising the final satisfaction only to trick him out of it, mockingly and

derisi!ely, #ut at the ne"t moment hoisting him #ack to the same heights of e"pectation. %ince these are the marginal forms of art representing opposite roles on the continuum, one may rightly assume the e"istence of countless intermediate gradations with !aried relations to the two e"tremes of e"pression*indirect e"pression of wishes !ersus reflection of needs for mastering such wishes. $ll art arouses some kind of gratification, yet this gratification !aries according to !arious positions on the continua. (nfantile, primiti!e and pop art grant indirect satisfaction of latent wishes, which is mainly an indirect instinctual satisfaction. (t is characteri&ed #y pleasure at a sensual le!el and is often accompanied #y #odilysensual e"pressions (e.g., the rhythmic mo!ements to pop music). The mature, comple", 6high7 art, on the other hand, generates a fundamentally different e"perience. (t is an e"perience of purity, #eauty, goodness, an e"altation of the mind, a rising a#o!e 6the sensations of this world.7 This is the psychological state, in fact, commonly identified as 6the esthetic e"perience.7 (t has #een assumed that the esthetic e"perience is #ased on the sense of #eauty, although what is meant #y #eauty has ne!er #een clearly and undisputa#ly defined. %antayana, '' in his essay on 6The %ense of Heauty,7 stresses the connection #etween #eauty and goodness. 3efining #eauty, he writes, 6; this !alue is positi!e, it is the sense of the presence of some-ting good, or (in the case of ugliness) of its a#sence7 (p. =4). (t is our assumption that, through the genetic approach, a strong connection can #e esta#lished #etween the two concepts, #eauty and goodness, and that this connection rests on the historical transmutations of the e"perience of 6goodness7 in the emotional de!elopment of the child. %ociali&ation consists in educating the child to learn to postpone, to renounce or to channel gratification into forms that are accepta#le to society. -hen permitting himself direct . - 6'9 gratification of his wishes, the child will meet with reactions from those a#out him that make him feel 6#ad,7 yet when succeeding in restraining himself or postponing the gratification, praise and reward will make him feel 6good.7 $t the stage of internali&ing the social demands (i.e., with the #uilding up of the superego) that internal tri#unal is formed which condemns 6#ad7 deeds and praises 6good7 ones.

Thus, when the child has succeeded in controlling his wishes* that is, when he has succeeded in not gratifying them*he will #e rewarded #y the superego with the e"perience of elation of purity and goodness, particularly when those denied wishes were especially forceful. (t is assumed here that the sense of #eauty, which is at the root of the esthetic e"perience, has de!eloped genetically from that sense of 6goodness7 that accompanies the feeling of satisfaction deri!ed from the !ictory o!er 6for#idden7 wishes. To sum up8 all artistic satisfaction is composed of an indirect gratification of wishes and of a gratification deri!ed from mastering the e"pression of such wishes. $rt, in none of its forms, e!er gratifies e"clusi!ely one single participant in the intrapsychic conflict. still the degree of satisfaction relati!e to any one element !aries from one art form to another. This differentiation corresponds to a num#er of continua, starting from the 6instinctual7 arts and ending with the 6high7 arts. The so-called 6esthetic e"perience7 is a psychological e!ent linked mainly with the e"perience of mastering the wishes and not with their indirect gratification. it is therefore more often aroused in response to the 6high7 arts. The 6esthetic e"perience7 is a corollary to the gratification deri!ed from complying with the demands of the superego. The sense of #eauty, #eing at the root of the 6esthetic e"perience7 and characteri&ing it, is an offspring of the childhood e"perience of 6goodness.7 The 2eans of $rt The part of 6techni1ue7 in art has e!oked relati!ely little discussion in comparison with what has #een said relati!e to the pro#lem of meaning. The psychoanalytic conceptions of the structure of art (or, as it is usually termed, the formal aspect of esthetics) are all #ased on reud@s classical studies of the structures of dream and 5oke. The formal structure of art presents two pro#lems that we consider rele!ant to the su#5ect of this paper8 (1) -hat structural - 64C rules go!ern the formal organi&ation of works of artI (') -hat is the nature of satisfaction attained in percei!ing these structuresI The psychoanalytical literature pertaining to the pro#lems of structure of art will #e re!iewed in the light of these two 1uestions.

(1) (1) $ll authors share the analogy of art to dream and 5oke, the assumption #eing that works of art are multile!el structures in which the surface le!els are organi&ed according to the model of secondary processes and the deep le!els according to the model of primary processes. (n his studies of dream and 5oke reud hardly e!er related specifically to pro#lems of art, yet in his later studies de!oted to the analysis of specific works of art he applied a techni1ue of analysis similar to that de!eloped for the understanding of the latent meanings of the dream and the 5oke. (') (') reud merely touched upon the pro#lems of gratification and formal esthetic pleasure, #ut since these few statements seem of particular importance to the present theme it would seem worthwhile to 1uote them here. The first appeared in reud@s study of the 5oke8: (f we do not re1uire our mental apparatus at the moment for supplying one of our indispensa#le satisfactions, we allow it itself to work in the direction of pleasure and we seek to deri!e pleasure from its own acti!ity. ( suspect that this is in general the condition that go!erns all aesthetic ideation, #ut ( understand too little of aesthetics to try to enlarge on this statement (pp. 9D-96). Three years later reud 8 tried to e"plain the role of this esthetic pleasure #y e"tending his theory of forepleasure, de!eloped in respect of the 5oke, and #y applying it to the realm of art. $naly&ing the dynamics of the writer, he states8 The writer softens the character of the egoistic daydreaming #y altering and disguising it, and he #ri#es us #y the purely formal *that is, aesthetic*yield of pleasure which he offers us in the presentation of his phantasies. -e gi!e the name of an incenti!e #onus, or a fore-pleasure, to a yield of pleasure such as this which is offered to us as to make possi#le the release of still greater pleasure arising from deeper psychical sources. (n my opinion all the esthetic pleasure which a creati!e writer affords us has the character of a fore-pleasure of this kind, and our actual en5oyment of an imaginati!e work proceeds from a li#eration of tensions in our minds (p. 1D4). - 641 (n his later works reud ne!er returned to deal with these su#5ects. 9e neither de!oted further studies to the rules of the latent structures in works of art, nor did he add any further e"planation to the 1uestion a#out the formal aesthetic pleasure which he deemed to #e merely a 6fore-pleasure.7 +nly after -orld -ar (( were these pro#lems

taken up again for more intensi!e study. 9ere, #riefly re!iewed, are the ma5or ideas offered in our field concerning artistic structure and aesthetic pleasure. (1) Aris 1= regards works of art as structures characteri&ed #y 6o!er-determination7 (p. 'D). he also proposes a concept of 6aesthetic am#iguity.7 9e assumes that am#iguity is the factor that accounts for the greatness of a work of art and makes it eternal8 ; high am#iguity allows for a wide range of interpretation, so that the work may #e pri&ed throughout !arious changes in cultural interests and !alues #y #eing interpreta#le in a corresponding !ariety of ways (p. '64). Aris, howe!er, focused his in!estigations on the pro#lems of the creati!e artist and of the creati!e process rather than on the structure of art as such. 9e suggested that the artist possesses a particular capacity to effect a 6shift in the psychic le!el7*an a#ility of the ego to permit a controlled regression to reach e"pressi!e forms organi&ed according to primary processes. (t is this 6regression in the ser!ice of the ego7 which ena#les the artist to create artistic structures that are distinguished #y am#iguity and o!erdetermination. $. /hren&weig in his #ook, = deals e"tensi!ely with the pro#lems of artistic perception. 9e regards works of art as #ile!elled structures. 9e assumes that the surface le!el is organi&ed according to gestalt principles, whereas the deeper le!el has an 6inarticulate,7 6gestalt-free7 form that reflects sym#olically unconscious contents, too dangerous and e!en prohi#ited to e"press directly. 9e concludes that there are two modes of perception, a surface perception following the gestalt principles, and an unconscious depth perception8 -e found that there must #e an unconscious perception which is not #ound #y the conscious gestalt (the surface gestalt) and which percei!es competing form com#inations such as #ackground negati!es or the minute forms of techni1ue. 0sychoanalysis shows that depth perception is not only free from the surface gestalt #ut follows a different form principle altogether (p. 4C). - 64' (n an interesting analysis of se!eral works of music (Jhapter ?() /hren&weig shows that such artistic structures as Hach@s fugues are organi&ed according to the primary processes. 9e assumes that the ine"perienced listener 6understands7 these comple" creations, thanks to his unconscious percepti!e a#ility which*though he is ne!er

aware of it*7; can adapt itself to the technical intricacies of Hach@s fugue construction as well as to %choen#erg@s twel!e-tone row7 (p. 11'). Aohut 16 adheres to the same principle of two le!els and writes in his essay on music8 6-e find musical primary processes co!ered #y musical secondary processes7 (p. 49D). Jomparing the #ede!iled structure of music with that of poetry, he states8 ; the meaningful content of poetry is the secondary-process surface of the phenomenon. the form, howe!er, with the Alang-association rhymes and the rhythm of the words #elongs to the primary process, the primiti!e psychic forms of the unconscious (p. 49D). riedman 1' points out that the themes of musical works are transformed according to primary processes. (n his essay he enumerates eight different processes, all of them 6primary process transformations.7 $n interesting assumption of his is that the greatness of a work of art is pro#a#ly a function of these primary processes, i.e., the more use made of primary processes, the 6greater7 the work of art, or in other words, 6great7 works of art show e"tensi!e use of primary processes. Today, the assumption of the multile!el structure of works of art has #ecome one of the cornerstones of psychoanalytic theory. $n e!er-growing num#er of studies attempt to analy&e and e"pose the primary processes in art and to disclose the ways in which these are linked with the secondary forms of organi&ation. (') %ince reud:, 8 put forth the a#o!e assumptions, the first ma5or contri#ution on esthetic gratification was made #y -eiss in 19=:. '8 -eiss wants to understand what the particular properties of 6formal #eauty7 are. (n an attempt to rid himself of the influence of content, he in!estigates the esthetic 1uality of pure a#stract forms, such as ornamentation. $naly&ing ancient Greek sarcophagi, this author shows that creations generally acclaimed as #eing #eautiful - 644 and esthetic impress one at first as #eing comple" and intricate, yet a second look re!eals that they are composed of a minimal num#er of lines organi&ed according to simple structural rules. (t is his opinion that #y trying to 6grasp7 such a form, one is caught at first #y its comple"ity and thus prepared to in!est 1uite an amount of energy in a#sor#ing this perception. <et one is spared that effort #y the disclosure of the #asic simplicity of composition. The discrepancy #etween the two modes of

perception ser!es to release energy, the discharge of which is felt as pleasure. -eiss concludes8 The greater the contrast #etween our present ease of perception and the difficulty that might ha!e #een, the greater our pleasure from the design (p. 496). /"panding reud@s assumption #eyond the realm of the 5oke, -eiss presumes that the artistic pleasure is, after all, a function of the 6psychic economy,7 and in conclusion he ad!ances an interesting hypothesis8 reud completes his theory of wit with a series of formulas8 wit is the economy of e"penditure of psychic energy in inhi#ition. comedy is the economy of e"penditure of psychic energy in thinking. humor is the economy of e"penditure of psychic energy in feeling. -e may perhaps add a fourth8 formal aesthetic pleasure is economy of e"penditure of psychic energy in perception (p. =CC). /hren&weig, = whose principal ideas on art were mentioned #efore, contri#uted also to the understanding of esthetic pleasure. 9e assumes that esthetic pleasure is a defense against percei!ing the full significance of the deep sym#olism. 9e writes8 ; aesthetic pleasure generally adheres only to the gestalt ela#orations which the surface mind pro5ects into the inarticulate sym#olic structures of the depth mind. The style and #eauty of art is a superstructure ser!ing to hide and to neutrali&e the dangerous sym#olism hidden in the unaesthetic inarticulate structures #elow (p. 14). $ccordingly, the esthetic pleasure ser!es to reinforce the surface perception and to o#struct the penetration of depth percepts into consciousness. %till*6Knderneath the esthetic superstructure another, - 64= secret con!ersation is carried on #etween the artist@s depth mind and that of his pu#lic7 (p. :4). $lthough the few theories set forth concerning the dynamics of esthetic pleasure are interesting and elucidating, they remain rather incomplete and can hardly #e integrated. /hren&weig regarded esthetic pleasure as a defense, without saying anything a#out the nature of this pleasure and the ways #y which esthetic structures grant pleasure. -eiss did in fact relate to these #ut he dealt with some e"clusi!e aspects of art without e"panding his theories to its comple", intricate and multile!el structures.

(n the theory of the dream reud asserted the distinction #etween primary and secondary process and the organi&ation of latent psychic contents according to the model of primary processes. (n his later work reud put forth these media in which primary processes are manifested directly (#esides their indirect manifestation in !arious forms such as neurotic symptoms)8 (1) the dream. (') the thinking of children. (4) schi&ophrenic thinking. (=) art. $ll four ha!e ser!ed until today as the sources for studying and comprehending primary processes. The psychoanalytic conception of art is #ased mainly on the analogy to the structure of the dream. $ny analogy, though, works only as long as the o#5ects of comparison are similar. #eyond that, analogy #ecomes confusing and misleading. <et we will try to proceed where similarity ceases, attempting, from this !antage point, to answer the 1uestion, 6-hat is it that distinguishes #etween dream and artI7 or to #e more precise, 6-hat distinguishes art from any other medium through which primary processes are manifestedI7 $pplying the techni1ue of free associations, reud disco!ered the multile!el structure of the dream. The same techni1ue ena#led him to compare 6dream ideas,7 i.e., the manifold raw material processed in the composition of the dream, with the end product, the dream itself. The art critic, in his attempt at applying the techni1ue of dream analysis to that of art, came to reali&e that the second component, the raw material of dream ideas, was unattaina#le in works of art. %ome attempts were made to e"ploit #iographical data of the artist as a su#stitute, and the circumstances under which a certain work had #een created. /"cept for a few studies all such attempts were doomed to failure and, in fact, are to #lame for the antagonism with which so many professional artists scorn the - 64D psychoanalytic theory of art. %uch a study can perhaps shed some light on a specific situation in which a work was created, or on the 1uestion of why the artist chose this or that particular content. still it cannot deepen the understanding of the structure of art itself. /nough to mention Hach and 2o&art and the many attempts to connect the structure of their works with their life histories, attempts that ha!e failed altogether. +ther authors ha!e tried to apply the analogy with the dream #y a kind of sorting out of two le!els in works of art. /hren&weig, = for instance, regarded the formal structure of music as presenting the surface le!el, while sounds lacking structure, such

as a glissando or !i#rato, reflect the deep latent le!el. (t is dou#tful, though, whether this attempt at #isecting works of art into two le!els can add much to ad!ance our understanding, and in any case, it is not applica#le to other arts. $ttempts at regarding art as a primary chaotic structure co!ered #y a defensi!e esthetic layer ha!e reached a #lind alley in recent years, particularly since it is #ecoming e!ident that the so-called secondary esthetic structure is composed, at least in part, 5ust as well according to the model of primary processes. (t seems to us, therefore, that it is fallacious to split the structure of art into two le!els, one, the surface le!el, #eing organi&ed according to secondary processes, while the other, the depth le!el, follows primary processes. (n our opinion the work of art should #e !iewed as one structure in which the integration of #oth these processes is accomplished. +n the #asic assumption that there are differences #etween art and dream, schi&ophrenia, or the thinking of children, we will ha!e to clarify a num#er of additional factors. (1) The dream is often meaningless to the dreamer, and certainly when told to some#ody else (e"cept the analyst, of courseL). The thinking of the child, as it is e"pressed in his first speech or in other reactions, remains almost incomprehensi#le to the adult, while schi&ophrenic #eha!ior is considered as #eing 6cra&y7 and !oid of logic. $rt, on the other hand, can #e understood and accepted #y the spectatorElistener as something natural and accepta#le, i.e., art differs from the other media in its communicati!e aspects. (') This statement implies that while the other media appear - 646 to #e illogical, 6strange,7 6chaotic,7 art is percei!ed as a logical and familiar structure. (4) This logical communication is not limited to one percei!ing su#5ect #ut #elongs to the theory of art in general. The rules according to which the dream, the thinking of children and of schi&ophrenics are structured and organi&ed, are unknown, and only since the #eginning of this century are their properties #eing disclosed #y dint of psychological and psychoanalytical in!estigation. <et the rules of artistic structure ha!e #een known for hundreds of years, and e!ery serious art student is o#liged to ac1uire them. +ne may say simply that the !ery rules which reud with his keen and penetrating !iew recogni&ed as go!erning the dream composition ha!e #een known to

the theorists of art o!er hundreds of years. /!ery #ook written as far #ack as one hundred or e!en two hundred years ago*on the rules of counterpoint, for instance, or on other features of musical composition*descri#es processes of in!ersion, condensation, displacement, etc. (f so, art as a form is distinct from dream, schi&ophrenia, and childhood thinking #y its #eing communicati!e, percei!ed as logical, and go!erned #y known and familiar rules of structure. (t may #e concluded then that art is the only medium (aside from the 5oke, perhaps) in which a content, organi&ed according to primary processes, is percei!ed as communicati!e and logical. (n other words, material organi&ed according to the model of primary processes follows conditions that are considered generally as the prerogati!e of secondary processes. >et us imagine that art goes through some kind of 6de!elopment7 analogous to the de!elopment of the thinking process of the child. The child, in the course of his de!elopment, is changing from an 6autistic creature7 into a communicati!e and social #eing. 3uring this de!elopmental process secondary thought processes are emerging which repress the primary processes into the sphere of unconscious e"perience. (n its de!elopment art #ecomes also communicati!e thanks to the emerging secondary processes, yet these, in their de!elopment, sustain the !alidity of the primary processes #y dressing them with properties characteristic of the secondary process. (n other words, in child de!elopment the secondary process is de!eloping upon and instead of the primary process, repressing the latter - 64: into the unconscious, whereas in art the secondary process de!elops also upon the primary one, yet maintains and e"ploits it. (n art the primary processes continue acti!e, though as if gar#ed in some#ody else@s o!ercoat. They are la#eled with a secondary tag, and at this price they are permitted to go on #eing acti!e. (n another conte"t it will #e attempted to show that on the #asis of this essential difference the di!iding line may #e drawn that fundamentally distinguishes the gifted artist in his de!elopment from that of 6ordinary7 human #eings. (t appears, thus, that art is not a system split into two le!els. )either 6latent systems7 and 6secondary re!ision7 are found in art nor a 6superior7 layer a#o!e another. $rt is one gestalt in

which primary and secondary processes are su#limely integrated without contradicting each other. Two e"amples may ser!e to illustrate this proposition8 (1) Alang associations are regarded as part of the primary process. -e find these in 6dream transformation7 and in the disruption of schi&ophrenic associations. %till they constitute the structural rule according to which most poetry is written (rhymes). (t is well known that the poet composes his !erses spontaneously and intuiti!ely without heeding the structure of the poem. <et the reader percei!es the structured !erse (the poetic structure) as if it were a secondary, logical process, and more often than not he may #e nai!e enough to imagine the poet using a dictionary for rhyming his !erse. 9ow many teachers are not con!inced that writing poetry (though perhaps not inspired poetry) may #e learned, e"ercised and drilled 5ust as any other secondary acti!ity that is taught. (') (n music we find comple" transformations of a theme which correspond to primary processes, like cra#-in!ersion, mirror re!ersal, and others (it should #e recalled here how fre1uently mirror re!ersal is met with in children learning to write). The great composers, of course, utili&ed such transformations in their works intuiti!ely, without #eing entirely aware of them (as admitted #y %choen-#erg,'4 for instance). %uch transformations, howe!er, are studied at e!ery school of music, as if they were calculated, logical structures, and certainly most listeners are con!inced that the composer in!ested much comple" forethought in 6constructing7 his work. The works of Hach, as an e"ample, ha!e #een often and widely 6#lamed7 for lacking in emotion, of #eing 6mathematical constructions !oid of spontaneity.7 - 648 -ith a great num#er of works of art it may #e shown that they are #uilt according to two organi&ational sets, one #eing purely secondary and another #eing primary in secondary guise. The #est e"ample is pro!ided #y poetry8 a poem is structured according to meter, rhyme, and certain rhythms, all structural means corresponding to primary processes. <et the !er#al content is organi&ed also according to rules*of grammar and composition as well as of ideational presentation*which #elong to the secondary process. 9ere, too, no distinction can #e made #etween deep and surface le!els, nor can one set #e singled out as the secondary re!ision of the other. To the reader #oth sets appear identifia#le and logical. thus, as #eing secondary. 2oreo!er, it cannot #e pro!ed that it is in a secondary organi&ational set that the manifest contents

are communicated, while the concept of organi&ational set that is originally primary should #e reser!ed for 6latent contents.7 (t is not intended to go here into the structural analysis of art further than needed for esta#lishing our theory. (t may #e shown, howe!er, that it is in forms of secondary organi&ation that many latent contents are communicated while primary forms may 5ust as well ser!e to hide the deep contents #ehind their facade. (t can #e shown that esthetic form which, reud8 presumes, 6; #ri#es us #y ; the purely formal that is, esthetic yield of pleasure ;7 (p. 184) is often composed of elements of primary structure. (n some arts one organi&ational set is dominant. This is the case in all representati!e arts, such as ornamentation, which display relations of formal esthetic organi&ation. 2uch has #een written a#out the esthetic !alue of the !arious geometrical forms and the mathematical proportions go!erning that 6harmony of formal relations7 considered #y many art critics (e.g., 9er#ert ,ead19) as the foremost element of esthetic #eauty. Knderstanding the meaning of these forms re1uires a discussion of the psychodynamic 1uality of mathematical thought processes, a field so far almost neglected #y psychoanalytical study, and of which we continue !astly ignorant. The few studies de!oted to its analysis adum#rate that mathematical acti!ity is #ased on, or at least e"ploits, primary thought processes (cf. ,osen, '1 %ym '6). (t may #e assumed, howe!er, that the symmetrical organi&ation and the shaping of formal 6geometrical7 relations is part of a primary-childlike thought process which proceeded, in the course of the de!elopment, to #ecome a secondary one without - 649 #eing repressed into the unconscious sphere. (This conception corresponds to the #asic assumptions of the Gestalt psychologists.) +#ser!ations of the #eha!ior of infants will easily disclose the element of symmetry and rhythm in it. $ccordingly it may #e concluded that those arts that are #ased merely on formal esthetic relations are #uilt on the principle dealt with #efore*primary organi&ational processes which are e!idenced and can #e studied as if they were premeditated and logical*i.e., like secondary processes. %o far we ha!e tried to analy&e #riefly the elements of the formal structure of art. -hat we ha!e gained #y this analysis should help us to understand the perception of art and the pleasure deri!ed from it. 0sychoanalysis presumes that #oth, secondary

and primary, processes are percepti#le. Jogniti!e perception 6grasps7 and e"plains whate!er is communicated to it that is organi&ed according to secondary processes. This, indeed, is conscious perception. 0rimary structures, howe!er, are percei!ed, understood and interpreted through unconscious percepti!e functions. (n his theory of the 5oke reud #ased his reasoning on the listener@s a#ility to 6understand7 the contents, organi&ed according to the rules of primary organi&ation. 9ere reud presumes the e"istence of an unconscious percepti!e a#ility for the primary process. /hren&weig #ased the ma5or part of his theory of art on the e"istence of such a percepti!e a#ility. (n his opinion the limitations of se1uence in time, continuity and order are !alid only in respect to conscious perception. $ny material communicated without that organi&ation is re5ected as #eing 6incomprehensi#le.7 The unconscious perception, though, not restricted #y such limitations, is a#le to 6understand7 those contents e!en if they are communicated in a con!erse, piecemeal and disordered fashion. (t may #e concluded, then, that artistic structures are percei!ed #oth ways, either #y conscious or #y unconscious perception, dependent on the organi&ational form meant to appeal to the instrument of perception. 6>ogical7 material is concei!ed consciously, whereas any other material, although arousing a conscious response such as 6this is illogical and meaningless7 (the typical response on #eing told a dream or on hearing the ram#lings of a schi&ophrenic patient), will still #e percei!ed #y the instrument of unconscious perception. 2ost art is characteri&ed, as e"plained #efore, #y the specific organi&ation of its contents according to primary processes, - 6=C which appear as logical and familiar organi&ations, i.e., as secondary process ones. >ike e!ery primary process structure they are percei!ed through unconscious perception, #ut are not re5ected #y the conscious perception as meaningless, as occurs in the dream. +n the contrary, since they are acknowledged #y conscious perception as logical and comprehensi#le structures, it is attempted to 6grasp7 and interpret them, and often successfully so. $rt, thus, is percei!ed through #oth the modes of perception. Hut #ecause of the difference #etween the modes, a discrepancy may result in the degree of ease with which a gi!en structure is percei!ed #y each. $ structure, interpreted easily and without much energy spent #y unconscious perception, might re1uire considera#le effort to #e understood and interpreted #y

conscious perception. Hach@s fugues ser!e well to illustrate this point8 they can #e understood and interpreted !ia conscious perception, #ut #esides re1uiring considera#le effort, this can #e done usually only after years of study and ac1uiring familiarity with the fundamentals of music theory. <et it is generally claimed that the fugues are intelligi#le to the unconscious perception at a first hearing. -ithout presuming the e"istence of this unconscious intuiti!e understanding we could not e"plain how the fugues can #e en5oyed #y a person who does not know how to analy&e them. $n analysis of great works of art will re!eal that they are #uilt according to a design that can #e grasped #y the two modes of perception, with the resulting discrepancy #etween the comple"ity appearing to secondary perception and the simplicity of the primary intuiti!e grasp. 2uch energy is mo#ili&ed in order to a#sor# and master the percept. This energy is proportionate in 1uantity to the initial appraisal of the degree of comple"ity and intricacy of the work. Hut once the percept is 6grasped7 and understood 6intuiti!ely,7 and this relati!ely easily so, a large part of the percepti!e energy is sa!ed, and it is this surplus energy which, on #eing discharged, is felt as esthetic pleasure. -e share here the assumption of -eiss '8 that formal esthetic pleasure is deri!ed from an economy of perceptual energy. (f works of art which are generally acclaimed as #eing 6great7 from the point of !iew of structure are regarded in the light of this assumption, it will #e apparent that all show this discrepancy #etween the effort to #e in!ested #y conscious perception and that needed #y unconscious perception. (t may #e assumed - 6=1 e!en that the degree of 6greatness7 is proportional to the e"tent of this discrepancy. +ur assumption is, indeed, an enlargement on that of riedman.1' -hile he asserts that the 6greatness7 of a work of art is proportional to the e"tent to which primary processes are 6used,7 the emphasis in our assumption is on the integration of primary and secondary processes. Great works of music are often considered as 6outstanding architectural creations.7 Hut if they are analy&ed with regard to primary processes, it is found that they ha!e a simple design and are composed according to elementary structural rules. %umming up, it may #e said that works of art are #uilt according to a set of rules which appear manifestly as secondary process organi&ation. (n part, these rules were

originally secondary, and in part they were primary processes which ha!e #een gi!en a secondary shading without changing much of their 1uality and without co!ering it up. They seem to #e la#eled with a logical tag and are therefore percei!a#le as logical and familiar. %uch artistic structures are percei!ed through conscious perception, #y which the indi!idual is a#le to a#sor# and understand any material presented in forms of secondary organi&ation, as well as through unconscious perception, #y which he is a#le to grasp and understand any material presented in forms of primary organi&ation. %ince, in art, primary processes are e!idenced and percei!ed as secondary ones, they are comprehended simultaneously through #oth percepti!e modes. This dou#le perception sets off a possi#le discrepancy #etween the degree of simplicity of primary intuiti!e perception and the comple"ity of secondary perception. or the latter, much energy is mo#ili&ed to 6decipher7 and 6understand7 the artistic creation*energy that is sa!ed as soon as the percei!er comes to reali&e that he does, in fact, understand the work 6intuiti!ely.7 (t is that sa!ed energy which makes itself felt as formal-esthetic pleasure. Great works of art, therefore, are those which 6mislead7 the percei!er #y presenting a front of comple"ity and intricate architecture #ehind which a simple and easily comprehensi#le structure is found. %ummary The intrinsic properties of art ha!e #een analy&ed in order to understand their dynamic processes and their yield of gratification or pleasure. - 6=' or the purpose of analysis we ha!e distinguished #etween meanings and means of art. $ccordingly, we ha!e dealt separately with the gratification deri!ed from percei!ing and understanding the meaning communicated through art, and with the gratification linked with the actual perceptual acti!ity. +f course, such a distinction is artificial and, although helpful in understanding the functions of each of these processes, should #e discarded in fa!or of an integrated conception. +ne cannot !ery well assume that meaning can e"ist independently of its representational 6techni1ue,7 and there is in fact no such e"perience as pure satisfaction deri!ed from perceptual processes that is de!oid of the meaning percei!ed. The !alue of any work of art does not depend e"clusi!ely on either the specific meaning em#edded in it or on its formal structure. (t depends on the specific meaning

presented in a specific structural !essel. The most su#lime idea is far from #eing art as long as it remains without the specific structure in which it is presented. The ideational !alue of a work of art may #e undisputa#le (perhaps superior material for a philosophical essay), #ut as an idea per se it has not yet anything to do with art. To the same e"tent, e!ery artistic gratification is an integrated gratification. (t is e"perienced when certain psychic contents are challenged and gratified #y corresponding meanings, and when the mental act of percei!ing, transforming, and understanding these meanings is #eing felt as pleasura#le. Gratification and pleasure deri!ed from only one of the two components are known to e"ist #ut cannot #e regarded as #elonging to the realm of artistic or esthetic gratification. The first component of gratification, related merely to meanings that correspond to !arious psychic contents and needs, appears to e"ist in !arious forms of playing. 0laying is an acti!ity which seems close to art, since it also lacks reality and is an acti!ity of make-#elie!e. 0laying har#ors meanings that suit intrapsychic wishes, inner prohi#itions, and the need for mastery on the part of the ego. %till, playing is de!oid of the 6techni1ue7 and the specific organi&ational form of art. To the e"tent that play acti!ity is organi&ed according to the rules and 6techni1ues7 noted a#o!e, gratification has e"panded #eyond the mere satisfaction, e"pression, and control of needs, and a purely formal pleasure has #een added. -hen this stage of de!elopment is reached, playing ceases to #e mere play and #ecomes art. $ good e"ample to illustrate this point is what - 6=4 happens in chess. Jhess, in fact, is midway #etween play and art. The unsophisticated player finds in it merely gratification of !arious needs for mastery, whereas the 6master7 also en5oys a formal pleasure, the 6elegance7 and the 6esthetics7 of the !arious mo!es. $ccordingly, the unsophisticated player is no more than a player, whereas the master is regarded an artist. $n additional 1uestion is that of whether there is any acti!ity concerned only with the second, formal aspect of art. 2athematics and geometry may ser!e as e"amples of such an acti!ity. 2athematical thinking shows many attri#utes which are characteristic of the primary process, while mathematical e"ercise grants gratification of the mental-perceptual apparatus.

(n conclusion, art without the specific formal-esthetic structure remains in the realm of play, while art without content #ut with structure and organi&ation remains in the realm of mathematics and geometry. (t is the integration of meaning and means which is the precondition for art to #e art. ,eferences 1 $rnheim, ,. 0erceptual $#straction and $rt. 0sychoanal. ,e!., ?ol. D=, 19=:. pp. 66-8'. ' Hergler, /. +n a Jlinical $pproach to the 0sychoanalysis of -riters. 0sychoanal. ,e!., ?ol. 41, 19==. pp. =C-:C. MNO 4 Hergman, 0. and %. k. /scalona. Knusual %ensiti!ities in ?ery <oung Jhildren. 0sychoanal. %t. Jhild, ?ol. 4-=. )ew <ork8 (nternational Kni!ersities 0ress, 19=9. pp. 444-4D'. MNO = /hren&weig, $. The 0sychoanalysis of $rtistic ?ision and 9earing. )ew <ork8 Pulian 0ress, 19D4. D /hren&weig, $. Knconscious 2ental (magery in $rt and %cience. )ature, ?ol. 9D=, 196'. pp. 1CC8-1C1'. - 6== 6 reud, %. Three /ssays on the Theory of %e"uality (19CD). %tandard /dition, ?ol. :. >ondon8 9ogarth 0ress, 1964. MNO : reud, %. Pokes and Their ,elation to the Knconscious (19CD). %tandard /dition, ?ol. 8. MNO 8 reud, %. Jreati!e -riters and 3aydreaming (19C8). %tandard /dition, ?ol. 9. MNO 9 reud, %. i!e >ectures on 0sychoanalysis (19C9). %tandard /dition, ?ol. 11. MNO 1C reud, %. (ntroductory >ectures on 0sychoanalysis (191:), 0art (((. %tandard /dition, ?ol. 16. MNO 11 reud, %. The >etters of %igmund reud. /d. /. >. reud. )ew <ork8 Hasic Hooks, 196C. 1' riedman, %. +ne $spect of the %tructure of 2usic. P. $mer. 0sychoanal. $ssn., ?ol. 8, 196C. pp. =':-==9. MNO 14 Alein, 2. (nfantile $n"iety %ituations ,eflected in a -ork of $rt and in the Jreati!e (mpulse. (nt. P. 0sycho-$nal., ?ol. 1C, 19'9. pp. =49-===. MNO

1= Aris, /. 0sychoanalytic /"plorations in $rt. )ew <ork8 (nternational Kni!ersities 0ress, 19D'. 1D Aohut, 9. and %. >e!arie. +n the /n5oyment of >istening to 2usic. 0sychoanal. Q., ?ol. 19, 19DC. pp. 6=-8:. MNO 16 Aohut, 9. +#ser!ations on the 0sychological unctions of 2usic. P. $mer. 0sychoanal. $ssn., ?ol. D, 19D:. pp. 489-=C:. MNO 1: >ee, 9. H. +n the $esthetic %tates of the 2ind. 0sychiatry, ?ol. 1C, 19=:. pp. '814C6. 18 ,ank, +. 3er ABnstler8 $ufsRt&e &u einer %e"ual-0sychologie. ?ienna8 9eller, 19C:. 19 ,ead, 9. The 2eaning of $rt. 2iddlese"8 0enguin Hooks, 19=9. 'C ,ickman, P. +n the )ature of Kgliness and the Jreati!e (mpulses. (nt. P. 0sycho$nal., ?ol. '1, 19=C. pp. '9=-414. MNO '1 ,osen, ?. +n 2athematical 6(llumination7 and the 2athematical Thought 0rocess. 0sychoanal. %t. Jhild, ?ol. 8, 19D4. pp. 1':-1D=. MNO '' %antayana, G. The %ense of Heauty (1896). )ew <ork8 Jollier Hooks, 1961. '4 %choen#erg, $. %tyle and (dea. )ew <ork8 0hilosophical >i#rary, 19DC. '= %egal, 9. $ 0sychoanalytic $pproach to $esthetics. (nt. P. 0sycho-$nal., ?ol. 44, 19D'. pp. 196-'C:. MNO 'D %ter#a, ,. The 0ro#lem of $rt in reud@s -ritings. 0sychoanal. Q., ?ol. 9, 19=C. pp. 'D6-'68. MNO '6 %ym, P. J. H. The 2athematical Thought 0rocess. Hrit. P. 2ed. 0sychol., ?ol. 48, 196D. pp. 14D-1=6. ': Taraohow, %. ,emarks on the Jomic 0rocess and Heauty. 0sychoanal. Q., ?ol. 18, 19=9. pp. '1D-''6. MNO '8 -eiss, P. $ 0sychologic Theory of ormal Heauty. 0sychoanal. Q. MNO