Beyond the Pleasure Principle: And Other Writings (Penguin Modern Classics)

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Modern Classics Civilization and Its Discontent by Sigmund Freud | Penguin Random House Canada

But the pursuit of pleasure has never been a simple thing. Pleasure can be a form of fear, a form of memory and a way of avoiding reality. Above all, as these essays show with remarkable eloquence, pleasure is a way in which we repeat ourselves. The essays collected in this volume explore, in Freud's uniquely subtle and accessible style, the puzzles of pleasure and morality - the enigmas of human development. Help Centre.

Sigmund Freud

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Owning Your Own Shadow. Psychoanalysis is not about all of reality; it treats, properly, only sexuality and its detractors are right about this , but the sexuality it treats is a kind of vast tautology within the human psyche, one to which what we call the sexual act is nearly irrelevant. Psychoanalysis teaches us to recognize that tautology as an always imminent threat to our negotiations with the differences and the non-redundant spaces of the authentically non-erotic real.

In psychoanalysis, nothing is ever forgotten, given up, left behind. In section I of Civilization and Its Discontents, Freud claims that in mental life, nothing that has once taken shape can be lost, and, soon after this, everything past survives pp. Everything persists; psychoanalysis classifies the modalities of persistence and return: conscious memory, slips-of-the- tongue, repression, symptomatic behaviour, acting out, sublimation. Civilization and Its Discontents textually confirms this law.

It wanders, and Freud appears to have trouble finding his subject the function of religion, the conditions of happiness, the nature of civilization, erotic and non-erotic drives, the aetiology of conscience. And yet aggressiveness comes to include everything: it is accompanied by an intense erotic pleasure; like the oceanic feeling discussed in section I, it breaks down the boundaries between the self and the world; it gives expression both to instinctual needs and, in the form of conscience, to the inhibiting energy of civilization. Psychoanalysis does not deny the worlds existence, but it does document the procedures by which the mind de-materializes the world, absorbs it into a history of fantasy-representations.

To complain, for example, as critics have done, that Freud turned away from the real world and studied the seduction of children only as fantasy is like complaining about astronomers turning their analytic attention to the stars. Psychoanalysts are no more and no less capable than anyone else of recognizing such phenomena as real child abuse, but that recognition is irrelevant to what is psychoanalytic in psychoanalysis.

It may not, however, be irrelevant to suggest the very limited usefulness of psychoanalysis in describing, or training us for, what I called a moment ago our negotiations with the non-erotic real. Lacans assaults on ego psychology can be best justified as a profound fidelity to psychoanalysis itself, as a recognition that a psychology of adaptation to the world is by definition a non-psychoanalytic psychology. This should at the very least cast some doubt on the validity of any notion of a psychoanalytic cure. The clinical practice of psychoanalysis is grounded in a theory that tells us why we cant be cured.

The illness in question takes on great anecdotal variety in individual lives and this naturally provides ample material for clinical work , but our blind destructive fury is an intractable psychic function, and positioning in the world, rather than a deviation from some imaginary psychic normality. We can, at best as long as we remain within psychoanalysis , adapt to that which makes us incapable of adaptation.

To go any further again, within psychoanalysis would be to cure ourselves of being human. Sigmund Freud wrote an elegant, cultivated and largely unprofessorial German and so won himself a readership that extended far beyond narrow academic circles. In this respect he may be compared with Friedrich Nietzsche, who couched his ideas in a powerful, rhythmical prose that appealed to an educated public long before his academic colleagues in Germany began to take him seriously as a philosopher.

The comparison is of course inexact: the two had very different styles of writing, and while Freud soon attracted an academic following, which went on increasing until and beyond his death, Nietzsches grew more slowly and was subject to shifts in the political climate. A translator naturally wishes to reproduce the effect that the authors text has had on readers of the original.

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Having previously translated novels and works on history and art history, I knew that most readers would be unfamiliar with the original language and therefore unlikely to question the accuracy of the rendering. Yet in the case of Freuds writings I knew I must never forget that they have the status of canonical texts.

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  5. By allowing myself the slightest licence I might well mistranslate an important term. English-speaking Freudians may know little or no German, but they can always refer to the Standard Edition and compare the use of certain terms with what they find in a new translation. If there are discrepancies, it follows that one of the translators has falsified the sense, and it will not take long to discover which of the two is guilty, for they are unlikely to conclude that the Master failed to make himself clear.

    Psychoanalysis, a Viennese growth, was first described and discussed in German.

    However, it has for decades been practised in English-speaking countries and written about in English, and as a result an English psychoanalytic vocabulary has been built up by anglophone practitioners and translators. It is clear that if we were now starting from scratch we might choose different renderings of a number of terms, but in most cases we have little choice left.

    Being an outsider, I am most concerned about Freudian uses that do violence to what I consider normal English and are apt to displease the general reader. In English we have pain and displeasure as antonyms of pleasure, but neither of these is appropriate in a Freudian context although Freud often uses Schmerz pain in close proximity to Unlust.

    Hence, unpleasure seems to be rare and obsolete except in psychoanalytic parlance, where it is an awkward part-by-part rendering of the German Unlust. Their established English equivalents are the ego, the id and the super- ego. It has been objected that, since German makes do with native words, the English translator should not resort to Latin. However, this is to ignore not only the different histories of the two languages in forming new words, German relies much more on native resources than English does on its Anglo-Saxon heritage , but certain parallels that link them.

    It is worth noting that in German and English the substantivized pronouns das Ich and the ego as well as the self I think, for instance, that the German Ichgefhl is best translated by sense of self were in use long before Freud, and that in compounds the German prefix ber-corresponds regularly to super-. The new coinages das Es and the id fitted in well with the pre-existent phrases das Ich and the ego at a time when most English readers had a modicum of Latin though they may have had no German. Freuds original title for his last major work was Das Unglck in der Kultur Unhappiness in Civilization.

    He later replaced Unglck by Unbehagen unease, malaise, discomfort , and the title he suggested to Joan Riviere, his translator, was Mans Discomfort in Civilization.

    She, however, chose to reverse the order of the nouns, change the syntactic relation between them, and render Unbehagen by discontents, this last choice having perhaps been suggested by Freuds use of Unzufriedenheit dissatisfaction, discontent in association with Unbehagen at one point in the last section of the work ein Unbehagen, eine Unzufriedenheit: an unease, a discontent. They concurred in using civilization and civilized, rather than culture and cultural, to render Kultur and kulturell.

    Translated into English, the relevant senses of Kultur, as defined in Der Grosse Duden, the authoritative German dictionary, are a the totality of the intellectual, artistic and creative achievements of a community as an expression of human progress and b the totality of the characteristic intellectual, artistic and creative achievements produced by a particular community in a particular region during a particular period, for example Greek culture, monastic culture, the culture of the Italian Renaissance, working-class culture, etc.

    Civilization is defined III, p. Among the collocations cited are Egyptian civilization, the civilization of Europe, the ancient civilizations.


    It is clear, then, that the meanings of the English words overlap and that either might have been chosen as an equivalent of the German word. No doubt civilization was preferred because it was the more inclusive term, involving more than mind, taste and manners. One problem that faced English-speaking psychoanalysts was the translation of the German word Trieb, long established in common usage in the sense of impulse and in philosophical discourse. By the German psychological sense began to be transferred to the pre-existent English word drive, which corresponds etymologically almost exactly to the German word.

    The OED defines this new sense of the English word as a any internal mechanism which sets an organism moving or sustains its activity in a certain direction, or causes it to pursue a certain satisfaction; a motive principle; any tendency to persistent behaviour directed at a goal; esp. The German word derives from the verb treiben to drive, to impel , and so an obvious rendering would be impulse, but impulses tend to be momentary, not persistent.

    This was obviously unsatisfactory, if only because the organized beings in question were human beings, commonly credited with superior rationality. The derivative adjective triebhaft was rendered, not by the established word instinctive, current since the seventeenth century, but by the recent derivative instinctual, first attested in and absent from the first edition of the OED Freudians will of course continue to read Freuds works either in German or in the English of the Standard Edition.

    I hope, however, that my versions will make these twentieth-century classics marginally more accessible to the readers of the twenty-first century. It is impossible to resist the impression that people commonly apply false standards, seeking power, success and wealth for themselves and admiring them in others, while underrating what is truly valuable in life. Yet in passing such a general judgement one is in danger of forgetting the rich variety of the human world and its mental life. There are some individuals who are venerated by their contemporaries, but whose greatness rests on qualities and achievements that are quite foreign to the aims and ideals of the many.

    One may be inclined to suppose that these great men are appreciated after all only by a minority, while the great majority have no interest in them. However, it is probably not as simple as that, owing to the discrepancies between peoples thoughts and actions and the diversity of their desires.

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    One of these outstanding men corresponds with me and in his letters calls himself my friend. I sent him a little piece of mine that treats religion as an illusion, and in his reply he said that he wholly agreed with my view of religion, but regretted that I had failed to appreciate the real source of religiosity.

    This was a particular feeling of which he himself was never free, which he had found confirmed by many others and which he assumed was shared by millions, a feeling that he was inclined to call a sense of eternity, a feeling of something limitless, unbounded as it were oceanic. This feeling was a purely subjective fact, not an article of faith; no assurance of personal immortality attached to it, but it was the source of the religious energy that was seized upon by the various churches and religious systems, directed into particular channels and certainly consumed by them.

    On the basis of this oceanic feeling alone one was entitled to call oneself religious, even if one rejected every belief and every illusion. This opinion of my esteemed friend, who himself once celebrated the magic of illusion in poetic form, caused me no small difficulty. It is not easy to treat feelings scientifically. One may try to describe their physiological symptoms.

    Where this is not feasible and I fear that the oceanic feeling will not lend itself to such a description there is nothing left to do but to concentrate on the ideational content most readily associated with the feeling. If I have understood my friend correctly, what he has in mind is the same as the consolation that an original and rather eccentric writer offers his hero before his freely chosen death: We cannot fall out of this world. I would say that for me this is more in the nature of an intellectual insight, not of course without an emotional overtone, though this will be not be wanting in other acts of thought that are similar in scope.

    Relying on my personal experience, I should not be able to convince myself of the primary nature of such a feeling. But this does not entitle me to dispute its actual occurrence in others.

    Civilization and Its Discontents (Penguin Modern Classics) by Sigmund Freud

    The only question is whether it is correctly interpreted and whether it should be acknowledged as the fons et origo of all religious needs. I have nothing to suggest that would decisively contribute to the solution of this problem. The following train of thought then suggests itself. Normally we are sure of nothing so much as a sense of self, of our own ego.

    This ego appears to us autonomous, uniform and clearly set off against everything else. It was psychoanalytic research that first taught us that this was a delusion, that in fact the ego extends inwards, with no clear boundary, into an unconscious psychical entity that we call the id, and for which it serves, so to speak, as a faade. And psychoanalysis still has much to tell us about the relation of the ego to the id.

    Yet externally at least the ego seems to be clearly and sharply delineated. There is only one condition admittedly an unusual one, though it cannot be dismissed as pathological in which this is no longer so. At the height of erotic passion the borderline between ego and object is in danger of becoming blurred.

    Against all the evidence of the senses, the person in love asserts that I and you are one and is ready to behave as if this were so.

    Beyond the Pleasure Principle: And Other Writings (Penguin Modern Classics) Beyond the Pleasure Principle: And Other Writings (Penguin Modern Classics)
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