Academic journal article Journal of Research in Gender Studies

The External Person, a 'Procrustean Bed' of the Inner Person. Notes of Applied Psychoanalysis in Decadence Literature

Academic journal article Journal of Research in Gender Studies

The External Person, a 'Procrustean Bed' of the Inner Person. Notes of Applied Psychoanalysis in Decadence Literature

Article excerpt

In the Modem Age, the individual prefers a logical-abstract relationship with reality of any form, sacred or transcendent. Nevertheless, the alienation from the wholeness, divinity, unconsciousness led to a break in the modem man's communication with himself. Thus, the man started to become aware of an immense inner emptiness, both at individual and social level; not knowing anymore who he is, where he comes from and where he leads to, he feels confused in an over-technological society, substitute for a lost wholeness: through scientific understanding, our world has become dehumanized. Man feels himself isolated in cosmos. He is no longer involved in nature and he has lost his emotional participation in natural events ... No river contains a spirit, no tree means a man's life, no snake is the embodiment of wisdom, and no mountain still harbors a great demon. Neither do things speak to him nor can he speak to things, like stones, springs, plants, and animals. His contact with nature has been lost, and so has that profound emotional energy springing from this symbolic contact."2

Starting in France at the century's turn, the Decadence is based on models of romantic irrationalism. Refusing the positive view (according to which the science and reason could guarantee an objective knowledge of reality), the decadent considers that all these cannot offer him the real knowledge of a mysterious and enigmatic reality. Therefore, giving up reason, the Decadence replaces the objective reality questioning the unconsciousness of a dark area where the individuality is taken as an unconscious remote wholeness. Because of this, we can state that the real target of Decadence is the discovery of the unconsciousness dimension.

As the mystery - the secret essence of reality - cannot be deciphered by reason and science, the decadents will try to reach it through other instruments: dream and nightmare, hallucination and delirium, disease, neuroses and dementia. Thus, the decadent heroes have a complicated, sinuous psychology, dominated by contrasts, and this new status leads to the psychological novel.

At the peak of the American Decadence, Edgar Allan Poe infers and describes the inner conflict of the modem man, confident in the scientific and rational discoveries, at the same time being incredulous when thinking of his existence and his world existence.

What characterizes Poe consists of gloomy and sensational elements, reminding of the English novel from the late 18th century, Gothic and dark. The short existence (40 years) of the American writer proved to be deeply troubled. Being in constant conflict with others, he finds refuge in art. Thus, his writings are works in which the author examines the harsh compensatory both external life (mutilated picture if we think of the Red Death Mask) and the inner turmoil, the thirst for knowledge, exploring the mysteries of the inner world.

Poe's The Mask of the Red Death (1842) begins with a description of the bleak and hopeless disaster of plague. It makes its presence felt everywhere by "sharp pain," meaning people and places by "redness and the horror of blood."

Despite all these troubles, Prince Prospero "was happy, bold and lively," serenity and his optimism do not give up even when more than half of his servants die from the epidemic. Confident in fate, he chooses "a thousand strong and brave friends among the knights and ladies in his court" and retires to seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys, "figment of the prince himself."

The author mentions that once you are here, courtiers stuck locks to prevent 'entry or exit of despair' caused by "outside or inside insanity."

The castle shows the projections of the unconscious, where memory is stored (memory), subjective contributions of functions, affects and unconscious irruptions. Thus, in the castle, the Prince "gathered all that can delight the man:" clown, comedians, dancers, musicians, wine, and "reassurance. …

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