A quick read of the introduction of Beyond Pleasure, Freud, Lacan, Bathes by Margaret Iversen

Iversen refers to Kant and his argument that “we call something “beautiful” when faculties, both cognitive and sensory, entertain the form of an object in a pleasurable, harmonious free play. “

Iversen seeks to write about art beyond pleasure. She looks at Freud and his thoughts that responses to art are bound up with the “pleasure principle”.

She tries to define pleasure and ponders if it is an absence of unpleasure. Reading the ins and outs of Freud’s psychoanalytic art theory even in a cursory way left me cold. The ego, narcissism and the transformation of the sexual instinct, all too abstract for me.

Interest renews several paragraphs on when Iversen speaks of her reaction to “a specific dominant conception” of “ a likeness that does not refer back to an original and so cannot be called a copy” a “simulacrum”.

Iversen discusses Lacan’s imaginary ideology and reliance on the “ideal” and the “ego”.

Shorter version: Art looks attractive in the renaissance ideal, and people like that.

Modern art has used semiotic strategies to break up the image and critics have used this to “read “the art. No surprises here. Art reflects society back to itself and allegorical renaissance-like images are not sophisticated enough for modern society where most people are literate and many are aware, even subconsciously of semiotics.

I didn’t understand a lot of the theory of Lacan. I agree with the statement that art’s beauty is empty and may be one step away from horror, but in such an awful world what is wrong with an indulgence.

The rest of the introduction to this book was too dense for my limited time and I stopped reading.

I gained some insights though, and ammunition against ‘Ol Ayn Rand and her followers at The Atlas Society.

Iversen, M. (2007). Beyond Pleasure, Freud, Lacan, Bathes. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press.