Thursday, May 3, 2012
Me Versus Freud: The Uncanny
Freud would say this is sexual too, and ok, if that's the way he wants it, but I'll cling to my notion that the uncanny has more to do with the potential for terrible unknowableness than the fear of a wiener-snipping. At the beginning of Night of the Living Dead a brother and sister are arguing as they visit their father's grave (Okay, Freud, shut up, you've had your say!) And in the background, way against the horizon, a shuffling figure meanders slowly, weaving in and out of our field of vision. He's so far off, we can barely see him. And we know, we just know, he's a zombie. It doesn't make sense that he should be, there's no reason for a dead person to be up and walking around - and that's what makes it uncanny. One more example, Gregor Samsa, as rule-bound and reality principled as any man who ever walked, wakes up from a troubled dream to find himself changed into a monstrous vermin. This is the uncanny and our peculiar horror of it. When we were very, very little we struck a bargain with the universe that we would be have reasonably in accordance with its reason, but what if the universe never kept its side of the deal, and after all, why should we expect it to? What if instead of an orderly if unsatisfactory clockwork of cause and effect, and this therefore that, and one-thing-at-a-time, it's a bedlam of eyeball-eating crows and mothers with glass eyes and wooden tails?