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March 21, 2007

The Heimlich ain't just a manuever:The Presentation Blog

Freud, ''The Uncanny'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

When I first signed up to present this, I, like David thought that we would get to poke fun at male genitalia and the incest Freud seemed so fond of when I’d read him in my first psychology class. Instead, I found that Freud gave a clear definition of uncanny by starting at the basics with the word “heimlich” and building a strong argument on the fact that we really only find situations uncanny if they are unfamiliar and we feel that they really could happen in our personal lives. He uses Jentsch to back most of his thoughts.

First, he started with meaning and then provided examples. Heimlich means “familiar.” Thus, what is uncanny to us is what is unknown and fearful. This didn’t quite register and I kept wanting to link it to the heimlich maneuver, so to sidetrack a bit, here’s how I think it relates: the heimlich maneuver is done to remove “unfamiliar” objects such like chicken wings or Lego, so therefore it does relate in a twisted way. The definition brings up my first question to you: Does the unfamiliar make you fearful ? Why or why not?

Heimlich is also defined as secretive and the characters of Blade Runner were secretive in their own ways and my blog on the Freudian reading explains this further, but what I learned the most from watching the movie, was the influence that Freud has on our culture as a whole. Here are some of the factors I noticed that he used to describe the uncanny.

1. Automatons-inanimate objects come alive and we are disturbed, by the feeling, but don’t quite do anything about it. Some fun examples to argue whether uncanny or not: The Mannequin or perhaps Splash. Lorin’s blog is an excellent example of whether or not something of the fantasy world can be uncanny if it doesn’t evoke fear. She says of Beauty and the Beast: “I'm sure those townsmen were pretty freaked out when they were getting beat up and then dressed as drag queens by a talking, moving wardrobe and scalded by an animate tea pot and her teacup child. I'm sure uncanny is a good word for how they were feeling at the time. But, once again, the audience does not feel uncanny as a result - on the contrary they feel as sense of triumph along with the castle's inhabitants.” This made me laugh, but it makes for another good question: How do Disney movies relate to Freud’s definition of Uncanny and can you think of some other examples?

2.The Castration Complex-severed limbs, especially ones that move even afterwards are especially disturbing.

3.Déjà vu/Repetition- Denamarie’s blog contained a very good quote on how repetition is uncanny: "...this factor of involuntary repetition which surrounds with an uncanny atmosphere what would otherwise be innocent enough, and forces upon us the idea of something fateful and unescapable..." (390).

4.Omnipotence of Thoughts- “The idea that the world was peopled with the spirits of human beings, and by the narcissistic overestimation of subjective mental processes.” (393). Freud’s example of the old man dying after he was annoyed with him reminds me of the superstitious and vain way we think our thoughts have power over others. Do you think omnipotent thoughts do have any powers and did you see any of that in Blade Runner?5.The Eyes: Tiffany had an excellent blog on this. Do tell. Kevin also explained intertextuality and the eyes.

6.The Double or Fear of Death: “This invention of doubling as a preservation of extinction has it’s counterpart in the language of dreams…” (castration) (387). Do you think that cloning relates to this? Do you think the self preservation made the replicants more human-like in Blade Runner?

Overall, Freud gives us a look at how we can apply his theories in and outside of literature (Thanks, Karissa. Your blog did a great job of explaining this) and that to be uncanny is not necessarily scary. We are not as powerful as we think, but do still get excited when a certain number keeps popping up or we feel like we’ve been in the same place twice. We may not want to commit incest or do the heimlich maneuver but at least we will understand that when it’s uncanny, it is unfamiliar and is more uncanny when it becomes a reality.

Posted by ErinWaite at March 21, 2007 8:00 PM


Good overview and great questions, Erin. I look forward to seeing your presentation and discussing this stuff in depth. -- Dr. A.

Posted by: Mike Arnzen at March 22, 2007 12:16 AM

Thanks, Dr. A! I'm excited too and I'm glad I'll get to meet you because I'm having you for poetry in the fall.

Posted by: Erin at March 22, 2007 10:07 AM

Reading your blog, I feel like I was at your presentation. Sadly, however, I won't be in class tonight due to a banquet but I really enjoyed reading your take on the uncanny. I took the uncanny as more of the unfamiliar or the unknown, but you also discussed the other aspects of it, which was great for me to further understand each. The uncanny isn't just made of one part, but a collaboration of several. Ah, leave it to Freud to do that...

Posted by: Nessa at March 22, 2007 10:13 AM

I wouldn't say the unfamiliar gives me a sense of fear but rather a sense of curiosity. If I read something in literature that I have never come across in my own experience, I begin to see it as the unknown.

Great blog and I am excited for your presentation =]

Posted by: Denamarie at March 22, 2007 12:55 PM

Were you the one who sent me the love note, Denamarie, I checked the box...LoL. Anyway, you didn't miss much Nessa, my blog says it all. The unknown should be an adventure, ladies. Good points!

Posted by: Erin at March 22, 2007 9:03 PM

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