Tag Archives: Freud

‘Dark technology’ and human ‘nature’ or ‘nurture’?

In the later 19th century there was a protracted debate among thinkers of various stripes about the question, what ultimately determines human actions — ‘nature’ or ‘nurture’ — a debate that is still going on today. But while it was then influenced by the evolutionary theory of Charles Darwin, on the one hand, and empiricist…

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“Names Unvoiced but not Unknown”: Cleone Cull’s surrealist art

Judging by the recently opened exhibition of multimedia drawings by Eastern Cape artist Cleone Cull – who spent years teaching fine art, first at the Port Elizabeth Technikon and later at the School of Music, Art and Design of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University – art is thriving in this corner of South Africa. Cleone…

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The Tshwane protests, Freud and how to control a crowd

It is regrettable that so many thinking people today – even those in the discipline of psychology – regard the work of the founder of psychoanalysis (which is by no means synonymous with psychology) as being of no more than historical importance, and Sigmund Freud himself as a historical curiosity. And yet, Freud is more…

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Why cartoons are linked to human freedom

There is a very obvious reason why cartoons are inseparably linked to human freedom. And here I don’t mean the Walt Disney variety, or indeed any cartoon film, although they are clearly connected to “artistic freedom” insofar as one’s creativity sets the bounds for the imagination as source of the construction of such films. What…

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The ‘perversion’ of Donald Trump’s popularity

A lot has been written speculatively about American presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s popularity, which has seemed surprising to many if his outrageous statements about women or about Mexicans are taken into account. Until recently when he did an egg-dance on the question of women and abortion, trying to correct what he had suddenly realised had…

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Student protests as ‘acting out’

The recent, and still continuing university student protests across the country call for a more fundamental theoretical approach. Although one could always address them at the level of “common sense” or everyday discourse (which is what I have done here before), it is perhaps time to elaborate on the fruits yielded by a psychoanalytical perspective…

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A flexible model for research in the human sciences

It often happens that postgraduate students and I have conversations about the question, how to go about doing research in the humanities and social sciences (the “human sciences”). And I’m not only talking about methodology (which is not the same as method); methodology is closely intertwined with epistemological (knowledge-) and ontological (being-) questions, and cannot…

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Movies and robots: society’s unconscious anxiety?

How much importance should one attach to recurrent cinematic themes involving humanity-destructive robots, which arguably represent what might be called society’s collective anxiety about technology gone seriously wrong? Cinema could perhaps be understood in Freudian terms as the collective dreams of society, which, not unlike ordinary dreams (sometimes nightmares), function as “wish-fulfilment”. Nightmares are also…

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Human rights and desire: The need for a clear conscience

We live in the age of the unquestioned assumption of human rights — that is, the assumption that all human beings are entitled to certain “basic human rights”. This is accepted as normal, or setting the norm, and this is unquestionably correct, at least in the sense of being an accepted convention. However, the discipline…

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The dream of Jormungand – Japanese anime and wish-fulfilment

The more I see of Japanese anime, the more I am impressed by, and the better I understand the way that many of these popular movies address serious issues. A while ago I wrote on the anime series Psycho-Pass and its pertinence for the question of societal control, and I have just finished watching another…

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