Politics of Fantasy: Ted Friedman

The distinction I have been trying to make between myth as fabulation and myth as ideology can be reformulated in Ted Friedman’s terms as a distinction between essentialist narratives and readings and anti-essentialist ones. If Lacan can be allowed to « de-essentialise » Freud (and, I would argue, goes nowhere near far enough) there is no reason why we should not familiarise ourselves with an anti-essentialist Jung. James Hillman de-essentialises Jung in a way that bypasses the lacanian detour via the signifier and that has much more in common with Deleuze and Guattari’s pragmatics of intensities and becomings.

Friedman’s article on The Politics of Magic can be found here ,

and here is a video version:

I think he is particularly interesting in his observations about the phasing out of oedipal type narratives (that he ties to the decline of the baby boomers and the passage from Generation X to Generation Y), and to the transition from themes of the bad repressed unconscious (typified in FORBIDDEN PLANET and its « monsters from the Id ») to the ambiguous but productive unconscious (typified in LOST).

Friedman doesn’t mention the passage to a polytheistic perception, but I think it is an important aspect of the same overall trend. He does indicate that for any fantasy to appeal to a large number of people it must embody several different ways of relating to the unconscious and its multiple figures. He gives the example in LORD OF THE RINGS of two ways of dealing with the shadow, that of the Orcs, who are wholly evil and so conform to a schema of repression and projection of one’s darker aspects, and that of Gollum who Frodo treats with sympathy (there is a sketchy feeling of reciprocated identification between the two characters).

I would adduce the example of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE which shows us a world where there a many religions, most of which seem polytheistic, although the religion of the Seven despite being polytheistic has the feel of Christian monotheism. So it embodies a vision containing multiple models of the psyche. As such it both reflects changes in our collective subjectivity and creatively attunes us to emerging tendencies.

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2 commentaires pour Politics of Fantasy: Ted Friedman

  1. tedfriedman dit :

    Good point on polytheism! It’s something I’m working on right now. Zizek went down to OWS and praised the protestors as inhabiting the true Hegelian Spirit, compared to the pagan Wall Streeters and their false gods. I love Zizek’s theological turn, but I don’t want him to repeat Hegel’s ethnophallogocentrism. There’s room for pagans in OWS. And in fact, many of us are pagans and just don’t know it, just as we are cyborgs and centaurs.


  2. terenceblake dit :

    I have been claiming for many years that our major continental thinkers are « unconscious jungians ». Lacan is a case in point, his dissolution of the ego and subjective destitution take the same turn as Jung did with regard to Freud’s « where there was id there shall be ego ». Even his signifiers are linguistically reductive versions of archetypes, once you take into account the Hillmanian critique of the difference between the archetype and the archetypal image (this is a possible point of disagreement with your new essay, which maintains that distinction, and is slightly less post-jungian than your previous articles, but maybe you are being pedagogical, as it is a preface, and allowing for a progressive easing into a new way of thinking?). In this case there can be no fixed closed list of archetypes. Zizek is an even better example as his theological turn shows. He procedes by violent denegation i.e. whenever some thought is to close to (and I would add prior to) his thought he concentrates one one little detail that differentiates his position from these predecessors and influences, then he proceeds to denounce them vociferously. His critiques of Deleuze , of Jung, and of Gnosticism are of this type: the anxiety of influence. Some of his reflexions on the Holy Spirit as the community of those who live beyond the death of the big Other could be cosigned both by Jung and by P.K.Dick, yet Zizek fulminates against « gnosticism ». Deleuze at least was consciously influenced by Jung and admitted it, though I suspect that he was far more influenced by Jung than he admits or is even aware of. Gnosticism is about as pagan and polytheistic as Christianity can get, given the multiplicity of variants. PKD’s EXEGESIS is a perfect example of this Jungian paganised Gnosticism with its explanations that go off in many directions.


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