Document Type

Article

Publication Date

10-2006

Abstract

Had the Romantics lived in the twentieth-century and maintained their Romantic sensibility, they might have been Jungians, which is to say, there are a considerable number of parallels between Jungian theory and Romantic aesthetics. According to Jung the aim of all psychoanalytic work is to help the analysand become conscious of his or her entire Self, which includes conscious as well as disowned, unconscious elements. In Jungian theory when ego (conscious awareness) confronts and assimilates shadow (unconsciousness), the result is a revitalization and expansion of Self. Romantics longed for this expanded Self in their frequent transcendent yearnings, concerned as they were with the aspects of being denied by Enlightenment. I have discussed this urge to reject Enlightenment modes of ideation and being in favor of a more subversive, mystical orientation in several recent articles and a book, Mystical Discourse as Ideological Resistance in Wordsworth and Whitman. Romanticism entailed the reappropriation of marginalized, subjugated modes of being. All historical periods and artistic schools, according to Morris Philipson, "were tendencies of art which brought to the surface that unconscious element of which the contemporary atmosphere had most need" (in Snider, 2). Psychologically speaking, then, Romanticism was to Enlightenment what the Renaissance was to the Dark Ages--its repressed other, its shadow. Romanticism provided late eighteenth- and nineteenth century aesthetic consciousness with what it lacked--a chance to engage its other self and assimilate repressed energies into a new mode of aesthetic creation.


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