Notions of the sublime are most often associated with the extraordinary, and include the intra-psychic, high-cultural and exceptional occurrences of elation and exaltation as part of the experience. Using psychoanalytic and aesthetic theories, this book aims to revitalise the sublime by re-evaluating its significance for contemporary life and, in a unique and fascinating endeavour, opens up a space that explores the sublime in the ordinary, everyday and quotidian.
Through the exploration of familiar (i.e. love, death, art and nature) and unfamiliar (pornography, education and politics) threads of the sublime experience, this book posits the sublime as invoking an ordinary human response which contains minute, inter-psychic, inclusive and even mass-media cultural elements, and carries within it therapeutic and political potential. It explores loving and caring, as well as hateful, traumatic and destructive encounters with the sublime, demonstrating how it can overflow and destabilise our psychological and social symbolic structures and expose their fictional and constructed nature, but also shows it as something we can engage with in order to re-create and heal ourselves, above and beyond what any 'given' form of reality can offer us.
Demonstrating the urgent need to understand the sublime as something that is immanent in our everyday life, a source of energy and inspiration that can be invoked to support our mental health and well-being, this book will be of great interest to psychoanalysts, psychotherapists and art therapists, as well as scholars and students of philosophy and popular culture.
Table of Contents
Anastasios Gaitanidis and Polona Curk
1 Psychoanalytic Fictions of the Creative Sublime
Tessa Adams and Anastasios Gaitanidis
2 The Silence of Ajax: Reading Longinus Against Himself
3 The Sublime in the Everyday: How Theatre Crafts Art out of the Ordinary
4 Ordinary Idolatrous Pleasure and the Fateful Fashioning of an Adolescent Boy
5 Experiencing the Sublime through Encounters with the Real
6 Wisdom through Desire: When Truth Meets Love as a Sublime Event
7 ‘How Extraordinary That You Should Exist’: On Playing and Experience of Truth
8 The Sublime and the Feminine Jouissance: A Fantastic Woman, The Untamed and St Teresa
9 The Lure of Humiliation: Sublime Aspects to Success in the School Mathematics Classroom
10 The Sublime in Catch-22 as Bridge between Post-Modern Literature and Psychoanalysis
11 The Diogenes Complex: Sublime Living in Irrational Times
Anastasios Gaitanidis is a Senior Lecturer in Counselling Psychology at Regent’s University London. He is also a Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist in private practice and has published several articles and books on psychoanalysis, sociology and culture.
Polona Curk works on intersubjective affective influence and mental health. She has published on autonomy, destructiveness and affective equality in intimate relationships, on the psychoanalytic concept of narcissism, and the notion of insight in mental health.
"The sublime in everyday life, taken from different perspectives, is marvellously demonstrated in this book. Given my experience in the field of psychoanalysis for madness and traumas, I am impressed by the emphasis on unexpected moments of wonder, difficult to share and to name. To call them an encounter with the sublime is a great help which triggers here beautiful accounts of intense meetings experienced as sudden, amazing, and fugitive, beyond words, still opening a brand-new path for untold stories. Longinus, who lived in troubled times, should be delighted by the new use of his word in ours."
Françoise Davoine, Psychoanalyst, Member of the EHESS and of the former École Freudienne in Paris
"Finding the sublime in the realness of the world is an act of great courage and humanity that has been beautifully held together by the editors, Anastasios Gaitanidis and Polona Curk. The wisdom achieved by neither capitulating towards a cold acceptance of death nor an unrelated pursuit of pleasure, but becoming poet-philosophers, is the gift that the authors provide those fortunate to be readers of this dazzling volume of ideas and emotions. I highly recommend it to poets, philosophers, and all seekers of the sublime."
Mark Gerald, PhD, Psychoanalyst in NYC, Faculty Member of the NYU Postdoc in Relational Psychoanalysis, Author of In the Shadow of Freud’s Couch
"The story of Odysseus' encounter with the Sirens in the introduction to this book seems to capture the ambivalent space between mind and world when it comes to the sublime. We may wish to sublimate the world with our minds in a Kantian way but ultimately its mysteries lie beyond our mind’s grasp. This book explores many psychoanalytic, philosophical, critical, social and political perspectives on the sublime, with an overarching commitment to relocate the sublime somewhere between the extraordinary and the ordinary or to interweave the two. The origins of the word sublime seem highly suggestive of this ambivalence and intersectionality - given "sub" can mean both up to and under in Latin and the rest of the word is derived either from the Latin "limen" meaning threshold or "limus" meaning obscure. I hope this book will bring sublime enjoyment to many readers."
Dr Isabel Henton, MA(Oxon), CPsychol, AFBPsS, Head of Programme DPsych Counselling Psychology, Regent’s University London