A Post-Kleinian Model for Aesthetic Criticism

Williams, Meg Harris
January 2008
PsyArt;2008, p1
Academic Journal
This paper presents a piece of writing by the Kleinian art critic Adrian Stokes as a model for aesthetic criticism in general. First the limits of psychoanalytic interpretation are considered, with regard to the definition of an 'art symbol' made by the philosopher of aesthetics Susanne Langer. The problem formulated by Langer is the irreducibility of the meaning in an artwork. Then Stokes is used as an example of the type of psychoanalytically informed writing that is not reductive but aesthetic and, it is suggested, a species of artwork in its own right. Stokes demonstrates there is room for the critic's verbal creativity through immersing the ego in the artwork and identifying with the artistic process it embodies. Finally this is related to recent developments in post-Kleinian theory that value the artistic and intuitive features of clinical analytic practice, in particular regarding the transference-countertransference relationship.


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