Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Freud : Creative Writing and Day dreaming

Creative Writing and Daydreaming
The essay “Creative Writers and Daydreaming” suggests Freud's interest in the
relationship between the author and his work. He sees a piece of creative writing as a
continuation or substitute for the play of childhood. Freud also displays some aspects of his
approach to the psychology of the reader. He suggests that the superficial pleasure of the
work releases to deeper psychic pleasure and thereby liberate tensions. Thus, reading a text
is knowing the psyche of the author.
Human beings have innumerable wishes and desires that can't be expressed freely due to
social boundary, morality and other restrictions. The desires remain suppressed in our
unconscious level of mind. Somehow, we try to express those desires and, according to
Freud, there are three ways to do so- Sex, tongue slips and writing. Artists take help of
writing to express his repressed desires of their childhood. He fantasizes and creates
daydreams in place of playing games of their childhood. Through writing, the author
expresses his desires. He remembers his golden past and wants to express the experience of
the past in the present but can't do so. Therefore, he fantasizes and manifests his wishes in
the form of art.
During childhood, a child plays with the mother's body but later on he identifies himself
with fatherly figure, who comes in between mother and child , and the bodily unity with the
mother is broken but the desire to play with mother's body remains throughout his life.
Children forget their imagination by indulging themselves in games. The writer has nostalgic
towards the blissful past and the same romantic nostalgia becomes immense energy for
creativity. So, there is some sort of similarity between children and writers. Both use their
emotion and imagination seriously in game and writing.
According to Freud, wishes or desires are divided in to two parts as:
Ambition: Ambition, which is found only in male not in female, is to uplift the personality.
Erotic Wish: This wish is noticed in both- male and female.
Freud focuses Id that enforces erotic wish in a person. Id is an irrational and immoral force
located at the unconscious level of human mind. It guides sexual desire. However, Idic factor
is controlled by a stricter factor, which carries the principal of morality, value and
humanitarian, called Superego. Superego does not let id express those desires. There is the
conflict between Id and superego. But Ego, that works with the reality principle stands as a
mediator between id and superego. When unfulfilled desires are suppressed and pushed back
in our unconscious, they manifest in the form of dream, tongue slips and literature. It is ego
that helps the writers to express the repressed desires in a socially accepted form, not
directly but in disguised form.
There are three phases upon which an artist undergoes while creating a work of art, they
A. Condensation
B. Latent
C. Substitution
E. Symbolic/ image stage manifest
The first two are the psychological stages that are invisible located in mind but the third
one is expressed in language.
Author's mind possesses many desires so he selects the wanted desires but leaves out
the unwanted desires. Those selected desires are combined in to single desire, and such
process is called condensation. In substitution, those erotic and socially unaccepted desires
are substituted by non-erotic ideas and are changed in to socially accepted one. In the
symbolic stage, author takes help of symbols of pond, cave, ring and such other circular and
concave symbols refer to ' vegina' whereas convex and vertical symbolizes like hill, stick,
tree, finger etc, refer to ' Phallus'. While reading a text, the readers identify themselves with
the writers and get the aesthetic pleasure.
In releasing unfulfilled desires, the poet uses' censors' but the meaning can be
accomplished through analysis. He says, this reading is allegorical. The day dreaming and
creative works both transforms the mental contents in to something where the latter is more
creative and interesting.
Freud also talks of two kinds of dreams: latent and manifest. Latent dream can only be
thought of in our mental imagination, which cannot be seen but manifest dream is the
revelation of the disguised one, which we perceive.
In 'Creative Writers and Daydreaming', Freud's basic question is where does the
creative writer draw his material from? And, how do they evoke emotions in us
through their writing? To understand this, he tries to find an activity that comes close
to that of creative writing. He finds this in child's play as even a child creates a world
of his own. The child links his imagination to tangible objects in the world.
When we grow up, this 'play' has to stop and so we have to give up pleasure. This,
according to Freud is very hard to do once we have experienced pleasure. Therefore,
as a substitute to playing, we indulge in fantasizing or daydreaming. Unlike the child
however, the adult is ashamed of his fantasies and hides them from everyone.
To explain this further, Freud puts down few important characteristics of fantasizing.
The source of fantasies is unsatisfied wishes, which are fulfilled by means of these
fantasies. There are two kinds of fantasies, (1) ambiguous wishes that "elevate the
subject's personality", and (2) erotic fantasies. For men, ambitious wishes are
predominant while for women, it is erotic ones. He goes on to say that daydreams,
just like dreams at night, function as wish fulfilment. The difference is that the
repressed wishes expressed in night dreams are desires that we are ashamed of and
so, conceal them from even ourselves.
Freud now connects this act to daydreaming with the creative process. He calls the
creative writer, "dreamer in broad daylight". He focuses his discussion on authors of
popular novels and romances rather than classics. He says that one common feature of
all these works in the central character or hero. The hero's journey becomes the
journey of the ego of the writers as well as readers. From here, he goes on to
suggest, that a piece of creative writing (like daydreams), is a substitute for child's
Next, Freud talks of those writers who get their material from folk tales and myths. In
such cases, too, the author expresses himself in the choice of material and in the
subtle changes he introduces. Even if he does not change the myth, these myths
themselves might reflection of the collective fantasies of entire nations.
Finally, he attempts to answer the second question, which is how the creative writers
evoke emotions in us. He says that a daydreamer conceals his fantasies from others
because he is ashamed of them. Even if he did, others would be repelled by them.
So, he wonders why is it that we experience so much pleasure from the creative
writer's presentation of his fantasies. He says that we can only make a guess about
how this actually happens. He proposes two techniques. Firstly, he softens and
disguises the character, and secondly, he couches the text with literary and aesthetic
Psychoanalysis can be applied to study literature in three ways:
1. Studying the author to understand the text
2. Studying the text to understand the readers and time period
3. Studying the author through the text (a reflection of his childhood)

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