Sunday, February 13, 2011
an overwhelming problem for an animal free of instinct
Life is an overwhelming problem for an animal free of instinct. The individual has to protect himself from the world, and he can do this only as any other animal would: by narrowing down the world, shutting off experience, developing an obliviousness both to the terrors of the world and to his own anxieties. Otherwise he would be crippled for action. We cannot repeat too often the great lesson of Freudian psychology: that repression is normal self-protection and creative self-restriction—in a real sense man's natural substitute for instinct... The artist also takes in the world but instead of being oppressed by it he reworks it in his own personality and recreates it in the work of art... We might say that both the neurotic and the artist bite off more than they can chew, but the artist spews it back out again and chews it over in an objectified way, as an external, active, work project... The neurotic's frustration as a failed artist can't be remedied by anything but an objective creative work of his own... There is no doubt that creative work is itself done under a compulsion often indistinguishable from a purely clinical obsession. In this sense, what we call a creative gift is merely the social license to be obsessed.
"The Denial of Death," Ernest Becker
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