Wednesday, February 13, 2013

On Mastery and Knowledge

Two quotes from the ``Imagination from fantasy to delusion".

At first, Noy (1969) explained, ``the primary process in art were considered to have the same function as in dreams---to provide the best modes for transforming drive energy in order to discharge it, through the limited channels allowed by the rules of art.'' Over time, however, ``this view of art as a sublimated wish-fulfillment changed gradually to the view which regards art as an ego function in the service of ego mastery.''  ...
... If the concept of mastery developed from the insufficiency of the initial view of the ego as ``an agent whose role is to control drive discharge in consideration of reality and the superego,'' if the ego came to be viewed as inducing ``stressful situations {to} arouse new stimuli'' for it to seek to control, then there is an underlying assumption of feedback in the development and activity of ego function that supports my own thinking on art and agency in an important way. ``{B}esides its function of  solving conflicts,'' Noy elaborates, ''the ego is always active in creating new ones, in order to be forced to solve them again, an activity which is understandable only as an attempt to train and improve its functions of control and synthesis.'' --- pp. 18-19, Imagination from fantasy to delusion

Others too have spoken of the ``knowledge drive,'' as both Novalis and Ludwig Feuerbach called it, in terms of the primacy of drive. For Feuerbach, it is the certainty of the attainability of truth that motivates the search for knowing, itself a source of mental satisfaction and  thereby happiness. Knowledge, moreover, is for him a means to agency. Feuerbach's linking of the drive to know (the search for truth) to both agency and happiness is strikingly close to Freud's conceptualization by virtue both of pleasure inherent with it and the control and ownership it brings. ...
The drive to know is a primitive need to represent what is absent, to fill in what is not there, and a process of imagining it gives rise to many forms, one of which is fantasy. Dreams, ideas, concepts, and images are among the other forms the instinct for knowledge may take, but all exist not in opposition to reality .... but as a means of adaptation to it. .... Indeed, fantasy---one form taken by ``knowledge drive''---subsumes an awareness of reality and a desire to correct it. Its many functions, the innumerable dynamic services it renders, range from the reduction of anxiety and the maintenance of psychic stability to the guarantee of pleasure, the renewal of a damaged self-esteem, and a defense against conflict. --- p.29, Imagination from fantasy to delusion

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