In this text, Freud attempts to describe the uncanny as an offshoot of the "realm of the frightening" (123). The uncanny is not only what is unfamiliar and therefore scary, but specifically what has been familiar before. The "unhomely," or uncanny, is directly related to "the homely." Freud gives several examples of the uncanny throughout the text, which he lists on pg. 149: Animism (using the Sandman story to illustrate a doll-like mechanical person, as well as the uncanny Sandman and uncanny experiences of Nicholas's), magic/sorcery, the omnipotence of thoughts, unintended repetition (a type of deja vu) and the castration complex (we are afraid of losing appendages). The way Freud presents the uncanny is as a whole different breed of horror than just fear. The uncanny touches a person on a deeper level, bringing hidden or buried personal fears to the surface. Some of these fears may be infantile, as with the castration complex, which means that it stems from a fear that a person may have had since infancy. For example, Freud talks of the infantile wish of girls to have their dolls come alive. I will admit that when I would go on family vacations, I would pretend that my dolls had come to life while I was gone and had moved. I was not afraid of this prospect--in fact I hoped it would have happened--which further illustrated that the uncanny is not necessarily the same as fear.
Another example Freud gives is the "motif of the double" (142). It relates to mirror images and shadows, and Freud supposes that it also relates to the immortal soul. The double is insurance for humans that their continued existence. The double in this text interestingly enough seems related to Plato's shadows on the ground and the mirror theory of Irigaray.
Freud's most interesting use of the uncanny, though, is the female genitals. It's where we came from, which makes it familiar, and yet many neurotic men find it uncanny.
2 years ago