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Discuss In Which Ways Two Modernist Writers/Film Directors/Thinkers Engage Their Readers/Audience

2542 words - 11 pages

Modernism was a cultural change in Western society that took hold between 1890 and 1930 (Childs 18). This movement was a reaction to the many changes of the time, including World War I, which caused turmoil in Europe, where the once stable political and social world was torn apart (Ragusa 137). Throughout this period, emerging modernist writers, film directors and thinkers engaged with their audiences by connecting with them through their social experiences. Thanks to this, they were able to express new ways of thinking. Sigmund Freud was one such modernist thinker, who connected with his post World War I audience through his focus on individualism, which was introduced in his theory of ...view middle of the document...

Freud developed a psychoanalytic treatment for patients, which (was thought to have) accessed their subconscious (Lang). According to Savoia (26), Psychoanalysis focuses on the sexual drive of individuals, centring on deviations from the norm. Further, this theory is built around the existence of normative stage developments, which are mostly attributed to psychological processes, and are therefore susceptible to an individual’s experiences (Savoia 26). Due to the nature of this form of diagnosis and therapy, the subject must be open with their psychoanalyst, and must mention if they feel any aversion to what they are saying, because this can hold information regarding their individual mentality (Savoia 30-31). In this way, Freud’s psychoanalysis was a new form of expression for one’s individual self-narration (Brenkman in Micale 173). It is this understanding of one’s individual experience that was an important factor for readers of Freud’s literature, as the war left them feeling isolated from society (Brenkman in Micale 173-174). The focus on individualism in psychoanalysis allowed Freud to engage with his post World War I audience, and his theory prospered as a result.

The individualism introduced in Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis was developed further in many of his writings, including The Future of an Illusion. In this post-World War I era, pogroms, housing crises, unemployment, and recessions troubled the region. Brenkman (in Micale 173) notes that these events resulted in individuals who felt alienated from their community. Freud was able to build upon this uncertainty and engage with his estranged audience. According to Benjamin (200), Freud’s The Future of an Illusion is a text on ‘civilisation’, which endeavours to express concerns about the society’s future in terms of the individual. In this text, Freud elaborated upon the individual by exploring that which composes one’s identity (Brenkman in Micale 172). One excerpt in particular conceives the individual as an intelligent being who has the ability to lead others: “For masses are lazy and unintelligent; they have no love for instinctual renunciation, and they are not to be convinced by argument of its inevitability…It is only through the influence of individuals who can set an example and whom masses recognize as their leaders that they can be induced to…undergo the renunciations on which the existence of civilization depends” (Freud 1927, 6-7). Therefore, according to Freud, society is dependent on the individual, and the individual has a huge impact on society, but few can enlighten others about their inevitable rejection. Additionally, Freud discusses how society can only be judged in terms of an individual’s personal circumstances. He states, “But the less a man knows about the past and the present the more insecure must prove to be his judgement of the future. And there is the further difficulty that precisely in a judgement of this kind the subjective expectations of the...

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