Art: a means to regain the laughter of infancy

Art: a means to regain the laughter of infancy

Civilization has become an uncritical style of life that sacrifices the free energies of the citizen to a self-absorbed and largely fictional pattern of social meaning. Free energies can lead us back to the laughter of play provided we gain a comprehension of the possibility inherent in art.

In his book “Wit and the Unconscious” Freud affirms a “connection between art and the pleasure-principle, but the pursuit, through art, of pleasure incompatible with the reality-principle is not despised but glorified.”

Freud recognizes an important connection between art and the pleasure-principle—art makes fun with the reality-principle—art is wit in humor’s clothing—wit recovers our childish behavior and places that playfulness into a form that the reality-principle will accept—the purpose of art is to “regain the lost laughter of infancy”.

When the psyche is not organized for acquiring our essential needs and instinctual demands for mere survival we can let that psyche work for our pleasure just from the mere fact that humans find pleasure in pure passionate activity. Art knows how to rediscover our childishness, our need for play, and our need for disinterested activity pursued merely for the pleasure such activity might bring.

We strive, through play, to reach the euphoria that Carl Sagan express when he said “Understanding is a kind of ecstasy”.

Freud uses the metaphor “art is wit”; we use wit as a means to find our way back to the pleasure-principle that has been hidden from us by our grinding capitulation to the reality-principle, which we have made education to be. We seek through art to regain “the laughter of infancy”.

Quotes from “Life Against Death: The Psychoanalytical Meaning of History” by Norman O. Brown.

I’m not sure I fully understand the point you’re making. I mean why would anyone want to be led back to the laughter of play? Everyone needs some humour in their life but the idea of wanting to return to some earlier childhood time seems ridiculous.
I’m not sure I agree with the statement of leading an uncritical life style and the words ‘fictional pattern of meaning.’
Surely we all choose to do want we want to do although whether it has any meaning is possibly doubtful. It may be meaningful for that individual but that does not bestow meaning on what is accomplished.
What do you mean by ‘Free Energies?’ Do you mean free in the sense of free time, after work.

Maybe you should explain in your own words what you mean.

In America many people are wealthy enough to have a good deal of free time. How do Americans spend their free time? They spend most all of it on trivialities such as TV, ballgames, Video games; basically they spend it on entertainment.

Is there nothing of value that they might do that can be both useful and enjoyable? Yes there is, however they cannot discover it because they put there intellects in the attic with their year book after finishing their school daze.

that wealth is evil… of course if they were taxed into poverty by benevolent socialist tyrants, maybe then they could “discover” these other joyous, valuable things that their intellect cannot fathom…