Beyond Pleasure

Freud, Lacan, Barthes

By (author) Margaret Iversen

Paperback - £37.95

Publication date:

15 August 2007

Length of book:

204 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271029719

In Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud observed that the life-enhancing pleasure principle seems disrupted by something internal to the psyche. He took into account the possibility of a “death instinct” bent on returning the living organism to its origin of undifferentiated matter. In Beyond Pleasure: Freud, Lacan, Barthes, Margaret Iversen uses the writing of Freud, Lacan, the Surrealists, and Roland Barthes to elaborate a theory of art beyond the pleasure principle. Lacan was in close contact with the Surrealists and, early in his career, exchanged ideas with Dalí. This book offers a detailed reading of Dalí’s “paranoiac-critical” tour de force, The Tragic Myth of Millet’s Angelus, in which he demonstrates a method of interpretation that involves the projection and analysis of paranoid fantasies. The author later discusses the aesthetic dimension of the disintegrative death drive explored in Georges Bataille’s Eroticism and in Anton Ehrenzweig’s Hidden Order of Art, both of which inspired Robert Smithson. Iversen also takes up a postwar-era narrative that examines Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty. Beyond Pleasure shows that the aesthetics of Freud’s theory continue to resonate in the contemporary art world.

“This new book by Margaret Iversen is truly exceptional. Ranging across modern and contemporary art with remarkable adeptness, each of its chapters has a luster and perfection that reflects her profound knowledge of philosophical aesthetics and psychoanalysis. It is guaranteed to reinvigorate debate about art and psychoanalysis.”

—David Lomas, University of Manchester