Freud and Bakhtin’s controversy: the crisis of the intellectual or the authority?


The book “Freudian: A Marxist Approach” by Bakhtin* was published in 1927 and signed by Valentin Voloshinov, and whether it was Bakhtin himself, or a collective work of the Petersburg circle in which he occupied a prominent position, we can notice several systematic violations deliberately committed by the well-known Russian thinker. Bakhtin fell into this book in two fallacies that nullified his critical memory. First, he tried to follow a cold scholastic style, instead of independent critical chapters, and divided his book into three axes, which are in order:
The prominent philosophical trends in Europe. In it, he dealt with the controversy of metaphysics and reason, with simplified allusions to the problem of spirit and image.
2 The most important features of the Freudian revolution, including psychoanalysis and hypnosis. He focused on the bourgeois nature of psychoanalysis and its concerns with the non-belonging human being and lost in a transformed desert ravaged by wars and conflicts, which made the life of the middle class a mysterious adventure that revolves only between the walls of the house and the city, and transformed pure knowledge into a carrier of the philosophy of Freudian times, which preserved the bourgeois and ideal interpretation of history. This ensured that the biological (as a wise and authoritarian nature) was given primacy over the historical.
3- The Marxist tendencies that supported Freudianism, starting with Comrade Trotsky, as stated verbatim, to Bykhovsky and Friedman. Here he regrets that some Marxists did not fully pay attention to the dubious way in which “the unconscious developed in isolation from its organic being.”
The second fallacy is that he tried to pick his tools out of a box of Soviet propaganda. Whatever his motives, his main accusation to Freud was that he was too subjective and had an ahistorical idealist inclination. And it led him to prosecute Freud on the grounds of his lack of belief in dialectical argument and matter. I cannot understand “how a person can be wrong, if he does not embrace what you claim to be the absolute truth.” This observation led Bakhtin to accuse Freud of short-sightedness because it depicts man in the form of individual impulses that surround themselves with themselves, while man is the son of his class, his historical stage, and his identity. In other words, Bakhtin considers the gangs, ambiguities, or voids resulting from forgetfulness and denial, a manifestation of the class’s betrayal of its members, and at the same time it is a stylistic and metaphorical expression of the struggle of these classes (in the direct language of classes and nationalities). Bakhtin paused to support his views on Freud’s interpretation of dreams, and blamed him for equating them with the laws of forming myths and works of art. The dream activates when the authority of censorship diminishes, while art and its methods are a defensive mechanism that has one goal, which is to escape from the censorship apparatus (self-like fear) in addition to the duties and duties imposed by society and the authority. Bakhtin stipulated that the art form should be equal to its content, and that the components of each party be subject to the same biopsychological definition. But this does not explain why Dostoevsky’s imagination was subjective and turbulent, while Tolstoy’s was figurative and natural. Dostoevsky differed from the beginning with the social nature of his era, and saw it as a cause of intense misery at the level of individuals, and therefore his characters were burned by the fire of forced social relations from within, which indicates that society is the epitome of the experience of each individual separately.
Perhaps for this reason, Sonya betrayed herself and practiced prostitution, and Raskolnikov inflicted harm on others to betray himself later. In both cases, the characters served a psychological conception of a social phenomenon. “Reactions, even if they are verbal, are a social product of class feeling and not the feeling of individuals.” On the contrary, Tolstoy disagreed with the relations of nature with man, and his solution was not to presuppose sacrifice, but to protest against the structure, even if he had to destroy it. Dostoevsky understood nature through his experiences and relationships, and this led to feelings of subconscious devices including delirium, nightmares, and paranoia. While Tolstoy canceled nature when he transformed it into a human perception, and the human experience he had meant realizing nature, expressing it with pictures and movements, and he had no option to correct.
Then Bakhtin takes Freud not to distinguish between the unconscious and the emotions, and accordingly, if we look at Dostoevsky’s characters as a projection of his emotions, Tolstoy’s characters are an abstraction of her unconscious. This necessarily means that “will, feelings, and knowledge are not structural levels in an existing existence,” but rather the fulfillment of a desire that reduces the previous elements, and an exchange between them. I wonder how Bakhtin concluded from the above that Dostoevsky was a polyphonic. Returning to his linguistic world, in his various works, we find that he stands at an equal distance from all the characters. Nor can you find any difference in the size or suffering of the character and the circle of her thoughts.
In fact, the differences are mainly due to the imagination’s awareness of the structure, as it is composed of units that have different empirical references, such as letters, notes, and thinking out loud. , tracing exceptional moments in the evolution of societies. It can be said that Dostoevsky’s polyphony is multimodal, not multilingual. Therefore, it is permissible to deal with censorship as a feeling that is higher than the feeling of individuals. In this way Bakhtin explains the role of authoritarian societies in nurturing and popularizing the Oedipus complex. It is understood from his words that he does not justify the role of censorship, as it is one of the means of spreading diseases, and it is sufficient that it deprives the human mind of its ability to reconcile with itself and its environment, and forces it to choose radical solutions to eradicate the content of desire in the name of respecting order. Censorship can be seen as a repressive mechanism that expresses the bankruptcy of the bourgeoisie and not merely the abolition of a biological end. It is obvious that the regulatory regimes do not impose justice by means of deterrent punishment, but also impose with it a kind of hostile feeling against society and in parallel with it a constant feeling of sensitivity to forms of quality of life, or what Bakhtin calls, quoting Freud, “the feeling of guilt.” Then Bakhtin summarizes the defects of Freudian analysis by two points. First, bring the psychological system closer to the body. He “does not care about organic activity and sensitive areas of the body except for their psychological equivalent in the self.” Secondly, the reduction of reality to a psychological principle of reality. And I add a third point, that it generalizes and not allocates. The human experience has one, and such equality is illusory in my opinion, and it expresses a spiritual relationship with metaphysics, or with essences and not experiences. Freudianism developed in response to the inclination of the destitute and deprived classes, and its intention was based on following the knots and repressions, and not observing the forms of abundance, recreation and prosperity, and it took a growing dramatic form in the same painful way that the fate of fascism and Nazism became, and later movements to establish history in a moment. This in turn explains why the history of Freudianism was characterized by schisms and conflicts, and why it was more bloody and violent than the rest of the branches of philosophy.
In the end, Bakhtin’s mistake is no less than Freud’s. Both considered human history to be the history of the middle class, and it can be summarized by reading the production of its great figures such as Da Vinci and Sophocles (for Freud), Dostoevsky and Rabelais (for Bakhtin). The question now is: Can human history be the summary of the news of leaders and leaders only? Where did the role of the rest of the segments that contributed to the generalization and care of these individual phenomena and to provide a legitimate cover for them go? And might we reach the same conclusions if we extended our reading to include, with Dostoevsky, the additions of his obscure girlfriend, Alexandra Ivanovna Schubert, or if we looked more closely at the role of Melzy, Da Vinci’s obedient pupil, in arranging the papers and charts of his teacher?

* The book “The Bakhtin Reader: Selected Writings of Bakhtin, Medvedev and Voloshinov” was published by Pam Morris for Bloomsbury Academy in London. It contains Freudian criticism with a common name for Voloshinov and Bakhtin.

Syrian writer

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