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Inspiration || Modernist and modern concepts

Sigmund Freud and other later psychologists located inspiration in the inner psyche of the artist. The artist's inspiration came out of unresolved psychological conflict or childhood trauma. Further, inspiration could come directly from the subconscious. Like the Romantic genius theory and the revived notion of "poetic phrenzy," Freud saw artists as fundamentally special, and fundamentally wounded. Because Freud situated inspiration in the subconscious mind, Surrealist artists sought out this form of inspiration by turning to dream diaries and automatic writing, the use of Ouija boards and found poetry to try to tap into what they saw as the true source of art. Carl Gustav Jung's theory of inspiration reiterated the other side of the Romantic notion of inspiration indirectly by suggesting that an artist is one who was attuned to something impersonal, something outside of the individual experience: racial memory.

Materialist theories of inspiration again diverge between purely internal and purely external sources. Karl Marx did not treat the subject directly, but the Marxist theory of art sees it as the expression of the friction between economic base and economic superstructural positions, or as an unaware dialog of competing ideologies, or as an exploitation of a "fissure" in the ruling class's ideology. Therefore, where there have been fully Marxist schools of art, such as Soviet Realism, the "inspired" painter or poet was also the most class-conscious painter or poet, and "formalism" was explicitly rejected as decadent (e.g. Sergei Eisenstein's late films condemned as "formalist error"). Outside of state-sponsored Marxist schools, Marxism has retained its emphasis on the class consciousness of the inspired painter or poet, but it has made room for what Frederic Jameson called a "political unconscious" that might be present in the artwork. However, in each of these cases, inspiration comes from the artist being particularly attuned to receive the signals from an external crisis.In modern psychology, inspiration is not frequently studied, but it is generally seen as an entirely internal process. In each view, however, whether empiricist or mystical, inspiration is, by its nature, beyond control.


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