DEAL WITH THE REAL: How to do it and What For

Lecture Abstract:

As Sigmund Freud remarks, art is one of the attempts to regain a pleasure which is forever lost for adult human beings. If we call the object of this lost pleasure the “Real” (as Lacan does), we can state that all art is “Realist” – since it deals with this Real. The differences between aesthetic strategies therefore do not stem from the question whether they refer to this Real or not, but from how they handle that which is per definition “too hot to handle”. To draw a rough line, I would suggest that there exists a tragedy and a comedy strategy – within all genres, not only in the dramatic arts. Tragic arts deal with the Real through their strategy of failure: in tragedy, the appearance of the Real is kept at bay, since the heroic endeavours never reach their great goal. In arts that follow the comedy model, on the contrary, nothing is considered great which cannot appear. Therefore the most incredible endeavours succeed. This can be called comedy’s materialism. The diving line in the arts would therefore run between tragic, idealist Realism, and comedian, materialist Realism.