Phantasy, Image Consciousness, and Memory by Edmund Husserl

Friday, March 25, 2016 § 0

The Idealized Abstract Characterization of Phantasy Envisions the Fictive Manuscript

A Book Review by 
David Detrich  

The conceptual form of the idealized figure works on the introductory essay to the monumental book of elongated novelistic  paragraphs which is written at a steady pace quickening into a passage on Husserl, whose phantasy represents the cognitive potentiality of the perceiving mind to imagine scenes from the subtle reality of the nightlife which are portrayed to the inner consciousness, while the image conscious narrator recalls Surrealist paintings and the well illumined manuscripts which are the models from which the monumental book delineates an artistic synthesis, the blue tints of the winter snowscape create the mood for a closer study of the phenomenology of narrative technique which is a way of envisioning the pages assembled by the philosophical mind who considers the finesse of gestural expression. 

Even if we do not distinctly note the inadequacy of intensity, we find something similar to what we find in the case of physical fictions. Painted colors are not exactly like actual colors. The difference can be perceived. In any event, even without actual consciousness of conflict there is a consciousness-characteristic that contributes to it.

                                             Phantasy, Image Consciousness, 
                                             and Memory
                                             Edmund Husserl

Painted colors impress the mind of the viewer with their emotional intensity creating an idealization of reality for the  masterworks of modern art, where the colors convey intense emotions that appeal to the irrational mind of the novelist, whose  love for modern art is conveyed in the emotions of erotic elation and esthetic admiration. This trend originated in the 1940s when Surrealist painting learned sophisticated color techniques from Abstract Expressionism, exploring intense saturated colors and the abstraction of the object as gesture. Idealization of the subject occurs in innovative fiction which transcends the reality it portrays as a genre that is more intellectual in description and dialogue, written with a narrative logic that is often based on a new esthetic formula. Innovative fiction is often more exciting than the reality it portrays transcending mundane description in favor of intellectual concept and esthetic appreciation which creates exultation in the narrative logic of the storyteller representing the transcendent vision of a personal mythology to the reader. 


We also find recollection in phantasy, the word taken in the widest sense. In phantasy in the narrower sense the characteristic of belief is missing, whether entirely or with respect to the phantasied whole. A consciousness of time is implicated throughout. Even if I phantasy a knight in armor fighting a dragon, or a chariot battle at sea, I have a presentation of time. If I do not present the event as in the past, or as phantasied in the surrounding present, I nevertheless present duration, pro- cess... They are fictions; their time is likewise fictional.

                                             Phantasy, Image Consciousness, 
                                             and Memory
                                             Edmund Husserl

Belief in a valid characterization makes art and innovative fiction worth appreciating for their esthetic qualities as an affirmation of faith in the artist or narrator to portray humanity in a way that uses abstraction and the sophisticated techniques of the avant garde to create a lovable character. The  innovative novelist may describe the situation of the plot with precise concrete detail, and with a sense of ethical integrity giving it varying degrees of abstraction. 
A false characterization of people that we see in law, law enforcement, psychology, psychiatry, social work, and religion goes against the good intentions of humanity which is often contending with a legal system which might be noticeably unfair, with false charges or inaccurate claims making up a large part of the psyche and its defenses. Fiction is often a more accurate perspective on life which can bring out the truth of reality for the reader to appreciate the validity of the characterization, and to describe events while respecting confidentiality. Humor in characterization adds to the validity of the work, something we see in modern art and Surrealist fiction, a perspective which may expand the meaning into visual metaphor and semantic density for the novelist at work, who portrays his characters with subtlety and a heightened awareness of fashion.

The consciousness of time in a narrative is based on the chronological order of events which become the beginning, middle, and end of the novel, or are divided into five books, like my own novel-in-progress Dream the Presence of the Circular Breast Starfish Topography, each book with a different location and timespan. The consciousness of time in the narrative may be equal to the time of reading, or it may be condensed into a short summary, or expanded into a detailed portrayal of the events with dialogue and description. The time period of the events may be short or long, ranging from the mini-novel to the monumental novel in several books. Time may be the converging of a multiple perspective with a sense of simultaneity when considering the past of history, the present tense of narration, and future foreshadowing of the plotline which may extend into the distant future. Simultaneity is a technique used by the avant garde to demonstrate the complexity of reality with the consciousness of different time frames intersecting on the page with the use of semiotic signs, and antiquated, or futuristic language. The time frame may extend to the bronze age, or forward to the ultramodern in architectonic style where the structure of the innovative novel is as important as the narrative itself. The innovative novel may not tell a story when it appears to be the freer form of the representation of consciousness without dialogue or the descriptions of scenes. 

The fictions of the 21st Century occur in the duration of time necessary to think of the story, and to tell it, either in visual or narrative form, with the added multiple time perspectives of simultaneity, a theory put forth by artists Robert and Sonia Delaunay. A time frame extending to the ancient past, to the present moment of writing and reading, while foreshadowing the future creates for art and innovative fiction a believableness that is the essence of the
fine arts. 

The use of woodblock type embellishments in the semiotic novel creates a sense of history with an archeological meditation on the signs and symbols of ancient culture, while futuristic typography anticipates the ultramodernism of architectonic design with writers of the innovative novel inventing new ways of reading the page. 

How does a writer bring us to the point of actually producing memory in phantasy? Certainly in such a way that we intuitively witness certain events along with the hero, and the hero recalls these events in later parts of the fictional work. We then remember along with him. The example, however, is in need of more precise analysis.                               

                                             Phantasy, Image Consciousness, 
                                             and Memory
                                             Edmund Husserl

The narrator of the innovative novel has the ability to evoke phantasy by a careful description of events in which the privacy of those participating is honored, so that fiction can convey events without revealing personal information. This is the concept which distinguishes fiction from autobiography, as a form of storytelling which protects the privacy of the characters from those who would invade their desk space and collective unconscious on the pretext of law. 


Fiction which does not pretend to be reality itself, but just a fictional representation of the drama of life may awaken the notion of phantasy in the mind of the reader. The esthetic pleasure that comes from phantasy is what makes reading an enhancement of the life energies of the mind. Fiction is enabled by the glutamine, gaba, serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine metabolism of the brain which creates the dynamics of reading, as these signaling molecules create a pleasurable healthy sensation in the consciousness of the reader. This is the main metabolic pathway that includes relaxing neurotransmitters which make a novel seem interesting, and enhance the esthetic pleasure of reading.

Roland Barthes speaks of esthetic appreciation in The Pleasure of the Text (1973) with a structural analysis of the cognitive ability of the brain to experience pleasure while reading the innovative fiction of Philippe Sollers and Severo Sarduy. The novel Lois (1972) by Philippe Sollers is analyzed with this perceptive comment which comes close to the truth of its innovative sentence structure. "...the text no longer has the sentence for its model; often it is a powerful gush of words..." This is the poetic prose of innovative fiction which liberates the sentence from mere objectivity to create a more elegant prosody, and has become the unpunctuated prose of Pablo Picasso, Philippe Sollers, and Ronald Sukenick.

The pleasure of the text is not the corporeal striptease or of narrative suspense. In these cases, there is no tear, no edges: a gradual unveiling: the entire excitation takes refuge in the hope of seeing the sexual organ (schoolboy's dream) or in knowing the end of the story (novelistic satisfaction). 
                                               The Pleasure of the Text
                                               Roland Barthes

My own writing uses the metaphor of striptease as a way of exciting the imagination in a phantasy about the fictional characters, who represent a step towards the Surrealist esthetic of the art inspired innovative fiction. The genitalia of the Surrealist imagination excites the mind of the reader who may feel the hormonal exultation of discovering the awakening of erotic desire, as the visuality of the text passes through the optic nerve to the visual cortex at the back of the brain, where it is processed, and then sent to the nearby hippocampus which may create a photographic memory of the text, and the erotic imagery which is associated with it. The amygdala senses the emotional content of memory which feels ecstatic emotions from eroticism, or the emotion of missing those who participated in pleasurable experiences.

The parallel in the sphere of memory (according to the view put forth here), then, is phantasy fiction. Included there is pure, “mere” phantasy. The elements are still memorial elements. The intentional whole, however, is characterized as “free invention,” annulled by conflict with memory and perception having the characteristic of certainty.
                                             Phantasy, Image Consciousness, 
                                             and Memory
                                             Edmund Husserl

Husserl considers conventional fiction to be a modeling of characters on reality with description and dialogue, and the free invention of phantasy fiction to be a technique of creative imagining, similar to the avant garde trend of Surrealist writing, which may be a form of pure phantasy based on metaphor. When one thinks of free invention I find that this is the essence of fiction to be free of an objective description of reality which may be too revealing, and which would produce autobiography. Fiction is a step towards the privacy and discretion of the narrator to tell a story without causing embarrassment to those involved, so that a romantic situation can be described without violating a sense of privacy for those who are the models of fiction. 
The step towards abstraction creates a phantasy where the mind of the reader imagines the scenes of the novel to be a freer subjective form based on the technique of metaphor or painterly images.

Within the sphere of memory, we again come upon fictions. Once more we come upon free phantasies and, in them, phantasms. 

                                           Phantasy, Image Consciousness
                                           and Memory
                                           Edmund Husserl

The memory banks of the abstract painterly form are composed of fictions, so that the phenomenal sensuality of life itself is perceived as a lengthy work of fiction that the novelist/reader has phantasized. Fiction is an intelligent way of portraying the events of a lifetime to oneself, or to an audience that knows the difference between fiction and autobiography. Edmund Husserl has written an exhaustive analysis of the phenomenology of image consciousness,  which is defined as the awareness of the faces and personalities of others when we re-present images of dramatic scenes from our lives in retrospect. This is a function of the brain whose locus is the Fusiform Facial Area which is positioned behind the ear near the visual cortex which recognizes familiar faces and stores the information in memory. Image consciousness is what produces acceptance or chronic rejection, and is an important component of the psyche which leads to phantasy about these familiar faces or new and exciting faces.


Image consciousness has led to the infinite regress of phantasms which have become the subject of innovative fiction for the narrator of the monumental novel, who admires the philosophical direction of Edmund Husserl in Phantasy, Image Consciousness, and Memory, a direction similar to Sigmund Freud in his analysis of the unconscious mind.

The stage of dreams, “which follow old facilitations,” was a stage of writing. But this is because “perception,” the first relation of life to its other, the origin of life, had always already prepared representation. We must be several in order to write, and even to "perceive." The simple structure of maintenance and manuscription, like every intuition of an origin, is a myth, a "fiction" as “theoretical” as the idea of the primary process. For that idea is contradicted by the theme of primal repression.

     Writing is unthinkable without repression.
                                             Freud and the Scene of Writing
                                             Jacques Derrida

The stages of development for the narrator of the innovative novel become theoretical fictions that reveal the multiplicity of manuscription for the philosopher Jacques Derrida, who along with Sigmund Freud considers the concept of primal repression at the scene of writing. For the fine art of theoretical fiction that has considered eroticism as a subject for the novel, the repression of concrete details regarding genitalia has produced a polite genre of literary poetic prose which describes with precision the metaphorical abstraction of the drama of the nightlife with descriptions that verge on erotica. Repression of erotic energy is sublated into the literary work which occurs as a re-presentation of events which have always already been foreshadowed by the women who participate, creating a simultaneity of time perspectives converging on the text.


The phenomenology of Edmund Husserl is as profound as the psychological theories of Sigmund Freud, where the process of representation involves image consciousness which may become phantasy as a way of imagining events. Innovative writing is a way of creating theoretical fictions that illustrate linguistic and semantic structures in language guided by a narrative logic that transcends the reality of verbatim description in favor of a more creative functioning of the mind. The esthetic  philosophy of the reader may gain sophistication with an understanding of the phenomenology of Hegel, Husserl, Heidegger, and Derrida, so that the literature of the 21st Century can be a representation of reality, or surreality, 
with the analysis of narrative technique that reveals the workings of phantasy as a way of imagining the text, as we experience the text through the signaling of neurotransmitters which enhance our sense of admiration and esthetic pleasure.

David Detrich lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where he has just completed The Convergence of Two Narrative Lines Ascending, an ultramodern Surrealist novel written in minimal squares. He is working on Dream the Presence of the Circular Breast Starfish Topography, a monumental Surrealist novel written with innovative typographical design. His first novel Big Sur Marvels & Wondrous Delights (2001) is available from Amazon. He edits Innovative Fiction Magazine, and Surrealist Star Clustered Illuminations.


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