Theory in a Digital Age: A Project of English 483 Students, Coastal Carolina University


            Freud states in The Uncanny, “that a particularly favourable condition for awakening uncanny sensations is created when there is intellectual uncertainty whether an object is alive or not, and when an inanimate object becomes too much like an animate one” (8-9). Maybe this is a stretch, but this is also a possibility. Although Freud is talking about an object, maybe this act is too much real.
            The Sims is a virtual game with no end goal, unlike Harvest Moon. There are little goals you can meet, but no definite win or lose to this virtual reality. I think this could fall into the uncanny of when something completely virtual can seem so real. Maybe it's more of a mental and spiritual thing that people can't come to terms with. Reliving these sensations that we've lost touch with. 
            He discusses a concept known as ‘the double’. This is the source of a child’s primary narcissism and self-love. This harvests projects of multiple selves, and with this stage in early childhood the child is able to insure his/her immortality. However, as a child ages, and reaches adulthood, when one encounters these doubles it invokes a different sensation. The narcissism has been overcome and they have are now returning to a primitive state.
            Our attachments could be our physical manifestation of the double. Maybe my stuffed fox and Odradek are our primitive states. Kafka’s speaker in “The Cares of a Family Man,” ends his thoughts with revealing that Odradek scares him. Perhaps the mere thought of Odradek is scary because we only wish we were as immortal as we once thought we were earlier in life. Even Freud says, “The theme of the “double” has been very thoroughly treated by Otto Rank. He has gone into the connections the ‘double’ has with reflections in mirrors, with shadows, guardian spirits, with the belief in the soul and the fear of death” (9). I’ve never thought much about death, but Freud also discusses this as “insurance against destruction to the ego.” He also says this is an “energetic denial of the power of death,” which maybe this is where Odradek became so powerful. The one speaking about Odradek is intimidated by the life span of Odradek and that Odradek will outlive them. But this is a basic underlying fear in all human.
             The immortal soul is supposedly the first double of the body that anyone will experience. Later is when you’ll experience it in dreams and as life continues throughout other involvements. The Egyptians use to make images of the dead as an art form in lasting materials. This desire came from the idea of doubling as a preservation against extinction. “Such ideas, however, have sprung from the soil of unbounded self-love, from the primary narcissism which holds sway in the mind of the child as in that of primitive man,” it is only after this state of mind has been left that the double will then take on different traits (9).
Freud explains the double as persons with identical features to us in every degree, but are only considered identical by reason of looking alike. Telepathy, or transferring mental processes and ideas from one person to another, “so that one possesses knowledge, feeling and experience in common with the other, identifies himself with another person, so that his self becomes confounded, or the foreign self is substituted for his own” (9). The theme in it would be the common recurrence, whether it’s a name within generations, traits, facial features, crimes, etc.
             Maybe this is where video games come into play. Perhaps this is just another stage in life to defy death. When taking part in a virtual world you are able to recreate yourself, it may even be your double. But this could be from endless self-love and desire to live forever that video games take over. Particularly in Second Life, you are able to become anyone you want, or remain yourself. Video games might not be an escape after all, but just a way for you to truly live your immortal life. The virtual is way better than the actual considering you’ll never really die.

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