The Psychology of Romanticism & Modern Art: A Jaynesian Interpretation of the Inward Turn


A 46-page article by Brian J. McVeigh, with illustrations by Barbara Greene

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A 46-page downloadable article by Brian J. McVeigh, with illustrations by Barbara Greene.

Applying the ideas of Julian Jaynes, this essay explores the great “inward turn” or how Romanticism and modern art evidenced a transformation in the relationship between the individual psyche and artistic creation. The intensification of conscious interiorization—i.e., introceptual or quasi-sensory experience, an emphasis on the “feeling of feeling,” self-reflexivity, psychological projection, self-individuation, self-narratization—accounts for how major changes in psychological processes modified perception and aesthetic appreciation. Also explored is how self-identity and notions of authenticity fed into the feature of self-autonomy and articulated social aspirations, blurring the lines between the personal and political. Moreover a Jaynesian perspective illuminates alterations in mentality that impacted the art world in the 1800s and early 1900s, allowing us to conceptualize the development of modern art in three waves that built upon each other. The first signaled a crisis in the representation of reality while the second is characterized by the presentation of the unpresentable. The final wave describes a movement towards the non-presentation of the real.

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