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Enterprise and Research Methods 09: Literature Review (Svenaeus 2009)

Svenaeus, F. 2009. The Phenomenology of Falling Ill: An Explication, Critique and Improvement of Sartre’s Theory of Embodiment and Alienation. Human Studies. 32 (1) 53 – 66.

In this journal article, Svenaeus interprets and develops the basic model of Sartre’s Being and Nothingness (1943), arguing that to fall ill is a “gradual process of alienation, and with each step this alienating process is taken to a new qualitative level” (Svenaeus 2009, p. 53). Svenaeus adopts Sartre’s focus on embodiment as intrinsic to this alienating process, but suggests that “the alienation of the body in illness is not only the experience of a psychic object, but an experience of the independent life of one’s own body” (Svenaeus 2009, p. 53). What it interesting about the article is that Svenaeus explores t’consciousness’ and ‘thingness’, in context of Sartre’s concept of being for-itself (consciousness), in-itself (thing-ness), and and being-for-others (alienation). Svenaeus’ critique relates and applies Sartre’s thought to contemporary health care, but for the purpose of this blog post, Svenaeus’ focus on Sartre’s concept of being will be the discussion point.

First, Svenaeus discusses the phenomenological theme of ‘facticity’; that is, that which Svenaeus describes as “the attempt to spell out the meaning of everyday life in the everyday world without falling prey to either scientific reductionism or transcendental idealism”, mentioning Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenolgy of Perception (1962), which claims that “philosophy is the study of essences” and that it “does not expect to arrive at an understanding of man and the world from any starting point other than that of their ‘facticity’” (Svenaeus 2009, p. 54). Additionally, Svenaeus explains that Sartre had the aim of developing a more fundamental ontology using the example of falling ill in Being and Nothingness, but argues that this example can be critiqued and it can also call into question new ways of thinking. Like Welsh (2002; mentioned in previous blog entry), Svenaeus references Zahavi, who discusses the body as being a part of a collection of things that are both in the world and independent of our experiences:
“The experience of the world (and our bodies belong to this world) is an experience of something that is independent of our experiences. We do not make up the cellular processes of our bodies by way of our experiences any more than we make up the everyday things that surround us in daily life” (Svenaeus 2009, p. 55).
This idea that the body is part of a world “in-itself”, or a world of ‘things’, can be discussed in relation to Sartre’s theory of embodiment and alienation that encompasses the body, when gazed at by another, as ‘other’ as a product of the paradoxical and simultaneous “for-itself” and “in-itself”.

Svenaeus explains that in the second chapter of Being and Nothingness, ‘The Body’, and in the third part ‘Being-for-others’, an outline of the phenomenology of falling ill elaborates Sartre’s concepts of ‘being-for-itself’ and ‘being-in-itself’, and that “these two forms of being are not only opposed to each other, but also necessarily conjoined” (Svenaeus 2009, p. 55). For Sartre, Svenaeus explains, the act of embodiment between the interaction of humans is characterised by feelings of shame in that the person, “for-itself”, momentarily becomes a ‘thing’:
“The main idea is that the gaze of the other person has the power to objectify me; I turn into a thing for another consciousness by being looked upon and thereby discover my body as an in-itself, which is yet me… To become oneself by way of the direct or indirect gaze of the other appears to be a fundamentally alienating experience: the self is separated from its true essence – freedom as consciousness – in becoming an in-itself (a thing). The lived body thus appears to be the place where the being-for-itself finally confronts the being-in-itself, although these two forms of being are necessarily opposed for Sartre” (Svenaeus 2009, p. 55).
The body as a ‘thing’ is a being for consciousness, and therefore it is different from consciousness. This, Svenaeus explains, for Sartre, means that consciousness is a way of its “being nihilation”; it is always different from things, but it lacks essence. Consciousness is “pure existence devoid of any essence” (Svenaeus 2009, p. 55). This paradox, Svenaeus explains, is fundamentally alienating for Sartre.

In an attempt to uncover the structure of a lived body, Svenaeus explains, Sartre uses physical examples of pain and illness: the lived pain experienced in the body is not presented as belonging to the body, but rather, belonging to the activity by which the body experiences it. For example, Sartre describes a scenario whereby a reader experiences pain through reading, but does not necessarily concentrate on this pain outside of reading: “The pain is not known – not focused on as an in-itself – but is still there in my pre-reflective way of consciousness until I used a finger to turn the page” (Svenaeus 2009, p. 56). Here, with reference to Heidegger, Svenaeus explains, pain is presented as a part of the bodies “being-in-the-world”; it is not reflective or referred to others, it is in the body as “vision-as-pain”, that comes to the surface when apprehending pain. This apprehending of pain is, according to Sartre, a directed reflective consciousness on “present consciousness-as-vision”, a pain that is “posited” by this reflective consciousness (Svenaeus 2009, p. 56). Sartre’s pain, Svenaeus explains, is a “psychic object” that has its own time: “it is distinct from consciousness and appears through it”. For Sartre, “the brief respites are a part of the illness just as silences are a part of the melody. This ensemble constitutes the rhythm and behaviour of the illness” (Svenaeus 2009, p. 57).

In summary, Svenaeus argues that illness or pain is lived as a for-itself of the person’s own body, “that is: a for-itself which is mine, yet still alien, since it resists and disturbs, rather than supports, consciousness. This is an aporia for Sartre, of course: in his system only consciousness can display the form of the for-itself’s being”. With this in mind, Svenaeus states that to view pain as “an object constituted by the self-being of consciousness, would be to miss the point that the body is actually at the very heart of my self-being as a constituting being, rather than being constituted by me”. According to Svenaeus, it is the otherness of the body that “lends facticity” to its existence (Svenaeus 2009, p. 57-58).

Enterprise and Research Methods 08: Literature Review (Welsh 2002)

Welsh, T. (2002) The Retentional and the Repressed: Does Freud’s Concept of the Unconscious Threaten Husserlian Phenomenology? Springer. 25 (2) 165 – 183.

In this journal article, Welsh investigates the ‘unconscious’ in Husserlian phenomenology, alongside claims in the Freudian ‘unconscious’ of psychoanalytic thought, explaining that Husserl’s thinking does not account for the Freudian unconscious. The phenomenological unconscious, Welsh argues, only equates to the psychoanalytic pre-conscious, which can be accessed by the conscious mind. The Husserlian unconscious, Welsh explains, can be ‘activated’ by triggers in real-time consciousness. This blog post will outline Welsh’s standpoint on both the perspectives of Husserl and Freud, from point of view that is situated in the discipline of philosophy. It will explain Welsh’s statement that, although Husserl and Freud both studied under the teachings of Brentano, the two thinkers pursued different directions of thought. This blog post will largely explore Welsh’s views on Husserl’s thought, and it will briefly, towards the end of the post, discuss the aspects of Freudian thought that Welsh poses as important.

Firstly, Welsh articulates her reasons for making the psychoanalytic link with phenomenology: Welsh argues that phenomonology can “philosophically ground psychoanalysis” (Welsh 2002, p. 165). Additionally, Welsh references Zahavi, who “notes that it is a misunderstanding to assume that phenomenology cannot investigate the unconscious” (Welsh 2002, p. 165). Phenomenology, indeed, investigates consciousness with a range of of intentions. Zahavi writes “the moment phenomenology moves beyond an investigation of object-manifestation and act-intentionality, it enters a realm that has traditionally been called the unconscious” (Zahavi 1999, p. 207). Semantics aside, there are aspects of the mind that are not always conscious and accessible, and phenomenology “is capable of handling unconscious as well as conscious aspects of physical life” (Welsh 2002, p. 166). To provide enlightenment for the issue, Welsh discusses the thought of Husserl’s teacher, Brentano, who did not consider the concept of an “unconscious consciousness” to be a complete contradiction. Rather, it is a consciousness that is “indirectly inferable” (Welsh 2002, p.167). In other words, it is possible grasp the unconscious deductively from experience. However, Brentano’s unconscious consciousness becomes problematic, as it is possible to confuse the distinction between that which is unconscious and that which is merely “unclear and indistinct” (Welsh 2002, p.167). Brentano’s thinking, Welsh points out, is evident in Husserlian theory, which is “largely unconcerned with the idea of unconscious mental states,” but that, ultimately, “the lion’s share of Husserl’s corpus is concerned with aspects of physical life that are, strictly speaking, unconscious” (Welsh 2002, p. 168).

The first objective of Welsh’s article is to describe Husserl’s ‘Passive Synthesis’, which depicts a complex positioning of the unconscious. Husserl, Welsh explains, states that there is an “unintentional reservoir of past intentions”, which can be activated through consciousness in order to “come to life” (Welsh 2002, p. 166). Welsh points out that in ‘Passive Synthesis’, Husserl describes a “zone which is characterised as non living and deeply unconscious, not just indirectly unconscious” and argues that “Husserl characterises this sphere of retentions as unconscious in a deep sense”. These ‘retentions’ of experiences are dormant: they “are not active in any sense, and “they have no purpose or intentionality” (Welsh 2002, p.169-170). But although they are not living, they both influence and constitute the present when they have been awoken. For a retention to exist in this zone, Welsh explains, Husserl states that they “first must be born as part of the living present” (Welsh 2002, p.170). Welsh discusses Husserl’s concept of ‘retention’ in some depth, explaining it considers “how association awakens the non-living sphere”, that the “streaming now awakens the past with association” and because of this “not only does the present, streaming, now have its own retentions, but it also forms associations with deeper retentions” (Welsh 2002, p. 171). To put it simply, association, according to Husserl, causes chains of associations wherein the past competes with the present. To illustrate Husserl’s concept of retention, Welsh introduces the example of listening to music:
“When hearing a short melody, one is at any single moment only hearing certain sounds. However, one hears a melody, not just a meaningless succession of sounds. Thus, one is able to passively retain the past notes and expect future ones. The retention of the past notes is not conscious, or even explicit, but it aids in making the melody comprehensible as a melody. Without such a passive element in consciousness, much of every day life would be void of meaning” (Welsh 2002, p. 169).
From this point of view, it is possible to acknowledge that there are, indeed, different levels of consciousness where material is stored remotely from real-time consciousness. However, Welsh discusses Husserl’s past retentions, and she considers could be objected to with the suggestion that “retention is just another word for memory” (Welsh 2002, p. 169). It can be argued, though, that memory has retentional properties and in order to create meaning the experience of absorbing this material must have some imprint within these levels of consciousness, that can be accessed again in the future.

Next, Welsh outlines what is described as the ‘Freudian unconscious’, having been enlightened by the Husserlian unconscious. Welsh explains that in psychoanalysis, paradoxically, if a deep unconscious exists the only way in which it can be accessed is through “what it is not, i.e., consciousness”, which is having any knowledge of it at all. (Welsh 2002, p. 172). Welsh acknowledges that the Freudian unconscious, in relation to the Husserlian unconscious, in a difference species, so to speak, in that “in Freudian theory, the reservoir of retentional objects is only the pre-conscious part of the unconscious”. In the words of Welsh, the Freudian unconscious is “unthematic-yet-accessible memory” (Welsh 2002, p.174). To put it another way, “the unconscious in the psychoanalytic sense is constituted by contents inaccessible to consciousness” (Laplanche and Leclaire 1972, p.127). Welsh discusses the relationship of the unconscious and the conscious in context of Freud’s terminology, the ‘id’ (unconscious) and the ‘ego (conscious):
“This unconscious id impels the ego-subject toward objects of pleasure, regardless of whether or not these objects are permitted or obtainable. Neither ‘side’ acknowledges or interacts with the other. The id remains ignorant of reality, and, of course, reality is indifferent to any demands issuing from the individual” (Welsh 2002, p. 175).
This un-dialogue that Freud illustrates is exactly that which cannot be accessed by the conscious mind. What is interesting, is, that human behaviour does suggest that it is controlled by the unconscious. As Welsh explains, “since it is barred entry to conscious life, it cannot ‘understand’ that it is presenting impossible demands upon the ego”. Additionally, she explains that “since the psychoanalytic unconscious is separated from this learning experience, the instinctual representative of primal repression never goes through transformations” (Welsh 2002, p. 176-177). It seems that once the id has been created in the lived moment, it cannot be changed by the conscious mind.

Enterprise and Research Methods 01: Literature Review (Politz 1960)

In ‘The Dilemma of Creative Advertising’ Alfred Politz discusses ways in which contemporary advertising has replaced effective communication methods with ‘gimmicks’ that are detriment to the power of advertising itself. In pointing out several concepts in advertising theory that Politz explains have been overlooked, misunderstood, and developed ineffectively, ‘The Dilemma of Creative Advertising’ argues that simplicity and accuracy is the key to the effective selling of a product. Politz’ view, this blog post will suggest, is a valid and powerful one. It will also briefly relate Politz’ ideas to the given task – the video pitch – of the Newcastle University module HSS8121 ‘Enterprise and Research Methods’.

In the text, Politz concludes that “intellectual gimmicks, cleverness, wittiness, or ingenious and tricky word combinations” only obscure the consumer’s perception of the product and thus subtracts from successful advertising of the product. Although the article is both written in and directed at advertising of the 1960s, it is possible to transfer these concepts onto contemporary advertising of today. Efficient advertising, as Politz suggests, is dependent on simplicity. Politz argues that “simple language – simple direct presentation of sales arguments and the avoidance of tricky attention-getting devices” place trust in the consumer and convey persuasiveness in a way that is almost transparent. It is the purpose of this blog post to identify and agree with Politz’ argument that it is exaggeration, misrepresentation, and sensationalisation that are outright attempts at advertising and are thus not techniques that are as engaging as they could be. In the words of Politz himself, “directness and simplicity have been replaced by carefully contrived detours, which can be very costly indeed”. So, with this view, it is the return to a focus on simplicity and straightforwardness that should stimulate success.

According to Politz, the use of ‘familiarity’ in advertising is a concept which has been both neglected and overlooked. The familiarity principle, Politz argues, is easy to understand: “something that is known inspires more confidence than something that is unknown”. It is this principle that has governed the creation of the product that will be marketed as a pitch for the entrepreneurship task within the ‘Enterprise and Research Methods’ module. The product has been designed with the question ‘What is familiar?’ in mind; when the question ‘What is familiar?’ is asked, the initial response could result in, perhaps, with another question: ‘What is familiar to most people?’. Asking this question, then, it seems could result in an obvious choice: the domestic home. The domestic sphere is associated with comfort, familiarity, shared moments, and relaxation. Before the advertising process has even begun, familiarity is there to inspire confidence; it is the advertising process itself, however, that must be excecuted with sensitivity. How can this be done? Politz argues that simply repeating the name of the product can contribute to its advertised properties, “simply by generating an awareness… that generates this minimum amount of confidence.” This is a start, however, more than generating awareness of the product must be achieved; generating likability of the product must be achieved.

Of course, this is something that is recognised by Politz: “But advertising copy is intended to perform a function beyond the mere development of familiarity with the brand name. Copy is intended to shape motives and desires, to build believability, and to provide a reason for selecting a particular brand over all others.” And as Politz suggests, this can be achieved through simplicity. The product that will be created for the ‘Enterprise and Research Methods’ pitch will be a product that is based on minimalist design, that embodies the simplicity, and the comforting and relaxing properties of the domestic sphere. It will be marketed through one strategy, and that strategy is to present the home as a space free of worry, and for clarity of mind. For this to be achieved, it will focus on the positive; it will not acknowledge the negative. In other words, it will present the home as a calming oasis; but it will not references the stresses of daily life at all. The product itself combines design with functionality. It is a cube table with a wooden structure and coloured perspex panels with a Picasso line drawing cut onto the panels; inside the table is a halogen bulb, that when lit, illuminates the Picasso design but also functions as a mood light at the same time. As well is this, the table has the simply and primary function as a surface to place various tools for relaxing in the home, such as a glass of wine, a cup of coffee, etc. It is with this view that the product will be pitched as a solution, a space of clarity and freedom of the mind.

As this blog post has established, Politz has outlined the familiarity principle as a key effective strategy that has, in the past, been overlooked. Moreover, Politz has identified transparency as a fundamental element to any effective design. This is a question of, not what the product says, but how the product says what it is saying. Politz argues that “the advertising man, unless he takes pleasure in perfection, will also be disappointed to discover that the more perfect he makes his advertising, the less it becomes noticeable as advertising.” Furthermore, it is with this view that the product will acknowledge itself as a solution, to a problem which is silently referenced. In other words, in the pitch there will be no naming of negativity such as worry, stress, clutter; but there will be a named reference to peace, clarity, functionality, and design.

Politz, A. (1960) The Dilemma of Creative Advertising. American Marketing Association. 25 (2) 1 – 6.

Media Art 04: Language in Art, Nauman (1974) and Emin (1995)


“Nauman’s drawings and titles often include wordplay like the anagram DEATH HATED, HATED DEATH, 1974. He thus still shows a clear interest… in language itself.” (Lerm Hayes and Nauman 2003)

(Modern Matter 2013)

“I am an evil man, reads some of the text in Bruce Nauman’s Good Boy, Bad Boy. I am an evil woman/we are alive. I was a bad boy, I was a bad girl, You were a bad boy. It’s easy to feel, when staring at this cycle, that you’re going insane, but the easiest option is this: that Nauman, the artist-psychologist, is making the distinction between simple badness, and real, transcendent evil, where one of these qualities makes the subject a boy; the other, a man. The evil man is as an untouchable God, and the bad boy is impotent – a nervous, pissing wreck. The twitchy madness of mental uncertainty is all here: the feeling of flared-nostril, pounding-heart hyper-anxiety, beyond all awareness of hunger or sleep – insane invincibility and self-flagellation in equal measure.” (Snow 2013)

(Contemporary International Artists and Art Works 2011)

“Looking at issues of interdisciplinary collaboration made it apparent that language was a fundamental issue. It has been well argued that language has material effects. Language embodies our view of the world – how we understand others and ourselves, as well as social, natural, and cultural forces.” (Pearce et. al. 2003)


Beam, M. Diamond, S. and Pearce, C. (2003) BRIDGES I: Interdisciplinary Collaboration as Practice. Leonardo. 36 (2) 123 – 128.

Lerm Hayes, C and Nauman, B. (2003) Beckett. Nauman: The Necessity of Working in an Interdisciplinary Way. Circa. 104 (Summer) 47 – 50.

NAYAK, A. (2011) Marni Kotak the woman who gave birth in an art gallery!!a look at some of our favorite controversial artworks of the last century [online] Contemporary International Artists and Art Works. Available from: [Accessed 1

Snow, P. (2013) Bruce Nauman/ mindfuck at Hauser & Wirth [online] London: Modern Matter. Available from: [Accessed 1 January 2014]

Media Art 03: Violent Incident (Nauman 1986)

Violent Incident 1986 by Bruce Nauman born 1941

“Nauman has continued to work on the darker side of life. His videos show falling clowns, spinning heads screaming… and styled violence in a domestic setting.” (Lerm Hayes and Nauman 2003)

(Tate London 2002)

“In 1973 Nauman employed professional actors for the first time in his videotapes, previously having used his own body. He then stopped working with video for twelve years, returning to it in 1985 (see Good Boy, Bad Boy Tate T06853). He has said that the confrontational work he made around this time stemmed from his feelings of ‘anger and frustration … My work comes out of being frustrated about the human condition. And about how people refuse to understand other people. And about how people can be cruel to each other. It’s not that I think I can change that, but it’s just such a frustrating part of human history.’ (Quoted in Simon, p.148.) Nauman has stated:

Violent Incident begins with what is supposed to be a joke – but it’s a mean joke
… I started with a scenario, a sequence of events which was this: Two people come to a table that’s set for dinner with plates, cocktails, flowers. The man holds
the woman’s chair for her as she sits down. But as she sits down, he pulls the
chair out from under and she falls on the floor. He turns around to pick up the
chair, and as he bends over, she’s standing up, and she gooses him. He turns
around and yells at her – calls her names. She grabs the cocktail glass and throws
the drink in his face. He slaps her, she knees him in the groin and, as he’s
doubling over, he grabs a knife from the table. They struggle and both of them
end up on the floor.
(Quoted in Simon, p.148.)
In the installation, the short sequence described above is repeated in three other versions: the couple exchange roles; it is played by two men; it is played by two women. Each version has been edited with slow-motion, colour change, and the addition of footage filmed during the rehearsals in which the action was deconstructed by a man’s voice shouting out instructions. The four looped videotapes are played on twelve monitors stacked up in four columns of three. This results in a wall of staggered action, sound and motion which intrudes aggressively into the space around it: ‘The images are aggressive, the characters are physically aggressive, the language is abusive. The scripting, having the characters act out these roles and the repetition all build on that aggressive tension.’ (Nauman quoted in Simon, p.148.) The viewer is presented with a hypnotic repetition of pointlessly cruel and destructive violence which is both seductive and alienating.” (Manchester 2000)


Lerm Hayes, C and Nauman, B. (2003) Beckett. Nauman: The Necessity of Working in an Interdisciplinary Way. Circa. 104 (Summer) 47 – 50.

Manchester, E. (2000) ‘Violent Incident’: Bruce Nauman [online]. London: TATE. Available from: [Accessed 31 December 2013]