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CRPLA Seminar

Antal Bókay

Sophocles, Freud and Robert Wilson: A Spectacle of Our Inner Abyss

30 April 2024

New time: 5.00-7.00 pm, in Social Sciences 0.18

Sophocles' King Oedipus seems an absurd story, a tragic nonsense, yet for 2500 years it has fascinated people past and present. Perhaps because it is the deepest, most ancient insight into how our personalities are born and how we are confronted with decay and tragedy in our proudly confessed inner lives, loves, hates, and sins.

In my talk I will be interpreting two different but related readings of King Oedipus. The first is Sigmund Freud's experience, articulated in the idea of the Oedipus complex. The Oedipus complex in psychoanalytic theory and also in the theatre of therapy shows the creation of the self in the extreme duality of incest and death. Another more definitive example is Robert Wilson's theatrical vision of Oedipus, filtered through the Freudian experience of existence. In his work, the primordial story is transcribed into a 21st century experience of the disintegrating person, of dissipating passion, a physical and spiritual irredeemability mediated through images and texts. I will present excerpts from Wilson's Oedipus at Epidaurus. I will interpret his transgressive allegories of Apollonian prophecy, Oedipal fate, and the role of pre-symbolic language as they represent the entanglements of our joys and sufferings.

Biographical Note: Antal Bókay is a full professor at the University of Pécs in the Department of Literary Theory and the founder of the Psychoanalytic Ph.D. program. His writings and books, published in Hungarian and English, deal with contemporary cultural processes, psychoanalytic theory, and postmodern theatre, using deconstruction and psychoanalysis as methodological bases. In addition to several British, Austrian, and US visiting professorships, he is secretary of the US-based international research forum PSYART Foundation.

There will also be MS Teams access to this event (albeit low-tech).