Estrangement as a technique

Art is a way of of experiencing the artfulness of an object: the object is not important

Art plays a major role in our life.Frankly, I can’t imagine how life would have been without art.It would simply be Life-less,right? The role of Art and its significance was discussed by many intelectuals and philosophers starting from the debate between Aristotle and Plato or (even before) until recent time. My objective is to discuss one of art’s theories which is estrangement. Estrangement has been developed by many theorists who talked about in different terms: Zarazheni e(infection theory) by Tolstoy which approached this theory in a psychoanalytical dimension, Ostranenie by Shklovsky and Verfremdung by Brecht both of them developed it through distancing and alienations but they all lead to the same objective”defamaliarzing the familiar” in the article “Art as technique”, Shklovsky explained that the meaning of art mainly relies on perception.

It incites reader to go deep inside the text and decodify it. And this what makes art artful ,may I say, because I as a reader enjoy this part of art.Brecht used to tell his actors” let the tears come out of your mind” an amazing sentence that elevates the position of art within society and making actors and spectators at same time get into everything that was invisible and unknown through the strange world created infront of them. and  at the same time helps them get to see the unseen. Actually, I think this technique is not only used in literature but had a huge influence in the cinema as well. For example a movie as Avatar talks about many topics as colonialism, imperialism ..etc by making everything and all elements seem strange including characters, time  and place with which the spectator can’t identify himself. I really enojoyed the essay because it talked about this issue in a brief and clear way but I have to mention I was distracted in the end when it started mentioning rhythm as I found it out of context and should have been used in a separate  article.

Finally, I’d like to mention that Tolstoy estrangement theory was maily inspired by Roman  Stoic Philosopher Marcus Aurelius and I think to get to know more this technique, there’s no better way than mentioning a quote from Aurelius:

  Surely it is an excellent plan, when you are seated before delicacies and choice foods, to impress upon your imagination that this is a dead body of a fish, that the dead   body of a bird or a pig; and again, that the Falernian wine is grape juice and that robe of             purpose a lamb’s fleece dipped in a shellfish’s blood; and in matters of sex intercourse, that it is attrition of an entrail and a convulsive expulsion of mere mucus. Surely these are  excellent imaginations, going to the heart of actual facts and penetrating them so as to see     the kind of things they really are. You should adopt this practice all through your lie, and  where things make an impression which is very plausible, uncover their nakedness, see into their cheapness, strip off the profession on which they vaunt themselves…

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2 Responses to Estrangement as a technique

  1. Jon says:

    I was struck by your reference to Avatar. Is that really an instance of defamiliarization?

    I guess I’m asking whether this film changes our perception of the “real” object (say, in this instance, native peoples) or rather gives us a version of that object towards which we are able to feel differently.

    Hmm. You’ve got me thinking about the relationship between defamiliarization and ideology. For surely ideology also “makes strange,” too.

  2. doaa25 says:

    Hey Jon. Thanks for your comment. I think the defamilirization in Avatar relies on showing the object in an unfamiliar way rather than changing our percetion of”real”.
    Because all interpretations are based on the spectator’s reception and I guess he director used the 3D technique and all visual effects+defamiliarization to distract ordinary viewers from the direct message it wants to deliver because estrangement makes all the explicit, implicit,right?.I totally agree that ideology and defamiliarization come together because when I started reading about these topics it totally changed my way of analysing evertyhing and it can be applied to other forms of ideology as well.

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