Monthly Archives: January 2016


In his essay The Uncanny,  Freud sets out to explore and define exactly what is is that what we identify as instances of the uncanny have in common.

He begins by exploring the origin of the word.  The German for uncanny is unheimlich, which is the opposite of heimlich, which means homely, or familiar.  Therefore, he argues, it is tempting to conclude “that what is ‘uncanny’ is frightening precisely because it is not known and familiar.” However, although some new things might be frightening, not all are.  So he determines that “something has to be added to what is novel and unfamiliar in order to make it uncanny.”

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It was a sunny summer day in around 1980, and I was sitting upstairs in our small house, a modern “link-detached” (that is, not detached at all), in the spare bedroom, sitting at my sewing table and machining away, running up something to wear that evening, as we often did then.  It was a repetitive task that didn’t require too much concentration, and I was daydreaming the afternoon away.

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