Poetics of Denial: The Political Unconscious


In this text, I engage in a methodology that explores the phenomenon of denial, here conceptualized as the “Poetics of Denial”. The foundation of my practice is based on the ongoing inquiry into the interrelations of denial on an individual and social level. More specifically, I explore how one’s psychological mechanisms of defense on an intra- and interpersonal level manifest in the social sphere through a series of responses in the form of experimental prose. These writings are organized by mechanism of defense and include contemporary scenarios of denial. This text integrates contemporary news sources from various ideological stances and the headlines serve as entry points to examine how they illuminate failures of sublimation in the political unconscious. I draw from various psychoanalytic and sociological resources on denial to create a lens to explore the interstices among micro and macro instances of denial. Another dimension of my lens involves exploring the plurality of denial by engaging in various perspectives and voices throughout the texts. The mechanisms of defense often operate at an unconscious level and allow human beings to adapt to reality by mitigating harmful or anxious feelings. An absence or excess of these mechanisms often leads to psychological pathologies that occur on intra- and interpersonal levels. The imbalance and/or obliviousness of these mechanisms may ultimately result in manifestations of denial on a larger, socio-political level.


Tunprasert-Ahrens, Alena M. “The Political Unconscious: Poetics of Denial.” MFA Thesis, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 2017.

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