On the Road to Nowhere
1 Sartre's existentialist theory. 4 My subsequent overview of these models and theories is by no means exhaustive; it focuses on the concepts which converge with Auster's presentation of his fictional selves. Freud's construct of psychic topography probably constitutes one of the most influential 20th century views of the subject. Freud actually posited two partially overlapping models. The early topography, presented in The Interpretation of Dreams ( 1900), divides the mind into two major areas: the unconscious and the preconscious. The later model, elaborated in The Ego and the Id (1923), suggests a structural and functional division of the subject into three compartments: the id, the ego and the super-ego. The id, present at birth, is governed by Eros, the life-integrating force, and Thanatos, the death instinct. The id seeks immediate gratification and operates on the pleasure principle; its dissatisfaction results in tension, which the id strives to eliminate. Paradoxically, the elimination of tension results in a state of quiescence, which can be achieved only in death. The second part of the personality, the ego, begins to develop out of the id in the second six months of life. It is primarily conscious and operates on the reality principle, mediating between the demands of reality and those of the id. The ego, however, has no energy of its own; it derives all its energy from the id. To illustrate this point, Freud produces an oft-quoted simile: Thus in its relation to the id it is like a man on horseback, who...
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