'Keepin' it Real?' Psychoanalysis and Socialist Realism
Socialist Realism was an aesthetic doctrine enforced throughout the Soviet Union from the mid-1930s onwards. It was broadly defined as art that ‘depicts reality in its revolutionary development’. Socialist-realist art reflected the long-term goals of Soviet communism - not necessarily the everyday reality of life for Soviet citizens. In music this translated into works appealing to as broad an audience as possible, with emphasis on tunefulness, accessibility, and folk traditions. The complex layers of meaning in socialist realist music have often been noted. It can, however, be all too easy to dismiss socialist-realist music, opting instead for works that pushed against the trend. This is where my link between socialist-realist music and psychoanalysis emerges.Utilising the writings and theories of Lacan, Žižek, and other post-Freudians, psychoanalysis has been gaining attention and significance as a fruitful and useful method for cultural-analysis, including music. Psychoanalysis questions constructions of concepts such as self, dialogue, society, and meaning, all through the gaze of a multitude of thinkers. It has proved particularly suited to music observed to be rich in psychological meaning – including composers such as Schoenberg and Scriabin. Its methods are ideally suited to application for the joint world of politics-meets-kitsch that is socialist realism.In this paper, I will be outlining some basic definitions of socialist realism, and of psychoanalysis. With these in place, I formulate an outline approach for analysis of socialist-realist works through the guise of various post-Freudian methodologies.