A D R I A N S T O K E S
M A I N I N T R O D U C T I O N - Richard Wollheim
There are readers of Stokes who regret the project of the Tavistock books. They wish that he had stuck to his earlier manner. One supporter whom Stokes lost was Kenneth Clark, who had been an early enthusiastic reviewer. But the introduction of the psychological was already anticipated in The Quattro Cento where he had written:
Of course in the long run a more psychological approach is not at variance with a more purely aesthetic approach. On the contrary, the former should be indispensable to the latter, and vice versa.
By 'aestheticism' here Stokes had in mind the formalism to which criticism resorted in its reaction against Ruskinian criticism, and Stokes, admirer though he was of Ruskin, was certainly not disposed to resume that tradition. What psycho-analysis provided him with, then, was a way of correcting a balance that he long thought had gone wrong. But he was prepared to wait until he felt that he had properly absorbed the lessons of psycho-analysis through his own analysis, his wide reading in the subject, and the many contacts he maintained with distinguished analysts.
To bring the project of the Tavistock books into better focus we must look in a little more detail at the psychological implications of the two kinds of relationship, and probably the clearest way of doing that is to look at the two attitudes or positions chronologically or as they unfold in infantile development.
So. Initially the infant has not the power, the cognitive capacity, to take in the existence of whole-objects: that is, objects extending in space and in time beyond the sensory moment. It finds in the world only part-objects, or objects as immediate experience presents them, and these objects it finds either satisfying - say, the breast that feeds it - or frustrating - say, the nipple it is denied. But the infant not only experiences the world, it also has its own feelings of love and of destructiveness, and these feelings are not only intense in themselves but they gain a further intensity through being associated with the infant's earliest bodily processes and products: looking, sucking, feeding, biting, urinating, defecating. And these bodily activities also provide the underpinning - in that they provide the representations in fantasy or reverie - of a continuing psychic activity in which the infant engages: introjection, projection, taking, casting out. The infant fantasizes that it swallows the good objects around it, but also some of the bad; then it fantasizes that it defecates the bad into the world, and with the bad sometimes the good. And the result of this taking in, casting out, is twofold: the lurid character of the external world is constantly intensified, and an inner world is built up within the infant's mind which is at least as exaggerated as the external world from which it is derived. These two worlds, the outer and the inner world, now teem with impossibly good, impossibly bad, objects, and the infant endeavours to protect one and to save himself from the other with the crude resources of his mind. He idealizes the precarious good objects and bathes them in an unnatural radiance; he defends himself against the frightening bad objects by splitting, which means a further fragmentation of the world as he experiences it, or by denial, by the refusal to face badness either outside or inside itself. And then, from time to time, outer world and inner world collude to offer him an experience that remains the prototype of all intense happiness: the oceanic feeling sensed at the breast.