The uncanny is "something that should have remained hidden and has come into the open."
So, while das unheimliche is often translated as "unhomely," it is better translated as "unsecret." Something that was supposed to stay secret has become unsecret.
Freud elucidates, "The uncanny element is actually nothing new or strange, but something that was long familiar to the psyche and was estranged from it only through being repressed."
In other words, the emotional response that accompanies witnessing an uncanny element happens because some long-repressed aspect has broken through to conscious awareness. In my case, I must have long ago repressed the idea that messy shit can be beautiful, and when I encountered an example of it, it came welling right up, quite violently. It became unsecret.
(As an aside, do you know how long it takes Freud to get to the damn point? I read all three sections of Das Unheimliche just to find a freaking definition, and when I got to it, it wasn't even his. Seriously... wrap it up, Freud.)
So then I started thinking. If this melding of messy shit and beauty has been long repressed, it must have been put there originally by some stimulus, and that stimulus is most likely still life paintings. Then I researched it. And guess what I found?
And jumping ahead hundreds of years...
And then he DID IT AGAIN with the similar and/or identical props. For the love of all that's holy.
But now we have an important piece of information. If a messy food photograph strikes me as beautiful, it has tapped into that part of my unconscious where messy-presentation-can-be-beautiful has been repressed. It is unsecret. I don't like this, of course, because none of us likes repressed junk coming into awareness. But once it emerges, we can face it and resolve it.
Perhaps this entire blog is an exercise in accessing and resolving repressed material. Perhaps all of life is.
I need a drink.
*Not her real name.