Friday, January 29, 2010

Significant Moments: A Crucial Distinction

It is important to note the distinction between how a person reacts to a wrong or unlawful act and how he reacts to a disappointment. I can forgive a person for disappointing me. I may have difficulty forgiving someone who has committed a crime that has adversely affected me. I make the distinction between the response to a disappointment and the response to a wrong in my book, Significant Moments.

In 1995 I filed a lawsuit in the D.C. Superior Court. I lost the case, which was a disappointment. But I moved on to appeal in the D.C. Court of Appeals, where, again, the court decided against me. But I feel no lingering resentment against the D.C. Courts. I was not wronged by the courts; I was merely disappointed by the courts.

In May 1992, my former employer filed false, defamatory sworn statements about me with a District agency. I have never forgiven my former employer for that act. How can I forgive a criminal act? Surely, the state does not forgive a criminal act.

I. Response to a Wrong

As I close my eyes to recollect I can see . . .
Hermann Hesse, Demian.
. . . an image . . .
Primo Levi, The Periodic Table.
. . . rise up: where was that? Yes, I have it now:
Hermann Hesse, Demian.
I cannot remember ev'rything. I must have been . . .
Arnold Schoenberg, A Survivor From Warsaw.
. . . ten or twelve years old when my father began to take me with him on his walks, and in his conversation to reveal his views on the things of this world.
Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams.
I remember only . . .
Arnold Schoenberg, A Survivor From Warsaw.
. . . that he once told me the following incident, in order to show me that I had been born into happier times than he: "When I was a young man, I was walking one Saturday along the street in the village where you were born; I was well-dressed, with a new fur cap on my head. Up comes a Christian . . .
Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams.
. . . and all of a sudden . . .
Arnold Schoenberg, A Survivor From Warsaw.
.
. . knocks my cap into the mud, and shouts, 'Jew, get off the pavement!'"—
Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams.
“What did you do?”
Janet Malcolm, Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession.
—"I went into the street and picked up the cap," he calmly replied. That did not seem heroic on the part of the big, strong man who was leading me, a little fellow, by the hand. I contrasted this situation, which did not please me, with another, more in harmony with my sentiments--the scene in which Hannibal's father, Hamilcar Barcas, made his son swear before the household altar to take vengeance on the Romans. Ever since then Hannibal has had a place in my phantasies.
Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams.
Was this child really myself? was the unuttered question behind this tale.
Tamara Deutscher, Introduction to Isaac Deutscher, The Non-Jewish Jew and Other Essays.


II. Response to a Disappointment: The following is a creative transformation of my Superior Court lawsuit in 1995-1996. Freud's speech before the Vienna Society for Psychiatry and Neurology symbolizes my appearance at a scheduling conference in D.C. Superior Court in late January 1996.

On the evening of April 21, 1896, Sigmund Freud gave a paper before his colleagues at the Society for Psychiatry and Neurology in Vienna, entitled "The Aetiology of Hysteria."
J. Moussaieff Masson, The Assault on Truth: Freud's Suppression of the Seduction Theory.
This is the place where I shall start my great career, I daydreamed.
Arthur Rubinstein, My Young Years.
He took . . .
Mark Twain, The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg.
. . . the paper . . .
David Evanier, The Man Who Refused to Watch the Academy Awards.
. . . out of his pocket, opened it, glanced at it, looked surprised and worried, and stood silent for a few moments. Then he waved his hand in a wandering and mechanical way, and made an effort or two to say something, then gave it up, despondently. Several voices cried out:
"Read it! read it! What is it?"
Mark Twain, The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg.
His listeners were all experts on the twisted byways of erotic life. The great Richard von Krafft-Ebing, who had made sexual psychopathology his own, was presiding. Freud's lecture was a lively, highly skillful forensic performance. The student of hysteria, he said, is like an explorer discovering the remains of an abandoned city, with walls and columns and tablets covered with half-effaced inscriptions, he may dig them up and clean them, and then with luck the stones speak—saxa loquuntur. He expended all this rhetorical effort to persuade his incredulous listeners that they must seek the origin of hysteria in the sexual abuse of children. All eighteen cases he had treated, Freud noted, invited this conclusion. But his mixture of colorful eloquence and scientific sobriety was wasted.
Peter Gay, Freud: A Life For Our Time.
A dozen men got up now and began to protest.
Mark Twain, The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg.
The twelve men spake, and said . . .
Louis Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews.
. . . that this farce was the work of some abandoned joker, and was an insult to the whole community.
Mark Twain, The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg.
I felt as if I were going to the scaffold.
Arthur Rubinstein, My Young Years.
Afterwards they stood about in groups chattering. I heard some say: ‘It starts just as if he were out to play a carnival joke on the public.’ Others were disappointed that there had not been more hissing.
Natalie Bauer-Lechner, Recollections of Gustav Mahler.
The seduction theory in all its uncompromising sweep seems inherently implausible, only a fantasist like Fliess could have accepted and applauded it.
Peter Gay, Freud: A Life For Our Time.
The whole thing was a bitter experience for me.
Arthur Rubinstein, My Young Years.
All his grandiose visions of future glory fell away.
Karen Armstrong, In the Beginning: A New Interpretation of Genesis.
How different was this state of affairs from Freud’s initial hopes!
Gary N. Goldsmith, Freud’s Aesthetic Response to Michelangelo’s Moses.
I have had to demolish all my castles in the air, and I am just now mastering enough courage to start rebuilding them again.
Sigmund Freud, Letter to Wilhelm Fliess.
So be it!
H.G. Wells, The Time Machine.
The lecture, he told Fliess a few days later, "had an icy reception from the donkeys and, on Krafft-Ebing's part, the odd judgment: 'It sounds like a scientific fairy tale.' And this," Freud exclaimed, "after one has shown them the solution of a thousands-years-old problem, a source of the Nile!"
Peter Gay, Freud: A Life For Our Time.
One thing I know for certain as I think back on that night: nothing, in later years, had such an impact on my character.
Arthur Rubinstein, My Young Years.
What is astonishing is not that Freud eventually abandoned the idea, but that he adopted it in the first place.
Peter Gay, Freud: A Life For Our Time.
It would take a good psychoanalyst to decipher my own state of mind.
Arthur Rubinstein, My Young Years.
What Freud repudiated was the seduction theory as a general explanation of how all neuroses originate. This renunciation opened a new chapter in the history of psychoanalysis. Freud . . .
Peter Gay, Freud: A Life For Our Time.
. . . totally and refreshingly free of what Nietzsche called the spirit of revenge . . .
Harold Bloom, The Book of J.
. . . claimed to be anything but "upset, confused, weary," and wondered prophetically "whether this doubt merely represents an episode in the advance toward further discoveries?"
Peter Gay, Freud: A Life For Our Time.
I felt neither resentment nor hatred.
Arthur Rubinstein, My Young Years.
He is a dreamer and an interpreter of dreams, which means, however paradoxically, that he is a pragmatist and a compromiser with reality.
Harold Bloom, The Book of J.
. . . an important page of my life had turned!
Arthur Rubinstein, My Young Years.

1 comment:

Gary Freedman said...

More on the Superior Court scheduling conference in January 1996 in Freedman v. D.C. Dept. Human Rights:







http://dailstrug.blogspot.com/2010/06/my-day-in-court-psychoanalytic.html