Saturday, June 25, 2011

Significant Moments: One Great Moment

I dashed to the library at the first opportunity.
     Primo Levi, The Periodic Table.
Once there, . . .
     Booker T. Washington, Up Front Slavery.
          ... I turned with respect to . . .
     Primo Levi, The Periodic Table.
               . . . Hermann Levi —
     Peter Gay, Freud, Jews, and Other Germans.
Levi, . . .
      Primo Levi, The Periodic Table.
       . . . who was by no means free of vanity or unaware of his own position, . . .
     Herbert Kupferberg, The Mendelssohns: Three Generations of Genius.
              . . . that is, as . . .
     Aldous Huxley, Cronte Yellow.
                          ... a Jew in a gentile world, . . .
      Peter Gay, Freud, Jews, and Other Germans.
                                . . . looked at me with an amused, vaguely ironic expression:
     Primo Levi, The Periodic Table.
             . . . ambivalent at its heart.
     Peter Gay, Freud, Jews, and Other Germans.
He said:
      Genesis.
My friend, you . . .
     Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust.
           . . . could throw away . . .
     Peter Gay, Freud: A Life for Our Time quoting Sigmund Freud, Letter to His Fiancee.
                         ... all things —
     George Gordon, Lord Byron, Excerpt from Don Juan.
                              . . . make common cause with . . .
     Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust.
                                          . . . the devil . . .
     Richard Wagner, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg.
                                                    ... as one would carry on a love affair.
     Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust.
And all for what?
     Wilkie Collins, The Evil Genius.
             — and all for an old man;
      Edwin Arlington Robinson, The Three Taverns.
                     . . . for a great moment . . .
      Peter Gay, Freud: A Life for Our Time quoting Sigmund Freud, Letter to His Fiancee.
                              — one moment . . .
     K.R. Eissler, Talent and Genius: The Fictitious Case of Tausk Contra Freud.
                                     . . . with such a person . . .
     Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust.
                                                ... as Wagner
     Friedrich Nietzsche, The Case of Wagner. 
______________________________________

People wonder what I am aiming for.  What is my goal?  What will satisfy me?  I am in search of a moment, one moment -- one great moment in history.  


I identify with the following passage from a letter that Freud wrote to his fiancee Martha Bernays (which is quoted above).  He probably wrote the letter while he was in medical school.

"I have often felt as though I had inherited all the defiance and all the passions with which our ancestors defended their Temple and could gladly sacrifice my life for one great moment in history. And at the same time I always felt so helpless and incapable of expressing these ardent passions even by a word or a poem."

2 comments:

Gary Freedman said...

Perhaps the quotations from Primo Levi's The Periodic Table are an allusion to Marie Curie. Perhaps.

Gary Freedman said...

The character Faust was an alchemist.