Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Of Circuses, Carnival Jokes, and Night Music: Losing My Timing So Late in My Career

On the evening of April 21, 1896, Sigmund Freud [--a few weeks shy of his fortieth birthday--] 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.

3 comments:

Gary Freedman said...

The same material in a different context:





http://dailstrug.blogspot.com/2010/01/significant-moments-crucial-distinction.html

Gary Freedman said...

‘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.

A reference to the opening of Mahler's Fourth Symphony. Actually, the conductor Riccardo Muti said basically the same thing -- that the Fourth Symphony has a curious start:






http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XA6RAk8yA1Q

Gary Freedman said...

"This farce was the work of some abandoned joker, and was an insult to the whole community.
Mark Twain, The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg."

A joker (including "big joker" and "little joker") is a special type of card found in most modern decks of playing cards.

Compare:






http://dailstrug.blogspot.com/2010/08/homospatiality-on-beach.html