Friday, October 14, 2011

Life Imitating Art

Aujourd'hui, maman est morte. Ou peut-être hier, je ne sais pas. 

So begins Albert Camus' novel, The Stranger (L’Étranger).   Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don't know.


I read The Stranger in Mrs. Miller's French class in high school.  We read the novel at the end of the school year.   I can still see Mrs. Miller seated on her desk, reading to the students from the novel in a lilting French, with the windows open: the warm May breeze creating an uncanny presence.

I was 15 years old.  For some reason the opening line of the book -- both the French and English translation -- has always stayed with me. 

Oddly enough, my mother died in her sleep some time after going to bed on a Tuesday evening.  She might have died that evening or the following Wednesday morning.  I don't know.  Some things remain a mystery.  Psychoanalysts say that the quality of mystery is a feminine trait -- or at least a trait attached to women by men.  I can see what is in plain sight, but what is it that is inside?  Some men turn that question into a lifelong career.

8 comments:

Gary Freedman said...

People ask: Why do you love psychoanalysis so much?

I have the sensibilities of a poet, though I am by trade a racketeer and plagiarist.

Like the poet, the psychoanalyst draws connections between disparate ideas that have no apparent connection at all.

To wit:

http://dailstrug.blogspot.com/2009/11/significant-moments-no-end-to.html

Gary Freedman said...

Linda Shubert Miller was my French teacher when I was in the 10th grade at Central High School in Philadelphia (1968-69 school year).

I was a sophomore, but I was in a class with 11th graders.

For a time Mrs. Miller and her husband lived next door to my sister: that was in the latter part of the last decade.

Gary Freedman said...

Dr. Shengold writes: "My patient had solved the riddle of the Sphinx in incestuous action, and then repressed it. But the arrogance continued for him, the narcissistic triumph derived from feeling himself the 'son of Fortune.' During his analysis my patient remembered his secret pride at the age of twelve at having had intercourse with a grown woman when his friends were only daydreaming about sex. He consciously tried then to dissociate any thought of the 'grown woman' from the concept of mother or even from the word mother, which inevitably connected with father (see Welch 1968 for a contrasting view of the use of the terms mother and father in relation to incest). In later adolescence (after repression), he habitually attracted attention by wearing a bright red, flannel "worker's shirt," which had Marxist connotations for him. This was "the flag of his disposition"; in analysis he called it the "costume of a humble coxcomb" (coxcomb can refer to both a fool and an exhibitionist--an apt mixture of shame and pride), and he associated the word and the image of a cock's comb to his mother's genitals and to his own red and far-from-humble erection. He was unknowingly draping himself in an incestuous revolutionary red banner. In later life, when there was competition for a particular post, or if he had to submit work in contention with that of peers, he confidently assumed he would win; true to Freud's prediction, he often did. He was both intelligent and gifted, and that helped him live up to overweening pretensions. Although generally good-natured and even 'humble' in manner, he had many arrogant traits. He never wore a watch, which certainly was an inconvenience in business; his attitude was a breezy 'let others wait.' There was more than a touch in this of a concomitant strand in his superego: provoking punishment. (He was never late in his analysis, where he had to confront the deeper meanings of warring with Time.) His wife would frequently be stimulated to repeat to him: 'You know, you are not of royal blood.'" Such are the observations of Dr. Shengold.

http://dailstrug.blogspot.com/2011/01/of-red-shirts-pomegranates.html

Gary Freedman said...

Of Zionism, Incest, and Warm May Breezes:

http://dailstrug.blogspot.com/2010/08/homospatial-thinking-and-significant.html

Gary Freedman said...

From Sexual Curiosity to Curiosity About the Wider World: WHY??

The child's dyadic relationship [with the primary caregiver] slowly merges into the oedipal triadic relationship with the parents by the end of the fourth year, ushering in a severely conflictual situation for children of both sexes. If identification with the parent of the same sex has been proceeding well, this identification now serves as a stabilizing force, facilitating the temporary surrender of incestuous wishes and the modulation of hostile aggressive wishes towards the parent of the same sex. Sublimation of the sexual and aggressive drive derivatives can now proceed, with curiosity directed towards other areas. A significant landmark during latency is the gradual emergence of a scientific approach to learning and thinking. The why and wherefore of things become very important: concepts of the world and people begin to expand, and the development of reasoning steadily advances. Curiosity about sexuality gives way, under reasonably adequate psychological conditions, to curiosity about the wider aspects of the world, a sublimation of a portion of sexual as well as aggressive wishes that continues into adult life unless inhibitions arise because of psychological conflicts that were insufficiently resolved during the pre-oedipal and oedipal periods. Galenson, E. "Comments." In: Ostow, M. Ultimate Intimacy: The Psychodynamics of Jewish Mysticism, pp. 144-150 at 150 (Madison, CT: International Universities Press, Inc.: 1995).

http://dailstrug.blogspot.com/2010/05/william-d-brown-phd-psychological.html

Gary Freedman said...

Peculiar recollection about Stanley J. Cutler at PSU.

He and his wife had a little girl. He told the class one day that his little girl had just discovered her vagina. Cutler remarked: "It sure beats sucking your thumb!"

the_constable said...

Linda Shubert Miller was the object of many crushes. She was the prettiest instructor at Central. Class 231

the_constable said...

Linda Shubert Miller was the object of many crushes. She was the prettiest instructor at Central. Class 231