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Posts Tagged ‘Sigmund Freud’

Unconscious

November 4, 2013 | by

On this day in 1899, Die Traumdeutung (The Interpretation of Dreams) was first published. Sales were initially dismal, but the rest, of course, is psychoanalytical history. In honor of its birthday, we bring you the only known audio recording of Sigmund Freud, made by the BBC near the end of his life, in Hampstead, London.

 

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The Thief’s Journal

May 24, 2012 | by

Some days, after eighth grade at Emerson Junior High, I would walk to the 7-11 on Overland, in the shadows of the monumental Mormon temple on Santa Monica Boulevard, and just loiter there. I never bought anything, but walked up and down the rows staring intensely at Corn Nuts, Big League Chew, and sundry sparkling sugar bombs.

I didn’t then, nor do I now, have anything resembling a sweet tooth. I’ll trade dessert and candy for savory treats every time (I loved Funyuns, whatever they were), and yet, I wanted a snack. I didn’t have any money, of course—I was twelve—but it wasn’t as if I were starving to death. At the time of my choosing I could walk to my father’s apartment nearby, where he would make me green-chile chicken with polenta, or leg of lamb and gratin dauphinois, or maybe even steak and mashed potatoes. But my dad doesn’t do snacks. He might have food for the entire week, but when I open the fridge, there’s nothing there.

The bus would take a good forty-five minutes to my mom’s, where the fridge was full of Clausen pickles, deli meats, and cheese for my beloved Triscuits. I could have skated if I’d have brought my board, but, forty-five dolorous, head-pounding minutes of boredom and discomfort, sitting next to cat ladies and gangbangers on the rough, tough, and dangerous bus … I wanted a snack. I needed a treat.

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Locker Room Freud; Travel Writing

December 2, 2011 | by

Dear Paris Review,

I have an etiquette question. Is it permissible to tell a complete stranger in a gym locker room that he looks like Sigmund Freud? And, if so, how does one tactfully go about it? The relevant details include: this man is usually naked, he has a giant shlong, and he looks exactly like Sigmund Freud! He even has some kind of foreign accent. Part of me is just curious to know if he gets this a lot, but part of me is curious to know whether he may in fact be Dr. Freud.

—Avi Steinberg

It is permissible, of course. The most tactful approach, in our view, is to just lie down and start free associating. If he is in fact Sigmund Freud (which strikes us as unlikely), your confession will be met with an icy, yet obscurely liberating, silence. You could also offer him a cigar.

What's the best way to structure a memoir or personal narrative?

Is this the sort of memoir that involves being stuck in a crevasse? If so, lead with the crevasse. If, on the other hand, this is the sort of memoir that's interesting all the way through, we suggest that you begin with your feelings about your mother and take it from there (see “etiquette question,” above).

What travel writing would you suggest for someone dealing with a recent loss and exhausted by urban living? I want to take a trip to refocus and regain a sense of daily hope. There must be something more literary and nuanced than Eat Pray Love?

While neither of us is a great aficionado of travel writing, we agree that it's a genre at which the English are particularly adept, be they heroic polymathic questers like T. E. Lawrence or Patrick Leigh Fermor, or comic bunglers along the lines of Graham Greene’s Henry Pulling, or more recently, Geoff Dyer.

Sadie says: In times of distress, while I'd like to turn to the former, I’d probably lose myself in the latter—Our Hearts Were Young and Gay: An Unforgettable Comic Chronicle of Innocents Abroad in the 1920s. I do love Leigh Fermor, however. His A Time to Keep Silence is thoughtful and inspiring without making a fuss about it. In all frankness, though, whether at home or on the road, I find nothing more soothing than a tried-and-true “comfort read,” which for me means Barbara Pym and for you might be something completely different. Lorin recommends Travels with a Donkey and Life on the Mississippi—but then, he always recommends those.

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Aamer Hussein on ‘The Cloud Messenger’

October 18, 2011 | by

Aamer Hussein, courtesy of the writer.

Though The Cloud Messenger is Aamer Hussein’s first novel, it comes after five collections of stories and a novella, Another Gulmohar Tree. Born in Karachi, Pakistan, but a long-time resident of London, Hussein has dramatized the sorts of encounters between and within cultures that reflect his own facility in seven languages. He writes with intelligent restraint about the experience of displacement, but also the indelible richness of wherever we like to think of as home. The Cloud Messenger draws on his own unsentimental education as a student of Farsi to create a romance about language and the unexpected life that reading and translating can take. Last year, we met to discuss the Granta anthology of writing from and about Pakistan at his home in West London.

Could you begin by explaining your background?

I’m from Karachi, third-generation in almost an accidental way, because both my grandfather and father were born there, even though they hadn’t lived there very much until after partition because of certain historical … mishaps, you might say. My mother is from Northern India and from a much more traditional family, although her father was an academic.Read More »

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On the Shelf

July 20, 2011 | by

Jane Austen

A cultural news roundup.

  • An unfinished Jane Austen novel sells at auction for $1.6 million.
  • The end of Borders.
  • Sigmund Freud, cokehead.
  • California schoolbooks add the LGBT community.
  • So do Archie comics.
  • The rock memoir is huge: can the Thin White Duke (or for that matter Ziggy Stardust) be far behind? Bowie becomes publishers’ “top target.”
  • “We insist that students touch and smell and shine light through items, and investigate them to understand the book in history, and understand the book as history.
  • Entering the publishing world in the digital age.
  • Longshot Magazine is back.
  • A Harry Potter plagiarism case bites the dust.
  • Frederick Seidel on a time before air-conditioning.
  • A brief history of Pendleton.
  • Alan Bennett: “I have always been happy in libraries, though without ever being entirely at ease there.”
  • How to undress a Victorian lady.
  • If the Paradise Lost adaptation is hell for Milton lovers, call Bradley Cooper the devil.
  • The NewsCorp scandal: (almost) stranger than fiction.
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    Down the Rabbit Hole

    July 21, 2010 | by

    What's Christopher Nolan’s new movie Inception about? As a piece of science fiction, Inception sets forth its own laws governing the nature of dreams, and dreams in the movie conform to the movie's laws, not those uncovered by Sigmund Freud in The Interpretation of Dreams. (Spoilers ahead, of course.) There are touches where Nolan’s dreams correspond in nature to those described by Freud and experienced by all people nightly. When, for example, the dream-chemist Yusuf (Dileep Rao) has one glass of champagne too many just before going under, the dream extractors who enter his dream find themselves rained upon, thanks to the pressure on the sleeping Yusuf’s bladder. (A dream “with a urinary stimulus may lead [the dreamer] to a foaming stream,” Freud comments, in what might be considered a parallel passage.) Similarly, when the van containing the dreaming Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) swerves, gravity in Arthur's dream of a hotel shifts sideways. As “the guardians of sleep,” Freud writes, dreams often try to explain away sensations that manage to impinge on the dreamer's consciousness.

    In a number of important ways, however, Nolan’s dreams are unlike actual dreams. A real dream, of course, can’t be shared while it is being experienced, though that may be chalked up to the movie’s poetic license. More important, in a real dream, problem-solving is impossible; there are usually jump-cuts far more Godardian than anything attempted by Nolan; spacetime is much more fungible, if not irrelevant; and crucially, there is a wish, or rather, a congeries of wishes, governing the structure of the dream.

    In Nolan’s movie, the arch dream-thief Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) warns Ariadne (Ellen Page), a young dream architect that he has recruited, never to construct her dreams from personal memories, lest she lose track of the distinction between dreams and reality. In Freud’s understanding, though, dreams are made of nothing but personal memories, and a dreamer always knows that he is dreaming, even though that awareness may not always be a part of the dream. (That sounds more mystifying than it is. Another way to explain it: it's only because what’s going on in the mind is a dream that the managerial part of consciousness allows something so disorganized to happen at all.) Cobb further warns Ariadne that beneath all the layers of constructed dreams lies what he calls limbo—the raw unconscious—where a person could become lost and spend an eternity. Freud, too, thought of the unconscious as existing at the deepest layer of a person’s mind, and he, too, thought it had an eternal character (“In the unconscious nothing can be brought to an end, nothing is past or forgotten”), but Freud believed that every dreamer dropped into exactly such a limbo nightly. The intricacy of Nolan’s action sequences depends on his notion that dreams within dreams exist on separate physical levels and are structurally fragile ways to go deeper into a person’s mind. Freud, however, considered a dream within a dream to be no more than semantic shorthand. He thought a dream within a dream worked more or less the way a double negative does:

    To include something in a “dream within a dream” is . . . equivalent to wishing that the thing described as a dream had never happened. In other words, if a particular event is inserted into a dream as a dream by the dream-work itself, this implies the most decided confirmation of the reality of the event—the strongest affirmation of it.
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