Dog's Dinner

"You're not loved because you're lovable, you're lovable 'cause you're loved."

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Sigmund Freud

Just finished Civilization and its Discontents, the probably deservedly maligned (by Bruno Bettelheim) translation of Freud’s Das Unbehagen in der Kultur (according to Bettelheim a better translation of the title would be “The Uneasiness Inherent in Culture;” but in fact the problems in translation, given Bettelheim’s claims for Dr. Freud’s easygoing prose style, seem to extend far beyond the title; unfortunately my tattered paperback is one of those classic editions which ignore entirely the question of translatorhood), but nonetheless revelatory. Years ago Telly Savalas was supposed to star in a biopic of Freud (mercifully this came to nought, though I highly recommend John Huston’s Freud [Freud! The Movie!] starring the post-accident Montgomery Clift, a beautiful monument to the miraculous genesis of the not-unproblematic project of psychoanalysis) and told an interviewer that he was preparing to portray “a man worse than Hitler or Stalin.” Hmmm. An argument can be made for certain unintended malign effects in the culture, something I would like to explore in later posts, but in any case, as we approach the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I was struck by the following:

Thus we recognize that a country has attained a high level of civilization when we find that everything in it that can be helpful in exploiting the earth for man’s benefit and in protecting him against nature—everything, in short, that is useful to him—is cultivated and effectively protected. In such a country the course of rivers which threaten to overflow their banks is regulated, their waters guided through canals to places where they are needed...


At 8:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is useful to try everything in practise anyway and I like that here it's always possible to find something new. :)


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