Freud and Me

I wrote the dissertation for my PhD in the first half of 1993 while on OSP leave (sabbatical).

This was immediately after I had coordinated (taught) a unit called Language Culture and the Unconscious in 1991 and 1992. As a result of this, I enrolled for a PhD under the supervision of Bob Hodge, who had conceived the unit. The dissertation was based on the structure and thought of said unit, and took a positive view of the continuing usefulness of some of Freud’s ideas – in fact that was its thesis.

During those same years I was in contact with a close friend who happened to  be a liberal feminist psychiatrist, Lois Achimovich, and she was continually making me aware of Freud’s feet of clay, as exposed by writers like Jeffrey Masson and Frederick Crews. As a result of her influence the dissertation came to be richer and more complex.

In two lectures I gave in 1994, I took the opportunity to say as succinctly as I could what I thought about the ‘seduction hypothesis’ in a lecture on Freud given to unsuspecting students in their first university course, the Foundation unit Structure, Thought and Reality, in April 1994. The next month, I gave a related but more complex lecture to the more sophisticated students of Literary Theory 1, which examined the way in which the ‘structure’ required by Freud for his pseudo-science of psychoanalysis meant that what he ‘thought’ came into conflict with the ‘reality’ of what he was hearing in his consulting-room. With the result that … he denied his patients’ reality.

In a 2000 publication, ‘Mind and culture: Freud and Slovakia‘, which also drew directly on my dissertation, my critique of  Freud suggested that he relied to a great extent on analogy as a rhetorical strategy, rather than, say, logic – or demonstration.

Yet another cliche

‘It is what it is’ seems to be the latest no-meaning utterance to be added to all the others.

If a speaker on the radio begins a sentence with ‘So …’ I turn it off — which means I don’t listen to the radio much.

The gestural equivalent to a no-meaning statement  is the ‘weather presenter’s gesture’, which involves beginning with the hands together in front of the body, and then opening them both out, while keeping the elbows in, and then returning the hands to the centre – before doing it again a moment later.  It has never meant anything – and yet it is done by everyone on TV.  It seemed to me that weather presenters started it, but it’s not important, as it’s done by everyone now.  The business news guys are strong supporters of this meaningless gesture.

Bateleur Appears

I’ve started to compile cryptic crosswords again – like those in the Times and the Guardian – having acquired Crossword Compiler and a way to run it in a virtual box on this iMac.

My new setter name is Bateleur – after this guy  from the Marseille Tarot >

Radio Alphabet

I decided to memorise the ‘radio alphabet’ (it has a longer name), partly for the exercise. This entry was intended to be some thoughts about memorisation, but the more I noticed the thematic connexions between the names of the letters, the more I focussed on this one aspect of memorisation.

There is an American theme running through most of the names, and more specifically films, and even more specifically war (films).

Alfa is an unpromising start. It’s just the first letter of the Greek alphabet, alpha.
Bravo.  Rio Bravo, John Wayne.
Charlie. Checkpoint Charlie was on the Berlin Wall. (I realise that’s circular.)
Delta. Um … Apocalpyse Now? There must be a film about a river delta.
Echo. Blank.
Foxtrot. Fred Astaire …
Golf. Bob Hope … Caddy Shack.
Hotel. Grand Hotel, among many others.
India. Song of India.
Juliet. Plus Romeo.
Kilo. 12 Grams?
Lima. Blank.
Mike. Michaels Douglas, Keaton …
November. The Hunt for Red October? (But there are quite a few films with November in the title: The November Man (2014) is one.
Oscar. Need I say more?
Papa. An odd one. A childish word.
Quebec. Blank.
Romeo. Plus Juliet.
Sierra. High Sierra. John Wayne again? (Actually it was Humphrey Bogart, miscast.)
Tango. Last Tango in Paris. By Bertolucci, but Brando’s in it.
Uniform. All war films.
Victory. All war films.
Whiskey. Most American films.
Xray. Blank.
Yankee. Most Americans.
Zulu. A British war, but directed by an American.


Language usage is getting worse all around us, and especially in Facebook. But my real indicator is ABC radio. Yesterday a presenter (on Background Briefing) referred to an international incident which involved a ‘contingency’ of soldiers. At least that’s a new one.