Excerpts from Andy Fitch’s hybrid-genre manuscript, Garageland, a finalist for the 2015 TS Book Prize.
Two years ago, jogging on my basement treadmill in Wyoming while watching The Clash film Rude Boy, I realized I had entered a second phase of American exile (the first phase took place in the Milwaukee suburbs in the 90s). I since have regressed to systematic study of my life’s formative influences (Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud and Roland Barthes on the literary side, The Clash, Joy Division/New Order and The Smiths from music).
I call the trilogy coming out of this personal crisis Garageland. I here include excerpts from the Clash-Nietzsche component (also called “Garageland”) and the Freud-Joy Division/New Order component (entitled “Transmission”). I am working on the third component, focusing on Barthes-The Smiths, this summer, and have provisionally titled it “Panic.”
“Garageland” presents a simultaneous reading-through both of Friedrich Nietzsche’s complete literary corpus and of The Clash’s recorded songbook. Every entry has precisely as many words as there are seconds in a given Clash song. Echoing Matsuo Bashō’s classic haibun fusion of prose flourishes and lyric pauses, each entry gets followed by a haiku-like passage (written outdoors, while hiking, in homage to Nietzsche). The overall manuscript examines what it would mean to read Nietzsche’s diffusive books the way that listeners “read” eclectic pop albums. It probes the philosophical legacy of punk as we move further from punk’s particular historical origins. It tracks a lived (living) history of Nietzsche and The Clash.
“Transmission” explores cognitive and sonic possibilities within the question and the notation. Its main component consists entirely of question-sets directed to one of history’s most consummate questioners, Sigmund Freud. Its secondary, haiku-based component tracks processes of transmission by interlacing Joy Division and New Order lyrics amid a systematic series of domestic (interior) interludes. The overall project seeks to unite/reunite question and answer, text and reader, analyst and patient, mood and song.
The Magnificent Seven
In Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist, Walter Kaufmann claims that any attempt to define his subject’s significance through single-minded juxtaposition (say, to Carlyle, Christ, Dostoyevsky, Emerson, Goethe, Hitler, Kierkegaard, Luther, Thomas Mann—Kaufmann’s list of preceding attempts stretches on) remains “bound to be misleading.” So explain your consistent recourse to The Clash, specifically in relation to Kaufmann’s early chapter “Nietzsche’s Method.” Frustrated by the selective purging through which Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche’s proto-fascist psuedo-scholars shaped a constrictive reception of her brother’s oeuvre, and also by oppositional attempts to essentialize the self-contradicting nature of Nietzsche’s every formulation (most famously in Karl Jaspers’ Nietzsche: An Introduction to the Understanding of his Philosophical Activity), Kaufmann stakes out an emergent existential field in which Nietzsche’s polyphonic style reflects an embodied “‘living through’” of philosophical problems—an impassioned, indefatigably experimental presence confirming the greater unity. Kaufmann’s existentialist rhetoric still loses you, though his description of Nietzsche’s monadological tendency to construct self-sufficient miniatures (simultaneously reflecting back upon each other as well as upon countless cross-disciplinary concerns) always made sense. From the start, you found Nietzsche’s cumulative force to lie in an additive mode of construction, one that posits, in this philosopher’s own terms, not a “rational foundation” of proofs from which all subsequent claims derive, but instead a “typology” of recurrent crystallizations, a descriptive prowess that surveys disparate “subtle feelings of value and differences of value which are alive, grow, beget and perish.” And here, based on your own life until that point, you would picture a successful pop album: proceeding not in accordance with some systematic plan; building its composite significance through dynamic tonal shifts among discrete units; perhaps only complete once given a title and front-cover icon. Rereading Beyond Good and Evil, with its nine distinct parts plus preface and aftersong, you now return to that album metaphor. You sense, as songs, your favorite would be “Epigrams and Interludes” (your least, “Peoples and Fatherlands”). You assume the most productive juxtaposition between Nietzsche’s kaleidoscopic corpus and a Clash album must prioritize Sandinista!. As far as this band ever will depart from the ascetic purity of their eponymous debut, Sandinista!’s athletic eclecticism, its “duration of high feelings,” makes this collection impossible to summarize, even to introduce, though “The Magnificent Seven’s” all-encompassing ramble seems a good place to start. Even this song’s purportedly Marxist critique resists teleological climax, spinning out one discursive collage after another, punctuated by voices of conviction (or its opposite) perhaps, but delivering no conclusive analysis: “A car in the fridge / Or a fridge in the car? / Like cowboys do—in TV land / You lot! What? Don’t stop. Huh?” Most generally, “Magnificent Seven’s” non-sequiturs (“Italian mobster shoots a lobster”) still crack you up, and the song itself offers one big non-sequitur—one of the first hip-hop recordings by a white band, one of few insistent tracks on this meandering triple album. For monadological pulse: obviously, Norman Watt-Roy’s funk-disco bassline, which you barely can detect in the more rocking, unfriendly, monochromatic live performances (these sometimes also lack Micky Gallagher’s cool keyboard). For favorite line to mouth (“mouth” as a verb, because, for you, all music happens in the mouth): “Churning out that boogaloo.” 
Fank, first panting, then spots gold butterfly
clouds, blue, could have been the mountaintops
broken bike reflector where three trails curve
Begin with familiar axiom that for political extremists, bandit gangs, the individual criminal’s conscience, outward pressures promote cohesion. Take those more “severe, abstinent, heroic” figures whom Nietzsche categorizes as “pale atheists, anti-Christians…hectics of the spirit” (punk’s more rigorous precursors), and consider how their iconoclastic professions carry forth puritanical qualities, prompt less a frenetic free-for-all than single-minded faith, some last-bastion monotheistic monopoly on righteousness. Finally, add the Genealogy’s basic methodological assumptions that “cause and origin of a thing and its eventual…employment…lie worlds apart,” that productive social movements derive from “a continuous sign-chain of ever new interpretations and adaptations” (right here you picture Roland Barthes’s enigmatic arrows in Preparation of the Novel), that all great achievements, premised from the start upon perpetual self-overcoming, eventually bring about their own destruction. Amid this three-fold bind, punk faces only ominous possibilities. Punk can watch its ascetic/aesthetic group discipline dissipate as particular bands attain recognition, subsequently question their combative trappings, generate scorn, resentment, shame amid less popular peers. Punk can reinforce its originary gripe, even as the historical context begins to shift, and soon risk self-parody as it reapplies static vocabularies to an evolving scene. Or it can participate in its own cooptation, inadvertently provoking “comedians of this ideal,” opportunistic poseurs adept at exploiting minor semiotic slips until these accumulate into full-scale revaluation—prioritizing spiky haircuts and sneering music videos at the expense of pointed political messaging or liberatory social institutions. Permanent rebels, at least for the starry expanse of this song, Joe and Paul outwit all such prospects: reconvening the group’s original impetus with meteorite-like battle cry; recalibrating their combustive sound to a more subdued, reflective, elegiac form of testimony; reframing their sometimes casually struck defiant pose as sincere engagement with global-justice movements. Lorca-esque bricolage resurfaces amid an impressionist lyric that triumphs (if only) in its resolve not to internalize catastrophic defeat. Most particularly poignant line: “In a glade through the trees I saw my only one.” 
leaves still glistening or dewy in shade
soft pine-needle ground becomes a thought, ends
haze with space curves between strict hilltops
The Crooked Beat
Bass starts this song, then brass, guitar, drums join. Paul first sings of “us” making a midnight run, though soon shifts to describing “they” who fill the tower blocks of his hometown. Paul’s insider/outsider status remains to be determined, perhaps confounded. On the Genealogy of Morals’ first essay considers the battle of Rome against Judea (of an aristocratic “good and bad” versus a plebian “good and evil”) the deadly struggle “inscribed in letters legible across all human history.” Still for punk, Nietzsche’s recurrent distinction between a differential pathos of distance and a democratizing herd mentality seems a bit more pertinent. Does Paul admire his immigrant neighbors, or engage with them? Do they provide everyday, average glimpses of London, or something exotic, exceptional? Subsequent tensions, or “pressures,” in Paul’s Maytal-infused lingo, come to a head as police badges flash and sirens wail, “taking one and all to jail” (including Paul? Does his culminating “Prance! Prance! You want a law to dance?” suggest collective struggle? Detached editorializing? A stepping in and out of that crooked crooked street between projection and participation?). Artists might, as Nietzsche claims, require a prop, and Paul’s might be Jamaica, yet this need not preclude endless overturning of one’s position, especially since “all events in the organic world are a subduing, a becoming master, and all subduing and becoming master involves a fresh interpretation.” The Genealogy’s critique of artistic props, for instance, provides as its example Wagner’s revaluation of Schopenhauer, thereby packing in Nietzsche’s own two favorite points of agonistic reference (props). And you yourself have packed little quotations from Nietzsche as props for decades now, disdaining the inference of big ideas, the construction of overarching theses—the standard academic props. You’ve much preferred, again in the Genealogy’s terms, to avoid envisaging Nietzschean concepts as comprehensive totalities, perceived by the systematizing spectator. You’ve wished to get ensnared, countless times, amid their sentence-level traces, amid tactile pursuits of their promesse de bonheur. You sense some similar, Bolero-like quality to this song, with horns, organs, dripping water, strategically placed “Whoahs!” chiming in to prompt further movement, pushing its however crooked beat forward. Even Paul’s minimalist phrasings (“Take a piece of cloth, a coin for thirst / For the sweat will start to run”) never betray the orator’s tendency to “think in words,” to think always of “himself and his listeners.” Paul, like Topper before him (on this sole album to showcase all Clash voices), thinks in terms of pace, rhythm. In doing so, stepping in and out of this syncopated beat, he can’t help but fulfill the Genealogy’s predominant prescription for a perspective seeing, a perspective “‘knowing’”: “the more affects we allow to speak about one thing, the more eyes, different eyes we…use to observe one thing, the more complete will our ‘concept’ of this thing, our ‘objectivity’ be.” This song goes on, rephrasing itself, providing time and space for a long night out, potentially extended by jail stops, court cases. Mikey Dread opens further interpretive possibilities within that beat, perhaps crying (or you’ve always heard) “It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No…. it’s a dog Weinstein lane.” He concludes the groove calling either “birddog” or “murder.” 
scanning up steep fields smeared wilted yellow flowers
big, hovering bee-shaped flies then seem to sting
rough rock terrains with tree roots take over
Somebody Got Murdered
Mick narrates an elliptical sequence of suppression, oblivion, petty distraction as old guys drink off last night’s crimes, the titillated crowd disperses, the one reflective witness gets left “with a touch.” Joe takes over for that schizoid, subsequently paranoid resident sensing murder happen “down below,” while Topper’s percussive dog Battersea helps blend insistent door-knock drums. Since punk, like pop, so often relies upon the ascetic priest’s art of minor detonations, of deadening, through dosages of affect, some “tormenting secret pain…becoming unendurable,” one waits and waits here for a half-cathartic message. You feel quite comfortable amid such waiting. You mostly get moved when thoughts come slowly. You don’t really assess the accuracy of Nietzsche’s thesis regarding the “bad conscience’s” historical origins, yet do get fixated by his claim that such theses “need to be pondered, lived with, and slept on for a long time.” Parsing this fact of mental-metabolic duration brings back fears (veiny chills) of quick, unsuspected death. You’d want to process the significance of your own murder. To have this possibility stolen, to lose that confident position as one who can absorb anything over time, would erase what you’ve always sensed about yourself, and with that it would be “Goodbye, for keeps, forever.” Here it fits that The Clash wrote “Somebody Got Murdered” for a thriller film. The song retains a decorative quality. Decorative art always has seemed much more profound, prone to prompt reflection on the fragile world you inhabit. That movie’s director (Jack Nitzsche) than skipped this song. Several live clips remain. The 1983 US Festival, with Mick’s stadium-sized chord changes first distinct, then disappointing—though his shrill vocals stay pretty good. The 1981 Sandinista! tour’s Barcelona launch, characteristically intimate, infinitely better, Mick pelted by beer cups, proving himself a real rock star, sturdy, flaming. Topper overturns, overcomes the concluding drums (already you miss that side of Topper, hidden perhaps by his virtuoso versatility on this album). Finally then, return to the album, to track ten’s instantaneous smooth cymbal opening. 
noise from the spider, green, off the ground
leaves’ shadows (spreading trails) look cleaner every day
light in a fence’s latches catches while opening
Lightning Strikes (Not Once but Twice)
For some songs you’d recommend sitting with lyrics once while listening. You can’t imagine doing that and disliking “Lightning Strikes” (except, reasonably, due to the late, loose, overly exuberant “Hey, Chi Man” lines). You consider this revisionary “Magnificent Seven” much more effective than Sandinista!’s subsequent dubs at keeping The Clash a clash, a “quantum of force”—not the fixed, autonomous subject of unreflective grammar, but the propulsive, ever-transformational “driving, willing, effecting” that Nietzsche himself appreciates in Hericlitean lightning metaphors. Genealogy of Morals takes up the popular mistake of separating “lightning from its flash” (of categorizing the former as “‘active’” agent producing the latter) in order to question prevailing conceptions of causality, here with Emersonian aphoristic flair: “‘the doer’ is merely a fiction added to the deed.” And again Nietzsche’s own grammatical constructs, especially the repeated “You will have guessed by now” phrase (often followed by yet another counterintuitive formulation), seem pitched to generate analogous rhetorical sparks, absent any eminent authorial assertion. Yet Nietzsche, of course, does not dwell in the second-person for long, and neither does Joe, here working overtime to meld punk’s distrust of charismatic personhood with hip-hop’s bragging, self-centering flow—all leading to perhaps his most athletic, effervescent performance on record. Conversational convergence (“Look out, look out, old New York / New York’s coming and New York talks”) launches this latest rock-rap ramble, picking up momentum as a sequence of dollar- and perhaps drug-infused movements (“Get out your money, peel a slab / Roll some notes and hail a cab / Drive in church, drive in bank / Drive down Seventh in a tank”) culminates in critique of more constricted, class-bound, old world propositions (“Three to a car Brooklyn Bridge / You won’t get far if you’re privileged / Graffiti Jack sprays in black / An Englishman, can he read it back?”). Still you haven’t reached this song’s midpoint. Punk’s minimalist, nay-saying ethos will dissipate further amid the kaleidoscopic cataloging (“Harlem slum to penthouse block / On every door I already knocked”), amid the effusive reading of Manhattan’s skyline (“Lightning strike [strike] / Old New York / Everything’s light), the hilariously unscannable insertion of arrivé insider’s knowledge (“Just thought I’d mention the new extension that runs down the 59th Street intersection”). Even the timely Tootsie reference finds its way, as does the more timeless reflection on New York friendship with its charming, fortuitous, overstimulated trajectory (“I’ll see y’all when the lightning strike”). Then as for Topper’s funk fluidity: you’ve always imagined that’s him on the phone with W.B.A.I., preceding “Lightning Strikes’s” first beat, impatient, calling in a productive/destructive frenzy, interrupting the low-key broadcast to ask “Can I try and give a message? Hallo?… Let’s have some music now, eh?” 
curved around hot sage scent, orange butterflies, noon
Dad’s ankles soon torn by tan uneven rock
permanent canyon haze (familiar drift) from distant waterfall
Up in Heaven (Not Only Here)
Attempt to justify this masterful song’s more ambient final minute, which utilitarian English critics use to decry its (by extension, Sandinista!’s) slack purposelessness. First, no one denies the urgency of “Up in Heaven’s” sweeping guitar chords, taut rhythms, hard questions starting right away with “Watcha gonna do when the darkness surrounds?” Mick’s retrospective (slightly mythologized) take on his council-flats existence stays moving, critics contend, throughout its impassioned evocation of broken-down lifts, of wind-tilted structures, of Phil Ochs’s gloomy “United Fruit” folk passage “‘Allianza dollars are spent / To raise the towering buildings / For the weary bones of the workers / To go back in the morning.’” You, too, love all that, especially Mick’s subsequent addition “To be strong in the morning”—and then how this whole stanza gets repeated as crumbling towers continue rising, as workers continue working: “It has been said,” Mick keeps reminding us, and “not only here.” Up to this point, broad consensus on a terrific protest song. OK, but based on your current place in life (finally enclosed, almost 40 years later, “within the walls of society and…peace,” with all your more “wild, free, prowling” instincts turned back upon themselves), based on your recent reading (Nietzsche’s cogent condemnation of a resentiment that takes reaction as its fundamental form of action, and yet with this philosopher himself chronically reactive, caustic, paranoid, carried away by fictive, quasi-narcissistic constructs), all protest songs, of whatever political valence, begin to lose traction. You ask yourself what value (in terms of life, of action) “Up in Heaven’s” bizarre punk/pop fusion holds, for precisely which audience. You wonder if Mick’s departure from punk sound, if not punk sentiment, betrays its own escapist anxieties before what Nietzsche describes as the two worst contagions: “great nausea at man,” “great pity for man.” Though then the song just sits there, amid a dense urban block’s closest approximation to silence, with no sonic vistas, no outlet beyond the calming of one’s self-consciousness. And then the music comes back, an extended, resurgent groove that could seem hopelessly corny if it carried less affective/interpretive heft. This song needed that pause, that momentary negation, or you did, not as a form of denying the world, not because it is virtuous to embody “freedom from compulsion, disturbance, noise,” nor because everyone must seek “good air, thin, clear, open, dry…the air of heights,” but simply because such conditions constitute your own best existence, your fairest fruitfulness, your halting chance to recognize, amid humanity’s humble reality estates, not a goal but “only a way, an episode, a bridge, a great promise— ” 
rushing stream sound sticks all brown sticky afternoon
for once seeing into one rustling bush—robin
but dry cricket snaps start pulling apart summer
The Sound of Sinners
Nietzsche’s “Case of Wagner” essay, its clarifying second postscript, further distinguishes between epochs that foster ascending and descending life. Again, Nietzsche’s most basic demarcation contrasts Roman/Renaissance mores (which, through overabundance of strength, help to transfigure, to beautify existence) and Christian value concepts (betraying morbid roots by making the world more pale, more ugly, negating life). Since both perspectives derive from irrevocable physiological facts, it does philosophy little good to proclaim either vantage “‘true’” or “‘untrue.” Accordingly, Nietzsche criticizes Wagner not for adopting any one particular view, but for importing a “noble morality (Icelandic saga…almost its most important document) while mouthing the counterdoctrine…‘gospel of the lowly.’” And needless to say, The Clash’s most eclectic album produces its own contradictory compounds—celebrates such tendencies with this gospel-inflected “Sound of Sinners.” Here you’ve skipped past worthwhile songs (“Corner Soul,” “If Music Could Talk”) to complete “Death or Glory’s” punk-life timeline: first fucking nuns, then subsequently joining the church. Consider, for instance, the frequency with which Nietzsche will restate/reclaim/reenact New Testament narrative in the year to come. Count the number of “No’s” that pepper Joe’s upbeat preaching. Patiently wait, as with “Up in Heaven,” for fading music to resurge, for sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania Tim Curry to make his cameo as fundraising Sunday-service emcee. In all such cases, both Nietzsche and The Clash recognize that we moderns have absorbed “involuntarily in our bodies, values, words, formulas, moralities of opposite descent.” But decadence has progressed, over the intervening century, to the extent that Nietzsche’s prudish class- and race-mixing proscriptions themselves have become time-bound banalities to be resisted. You’d prefer to trace a more cosmopolitan trajectory from Nietzsche’s prodigious scholarship-without-footnotes practice, to W.E.B. Du Bois’ heterogeneous invocations for Souls of Black Folk chapters (“Negro Spiritual,” Schiller, Byron, Swinburne, “Ms. Browning”), to blues singers’ teeming incarnations of shared nicknames and personae, to Virginia Woolf’s interspecies Flush, to Lou Reed’s post-Stonewall Transformer cabaret, to Kraftwerk’s burgeoning Man-Machine, all the way to Joe warning Texas punks he’s about to give them a little Jesus. You question the recent Nietzsche-studies scandal concerning Julian Young’s purported plagiarizing from the exhaustive (again tinged by reactionary tantrums) Curtis Cate biography. You recognize the proprietary problem, yet find it hard to get worked up so long as a fuel of rhetoric rains from the sky, the sea of lava flows down the mountain, the time keeps sweeping us sinners by. 
rocks squeak because of heat it seems
shadow of a hornet lands on itself
ringing ear, chest pains, bike passes, web
Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis
What good comes from “You can’t have any notion…”-type claims?
Could we sometime explore your use of “rule”…which seems to mean “frequent occurrence”?
Performative/defensive/imperative phrasings (“Do not interrupt me at this point by objecting that that is impossible”) soon sound positively insulting…presumptuous in their promise to have cataloged all your audience’s thoughts (“But now I see…you…preparing to overwhelm me with a mass of questions and doubts…. Let us take them all in due order…one after the other…and give them cool consideration…. Is there anything else you want to ask…. If not…I will go on myself”)…projecting categorical limitations onto individuals (real or imagined) become exigent cipher…patronizing (“You do not realize…probably…what a momentous question this is”)…persistently dismissive in ways that only could seem symptomatic…of?
If…immediately following an introduction to the “dynamic view”…I note…let’s say on the two-page spread 68-69…you declaring “No one likes making slips of the tongue”…and I linger on that repeated phrase “slips of the tongue”…then observe you stating “Slips of the tongue are also in a certain sense contagious”…“nevertheless not hard to penetrate”…“not a matter of indifference how he treats his mother-tongue”…“slips of the tongue are contractions and anticipations”…“melt into one another”…“touch…essence of the process”…then see you move on to “slips of the pen”…to “Perhaps we may glean one little further point”…to “extremely common small slips of the pen…contractions and anticipations”…to “A slip of the pen is just as often overlooked by…person responsible as a slip of…tongue”…(“pen is”)…to “An interesting problem attaches to…practical importance of slips of the pen”…to quoting someone (a murderer…no less) on “my experiments on men”…do we not need to adopt the dynamic view of writing…of reading…to concern ourselves directly with “infecting men”…to take solace from fact that “Proof of…particular purpose is no argument against…existence of…opposite…there is room for both”?
Difficulties and First Approaches
Again you argue creative writers use day-dreams to construct hero-driven plots for stories…novels…plays…but could you concisely characterize relations between day-dream and philosophical thinking…scientific reflection…empathic act of analysis?
The Premises and Technique of Interpretation
You pledge to show “our science” as it is (rough…demanding…hesitant)…since only then can we learn the art of working-through resistances…yet just as…when patient offers nothing by way of interpretation…you’d recommend contradicting him…bringing pressures to bear…insisting something must occur…don’t you crave combative response from us…don’t you once more pick a fight with us (“Once before I ventured to tell you that you nourish a deeply rooted faith in undetermined psychical events”)…don’t you need active resistance to prompt your own rhetorical pivots (“You are right…but you are overlooking one factor”)…does our silence so trouble you?
The Manifest Content of Dreams and the Latent Dream-Thoughts
Since dream’s ostensible content doesn’t matter much (already a substitute anyway…with exploratory work best directed toward what has remained unconscious…whence resistance comes)…I’d wanted to ask if you consider your literary mode of representing dream-analysis a failure…a bossy bore…provoking torpor for reader…as I often do…though here the analysis itself fails…so you tell us at this lecture’s end…on purpose?
Why act as if you don’t want to advance “too quickly”…as if one gains nothing that way…as if anticipatory confusions disturb sleep rather than guarding against its disturbance?
The Censorship of Dreams
Strachey points to translational obscurities…sometimes conflating “purposes” and “trends” for instance…so could you then (even as you go on externalizing…exorcizing and/or containing our resistance…even as you appeal to self-evident yet often denied evils in the social…the wartime world)…either in German or English…point to equivalent ambiguities emanating from the word “introduce” (as in Introductory Lectures)?
Symbolism in Dreams
Our most typical representation of “the human figure as a whole” remains the house (how about a dog in a house?)?
The Dream Work
If “the ‘creative’ imagination” does not invent…only can combine…does intellectual thought do any different (do we read for this reason?)…does psycho-analysis (don’t you get testy without patients…without audience?)…won’t you ever thoroughly describe secondary processing?
Some Analyses of Sample Dreams
Couldn’t you footnote this talk?
The Archaic Features and Infantilism of Dreams
Had you really already made such points about primary hatred towards one’s siblings…“unmistakable inclination to disavowal”?
I appreciate the ingenious defenses of wish-fulfillment theory (that dreams producing anxious affect nonetheless contain desirable content…in fact epitomize wish-fulfillment mechanisms delivering demanded outcome regardless of whether they alter the atmospheric tone…or that…when wish-fulfillment seems to distress the dreamer…this just confirms that dreamer and wisher “can only be compared to an amalgamation of two separate people” prepared to punish each other…or that anxiety can substitute for censorship…thereby allowing consciously repudiated wish to occur under cover of bad feeling)…but don’t we still encounter some circular argument (authentic dream discloses wish-fulfillment…lack of wish-fulfillment suggests incomplete interpretation) cloaked by strikingly weak feints/synopses/extensions (“I can understand all this very clearly…but…cannot tell whether I have succeeded in making it intelligible to you”…“Once again you have only heard something incomplete…. But is it not hopeful to reflect that this knowing has a continuation…which either we ourselves or other people will bring to light?”) carried forth through incessant return to three-theater-tickets-for-1-florin-50 dream…as if suggesting your own performance anxiety…your scopophiliac preference to sit…stare out…keep studying?
Uncertainties and Criticisms
Amid defeatist phrasings (“on the contrary ambiguity or indefiniteness is a characteristic of dreams which was necessarily to be anticipated”) and distracting Chinoiseries (An extremely ancient language and script…still used by four hundred million people…”)…does it seem fair to respond that yes…all “primitive” systems of expression…dreams included…produce points of uncertainty…for which one shouldn’t blame their interpreters…though did you then need to base numerous psycho-analytic applications off such flimsy premises?
Psycho-Analysis and Psychiatry
How did we arrive at the offense you take when patients don’t shut office doors…the jealous wife in love with son-in-law…the strained analogy between bans on anatomists dissecting corpses and broader social aversion to “sound knowledge of…deeper-lying unconscious processes in mental life”?
The Sense of Symptoms
Obsessional neuroses again get called “crazy”…perhaps may seem so…but a pendulum clock’s regular ticking “never” disturbs sleep (thrilling…by the way…to read briskly once more of neurotic symptoms/obsessive acts…though then that unnecessary Jung takedown?)?
Fixation to Traumas—The Unconscious
Didn’t you recently state you’d given Breuer too much credit (or…how much does therapy consist in waiting for patient to remember…or if you tell people “more on every point than [they] can at the moment make use of”…and if we consider trauma “experience which within…short period of time presents the mind with an increase of stimulus too powerful to be dealt with…the normal way”…then why traumatize student…patient…reader?)?
Resistance and Repression
Analysis’s fundamental rule of free association…this demand that patient “follow only the surface of…consciousness and…leave aside any criticism”…always has seemed impossible for all but the most deft…self-reflective/self-accepting experts (perhaps like reading…probably a waste of time in almost every circumstance)…and you further confirm this fact by detailing diversified modes of evasion patients (readers?) pursue…and here I gain some purchase on the author’s precarious position (appealing…at best…to a critical faculty which never becomes an “independent function…to be respected as such”…but rather “the tool of…emotional attitudes…directed by resistance”)…on your occasionally desperate…transference-craving constructions (“I should like to have you admit that…”)…and given your canny unconscious/preconscious/conscious metaphor from the photographic process (which “begins as a negative and only becomes a picture after being turned into a positive…. Not every negative…however…necessarily becomes a positive…nor is it necessary that every unconscious mental process should turn into a conscious one”)…do you deliberately leave a generative gap at this talk’s center…in the weird claim that you know these very concepts “are crude…and…more than that…they are incorrect…and…I already have something better to take their place”?
The Sexual Life of Human Beings
If “Sucking at…mother’s breast is…starting-point of the whole of sexual life”…can we really consider auto-eroticism our primary sexual experience…if infant cannot differentiate between two bodies…do active/passive processes truly get combined (followed by two tangents…one errant…“The process of a girl’s becoming a woman depends very much on…clitoris passing on this sensitivity to…vaginal orifice in good time and completely”…one insightful…for me at least…“The sense of being defrauded of…truth by…grown-ups contributes much to making children feel lonely and to developing their independence”)?
The Development of the Libido and the Sexual Organizations
The libido lecture starts by greeting only “Gentlemen” (instead of your typical “Ladies and Gentlemen”)…states “I am under the impression…I have not succeeded in bringing home…quite convincingly the importance of the perversions for our view of sexuality”…because of something some student said to you…because preceding talks sounded unclear in your head…shall we call these lectures auto-erotic (and then…quite separately…the latency period might not occur…remains a cultural phenomenon…also many people orgasm just from kissing?)?
Some Thoughts on Development and Regression—Aetiology
Given the clarifying/colonizing analogy for circumstantial ego development and predisposing instinctual fixation (“Consider that…if a people…in movement has left strong detachments behind at…stopping-places on its migration…it is likely that…more advanced parties…will retreat to these stopping-places if they…come up against a superior enemy…. But they will also be in…greater danger of being defeated the more of their number they have left behind”)…could we account for my whole (comfortable) life…even for you…just when I here get bored…stating “Discussions like this…Gentlemen…are bound to become somewhat arid”?
The Paths to the Formation of Symptoms
Did any listening students know you got Darwin wrong (fading on these second-year…written rather than impromptu/imagined lectures…sensing how effective your aesthetically motivated departures from verbatim text had been…missing that more productive mode of equating phantasy and reality…preferring the primal pedagogical scene you once permitted yourself)?
The Common Neurotic State
Will breezes make me feel down all day…just since I sweated a bit this morning?
Could I point out…while we still have space…two types of lines that make pieces memorable…
“A child is frightened of a strange face because he is adjusted to the sight of a familiar and beloved figure…ultimately…his mother” (just what I’d thought all day wandering this ski town)
“weakness of the defensive system in phobias lies…of course…in…fact that the fortress which has been so greatly strengthened towards the outside remains accessible from within” (explains my whole “career”)?
The Libido Theory and Narcissism
As my libido further withdraws from this sprawling text…resumes familiar form of self-attachment…as words become opaque…as concentration drifts…why does the pace slacken…don’t I ever want to finish (the distillation of 10 minutes staring at this sentence…“A large part…rather…is played by other phenomena…which are derived from efforts of…libido to attain objects once more and which thus correspond to an attempt at restitution or recovery” while considering whether I should admit how much I like that phrase “dementia praecox”…so an ego psychology “not…based on…data of our self-perceptions but…as in…case of the libido…on…analysis of disturbances and disruptions of the ego”)…though then you reference your failed “paraphrenia” coinage again…pivoting to more specific postulates on paranoia persecutoria…and my amoeba-esque protrusions project back outward…so I’m curious…could you (sorry) once more justify this mode of argument by anecdote (so what if one particular woman patient who seemed paranoid in relation to male companion had concealed preceding female attachments?)?
“Causal therapy” would take the form of chemical inducement (“Supposing…now…that it was possible…to increase or diminish…quantity of libido present at a given time or to strengthen one instinct at…cost of another…this then would be…causal therapy in the true sense of the word…for which our analysis would have carried out…indispensible preliminary work of reconnaissance”) you state throughout your writings…so why haven’t we heard you (citing others instead)?
As you emphasize quantitative…not qualitative…difference between neurotic and normal behavior (the amount of energy required by a repressive mechanism determining the dysfunctional)…as my mind shifts to numbers…I note 28 lectures…Fleissian?
cloudy now as friends finish packing
double socks deep into June (inside)
I’ve been waiting for a guide
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andy Fitch’s most recent books are Sixty Morning Walks, Sixty Morning Talks and (with Amaranth Borsuk) As We Know. Ugly Duckling soon will release his ebook Sixty Morning Walks. With Cristiana Baik, he is currently assembling the Letter Machine Book of Interviews. He has dialogic books forthcoming from 1913 Press and Nightboat Books. He edits Essay Press and teaches in the University of Wyoming’s MFA program.