OCCASIONAL COMMENTS ON PSCHO-ANALYTIC MATTERS + CONTIBUTIONS fromMICHAEL ROLOFF Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society this LYNX will LEAP you to all my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS: "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben]

Thursday, March 30, 2017


 A Patient’s Experience of his Analyses By Michael Roloff This excursus seeks to explore, from an analysand’s perspective, the transactions between analyst and patient. KEYWORDS: Patient-analyst interaction; dreams as communications; analysis of the analysis; second analysis. -+ -- “La Vida est un sueno,” Calderon “The gradual passage of time [Lange Weile] is the Dream Bird that Hatches the Egg of Experience.” Walter Benjamin, from the essay on Leskov, On the Writing of Fairy Tales. [1] What brought me into analysis? I had always been intrigued - not that the patients I knew [1], some of them graduates, proved enticing, mostly the opposite, to engage in what seemed like a mysterious undertaking, and whose mysteries, the more deeply familiar I became with them, become, in important respects, no less so, no matter that you seem able to account for them in technical and conceptual terms. For one year I had even lived with someone who had returned to New York to enter analysis full time about the time she moved in with me. We did not talk about her analysis, she neither reported what transpired in the sessions, nor did I make inquiry. I had a vague sense that her being in analysis with a man constituted a triangle of some kind; however, I had far more serious immediate triangular competitors to worry about with the then very avant-garde girl. [3] I had edited books in the field, Tilman Moser’s Years of Apprenticeship on the Couch, [4] whose revelations - if not directly opposed as contrary to the ethos of the discipline in the late 70s, went, best as I recall, unappreciated except by one member of the Southern California Chapter; and I got a vague sense of the discipline as being rife with sectarianism, which I knew other disciplines to stop being once certain fundamental matters were settled; as well as Ernest Bornemann’s Psychoanalysis of Money. [5] Yet I had not read any of the fundamental texts, such as the Interpretation of Dreams or The Ego and its Mechanisms of Defense or, except in college, any Freud aside Civilization and its Discontents and perhaps a few of his case histories; not that I had not been an avid but helter-skelter reader of lots of matters psychological since my highschool days. While I was an editor someone had tried to prevail on me to publish a Hans Kohut Reader, it was the same person who would button hole me at lampposts about “object relations” – as though I knew what he was raving about! – texts that seemed obscure at the time. I was living in New York and so was exposed to matters analytic. The concepts were concepts, upon the experience they acquired the weight of experience; without the weight of experience they would have remained mere concepts. I only learn from my wounds. Now that I have a fair amount of the experience I sometimes feel uneasy about wanting to confine it within concepts. But I have little choice, don’t I? At the time I entered analysis, I was wondering about my judgment, especially about most of the people I became involved with, the chances I was taking, my over-optimism, my ability to do "everything on my own" - that is how I would put it then and still do now except for the proviso that my doubts could not have been better founded; the sense of apprehension was vague, but the consequences of my misjudgments, that much I knew, required safety; a certain kind of revolutionary life was taking its toll. Once I reached my decision, and decisively so, I contacted an author whose dissertation on stage fright I was going to help edit into a more accessible book, a manuscript it appears I understood. This man, a candidate, who seemed frighteningly deferential to the discipline, said to give someone by the name of Dr. Eissler a call. While dropping off a manuscript which we could not publish, a possibly prescient editor at this other publishing house, just happened to slip me a copy of Janet Malcom’s The Impossible Profession – that indeed proved intriguing. [6] Given long periods in early childhood spent under protective custody in a considerable variety of spacious rooms with high ceilings, sometimes filled with shelves upon shelves of books, fairy tales and sagas interesting me especially, Dr. Kurt Eissler's sitting room proved instantly attractive. The man was also of the height, age and courtesy that elicited European childhood memories. At our second meeting Dr. Eissler mentioned that, unfortunately, he always had a hard time remembering what people, under these circumstances, had said the first time around. Dutifully – a bit puzzled and annoyed, sitting en face - I recounted what I thought was pretty much the same family saga. Who knows whether my slight annoyance was what altered the telling? - Perhaps Dr. Eissler kept notes. This being my first serious conversation with an analyst [excepting the one who made a reluctant draftee into 4 F for sleepwalking in his late teens; and who, after hearing me out, pronounced me not all that incorrectly a fantast], who was I [there was one problem right there, one of them, anyhow] to pipe up in surprise - courtesy, too, which inhibition certainly was not always evident in my dreams; a certain over passivity, too no doubt. At the end of the second meeting, Dr. E. stated that there "was a lot there," to which statement - ominous had it come from an oncologist - I hadn't the faintest what to reply, though I could have asked for enumeration: not that, if the enumeration had been spelled out in terms with which I am now familiar, would have meant anything at all to me: borderline maybe, though that analytically so lazy, self-satisfied term had an entirely different significance for me then. [7] Yet how right Dr. E. was in retrospect, and what did I want “man or woman, dog or elephant” - it is good to remember that Joseph Haydn wrote his Surprise Symphony for his sleepy Austrian audiences with an occasional drum roll. I said I wanted a man, thoroughly experienced, about his age, which meant about thirty years my senior, and what about him - my annoyance of an hour ago apparently forgotten – “couldn’t you take me on?” Dr. E. averred that he only treated adolescents, whereupon I failed to say, for example, that a recent girlfriend insisted that I was really Peter Pan; or: “I will prove to you how much of an adolescent I am” - and, later, when I began my real reading in the field - I appreciated Dr. Eissler's work: yes, he would have managed that part of me very well; how he would have dealt with the part of me that since a very young age was as ancient as he, is another matter. He said once he had found someone he would give me a call. Having noticed in Dr. E.'s generous sitting room titles by an author whose work I published and another of whose masterpieces I was about to translate, I seized the opportunity to redress the conversational imbalance by making inquiry of my own. Dr. E. mentioned that he didn't cotton to Peter Handke – it was the early work - as I could understand once I read his writings and became familiar with his origins and tastes; whereas I shared his, he did not share my extension of them, but his so frankly expressed absence of a possibly shared interest then made it easier to forego this preferred high-ceilinged, literate venue with the spell that my grandfather cast on him from the past, telescoped though the age, by then, was roughly by half! The discovery of the significance of what is called “screen hungry” lay well ahead of me. Within the week Dr. E. called, to say that his first choice was over-booked, his second a man, experienced, not his age, who however knew German. With my then firmly held notion, however I had arrived at it, that analysis meant a near total preoccupation with one’s childhood, I knew the time would come when the relationship would have to be conducted in the language of childhood or, for the least, that the analyst needed to understand German, if not Plattdeutsch [Lowland German], which is like Nederlansk [Dutch], akin to Old English and a derivative of Gothic. I sensed this without understanding anything of regression. I had a notion, however acquired, that analysis involved an archeological exploration. Dr. E. also said during that telephone conversation, and the emphasis he put on the word was not as I had heard it before: “Well, we just have to make another compromise.” That was not a word I particularly liked, but one that I had never come on in reference to anything having to do with psychoanalysis, no matter that, in relationship with, for example, the partners at the publishing firm I invariably tried to find a fair way of splitting the differences; or, more typically, giving up half to get one real half for myself. Meanwhile, of course, I have a very different appreciation of what constitutes compromise than I did then, especially of the compromises that are reached in the strata where dreams are formed, tense as those, too, may be. Not that I had not the opportunity to say that I was not in the business of compromises when it came to my psyche before Dr. E. mentioned that I ought to send him a postcard down the line and let him know what I thought of Dr. X; he wasn't really sure about him. Far more confused, then, than however I may be now, I - with physicians in his family background and who had known quite a few physicians in my life, to all of whom, except for the occasional painful or mistaken moment, I had had a positive relationship, a me who felt that writer physicians were the best writers, and who had considered becoming a physician myself - had certainly never been referred to a doctor by a doctor about whom the good doctor had his doubts. But if the purpose of the suggestion was to put a sometimes extremely nonchalant me on an alert, an alert a preferably also sleepy me did not want to be in, that purpose, as well as the puzzlement introduced by the “second take,” to use a term from the recording industry, could not have been better served. I sent Dr. E. his postcard about the time that Dr. X announced to a baffled me that the “transference” had set in. I might [again] have asked Dr. X, what he was talking about, to me who, by then, had been talking away on the couch for some months. The word rapport I would have understood. “Yes, best as I can tell, he seems o.k.” But how and who was I to assess an analyst, as compared to someone who botched an operation? As to finding Dr. X to be o.k.: more on that anon. One matter that Dr. E. handled with seemingly greater aplomb was the question of money. Asking him at the end of the second hour how much I owed, he replied, “Oh, I never really know how much to charge for this kind of consultation,” which saying once again nonplussed someone who had paid fair sums to two fine European physicians during a twenty year period in New York, and who knew about set rates. However, the sum that, on some thought, I found fair recompense for these two hours, then became the sum set by Dr. X, obviating need for any haggling between us, an elegance that I, with a certain, typically European, certainly also class-based, distaste of talking about money, much liked. However, the sum that I – who had a thing about being “fair,” which automatic response, on later reflection, I concluded I had learned from my mother who indeed had always been as fair as she could be and had suffered the consequences – then decided was fair recompense for the two hours spent with Dr. E. was less than what I could initially afford and than the average going rate in N.Y. at that time; and it was less for the very reason that I found Dr. E., as a physician, odd; and so, had I not had a thing about being fair I might even have sent him considerably less for those two hours. By colluding with Dr. E. in arriving at this figure [I happen to be the not that unusual person who detests it if people he knows are speaking about him behind his back, and then are not up front to me about what they have said] all for the salutary sake of not interposing the hurdle of haggling at the opening of the race, much appreciated as that happened to be in my case, Dr. X was depriving himself. For all that Dr. E. knew, I - the co-publisher of a small firm - might be privately wealthy; the ambiguous mode of my then usual combo of jeans & Brooks Brother’s herringbone jacket, was not susceptible of immediate interpretation, not that this person, who had explored the heights and the bowels of NY during the twenty years I had spent there, could not have enlightened him if he had asked. At any event, the aborted opportunity to discuss the fee, and matters relating to money, and what that might reveal, obviated anything but this one chancy peek – into an apparent realm of agreeability - into that so very revelatory realm. Moreover, the maneuver of establishing a sum by fiat, as it were, infantalized me, taking this decision out of my hands and the realm of discussion. Not that I could not have piped up – but I was getting a good deal, my analyst was coming in on the cheap! However, I regret not pointing out, at the time that I was so agreeable, that I really wanted to pay the average going rate. Nor that the time wouldn’t come when the fee that I myself had accepted proved a real burden, and that I discovered that some occasional ways of being generous covered up an occasional niggardliness, when the pocket book became tight, that did not fit at all with my self-image! It could be said that the two parties, analyst and analysand, on the once, were entering a thicket of assumptions, which of course could be cleared up. I may have been far more na├»ve in the early 80s than I am now, but however sleepy or head in the clouds I may have appeared, I was not a complete dummy. It is my guess that maneuvers of the kind, even the last that Dr. E. worked on me, have a deleterious consequence for the reputation of the profession. There is a fine saying by Alfred Bion, to the effect that the encounter of any two persons is like that of two storms: so very much – or does not - come into play, as it so evidently did immediately in Dr. E.’s and my weather systems, with consequences for the latitudes that Dr. X and I would travel together. Counter-transference existed before it was called that and is a two way street, or as the case may be, stomach. To take unfair advantage of the power of insight that the analyst enjoys on first encounter in the dyadic relationship is bound to be disadvantageous to the treatment, as it is to any serious relationship. On the other hand, both sides can always put all cards on the table at any time. # After talking to Dr. X en face for eight sessions at a kind of beehive or apartment complex filled with shoe boxes full of analysts [which, moreunder - in lieu of moreover - housed the office of a nattering, delinquent author of mine, a would-be analyst who had infiltrated the complex’s basement; and who, at some point served nicely, in a dream, as a heavily overdetermined day-residue for “the bad analyst”! - “Yes, right here, in your basement. Could I ever tell you stories! Funnee!”], Dr. X allowed that "I didn't understand my story," an assessment with which I had no quarrel since I wasn't even sure that I needed to have a story, story teller though I was, preferring to tell everything, including this communication, mostly in story form, but which assessment, in retrospect, now that I know how comparatively complicated a story it may be, I emphatically endorse - and so why didn't I lie down on the couch? And after promptly doing so, I well recall the sound of surprise emanating behind me the first time I - who had no idea patients can be reluctant to submit to the couch – lay, oh so eagerly down on the couch: no, not to fall asleep - as a recently discussed case of a wonderful safety-and rest-seeking patient did - but for the adventure to begin; an adventure on the couch, what dangers could it pose, particularly to someone like me who loved recumbence? Fly me to the moon! And, in no end of instances, the little noises, guffaws, sounds of surprise, groans of despair or the laughter emanating from behind me were as important as Dr. X’s interpretations; if only for reasons of maintaining some spontaneous living contact within what, at times certainly, seemed like going down four thousand feet into the Guaymas Trench in a bathysphere - something that I, whose dream metaphors were drenched with maritime imagery and who had spent time at sea, would actually do about ten years later in that kind of utter slightly rustling stillness, child’s play compared to an analysis, nor in the instance of that adventure entirely by my lonely self; although, with time, and in some many respects entirely egotistical, I began to have an inkling that the experiment was a mutual one, that we were in the bathysphere together, as I would be in the future with a different kind of expert whose attention, however, hovered on very different kind of exotic fauna and flora and possible difficulties, at 4,000 feet under sea. However, for long stretches, during the analysis, I became most, if not too, comfortable on the refugio couch; there turned out to be an analyzable highly egotistical twist to that, too. During another, very long stretch, the couch turned into a rack, which a tad of masochism can make bearable, as can a touch of residual steeliness; curiosity, and love – since that was not to be had in that situation – stubbornly transformed into the love of understanding, however, being, in my instance, one of the chief motivators to seeing the process, ultimately, through most of its viscous and obscure mediaeval periods. Freud gave as reason for his preference of having patients on the couch that he did not like to stare them in the face for long periods of time, which makes a kind of perfect “natural” sense, although he of course knew already about regression from Hughling Jackson well before, if that is what it takes to know that people relax and regress and are more open, usually, once they are recumbent. Freud makes no comment as to the patient’s preference and what effects that may have on the treatment; nor, best I know, how that changed emphasis from the sense of sight to that of hearing - the first sense to develop intrauterine – alters the nature of the relationship between analyst and analysand. Bertram Lewis’ notion of the “dream screen” of course was not yet the succinct explanatory model for the state I would enter. - I, for one, departed the first analysis under the impression that I had absorbed Dr. X’s ear - I could listen so well into myself, especially into the well-springs of my dreams; with further travels, with a different guide, ahead of me. # The first two weeks’ eight sessions with Dr. X - and never again, except for those instantly formalizing arrivals and leavings at which, turning around for that last look, I caught sight 

Sunday, March 5, 2017


 Dear Professor Dennett,

Dear Professor Dennett,
you cannot imagine my surprise,

the surprise of the once

I will have the son of an OSS father know,

 immedidate post-WW-II

“Pet of the Bremen OSS”

[and fine hard drinking and dancing fellows they all were!]

 at coming on Professor Nagel’s review of your work in the NYRB 
and discovering that you claim that human [thus all kinds of mammalian consciousness, including my dreaming hunting dog’s] is a delusion - and not just, perhaps, a misnomer.

How is that feasible in the instance of someone who performs such a fine two-step process prior to reaching a decision, knowing, it seems, that he may have missed one or the other element that ought to have been part of his consideration, who perhaps factors in the inevitability of such a mishap since he appears to acknowledge the existence of an unconscious - no matter whether your concept, of what I regard a truly vast realm, coincides with mine.

Why oh why deny consciousness when it can be shown to operate in dreams while part of us is asleep & unconscious, say in the form of what is termed “secondary revision” , one of the last if not the last step in the dreamwork

But perhaps I am missing something,

it would not be the first time.

With kind regards nonetheless

Michael Roloff


Dear Professor Nagel,

I suspect that my suggestion that consciousness, and its various manifestations, is an essential necessity, a necessity for minds to function and be able to think in the many ways that mind and mind bodies think or think they think, also from a  developmental perspective, and therefore is no more of an illusion or less than other mental acts must be a position you have encountered previously. About Mr. Bennett’s approach Nietzche commented that “we are lived” is really all that needs to be said, and the good man ought not to have wasted his mind, and zillions of interesting observations about the innumerable being being lived can be made, including their mental functioning. 

One feature of human minds is that they have consciences, which implies that there must be a consciousness to produce a conscience, whatever it is that makes me feel guilty, makes me aware of that guilt, deserves the name consciousness within  the language game that we are a part of. Conscience even operates within dreams as most obviously demonstrated by the dream feature of “secondary revision” where an element of the dream is altered at the final stage of the dreamwork, to make it more fitting appropriate to the conscience, to the lying superego and its vanities and fears of pain! That all this has an electro-chemical and biological parallel is proved I suppose most definitely by psychosomatic events. There also exist fine and useful concepts as “pre-conscious” where you sense matters becoming conscious, which sometimes get suppressed or repressed again by the feature called denial or “attack on linking.”

Alas for poor Bennett, a wasted life, like certain theologians, brilliance wasted on a dead star.

Sincerely, Michael Roloff

Friday, May 15, 2015


Awakened in the middle of the night, lightning flashes, thunder, two simultaneous claps, the roar of air planes, I rear up in bed. window glass shatters all around. I let go of the Steif Monkey, leap out of bed, rush to the window that looks out on the woods, open its two panels, broken shards lying all around, and hear the German Shepherd dog Mara yowling hysterically in her enclosure, a yowling that becomes more and more high pitched, a whimpering and then ceases, throttled. The roar of planes disappears in a north-westerly direction.
It takes me a long time to fall back asleep, hugging the stuffed monkey. I awake early, earlier than anyone else, I sneak down the staircase and walk out onto the veranda and notice that the glass of the large windows and the veranda door has shattered, too, and that the shattered glass, mingled with dewdrops, looks like tear drops in flower heads, and I wipe the sleep out of my eyes. Walking out to Mara’s Zwinger [enforcer] enclosure/ pound, on a section of the lawn invisible from the veranda - a square 100 by 100 foot firtree shaded area, which bears the name “croquet” playing ground - there is the frightful sight of Mara hanging slackly by her collar from the highest wire. Klinner, our foreman, another early bird, comes by about the same time and tells me that two bombs have fallen near the riding rink, leaving two craters, "like graves" he said, right next to each other. The story went, so Klinner said, that the British bombers were afraid to actually penetrate the air-space over Bremen, which was defended by dirigibles with razor wire sharp enough to cut a bomber wings, which is why they dropped their bombs at "the outskirts of town.” He proceeds to cut down Mara and deposits her in his wheelbarrow. Klinner most times is with his wheelbarrow, a rake and a spade. He is dressed neatly, as always, knickerbokker pants, metal clips to keep their catching in his bicycle chain, a visored cap.
The above account pretty much is my recollection – one of the very few from what I call my “Expulsion from Paradise” - in Spring 1941. As compared to the first screen memory - where I can’t tell whether it is also a perfect memory, re-arranged so as to create a “likely story,” a secondary revision in time - in this instance I realize that memory has edited the events, compounded them and rearranged them. The person I would like to call b a different angel's name but must call "I" - since I am indeed dissociated from him not only by time and space but by fallible memory - was indeed wakened by two bombs that fell near simultaneously about 100 yards off in the Fir Place woods, during what I thought was the first bombing attack on Bremen
which first attack actually occurred a few months earlier, on January 3. The British had dropped leaflets in September of 1939. Altogether, appr. 1,000,000 bombs were dropped, resulting in 75,000 wounded & 4000 death during the course of appr. 175 attacks! In other words, Bremen, like most German and many European cities, was a good place to get away from. The estate was not bombed again, however upon my return three years later bombing attacks became near daily events and a nearby – five miles off - much-sought-after target, were the above-ground bunkers in Blumenthal (Flowervalley) where submarines were constructed. The fir forest started to look like a Chistmas tree bedecked with tinsel that was meant to distract the radar, and aluminum beer kegs were put up at every street corner and emitted the kind of fog that in fact was typical of lowland weather. Thousands of squirrels were on the loose nipping of the the tips of fir branches? No, ack-ack splinters covered the fir forest and became collector's items; most intriguing were the aluminum shard from tracer shells from the night attacks.


The flashes of two 500 pound bombs exploding on the ground one hundred yards away cannot be seen through 100 yards of thick fir forest – that was either a fantasy that occurred at the moment that I heard the bombs detonate; or a subsequent construction; perhaps the sound of thunder elicited a hallucinated lightning flash in my mind. By the time this then goodified little boy – either still clutching or not his toy monkey - reaches the shattered window of his second floor room and opens the window and looks out the dog's yowling may have ceased (although the sound of animals screaming becomes part of my interior sound landscape after I possibly merely hallucinate the sound of animals screaming during a visit to Berlin when the Berlin zoo is bombed). Something in me was I imagine appropriately hysterical as I listened to the sounds of bombers disappearing in a north-westerly direction. The idea that Mara had committed suicide must have been either an instant projection at the sight of the dead dog hanging slackly, by its collar, from the top of its fenced enclosure, or a backward projection of my self-direccted fury at being packed off, perhaps that very same day, on my three year travel with the hated Ms. No.
Thus fantasy has added its components.
The terrified hysterical shepherd dog indeed strangled herself with her collar at an upper part of the fence of her enclosure [The Zwinger] but “Enforcer” also referred to my governess whose orders, whose numerous “nos” elicited my resistance and fury; say, the fury of a stubborn billy goat; the dog’s fury also signified my near suicidal fury at having to leave paradise in company of my enforcer, my governess. In other words, the details have been over-emphasized, compacted, over-determined and that is why they most likely have been remembered all these many years, whereas other less emotionally determined and charged recollections seem to be, are inaccessible.
The drops of dew in the flowers - not just the shattered shards of glass - also signified my tears (perhaps just shed internally: after all, as I have said, something started to cry inside me early on in life, and, on reflection, I think that is appropriate, and I hope I am not crying only for myself and early childhood misfortune but for all children who are subjected to bombing attacks; I can be said to have been crying ever since I was taken from my mother at age 9 months, those tears, too, are, became over-determined. Loss loss loss. There was a time during the many years that I carried this book with me that I was going to call it “Irretrievable Losses.” This commentary in other words, appears to be necessary in telling this event which elicited hectic activity of the inhabitants of the villa with the result that within a day or so my father’s chauffeur Schmidt (who had previously been in my grandfater's employ and whose son Pitt / Peter would become one of my earliest childhood friends, and the only one with whom I came back in touch during the writing of this book) and the Maybach automobile took me and my governess to the St. Magnus suburban station, a five year old, sad-looking boy and a dowdy spinster - image for a film! (That film has been made!) But before I left my paradise it appears that I made one more walk about the forest.
If the clearing was the first section of Fir Place to become laden with dream imagery, for the Billy goat chasing me up to the clearing in my first remembered nightmare, the croquet area, where Mara "committed suicide," then became the second, soon after the enclosure disappeared as did the last remnants of playing croquet – the mallet, the wire goals, the colored balls, the sound that croquet balls make when hit with malletts or knocking against each never fading uniquely recalled forever – a big chopping block was placed there, and as a chopping block area it would serve as location for yet a further screen memory a few years hence.
Forgetting momentarily about the significance of the pond and the willow lined path between the pond and the marshy meadow to the left, the third areas to be specifically laden with memories and fears were the two bomb craters near the riding rink, craters well on the other of the road that skirted the pond before leading up the chestnut alley to the house. It appears I made an expedition to the site and looked at the two grave-length bomb beds is what they looked like more than funnels or craters, as though the two-some had landed as a pair, sideways. When I made my first awkward drawings, with colored pencils, it was of awkwardly drawn bombers tossing sausage-like bombs. By the time of the drawings, say a year after the first bombs fell, I lived secreted away in the far south-eastern part of the then still expanding Reich, in the village of Vornbach. I must have gotten wind of what village boys did by throwing shit at each other which is what bombers appeared to do, at the stage of anality or is it monkeydom that village boys reside in at that stage of their life. So if bombers threw shit, the two bomb craters or graves were what??? I kept thinking of them, and that they were so near to the fox and badger holes the side of the riding rink that had been cut out of the slope, where I would construct a bunker of my own upon my return

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

FIRST SCREEN MEMORY FROM "screen memories"

I always loved the ingenuity with which Freud solved some conundrums, such as "A Child is Being Beaten" or the Mystical Experience of the Wriging Pad & the Acropolis and here I am laboring with a major screen memory!

The Catastrophe Explicated

A: The scene is the following: a four year old child is ploppped into the middle of an oval electric toy railway network. At one end sits the child's father who manipulates the electric controls; at the other end, adjacent the toy railway tunnel, the child's maternal grandfather, stretched out on the floor all seven feet of him in leather hunting knickers with black splotches of dried blood. The object of the exercise, the exhibition demonstration - the wish - is to get two trains to pass through the tunnel in opposite directions simultaneously.

B: Let me be methodical and take the items one by one. Let me recount the sequence of events once more in detail & since a screen memory is like a frozen dream each detail refers to the dreamer, to me, and the possibility that the memory changes in my telling of it, dwelling on it, is an entanglement whose consequences I will not be able to control or to fathom. I know I will be projecting into the interpretation - memories of earlier traumas will be discovered which are not necessarily all that prominently evident here. (1)

C-Father announces that he will send two train in the opposite direction in that they pass under and through a tunnel simultaneously. My father really crouches, squats, an intense expression on his face, at the controls, at the knobs that control the electricity that powers the toy engines that buzz like hornets or bumble bees on the large oval network, and later, at moments of intense involvement, I, too, assume a similar intense expression.

D: The intention is to impress, a feat is to be performed! The grandfather is stretched out near the tunnel's opposite end. (As I myself will later in life, prefer to be.)
The women hover around.
   However, this big generous Christmas gift, is my father’s toy more than it is mine who has been placed into the center of the oval, I don’t have a photo of what I look like in the oval, but looking at photos of myself at that age, sniffing flowers, in my sandbox I imagine myself dressed in the same kind of toddler wool pants, whose scratchiness I can more than imagine, they still scratch the memory of my baby thighs.

E: My father has taken command of the gift and does not even have his son participate in his engineering feats. Single-minded. This first element of the memory also appears to contain the message that I am envious of being a mere spectator, that I was not in control, but that my father was of the knobs, the flow of electricity.

E-The trains start forth on the oval. As the train that passes nearest to my grandfather passes him he reaches for a switch near the tunnel, his index finger flicks the switch and the two trains crash inside the tunnel, do not pass through it, producing the angry noise of frustrated electric motors. The result is the catastrophe of two toy-trains colliding head-on inside a make-believe papier-mache green and grey alpine tunnel; two angry toy train engines sparking, hissing, growling inside a tunnel, heat followed by cold.

F: The father exclaims "Oh Werner, look at what you have done," knowing at once it appears that it had been the famous joker, his father in law - in his leather hunting knickers with the laugh-lines around his eyes and the verschmiztes, the mischievous expression - who is responsible for the industrial mishap, the ruin of his best-laid plans and demonstration of his engineering skills. The tunnel is lifted, the two locs are on top of each other, the rest of the trains are an entangled mess.

G: Yes, it really happened like that, and it happened at Christmas 1940. The war had begun, the western half of it. The other half, the German, Hitler’s perfidious 1941 attack on the Soviet Union, is still to come. 1940 would be my most memorable Christmas, it became the exemplary one, because the whole family was present, especially my grandfather, on vacation from a concentration camp (a brief Christmas visit during which grandfather and grandchild link up; as I was, at the moment of being in the oval, apparentently freed from my governess, Ms. No's supervision while in the oval observing these events, yet the oval is also a fence, a further ambiguous detail.), a matter that was neither told nor explained to me, because if I had been told... there would have to have been an explanation, a long series of explanations. How do you explain politics to a four year old? Family situations: yes - but you don’t even need to explain those, children’s antennae pick them up, mine certainly were attuned, I seem to have picked up my mother’s disappointment in her successful husband - the general manager, that Christmas, of an extensive toy railway network; and her preference for her father. Was I disappointed in this father, too? Well, based on the first nightmare (2) and the screen memory, which includes that head-on crash of two locomotives, he and I were at loggerheads from early on - and we remained so throughout his life and through my memory of him. Ancient animal stuff, inexorable, biologically based. I even became more unrelenting, or at least as unrelenting as I grew older as he had been during my childhood while he softened. Yet there remained something missing, the unhappy fighting relationship left a gap, the gap expressed itself occasionally in a longing to rest upon the breast of a big solid reliable man who might back me up - this aspect is a comparatively straightforward component of this otherwise, I think, complex screen memory.

H: Perhaps the most important matter to keep in mind is that there is the actual occurrence and then what use it has been put intra-psychically to create a plausible story - the secondary revision as it were. After all, this is one of the two memories of that fourth year of my life extra-uterine. They are both extreme concentrations of my life then. There are the surface events that fit a psychic event, or a series of psychic events, and that is why the surface becomes symbolic, surface and psychic events, traumas seem to mesh. Even then fated to be the translator of Handke's Innerworld of the Outerworld of the Innerworld? - That is a joke of course.

I: Although the actual scene is sociologically and historically interesting I am more interested, right now, in the intra-psychic projections, on the details and events of the railway accident.

J:-A toy railroad, an oval. I find myself in the center of that oval, the center of my self, my grandiosity split off from what I am observing, eyes darting back and forth between father and grandfather. The collision in the tunnel constitutes a breach in that circle, a narcissistic injury.

K-There is the control knob or knobs, for the juice, the electricity, that makes the locomotives run. That indicates to me that I masturbated, a fervent early childhood masturbator - but not only for the sake of pleasure but to assuage fears, while engaging in what fantasies? Train fantasies perhaps, tunnel fantasies? The tunnel is a representation of the anal cavity.

L: The switch, which is flicked, an act that hurts my penis even now when I think of it - I am reminded of my Mexican village and kids and adults instantly, instinctively shielding their genitals when they are afraid, and are not yet socially trained not to do so.

M: The flicking of the switch is what leads to the crash, the head-on collision; the presumption is that if it had not been flicked the two locomotives would pass each other in the tunnel without colliding - after all, that was my father's (my) plan, which was sabotaged.
     So what actually switches intra-psychically? Well, my affection switches to my grandfather. But I am prevented from being a switch hitter, the bi-sexual wishes, tendency is disrupted - I recall that during analysis my left arm and hand and foot became as powerful as my right side! The homophobia, as well as associated fear of being dominated, like a woman, is as evident here as in the first nightmare.
    After my grandfather's conspiratorial glance catches my attention he will lead my glance to his hand that flicks a switch just as one of the two trains is about to enter the tunnel: a switch is a Weiche in German, a softness is its other meaning, it also means to avoid, as in ausweichen, to avoid, Eiche weiche, Buche suche is a German proverb that advocates seeking out Beech trees during thunderstorms and avoiding Oaks - who knows whether there is any truth to it, whether lightning prefers Oak trees to Beech trees if given a choice! Step aside, don’t confront, whereas what happened within seconds was that crash of two toy locomotives crashing head-on inside the tunnel, and sparks, short circuiting, the furious sound of electrical motors grinding in utter frustration, until there is deathly silence, and my father William speaks up: “Oh Werner look at what you have done.” What a mess you have made, what a Bescherung!

N: What is most puzzling in many ways is not why that evening is so memorable, the evening of the “Bescherung” as it is called in German, of the “big mess”, but that no other evenings of that period are recalled! or whole days, which is yet another reason why it was, is, became so memorable? What is puzzling is that nothing else of that day, but my mother gifting the mystic writing pad, is directly memorable, nor of the day before, or of the day after, even though I can provide a general idea of my life as a four year old, how he got about in the woods, that I was in a harness leads to the supposition that young I was an Ausreisser (an escape artist) as of early on, possibly I had explored the entire woods, all 100 + acres of them by age four? Trundled down to the pond and meadow and clambered up the clearing in the woods on the other side? It appears I knew the clearing - it appears in my first nightmare: I has been told not to be “bockig”, not to be like a Billy goat, also I had been told not to play with the Billy goat that was used to trim the lawns. In the nightmare a Billy goat transformed into the Unicorn of fables that have been read to me and whose picture I have been shown, pursues me down the path towards the pond and meadow, I rush across the path - inter urinam and feces - the pond on the left, the marshy meadow on the right, and up into the grassy clearing, the slit, I a little would-be mother-ficker at age four, and that theme is re-iterated when I am chased to the inter-section of two fences - to the V - the Billy goat unicorn pins, seeks to pinion me from behind and I wakes in terror.

O: There is the bi-sexual conflict: on the one hand I am a would be mother-fucker, on the other I also am terrified of being fucked, in the behind, dominated, emasculated. In the screen memory the locs pile on top of each other, smash-up. That is why that Christmas became a screen memory from which the major fault lines, as in an earthquake, can be traced. It is a mother lode, a magnet for memories that I have carried with me all these years, a precious, deeply intriguing yet crude gemstone, an object that has not been smoothed out, no matter how much it has been worked over, this event - even after an analysis & an analysis of the anlysis, still produces associations, it is the richest of mines. So all this really happened and this sequence of events is one of the two events that I remember from that entire year, the other is of the bombs that will crash into the forest a few months hence, but for my first nightmare, and the smell of the flowers, but for the memories that those photos of me and my mother elicit. I recall this event as though it had occurred just now. From it I can reconstruct the house, the orchards, the lawns, the fir forest; all entirely idyllic, but what transpired that evening is not. It is a screen memory, or rather: it is a memory each of whose details are drenched, laden with significance. The details have been arranged into a story, a configuration, an event has accumulated significant details, which, once they are analyzed, tell a very different story, or stories. The event impressed itself... it itself was a minor mishap that was quickly repaired. What transpired intra-psychically in in me, and found its expression in the story of the railway catastrophe is catastrophic, irreparable.

P: I had not been in a railway crash. My railway adventures lay ahead of me, although not by too many months. Whenever given the opportunity to go near a locomotive when a train is halted inside the numerous stations that my trains stops at, or if the train is halted outside a city, waiting for the green light, I will do so. The locomotives hissing, their steaming, their impatience to go to work, so animate despite its inanimate steel hulk were infinitely fascinating. Machines yet organic, like horses in some way the way they snorted and heaved and were rearing to go, steel steeds. LOKOMOTIV SVERDLOSK/ DYNAMO DRESDEN!
     Whenever one of the many trains that I took with my overseer governess had to stop outside a city and wait for the all clear to be able to proceed, or for other, less dire reasons, I leaned out the window to keep an eye on the loc. Locomotives were the embodiment of power, of potency and of impatience, of frustration released; the future experiences with locomotives, steam locomotives was projected backwards onto my experience at Christmas 1940/1941. But what collided psychically inside me so that the collision of two toy locomotives would become so memorable? so representative? So concretely symbolic?

What if there had been no gift of a toy railroad and demonstation? Might there have been such a great summary of the essence of the earliest major events in my life?

Let me hark back to my then two majo traumas. The first was the transfer at age nine months from my mother’s face and breast to the dried up teats and grizzled face of my governess. Perhaps other infants would not have been so wounded, so traumatized as I was at an experience that changed from heaven to hell in one day. It was a crushing event. I did not take it well, I became so feverish that I started to waste away; then I turned ice cold, the absence of the mother, of her beautiful young breast with the face superimposed on it. - It was an incomprehensible event - how does a mother tell her infant that there are things she has to do for which she must be free? Nine months of love did not suffice for me especially since the surrogate was experienced as ugly: not only was she experienced as ugly, from the very beginning she was experienced as Ms. No - everything was no: I could no longer shit into my diapers! I was being potty trained; that warmth was gone too. Not only was she Ms. No, she was also experienced as someone who took charge of my life; she wanted to put on my socks, comb my hair, I became the possession of someone who sought to tried to thwart the charging locomotive; although whether she actually flicked at my “little one” when I masturbated I cannot tell, it might be a projection of the psychic onto the physical, but is one reason why I object so strongly to the idea of circumcising infants. It certainly was not my grandfather who did: his flicking flipping the switch is what might be called a displacement, a switching from what the governess did onto him, even the idea of displacement is illustrated, someone also had to “turn the knob”, and that idea was then transferred onto my father: you can regard the sequence of events as an attempt to regulate my infantile sexuality, my bi-sexual nature. What a beautiful sequence of events, isn’ it? What a perfect sequence of events to acquire a load of current! To be charged with analogies and significance! It is as though I dreamed up the story to tell all kinds of matters simultaneously. Is that all there is? As with most dreams there is no way of telling whether you have comprehended everything that transpire in it, there is no way of telling whether I have coaxed every bit of meaning, every analogy from this story of a railway crash, of this aborted bi-sexual wish.

2) Aboriginal Nightmare (ctd from main text): The clearing is the brightest spot in the woods, at all times of day and night, from my room on the second floor of our house I could look down the path and up to the clearing, which is called a “Schneise” in German, a word that sounds a lot like schneiden, to cut. And that is the feeling I had that morning, as though a knife had cut into my brain, benumbed. My entire life, I will periodically be cut down in that fashion. It is the kind of dream from which you might never recover, like the dream of the three wolves that cut down the Wolfman: A billy goat in the form of a unicorn chases me to the Scheise and beyond to the interesection where the Fir Place fences form a V - I am pinned, there is no escape in that ambiguous V, and I wake up in terror. That dream respeats itself about a year or two later after I have seen a dancing bear in Vornbach am Inn, and it is a bear who chases me into a spot of no escape. Living in Billy the Kid country in the mid-eighties, in the Sacramentoes, with a black bear in a nearby cave I buy myself a Bear tag, but the bear is frightened off by some Texas bear hunters before I can excercise the license that the tag provides; however, I manage to wrestle my two darling milk goats to the ground when they become too ornery, and am frightened to death to for them at the sight of the Billy Goat at the goat farm where I have taken them to be "serviced".

3) Asking myself the question whether the toy railroad was the only gift I received that Christmas it occurs to me that it must have been the same Christmas at which I received the magic reading tablet from my mother. After all, it is the last Christmas the family spends together for many years, and I, I will be a reader by springtime when I and my governess set out on our travels... There is that pensive moment when my mother introduces me to the magic of reading.

4) I found himself to be in cahoots with his grandfather, a famously conspiratorial person I would read his being described later in life, I found out early what complicity could be, The seductiveness of a gleam in an eye!

5) I clamber around the woods, around the flower beds, I have photos, and sniffing flowers has been a constant throughout life, what he looked like in his sandbox I know from photos: I can extrapolate from that magnet: I am with my governess, I is wearing a kind of wide-brimmed, floppy child’s sun-hat and look miserable... I assume because I am with my governess, an assumption I make based on my recollection that not for a single moment was I happy in her company during the seven years that she was in charge of me, into whose charge I kept being abandoned, only of her absence.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

THE Charlie Hebdo CONTROVERSY & P.E.N.

La lotta continua

 Jesusl I find the HEBDO cartoons so over the top that I consider anyone who cannot laugh their head off at them to be he worst of dunces. So the question of dissonance between intent and effect does not arise for me. And if they changed as Jeff suggests they do the way Crumb & other American cartoonists changed I think they would lose the ability to make me laugh., The question of political correctness - HEBDO is beyond that! Well, as to senstitivities: what makes Islamists so hyper-sensitive to the slightest of slights? Perhaps HEBDO has not done a good enough job in getting them to laugh at themselves?
They ought to be got to laugh so hard that they implode instead of massacre cartoonits etc.

Charlie Hebdo

Religion has been defined as “the opium of the masses” & it appears and it has been said that within the context of homo {allegedly) sapiens's development from the dawning questioning of the whys and wherefores of existence religion served a palliative narrative function, and it did so, invariably by elevating immediate, family relations into a godly status, into supernal realms. That stage allegedly constituted the infancy of reason and it produced priests who served to maintain the various truth claims & ensure obedience to various rules and rituals, and did so for the powerful who had and continue to have vested interests in uniformity of belief.
(The need for “belief” in this context can be regarded as a form of “addiction.”)
Retrospectively, these elevations, in the form of revered images & architecture & music & texts & practices are regarded as having artistic value, enticements, embellishments – i.e. attend Mass at the Cathedral of Burgos on Todos Santos and how can you not be (at least secretly) an addict to Catholicism for the rest of your life!
Focusing on the three sectarian-prone major strains of the Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity & Islam – it becomes evident that no matter their common ancestry (and what commonalities they continue to share) each of them makes the claim to be the only true and valid one; indoctrinate their children in their beliefs & oppose any divergence from these norms, and tend to be vengeful when its claims are attacked, and when a split occurs, most famously currently the one between Shiites & Sunnis: in other words each religion exhibits certain all too human-beastly qualities, one of which is narcissistic sensitivity. Judaism, except until very recently, until the founding of Israel (that is within the time span of intra-religious warfare of these three strains) has not been in the position to commit the kinds of conversion slaughter that, historically, marks the spread of Christianity & of Islam and of the sectarian warfare within Christianity and Islam, although Judaism, too, is marked by differentiations into sects.
Recent history would make one believe that the adherents of Islam are especially hyper-sensitive to any form of disrespect of their beliefs, and indeed it seems to takes little to get masses of them to mount outraged demonstrations, let us just think back to the split that produced the states of India and Pakistan; historically, Christianity & Hinduism, however, have proved equally sensitive. So it is not a matter of which or what religion but of human identification with one or the other of them that appears to be at stake, and critique, lack of respect, of the slightest kind can elicit the most violent response by those whose apparently fragile identity is threatened. The volatility of the issue is evident from the reaction of the one LIVING expansionist religion within secularized Europe (and of course a hundredfold more in the region that stretched from the Far to the Near East and farther West). Nationalism can serve the same identity-forming purposes and critiques of it elicit the same ferocious responses; fundamentalisms of various kinds are as tetchy as ever to burn witches.
Within that historical context and within the context of French history the very existence of an equal opportunity offender satirical magazine like Charlie Hebdo & its marvelously puerile ENTIRELY OVER THE TOP caricatures is unique: after all, you can be formally sentenced to death for far lesser forms of lack of respect in many an Islamic state and, informally, murdered en masse by ISIL & its LARGE variety of similar manifestations of fundamentalist Islam.
The Islamist reactions to the Charlie Hebdo cartoons thus show deadly humorlessness, although I wonder whether certain sitting Israeli ducks, subjected to the same treatment, would be welcomed with the same laughter.




Search This Blog

here's a link to all analytic resources on line:

About Me

My photo
seattle, Washington, United States
MICHAEL ROLOFF Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society this LYNX will LEAP you to all my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS: "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben] contact via my website