Monday, 14 December 2009

Knees-up, Mother Freud, knees-up, Mother Freud, how about a knees-up? Knees-up, knees-up, knees-up, knees-up, knees-up, Mother Freud

So, to answer your question, Flea, why didn’t Freud go to his mother’s funeral? Particularly, as the year before her death, he wrote, in condolences to a colleague whose mother had died: ‘the loss of a mother must be something quite remarkable, not to be compared with anything else, and awaken excitations that are hard to grasp.’

What excitations, you ask? I don’t know. Hard to grasp? Perhaps the usual elision that awoke in Freud any time he came near to discussing his own undergrowth. We do, though, know he recalled seeing his mother naked on a train — in her sleeping compartment, nothing untoward.

It happened on what the Encyclopedia Britannica describes as the ‘fateful overnight train trip when the family moved to Vienna’ — his father’s (mostly fruitless) attempt to improve on his life in the tiny Moravian town of Freiberg (now Pribor in the Czech Republic).

He was four years old at the time — though, when dating his later, profound train phobia to this encounter with the topography that Courbet’s painting categorises as L’Origine du Monde, he remembered it as happening when he was two. A not insignificant change, to my mind — both in his life story and to his Oedipal theories.

Why did he say he didn’t go to her funeral. He told his brother he didn’t like ceremonies and, besides, he was iller himself than people thought (with the cancer that would kill him, nine years later). He also contented himself with the thought that at least he didn’t die first so she was spared the pain of his death. I think there was some vanity going on. He really, really didn’t like people seeing how he looked with his mouth prosthesis and the way it affected his voice.

Still and all, not going to your mother’s funeral? I think he was even more honest than he realised when he wrote to Ernest Jones about ‘the growth in personal freedom I have acquired’ since her death.

And so to today's Advent goodies . . .

One If you want to know how to swear in ASL, watch this.

Two There is a section in my book, Filthy English, about Jackie Wilson and Lavern Baker's . . . alternative version of Think Twice. Now I've found this cute picture of the two of them together.

Three As there are rules for a bride's outfit (old, new, borrowed, blue) and a cocktail (sour, sweet, strong . . . *), so I have developed rules for creating Christmas (plus Hannukah) CD compilations. The first rule is: there must be Elvis. Here is the Memphis manchild performing a posthumous duet. NB Pop experts will notice that something has been excised from this recreated version — Elvis shouting 'Play it dirty!' On a Christmas song.

I would, of course, shown off my new YouTube skills by embedding it but that's blocked for this clip. But not for . . .

Four The other week, someone who was talking to me about their personal life said: It's not rocket science, is it. I said: Yes, it is actually. It's rocket science that isn't rocket science. It's people that are rocket science. Then, in a quite different context, I was pointed in the direction of this clip. Which is: a double pendulum. Which is: a physical demonstration of chaos theory (the butterfly effect) by which the tiniest change in the starting point can very quickly produce extraordinarily varied outcomes. Which is: a pretty damn good analogy for the complexity of human beings bumping along with each other.

Next up Dat dissertation (finally)

* Something like that anyway and certainly nothing to do with the 'cocktail rule' about VAT rate for composite items with differing VAT rates — book plus CD, for example.