Honderdvijftig jaar Freud

Sigmund Freud ( 6 mei 1856 – 23 september 1939)

Precies 150 jaar geleden werd Sigmund Freud geboren. Behalve dat zijn eigen stilistische meesterschap tegenwoordig alom wordt erkend heeft hij natuurlijk ook een enorme invloed gehad op de literatuur en de literatuurwetenschap. Daarover zijn dan ook inmiddels bibliotheken volgeschreven. Al grasduinend op internet kwam ik in Orbis Linguarum een artikel tegen over Freud en Rainer Maria Rilke, dat als een illustratie kan gelden van de ontelbare artikelen, studies en verhandelingen die de kruisbestuiving tussen literatuur en psychologie sinds Freud heeft opgeleverd. Het blijkt dat Freud en Rilke elkaar in september 1913 zelfs ontmoet hebben op een psychoanalytisch congres in Mûnchen, waar ook Lou Andreas-Salomé aanwezig was. Rilke vertelt erover in twee brieven. In de eerste van 15 september 1913 aan Marie von Thurn und Taxis-Hohenlohe bericht hij, „daß er fast neben Freud gesessen habe und von allen ausgezeichnet behandelt worden sei”, in de tweede aan Magda von Hatting­berg vom 21 februari 1914 schrijft hij, „daß er eigens nach München gekommen sei, „um Freud zu sehen”.  Beide brieven verraden iets over het respect dat Rilke had voor de grondlegger van de psychoanalyse.

In 1921 verscheen in het tijdschrift Imago Lou Andreas-Salomés verhandeling Narzißmus als Doppelrichtung, waain zij ook Rilkes gedicht Narziss citeert. Zij vatte hierin zowel het religieuze als het artistieke als specifiek narcistische levensuitingen op. Het staat vrijwel vast dat zij met haar diepgaande belangstelling voor het fenomeen narcisme zowel aanknopingspunten heeft gevonden bij Freuds artikel uit 1914, Zur Einführung des Narzißmus,  als ook bij de discussies die ze met Rilke heeft gehad gedurende de vroegste en intensiefste fase van hun vriendschap.


Dies also. dies geht von mir aus und löst
sich in der Luft und im Gefühl der Haine,
entweicht mir leicht und wird nicht mehr das Meine
und glänzt, weil es auf keine Feindschaft stößt.

Dies hebt sich unaufhörlich von mir fort,
ich will nicht weg, ich warte, ich verweile;
doch alle meine Grenzen haben Eile,
stürzen hinaus und sind schon dort.

Und selbst im Schlaf. Nichts bindet uns genug.
Nachgiebig Mitte in mir, Kern voll Schwäche,
der nicht sein Fruchtfleisch anhält. Flucht, o Flug
von allen Stellen meiner Oberfläche.

Was sich dort bildet und mir sicher gleicht
und aufwärts zittert in verweinten Zeichen,
das mochte so in einer Frau vielleicht
innnen entstehn; es war nicht zu erreichen,

wie ich danach auch drängend in sie rang.
Jetzt liegt es offen in dem teilnahmslosen
zerstreuten Wasser, und ich darf es lang
anstaunen unter meinem Kranz von Rosen.

Dort ist es nicht geliebt. Dort unten drin
ist nichts, als Gleichmut überstürzter Steine,
und ich kann sehen, wie ich traurig bin.
War dies mein Bild in ihrem Augenscheine?

Hob es sich so in ihrem Traum herbei
in süßer Frucht? Fast fühl ich schon die ihre.
Denn, wie ich mich in meinem Blick verliere:
ich könnte denken, dass ich tödlich sei.

Rainer Maria Rilke (4 december 1875 – 29 december 1926) 


De Engelse dichter W. H. Auden schreef naar aanleiding van het overlijden van Freud in 1939 een indrukwekkend in memoriam. Het is weliswaar niet Freuds sterfdag, maar als dichterlijk eresaluut misstaat het ook niet op zijn 150e verjaardag. 

In Memory of Sigmund Freud  


When there are so many we shall have to mourn,

when grief has been made so public, and exposed

     to the critique of a whole epoch

   the frailty of our conscience and anguish,

of whom shall we speak? For every day they die

among us, those who were doing us some good,

     who knew it was never enough but

   hoped to improve a little by living.

Such was this doctor: still at eighty he wished

to think of our life from whose unruliness

     so many plausible young futures

   with threats or flattery ask obedience,

but his wish was denied him: he closed his eyes

upon that last picture, common to us all,

     of problems like relatives gathered

   puzzled and jealous about our dying.

For about him till the very end were still

those he had studied, the fauna of the night,

     and shades that still waited to enter

   the bright circle of his recognition

turned elsewhere with their disappointment as he

was taken away from his life interest

     to go back to the earth in London,

   an important Jew who died in exile.

Only Hate was happy, hoping to augment

his practice now, and his dingy clientele

     who think they can be cured by killing

   and covering the garden with ashes.

They are still alive, but in a world he changed

simply by looking back with no false regrets;

     all he did was to remember

   like the old and be honest like children.

He wasn’t clever at all: he merely told

the unhappy Present to recite the Past

     like a poetry lesson till sooner

   or later it faltered at the line where

long ago the accusations had begun,

and suddenly knew by whom it had been judged,

     how rich life had been and how silly,

   and was life-forgiven and more humble,


able to approach the Future as a friend

without a wardrobe of excuses, without

     a set mask of rectitude or an

   embarrassing over-familiar gesture.

No wonder the ancient cultures of conceit

in his technique of unsettlement foresaw

     the fall of princes, the collapse of

   their lucrative patterns of frustration:

if he succeeded, why, the Generalised Life

would become impossible, the monolith

     of State be broken and prevented

   the co-operation of avengers.

Of course they called on God, but he went his way

down among the lost people like Dante, down

     to the stinking fosse where the injured

   lead the ugly life of the rejected,

and showed us what evil is, not, as we thought,

deeds that must be punished, but our lack of faith,

     our dishonest mood of denial,

   the concupiscence of the oppressor.

If some traces of the autocratic pose,

the paternal strictness he distrusted, still

     clung to his utterance and features,

   it was a protective coloration

for one who’d lived among enemies so long:

if often he was wrong and, at times, absurd,

     to us he is no more a person

   now but a whole climate of opinion

under whom we conduct our different lives:

Like weather he can only hinder or help,

     the proud can still be proud but find it

   a little harder, the tyrant tries to

make do with him but doesn’t care for him much:

he quietly surrounds all our habits of growth

     and extends, till the tired in even

   the remotest miserable duchy

have felt the change in their bones and are cheered

till the child, unlucky in his little State,

     some hearth where freedom is excluded,

   a hive whose honey is fear and worry,

feels calmer now and somehow assured of escape,

while, as they lie in the grass of our neglect,

     so many long-forgotten objects

   revealed by his undiscouraged shining

are returned to us and made precious again;

games we had thought we must drop as we grew up,

     little noises we dared not laugh at,

   faces we made when no one was looking.

But he wishes us more than this. To be free

is often to be lonely. He would unite

     the unequal moieties fractured

   by our own well-meaning sense of justice,

would restore to the larger the wit and will

the smaller possesses but can only use

     for arid disputes, would give back to

   the son the mother’s richness of feeling:

but he would have us remember most of all

to be enthusiastic over the night,

     not only for the sense of wonder

   it alone has to offer, but also

because it needs our love. With large sad eyes

its delectable creatures look up and beg

     us dumbly to ask them to follow:

   they are exiles who long for the future

that lives in our power, they too would rejoice

if allowed to serve enlightenment like him,

     even to bear our cry of ‘Judas’,

   as he did and all must bear who serve it.

One rational voice is dumb. Over his grave

the household of Impulse mourns one dearly loved:

     sad is Eros, builder of cities,   

   and weeping anarchic Aphrodite.  


W. H. Auden (21 februari 1907 – 29 september 1973)