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Creative Time & The Atlantic Day of Ideas: A Double Celebration: The Atlantic & Sigmund Freud @ 150, featuring George Prochnik and Wayne Koestenbaum

November 18, 2006

A Double Celebration (Part 1 of 2):

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Family History & Its Discontents: Sigmund Freud, Oscar Wilde, Stomach Pains, Death, New England & the Immortal Porcupine

How do our restless readings of our own family histories influence our take on cultural history, and vice-versa?

For all that Freud seems to have been chewed over ad nauseam by detractors and advocates alike, there remain bizarre, intriguing dark spaces where the light at the end of the cigar has failed to fall.

What caused Freud to pass out twice in Jung's presence and, on one occasion, waking in his arms, cry out, How sweet it must be to die?

Why does Freud's classic The Psychopathology of Everyday Life sound in many places like The Importance of Being Earnest?

Why hasn't more attention been paid to the tetherball tournament Freud took part in with a twelve-year-old girl at an Adirondack retreat near Lake Placid?

What, above all, led Freud to place on his desk amidst his ancient bibelots from the ruins of Hellenic and Semitic civilization a large metal porcupine with musical quills manufactured in America at the turn of the century and presented to him by the Boston Brahmin-covert-operative for the St. Louis Hegelians, Dr. James Jackson Putnam?

These questions will be pored over as discreetly as possible by Wayne Koestenbaum and George Prochnik.

This event is co-presented by The Atlantic.










Are We Allowed Not To Enjoy?

In the last years, we are bombarded by the new wave of the triumphalist acclamations of how psychoanalysis is dead: with the new advances in brain sciences, it is finally put where it belonged all the time, to the lumber-room of pre-scientific obscurantist search for hidden meanings, alongside religious confessors and dream-readers. As Todd Dufresne put it, no figure in the history of human thought was more wrong about all its fundamentals?with the exception of Marx, some would add.

What if, however, this memorial service is a little bit too hasty, commemorating a patient who still has a long life ahead In contrast to the evident truths of the critics of Freud, my talk will argue that it is only today that the time of psychoanalysis has arrived and that Freud?s key insights gain their full value.

Traditionally, psychoanalysis was expected to allow the patient to overcome the obstacles which prevented him/her the access to normal sexual satisfaction: if you are not able to get it, go to the analyst, he will enable you to get rid of your inhibitions? Today, however, when we are bombarded from all sides by the different versions of the injunction Enjoy!, from direct enjoyment in sexual performance to enjoyment in professional achievement or in spiritual awakening, one should move to a more radical level: psychoanalysis is today the only discourse in which you are allowed not to enjoy not not allowed to enjoy, i.e., prohibited to enjoy, but just relieved of the pressure to enjoy.

Slavoj Žižek

This talk is co-presented by the Austrian Cultural Forum NYC.




About George Prochnik

George Prochnik's new book is Putnam Camp: Sigmund Freud, James Jackson Putnam, and the Purpose of American Psychology. His essays, poetry, and fiction have appeared in numerous journals. He taught English and American literature at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and has also worked as a therapist for the chronically mentally ill.





About Wayne Koestenbaum

Wayne Koestenbaum is a Professor of English at the CUNY Graduate Center, and a Visiting Professor in the painting department of the Yale School of Art. His books include Model Homes, The Milk of Inquiry, Moira Orfei in Aigues-Mortes, Andy Warhol, The Queen's Throat, and Double Talk. His next book, Hotel Theory, will be published in Spring 2007.





About Slavoj Žižek

Slavoj Žižek, dialectical-materialist philosopher and psychoanalyst, Co-Director of the International Center for Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London. Among his latest publications are The Parallax View and How To Read Lacan.