Thursday, May 13, 2010

"What you receive..."

Here is the full quote :
"What you receive from your fathers, inherit it in order to be able to possess it."
Please don't just read it on the screen. Take the time to say it out loud.
I first came across this phrase while reading Freud, a long time ago.
It... blew me away. It has a kind of... SHOCK AND AWE ring to it that bowls me over.
And of course, I respected Freud tremendously for coming up with something so impressive. I knew (I STILL know...) that Freud was a genius, and this was great proof.
ONCE, in my ten year career as a psychoanalyst, I was able to SAY this phrase to a patient, in situ, and it was EVEN MORE incredible. And, of course, when an analyst says a phrase like this, he can't help hearing it FOR/TO HIMSELF while he is saying it TO his patient. A bridge between himself and his patient. He is enouncing a... COMMANDMENT for himself too. A SHARED commandment.
Commandment...
Freud borrowed that phrase. He borrowed it from... Deuteronomy.
The kernel of Jewish law. Its raison d'être. The foundation of the "words to live (by)".
The ten.. "words to live" that we know as the ten commandments are designed to make possible the above phrase. In Jewish culture. In OUR culture too...
So, I'm going to tear it apart with gusto for us.
Here we go :
Three verbs that EACH have to do with the economy :
Receive. Inherit. Possess.
Receiving goes along with the circulation part that Toby just developed in his last post.
For the structure : the verb "inherit" is in the middle, between two other verbs. It is the active verb. The phrase suggests that you passively receive something from your ? parents ? your... culture ? your teachers ? your mentors ? and that after a transformation, you POSSESS it. ONLY AFTER that transformation in which you are active.
That means that... just getting something is NOT enough to possess it.
Cut to my previous post on "reality check" and how you are reading....
Are you reading to... possess what your fathers gave you ?
Or are you content to just... receive what your fathers gave you ?
Freud and Deuteronomy DON'T tell you what I'm going to say now.
As a patient AND as a psychoanalyst I discovered (along the lines of inheriting...) that..
What you DON'T inherit in order to be able to possess...
POSSESSES YOU.
No choice there. You either actively INHERIT your culture, what you received from your fathers, or you WILL be possessed by it.
The obvious result of being possessed by something is that YOU WILL NOT BE FREE.
Being free is complicated. Much MORE complicated than lots of people think.
Take Jesus, for instance.
Right up there on the cross, between the two thieves, when he said "Father forgive them for they know not what they do", he was, in my opinion, as free as he could have been in THAT PARTICULAR SITUATION.
A paradox right ?
Life is full of surprises, and paradoxes.
You can CHOOSE to be free. You CAN be free.
Even in the middle of a concentration camp, you CAN BE FREE.
Amazing huh ?
IF... you inherit and possess from your fathers....
I have changed this phrase (the way you are NOT SUPPOSED TO DO... but I almost never follow the rules, and this gets me into a lot of trouble...).
To read :" what you have received from your fathers, inherit it in order to be able to transmit it."
That short cuts possession, which I am not really keen on.
But... maybe I'm making a mistake here.. We'll see.

6 comments:

Toby said...

Fascinating. And it ties in very nicely with the things I've been mulling over in recent posts, just as you say.

When I read the phrase I thought immediately of the more modern word "own", when psychoanalysts talk of taking responsibility for what you are, and what has come into you over time.

I see "receive" and "inherit" as very similar. However, within the meaning of Freud's instruction, inheretance is a form of recognition, or "Anerkennung" as the Germans say. And yes, unless we recognise consciously what we have passively received, it is in charge of us. This is what Jung bangs on about when he describes the vital importance of owning the contents of the unconscious. Until we do so, we are victims of it, passive automatons blown this way and that by forces we do not see, believing wrongly we are 'free.'

So, my favourite Jung quote was always: "Free will is doing gladly that which one must do." And to think he and Freud fell out! They had so much in common!

As to possession, I agree with your suspicions here Debra. Recognition is the better word, as is understanding. We own nothing, but we can have better relationships with things, wiser, more informed relationships. And these wisdoms and maturations have to happen culturally as part of progressing beyond the quagmire we are in. We have to grow up. Until that happens we are victims of circumstance, victims of money, victims of our own myths, and victims of our past.

Great post.

Debra said...

Thanks, Toby, for your praise.
Freud uses a word in his theory which is very important to him. It is "Aufhebung".
I THINK... that Hegel uses this word, but my psychoanalytic mentor seemed to think that Hegel's use of "aufhebung" did not overlap Freud's.
I suspect that Freud's "Aufhebung" has a lot to do with inheriting. Do you know this word ? Does it ring a bell with you ?
Yes, you found instantly what I was talking about in the "doing with gladness what we MUST do".
Although I like to think that we can be even MORE FREE through.. doing with gladness MORE than what we must do IN CERTAIN INSTANCES, not in all. This is not a generalization. It must be thought out in individual circumstances every day, and every moment to be REALLY FREE.
Freud and Jung were competing, Toby...
As it turns out, I agree fully with neither man. I have my OWN theory of what is going on. That makes me... FREE, right ? Freer than many, at any rate.
And, since Jung was the younger man, HE TOO was trying to be free. But.. Freud wanted a child. He never wanted his "disciples" to grow up...
I try to not knock Freud too hard. He faced hardships that Jung did NOT face. Antisemitism. Structural antisemitism. The belittling of his talents, because he was Jewish. Really difficult for him.

Toby said...

I've asked a couple of people here how they use Aufhebung, and the consensus was as "cancellation" in the sense of canceling a contract. At dict.loe.org the other interpretations include abolishment, avoidance and annulment. I don't see how that word links with inherit, not directly anyway.

Yes, I think Freud couldn't cope with his fledglings, particularly his star fledgling, flying away. A sad story, but also a reminder that great people can be childish too. Carl Gustav had his very dark days as well. But in his case he did his best to bring as much as possible out from the hidden depths up into the light. I've always respected him for that.

Debra said...

Freud had lots of extremely talented disciples.
Sandor Ferenzci, for one. Adler.
Anglo Saxon culture privileges Jung, largely as a kind of childish REACTION against Freud, by the way.
Jung came from a LONG LINE of Protestant pastors and HIS problem with inheriting was even MORE evident than Freud's...
Thanks for checking on "Aufhebung" for me.
Freud uses it to describe what we call "levée du refoulement" in French.
Lifting repression.
Cancelling is NOT a good word, because in order for repression to lift, you must WORK THROUGH what is repressed, tie it into other areas of your life, understanding it, in the line of all those different kinds of reading, and inheritance.
For me, one of the major difficulties with Freud is his almost exclusive insistance on the PERSONAL, INTIMATE part of "fathers", to mean, your Daddy, or Mommy and Daddy, your history as an individual.
But... where Jung sees archetypes I see... the effects of language on us. The fact that WE are using the same words, in many many cases, as our fathers, our ancestors used (with subtle meaning shifts, of course. A word does not remain unchanged in our culture.).
And our words DEFINITELY have their own history, as any etymological dictionary will show you, if you crack it.. And when you start looking at the history of our words, you are ALSO looking... at the history of our culture. Inevitable.

Toby said...

Yes, I was somewhat thrown by the interpretations of Aufhebung I found through 'official' channels. 'Heben' is 'to lift', and 'auf' is a preposition sometimes meaning something like 'up'. So lifting repression or exposing it to oneself to then be able to be rid of it (then comes the cancellation I guess), makes a lot of sense. Very interesting.

Fascinating stuff on language, myth and psychology too. Makes me want to dip back into those waters. I spent a lot of time there in my teens and twenties. Far more rewarding than economics!!!

Debra said...

Lol, Toby, you can tell...
I've never left childhood...