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Showing posts from December 2, 2012

Barthes freudian slip

“The ship on which Theseus sailed with the youths and returned in safety, the thirty-oared galley, was preserved by the Athenians down to the time of Demetrius Phalereus. 29 They took away the old timbers from time to time, and put new and sound ones in their places, so that the vessel became standing illustration for the philosophers in the mooted question of growth, some declaring that it remained the same, others that it was not the same vessel.” – Plutarch, the Life of Theseus We are like sailors who on the open sea must reconstruct their ship but are never able to start afresh from the bottom. We are like sailors who on the open sea must reconstruct their ship but are never able to start afresh from the bottom. – Otto Neurath There’s a curious error in Barthes by Barthes – something that is like a parapraxis, a Freudian slip. Like the classic instance of the Freudian slip outlined in the Psychopathology of Everyday Life,   this one, too, has to do with a classical allu

adam and william james

Adam has been fed and patted on the back and rubbed on the belly – the ritual of faire le rot. He’s been deposited on his portable foam bed with the  special posture design and the straps to make sure he doesn’t tumble out. He’s in his red pjs now, and as he lolls there, stunned by the milk, his legs kicking, he reminds me – absurdly – of some Cossack general, retiring from the night out at the gypsy camp. It is the round, nearly bare head. And I proceed to the hushing part of the night, which usually lasts from 15 to 30 minutes. It is a great exercise in patience, saying, in various registers and various modulations, hush honey. I intersperse this with tout va bien, Adam. He likes that. I can watch the effect on his face. The big eyes get a little glassier, the eyelids droop. But just as I am congratulating myself, just as he is on the threshold of sleep, he is yanked out of the trance and begins to cry. He seems to be yanked out of sleep by the sleep itself. Like digestion, like hu


We worry before the birth about the multitude of things that can happen, Down’s syndrome, the random birth defect like some serial killer, some small malignity hidden in our genes, or something we have perhaps done, some chemical we have absorbed, some toxic event in which we have unwittingly taken part. And then Adam is born and he is perfect. And then it occurs to us that he was safer in the womb than he will ever be again. He’s now in a world of sharp edges, chronic illnesses and conditions, traffic accidents, bad drugs and louche friends, plus he’s male. Male! If not prone himself to violence, and already I’m the parent who believes he can’t be, not my angel, he is as a male statistically prone to be the object picked on by other violent males. Last night, feeding him the bottle, I put my hand under his head, as I have done now a dozen times, and it suddenly struck me how fragile his skull was, how it was a work in progress, how I could feel its soft connections, the cartilaginous