Interview with Doctor Freud

January 29, 2015
duchamp hat rack

To the young people and romantic souls who, because psychoanalysis happens to be in vogue this winter, need to imagine one of the most prosperous branch offices of modern charlatanism (Dr. Freud’s consulting room) as being fitted out with machines for turning rabbits into hats and soft determinism for a desk blotter, I am not displeased to say that the greatest psychologist of the age lives in an unassuming house tucked away in an obscure Vienna neighborhood. “Dear Sir,” he had written me, “having very little time in these days, I would ask you to come see me on Monday (tomorrow, the 10th) at 3 P.M. in my office.  Yours very truly, Freud.”

A modest plaque at the entrance: “Dr. Freud, 2-4”; a not very attractive servant girl; a waiting room whose walls are decorated with four mildly allegorical engravings — Water, Fire, Earth, and Air — and with a photograph depicting the master among his collaborators; a dozen or so patients of the most pedestrian sort; and once after the sound of a bell, several shouts in succession — not enough here to fill even the slimmest of reports.  Thus until the famous padded door cracks open for me.  I find myself in the presence of a little old man with no style who receives clients in a shabby office worthy of the neighborhood G.P. Ah! he doesn’t much like France, the only country to have remained indifferent to his work. Still, he proudly shows me a pamphlet that has just been published in Geneva, which is nothing more than the first French translation of five of his lessons.  I try to make him talk by throwing names such as Babinski into the conversation, but either because the memories I’m calling on are too dim or because he maintains a posture of cautious reticence with strangers, I can get him to speak only in generalities, such as “Your letter, the most moving I’ve ever received,” or “Fortunately, we have great faith in the young.”

— from The Lost Steps by André Breton

Extracted from file: “Freud”; Cross reference: “Arrogant Avante-Gardists”;  “Philosophy of Furniture” 

— from the Desk of the Unconscious

Freud Philosophy of Furniture