This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
New Literary History, Volume 41, Number 1, Winter 2010, pp. 213-232 (Article) Published by The Johns Hopkins University Press DOI: 10.1353/nlh.0.0133
For additional information about this article
Access provided by Aberystwyth University (6 Jan 2014 16:24 GMT)
The Materiality of Remembering: Freud’s Wolf Man and the Biological Dimensions of Memory
igmund freud’s celebrated case study, “From the History of an Infantile Neurosis” (1918), more closely resembles a literary work than it does a meticulously composed scientiﬁc record, given that it provides seemingly inﬁnite possibilities for reinterpretation.1 The study not only describes the process involved in the interpretation of dreams, but it also outlines the structure of remembering through deferred acts, along with repetition and transference. Indeed, the style of the writing itself is seemingly intended to call attention to the way in which science and literature are dynamically synthesized, and the manner in which the mode of remembering functions in the study’s dialectic. As Jacques Derrida observes, “The theory of psychoanalysis, then, becomes a theory of the archive and not only a theory of memory.”2 Signiﬁcantly, in Freud’s case study of the so-called “Wolf Man,” memory—or more accurately, remembering or recollection—serves as the key element, given its role as the kernel of Freudian repression. Perhaps the numerous rereadings of this single empirical scientiﬁc study are due to its treatment of memory, which is, after all, the most mysterious structure of the human mind. Building upon the materiality of the so-called memory trace, the human mind perceives reality through a circular process of remembering. We refer to this material as the void; and in its absence, there can be no repetition, no cultural transference, and, for that matter, no cycle of recollections. As a reader whose development was shaped by the Eastern philosophical tradition, my interpretation of the Wolf Man case study focuses on transference, which contends that materiality, or animal nature, is the source of (re)creation as well as of remembering. In order to illustrate the narrative transference caused by this material base, my argument will proceed in the following order. First, I compare Freudian remembering to the Bergsonian model of memory through a brief examination of Matter and Memory, which features a version of the mode of remembering.3 Next, along with Freud’s letter 52 and several key essays from the
New Literary History, 2010, 41: 213–232
belongs to (unconscious) matter. and that bears a striking—and for many. Furthermore. a seminal inﬂuence upon cultural studies. Cerebral movement. not consciousness. which is reﬂected by Derrida in his essay “Freud and the Scene of Writing. I examine how Derrida created a new paradigm of deconstruction. Bergson classiﬁes memory into two distinct forms. which are easily erased through the automatism of habitual acts that are inscribed . and Derrida Bergson’s approach to memory is not inherently incompatible with Freud’s model of remembrance. although “conscious perception and cerebral movement are in strict correspondence” (MM 35). individual. the material aspect of the mnemic system signiﬁes the potentiality of psychoanalysis to achieve a symbiotic relationship between humans and natural beings. however. Those who take issue with the positive transference of Freud’s memory structure include dissenting ﬁgures like Frank Sulloway. the crux of my argument examines Freud’s embodiment of his concept of remembering. Operating on this assumption. who calls into question the politics of hiding materiality (or biology) in pure psychology. who (along with Adolf Grünbaum) criticizes Freud’s clinical method of recovering memory as untestable and “fundamentally ﬂawed. “From the History of an Infantile Neurosis. is the material base of remembering. which contends that human perception is a powerful motor designed to adopt the pure memory that surges just beneath the surface of our lives.” in regard to Chuang-tzu’s “dream of a butterﬂy. the cause of transference is grounded less in the dream of wolves than in the memory of the butterﬂy.” Ultimately. The ﬁrst category includes real. My argument is designed to show that the cause of deferred acts.” Accordingly. or transference. we are unable to grasp how the image arises from cerebral movement. I refer to the HERA model that has been recently explored by neuroscientists. drawing upon Freud’s mode of remembering—and I will consider what he repressed in the process of doing so.” To call attention to their misunderstandings.” In the process. A key element of Bergson’s premise is situated in neuron theory. and we cannot reach the realm of pure memory. The Materiality of Remembering in Freud. surprising—resemblance to Freud’s apparatuses in the “mystic writing-pad. representative memories.214 new literary history metapsychology on remembering. revealing narration as an endless process. and Frederick Crews. Therefore. I explore the mode of cultural turn. I. given that both claim an intersection between mind and matter. Bergson.
however. in fact. the future exists in the present. Bergson emphasizes two aspects of memory structure: the function of perception. within the sequence of time (MM 126). of chosen images from the past.the materiality of remembering 215 in the body. . On the basis of this dynamic between the present and the past. for past memories are sensed only when they are refracted through the perception of the present: “The truth is that memory does not consist in a regression from the present to the past.” the reﬂexive perception forms a circuit. Illusion emerges when the perceptive present and the incorporated past come together reciprocally. The convenience and the rapidity of perception are bought at this price: but hence also springs every kind of illusion” (MM 24). only an ideal ﬁction. and the result of the intersection between these two psychic apparatuses. the past exists only in the present. Accordingly. constantly creating. “an attentive perception is a reﬂection on the present object. but only at the cost of attaining a pure grasp of that object: consciousness is the sign of the present. resulting in a circuit-of-time sequence. “instantaneous perception. and thereby partakes of memory” (MM 325). Bergson remarks that “pure. In the latter form (the kernel of Bergson’s model of memory). the powerful motor of perceptive consciousness and images caused by cerebral movement. our perception is continually brimming with memories of the past. from which no pure memories are produced—just as there is no such thing as pure consciousness. It is in the past that we place ourselves at a stroke” (MM 319). In most cases these memories supplant our actual perceptions.” While “the number and complexity of these images will depend on the degree of tension adapted by the mind. As a result of the interrelationship between these two parts. which is inseparable from the material base of cerebral movement. We can quickly perceive an object due to past experiences inscribed in the body. but circuitous. or recreating. therefore pure memory is latent and unconscious (MM 181). thus using them merely as ‘signs’ that recall to us former images. in a progress from the past to the present. Consequently. The other form includes memories that result from the reciprocal dependence of two polarities.” is. there arises a new concept of time that is not linear. but on the contrary. at the moment it is refracted through the present. there is no transparent perception that is not modiﬁed by memories: “With the immediate and present data of our senses we mingle a thousand details out of our past experience.” that is to say. of which we then retain only a few hints. Here. for “every perception ﬁlls a depth of duration. Likewise. even though a large number of memory images are erased through habitual action. prolongs the past into the present.
and to which consciousness is attached.216 new literary history Whereas Bergson transmitted the dialectic between matter and memory onto an ontological perception of things that was eventually echoed in the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Gilles Deleuze.5 Given that the “Project for a Scientiﬁc Psychology” was written at a time when Freud was still a neurologist. a dramatization. This list may be expanded to include the later work titled “Construction in Analysis” (1937). Indeed. Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920). even though the trace is not beyond alteration. For the present argument. In this series of works. and reﬁning such terms as remembering and repetition. buried level—a third element is required for the production of verbal images. The neurons in which perceptions appear. from his earlier days as a neurologist to his later years as a psychologist. which features an example of screen memory. “Remembering. the following list sufﬁces to represent his lifelong effort to establish the nature of human mnemic systems: the letter to Fliess 52 and the essay “Project for a Scientiﬁc Psychology” (1895). partiality. searching. which continues even after the conclusion of analysis. it would not be hyperbole to suggest that Freud devoted the entirety of his life to devising. and permanent memory trace. the Wolf Man narrative holds a unique position as a sjuzet. on the other. in order to be repeatedly perceptual. Repetition. The general assumption to which Freud (like Bergson) continually returns contends that memory structure includes two different levels: perceptive consciousness. The writing pad was a popular device (designed mainly for children) that consisted of two layers. through which these concepts are staged vividly and convincingly. The surface layer was a transparent piece of celluloid. Freud developed and reﬁned the mode of recollection throughout his entire life. Freud presents the case of Emma. where Freud insists that the function of transference is interminable interpretation. on one hand. consciousness and memory trace are “mutually exclusive. and “A Note Upon the ‘Mystic Writing-Pad’” (1925). a primal scene produced after the event: a memory is repressed which only became a trauma after the event. it is relatively complicated yet unreﬁned. a cover to . the latter must retain its permanence. even if they are rendered inaccurate due to resistance. If the former is to sustain a limitless receptive capacity for new perceptions at each and every moment.6 A clearer vision of the mode of remembering did not become accessible until the appearance of the relatively short—yet precisely expounded—essay on the mystic writing pad. in a way that was compatible with his discovery of the unconscious. Hence.”4 Between these two strata—one at the surface level and the other at the deep. and Working-Through” (1914). do not retain any trace of what happens. or incompleteness. To demonstrate this incompleteness.
as an instinct not limited to human beings. Freud presents this device as an analogy for “our mental apparatus. Freud writes: Moreover it is possible to specify this ﬁnal goal of all organic striving.”8 Freud insists upon the mutually exclusive properties of the two memory systems. instead. and yet. Beneath these two layers was a waxed slab.the materiality of remembering 217 protect the under layer. unlike Bergson. whose idea led to the phenomenology of perception as well as to the location of images in a time sequence. could be compared to our perception apparatus. translucent piece of waxed paper. Without a negation of the repressed.10 If the compulsive repetition is “an urge inherent in organic life to restore an earlier state of things. negation is the one principle that Freud held on to tenaciously. but also found among all organic life. Freud’s idea pointed the way to an entirely new concept. no viable theory is possible for him.” explaining that the upper layer. systems.”7 Due to this adjoining mnemic component (the so called “memory traces”). traces of these letters remained on the waxed slab below. a thin. as he equates these two parts with the opposition of consciousness and the unconscious. The scratched letters on the upper layer were erased if it was lifted even slightly. Indeed. but is. as we know from the circumstances surrounding his estrangement from former colleagues like Carl Jung and Alfred Adler. Similarly. In his indispensable text. the death drive: a crucial turning point in the history of psychoanalysis.” the wish to return is not conﬁned to humans but is evident even in the lowest branches of the animal world. Freud adduces the identical place to which each organism tries to return by making use of a lovely analogy. Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Freud draws attention to the mutually exclusive relations between the two parts: “Either the receptive surface must be renewed or the note must be destroyed. and the death instinct. while the lower layer. remembrance of the past cannot be verbalized. a risky and controversial idea in his own time. acted out repeatedly. the migratory ﬂights of birds always adhere to the same route: an organic compulsion to repeat lies in the phenomena of heredity and the facts of embryology. we can discern two important references to an identical theme: “death” as an eternal home. adjoining. is comparable to “other. it must be an old state of things. In these accounts.9 Once again. He observes that a certain ﬁsh returns continually to its place of origin in order to lay eggs. where memories are stored. an initial state from which the living entity has at one time or other departed and to which it is striving to return by the circuitous paths along which its development leads. which receives the stimuli. It would be in contradiction to the conservative nature of the instincts if the goal of life were a state of things which had never yet been attained. If we are to take it as a truth that knows no exception that everything living dies for internal reasons—becomes . On the contrary.
there lurks a fervent belief that humankind is not as perfect as the image of God. with the result that the origin of language. reads the memory trace quite differently. Our perception fails to function in the absence of the memory trace. or presence.’ (BP 38. we cannot read timeless memory directly without the intervention of consciousness. différance. to the différance that is produced through the effect of deferring. or of difference. and the expectations of his own time. the unconscious: without the memory trace. Nevertheless. there can be no presence of consciousness. to which the two dynamic forces of memory trace and consciousness belong. If resistance is so strong that remembering is not expressed through speech. looking backwards. is from the beginning difference. the original experiences are erased. or as repeated acts in life. Freud’s emphasis) In the depths of Freud’s mind. Freud boldly rejects this benevolent illusion and warns that “the present development of human beings requires. no different explanation from that of animals” (BP 42). remembering cannot sidestep the barrier of screen memory.11 From the perspective of Derrida. foregrounding the machinery of Freud’s mystic writing pad in a way that is provocative. Since the memory trace is the negation of consciousness. so that repetition takes the place of originality. When the two apparatuses come upon each other. we are compelled to appreciate the extent to which Freud’s mnemic systems inﬂuenced him. not to mention the term writing. in the history of Western metaphysics. and the supplement. trace. Repudiating the idealism of faith. epitomizing the endless chain of signiﬁcation. caught between time-limited consciousness and the timeless memory trace. as it seems to me. speech has been regarded as presence or even originality. Based on an acknowledgment of “writing within speech. in which no voices are heard. which was evidently inspired by the writing pad. despite the notable cultural and intellectual achievements of human history. that ‘inanimate things existed before living ones. whereas interpretations in which condensation and displacement work together are the equivalent of speech. Furthermore. from which transference (as a part of repetition) emerges. resulting in deferred meaning. . If we consider Derrida’s new terms. Freud regards the memory trace as the archive that is exposed to the death drive. are the equivalent of writing.” Derrida denies “logo-phonocentrism” and extends the concept of arche-trace. image-oriented dreams. Derrida. As a result of this barrier. past memories surface as images in dreams. Thus. meaning is born as a deferred act. on the other hand.218 new literary history inorganic once again—then we shall be compelled to say that ‘the aim of all life is death’ and.
this deferral also signiﬁes a supplement. decodes the unconscious via the concept of writing as a strategy (while reformulating the static binary oppositions of structuralism into the dynamic return of the repressed). and différance. By subordinating speech to the dream stage. punctuality. It cannot be exhausted by psychology alone. according “to a whole chain of hypotheses which stretch from the Letters to Fliess. This is the concept of techne as supplementary machine: Writing. In discovering the death drive beyond the . the leading concept in Derrida’s interpretation of Freud’s mnemic structures: “A double system contained in a single differentiated apparatus” under the name of the mystic writing pad (FS 223). consolidated. in Freud’s discourse. is techne as the relation between life and death. or the supplementarity to which binarism is subordinated (FS 230). In order to radicalize the repressed memory trace. and solidiﬁed in the Mystic Pad” (FS 225). In this sense writing is the stage of history and the play of the world. here. as a matter of technology. such as writing. Derrida coins several terminologies. are constructed. trace. systems” (FS 224).” To erase the origin of time. between the two apparatuses. “a spacing of time” or periodicity emerges.” Derrida argues.” Thus an inﬁnite reserve of traces are ﬁnally reconciled through the “small contrivance” known as the mystic writing pad: “We must account for writing as a trace which survives the scratch’s present.the materiality of remembering 219 If everything begins with reproduction. and substitutes Freud’s mystic writing pad with techne. The origin of time is therefore always already “this periodic non-excitability. to Beyond the Pleasure Principle. adding that “the foundations of memory come about in other. and consciousness to the memory trace. and which. and ﬁnally arrives at “a single differentiated apparatus. That which. and a signiﬁed presence is always reconstituted through deferral (belatedly. once again. Derrida codes the thought of the trace as an independent space. (FS 228) Here we discern a signiﬁcant difference between Freud’s memory trace as the death drive and Derrida’s trace (or supplement) as techne. It opens up the question of technics: of the apparatus in general and of the analogy between the psychical apparatus and the nonpsychical apparatus. or materiality. What is sacriﬁced in his reading of Freud’s remembering is what Freud really wants to tell us. supplementary. opens itself to the theme of writing results in psychoanalysis being not simply psychology—nor simply psychoanalysis. between present and representation. In doing so. conﬁrmed. supplementarily). Derrida interprets Freud’s mnemic theory in the context of the order of written time. he recasts Freud’s unconscious. When the perceptive time of consciousness interacts with the timeless memory trace.
Contrary to these humanistic approaches to the mnemic apparatus. Derrida’s concept of techne (the term representing civilization) falls beyond the boundaries of Freud’s original idea of memory trace. Freud boldly abandons the dream of an ideal society and extends the death drive to the realm of the organic world. Freud diagnoses the cause of the Wolf Man’s neurotic phobia as the instinct of every human being who lacks the resilience to endure the strict prohibitions required by civilization. the two mechanisms in the mode of remembering are acceptance of infantile experience and acceptance of repressed animal nature. who was burdened with guilt and lived in fear of transgressing the boundaries between human beings and animals. published the essay “The Unknown Freud. Sulloway examines the development of psychology. Freud perceives this symptom in the Wolf Man. given that skepticism about the scientiﬁc dimensions of psychoanalysis was becoming fashionable.” where he asked Freudians to take responsibility for the phenomenon of false-memory syndrome. The disputes that grew up around Freudian remembering reﬂect the atmosphere of a period in which many observers questioned the scientiﬁc authenticity of psychoanalysis. a view exempliﬁed by works such as Frank Sulloway’s Freud. Notably. who had reviewed several books skeptical of Freudian ideas. including human beings.12 Crews’s understanding of Freud as displayed in this essay is rather fragmentary. two diverse analyses of its empirical and biological dimensions are worth investigating at this point. For Freud. As a scientiﬁc historian. the patient tended to trust uncritically the results of analysis. Working under the assumption that an individual’s memory could be restored without being signiﬁcantly modiﬁed by current desires. Biologist of the Mind (1979) and Adolf Grünbaum’s The Foundations of Psychoanalysis (1984). relying on sketches of other scholars’ criticisms while eschewing the beneﬁt of a thorough examination of Freud’s own texts. He describes Freud’s origins as a neurologist (one who worked in close association with contemporary biologists) and goes on to out- . The Memory Wars and the HERA Model The false-memory syndrome that prevailed throughout the 1980s was closely connected to the work of memory-recovery therapists who sought to uncover their patients’ past. Frederick Crews. Much of this skepticism stemmed from the fact that Freud’s theories could not be tested scientiﬁcally. II. At the same time. in opposition to the logocentric repression that prohibits animal instincts. In this context.220 new literary history pleasure principle. his argument was exceedingly timely.
and does a competent job of exploring his role as the creator of infantile sexuality. Sulloway presents Freud as a scientiﬁc heir of Darwin. In the author’s view. dismissing the notion that it should be treated as hermeneutics—or any other form of knowledge immune to a rigid standard of testability. and ﬁnally arrived at the position of psychotherapist.13 As reﬂected in his theory of remembering. Sulloway suggests that. emphasizing that Freud worked closely with neurobiologists like Jean-Martin Charcot and Fliess. the second was his followers’ collective quest for power.” Sulloway calls the reader’s attention to the hidden politics swirling beneath the legend (FB 419).the materiality of remembering 221 line his transformation into a pure psychologist. he sheds almost no light on the poetic side of Freudian theory. Grünbaum also dismisses Karl Popper’s conception of psychoanalysis as the domain of an untestable pseudoscience that is “em- . 65). Freud “actively sought to camouﬂage the biological side” of his development when he established himself as the founder of psychoanalysis (FB 4). According to Sulloway.” to quote Ricoeur’s own words (FP 8. Freud and his followers cultivated a legend that largely suppressed Freud’s early connection to biology. In a similar vein. And while Sulloway provides a thorough examination of Freud’s early life as a biologist. As a philosopher of science. in order to undercut the inﬂuence of dissenters from within as well as rivals from without. In contrast to Sulloway’s contention. Throughout. pointing to Jürgen Habermas’s “philosophical misconception of the clinical theory” or Paul Ricoeur’s misunderstanding of psychoanalysis: “Freud invites us to look to dreams themselves for the various relations between desire and language. He argues that the distortion of history involved in the establishment of the Freudian myth is the product of two distinct motivations. Freud deliberately lost sight of the balance he had earlier achieved between biology and the mind as the essence of evolutionary theory. perceiving them as the components of an inseparable symmetry. Freud is constantly aware of both memory trace (biology) and consciousness (evolved mental capacity). however. Freud—as a “Darwin of the mind”—began his career as a neuroanatomical researcher. the ﬁrst of these motives was Freud’s personal ambition to become the hero of a new science. while Freud’s early inﬂuences included Darwin and neuroscience. He goes on to assert that. I would argue that Freud remained an ardent Darwinian for his entire life. Grünbaum demonstrates how contemporary philosophy has undermined the integrity of psychoanalysis. without which remembering cannot exist as a deferred act. Grünbaum’s critique of Freud presents psychoanalysis as a natural science. moved on to assume the role of clinical neurologist. According to Sulloway. however. Referring to Freud as “a crypticbiologist.
That Freud devoted his entire life to proving that the human mind and memory emerge as deferred acts is the very point Grünbaum and Crews have sought to dispute. Firmly endorsing the scientiﬁc and clinical value of psychoanalysis.” Crews deﬁnes Freud as “a saturnine self-dramatizer. Grünbaum argues: “The theory was compatible with everything that could happen—even without any special immunization treatment” (FP 108). but if he contradicts us. the patient’s trauma in order to facilitate the natural ﬂow of the mind. Memory is not founded on testable knowledge. Accusing all three theorists of immunizing the analyst’s clinical techniques from empirical falsiﬁability. which shows that we are right” (FP 125). Here lies the inherent contradiction in the arguments of the dissenters. that is only a sign of his resistance. only to present it as an arbitrary method based on the principle of “heads I win. he cannot be simultaneously regarded as the scientiﬁc sponsor of false-memory syndrome. He or she is not charged with orchestrating vengeance upon an invisible past. combative stubbornness. Ultimately. and that our mind is reconstructed at every moment. Grünbaum turns to Freud’s essay “Constructions in Analysis” and quotes from it: “If the patient agrees with us. in which the uncontaminated past is believed to be restored. if Freud is a self-dramatizing rhetorician (whose therapy sometimes works and sometimes fails). calling attention to the fact that the politics informing the history of psychoanalysis was opportunistic and infused “with a blind. After those tenacious arguments to solidify the empirical base of psychoanalysis. as shown in the following words by Grünbaum: “The analyst cannot justly claim to be a mere neutral expeditor or catalyst for the recovery of memories that can be intraclinically certiﬁed as authentic” (FP 243).” Here Grünbaum fails to grasp either the true nature of memory or the aims of psychotherapy.222 new literary history pirically irrefutable” (FP 104). as was evidently the case with false-memory syndrome. What the analyst should do is help the patient to grasp that truth is temporal. Grünbaum tests the authenticity of psychoanalysis. Instead. the analyst seeks to break down. The aim of therapy does not lie in a quest for concrete empirical truth.” In his review “The Unknown Freud. given that the mind ﬂows in the manner of water. and tails you lose. To release the patient free from the cathexis of the trauma is the primary responsibility of the therapist.” and insists that his primal scene was “more folkloric . Crews stresses the ﬂawed foundation of Freud’s analytic method as an empirical science. or melt. then the interpretation is right. Grünbaum openly asserts that the prime testing ground and the heuristic inspiration should be fully at home with one another. As if doing so much work for nothing. In line with these criticisms.
human beings require what might be termed higher memory. this kind of distrust of the clinical work of psychoanalysis is informed by a deep attachment to the spirit of scientiﬁc empiricism. and how.”17 The left frontal lobes are limited to a pattern of semantic-memory retrieval as well as episodic-memory encoding. the forced interpretation has nothing at all to do with the patient’s neurosis. we will now turn to recent experimental results produced by the technical innovations of brain-imaging techniques. especially about where. which was not developed to any great extent during Freud’s lifetime. and its appeal to evidence consisting of unobservable buried wishes” (MW 63). functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI). evolutionary biology. This “episodic memory” must be differentiated from semantic memory “with respect to evolutionary history. and it is made possible by the autonoetic consciousness. forces the Wolf Man to accept his conclusions.the materiality of remembering 223 than scientiﬁc” (MW 35). however. the primal scene is merely the product of the analyst’s own desires and memories. The analyst. he points out. According to Crews. Endel Tulving—have produced volumes of empirical data regarding memory. remembering is associated primarily with the prefrontal cortical regions. We call this type of memory “semantic memory. the capacity to recall past experiences. our awareness of the past is generated in the brain. Overall. that is.14 Brain researchers—notably. while the retrieval of episodic memory is exclusively restricted to the right hemisphere. a more developed portion of the mind. its gratuitous causal assertions. is closely connected to subjective and intimate feelings. For these researchers. memory functions as an encoder and retriever of information with respect to two types of memories: “Retrieval from semantic memory and encoding of information into episodic memory take place concurrently on the left lobes. Hence. and retrieval independently of encoding. which are neither true nor entirely agreeable to the patient. This backward memory. Crews’s caustic critique of the Freudian model of remembering takes aim at its “unformalized procedures. and event-related potentials (ERP)—all of which enhanced our empirical understanding of both memory and awareness. or recollection. Behind such criticisms of the Freudian model of remembering lurks a common feature that must be discussed. and it functions through mutually exclusive encoding and retrieval activities. “encoding independently of retrieval. and solid evidence produced through the relatively new discipline of brain science.” Beyond this acquisition and utilization of knowledge. such as position emission tomography (PET). with episodic memory arguably representing the latest development. Hence.”15 All animals require survival skills and instinctive knowledge that are oriented towards the present and the future.”16 Accordingly. whereas the right frontal .
” James Strachey presents the case study of the Wolf Man as “the most elaborate and no doubt the most important work of all Freud’s case histories.” In short.224 new literary history lobes are restricted to episodic-memory retrieval: a model that is referred to as the HERA model—hemispheric encoding/retrieval asymmetry in the frontal lobes. Furthermore. human beings possess an episodic memory and recall the past by encoding the memory traces stored in the left frontal lobes and engaging in retrieval through the autonoetic consciousness of the right frontal lobes.18 The initial work done by Tulving was conﬁrmed later as “a surprising empirical regularity. suggesting that Freud’s model of the writing pad is perfectly compatible with recent scientiﬁc experiments. Both models. Unique in humans. feature two mutually exclusive layers: memory trace and consciousness. an accurate grasp of past memory is incompatible with the construction of a civilization featuring “complex goal-directed activity. for it extends back to a time before the development of the autonoetic capacity. for perception is located at “the more recently evolved area of the brain. autonoetic consciousness as an evolutionary adaptation is consistent with Freudian consciousness. in contrast to the unconscious of semantic memory. or the memory trace of infantile sexuality. and future. is incapable of visiting the screen memory.”22 A peculiar characteristic of the myriad . for it provides humans with a vision of space and time.”20 This capacity for retrieval from episodic memory is a landmark of evolution.21 We simply cannot return to that time. III.” The HERA model supported by PET studies conﬁrms that remembering is the product of deferred acts in its terminable and interminable constructions. present. It does not merely involve the reﬂexive consciousness of one’s own self in relation to the social environment. Unlike animals. subjective way that is the hallmark of retrieval from episodic memory. it also encompasses the self’s experiences in the past. another reading of memory trace will be introduced by a reader based on Korean culture. including the ability to perform mental time travel in the personal. as understood by Freud. consciousness. after all. “autonoetic consciousness is important for many of the most complex abilities. In short. which enables us to obtain self-awareness. this model overlaps in striking ways with Freud’s model of remembering: the mystic writing pad.”19 Signiﬁcantly. The Wolf Man and Cultural Transference: The Dream of a Butterﬂy In his “Editor’s Note. Tulving’s theory of “childhood amnesia” puts us in mind of Freud’s screen memory. Regarding these deferred acts. In the same vein.
As we know. one thing is clear: this case study is the embodiment. Undoubtedly.” where Freud writes. compulsive repetition was already strongly adduced in “Remembering. with a special emphasis on the process of repetition and transference. In line with this approach.”24 Obviously. these two pieces of metapsychology are the byproducts of his analysis of the Wolf Man. Freud goes so far as to add. we should read the case study in the context of its connection to them. However. What does Freud signify through this introductory phrase. he repeats it. “In spite of the patient’s direct request. Freud observes: “We must treat his illness. . these same words are repeated in the essay “Remembering. as he demonstrates from the beginning with such statements as: “Only this infantile neurosis will be the subject of my communication” (IN 8). as though to suggest that the last episode were the real one—a supplementary element. a period of three-and-a-half years (from 1910 to 1914) was required to reach “the deepest and most primitive strata of mental development” in order to arrive at the solution of “the later formation” (IN 10). He reproduces it not as a memory but as an action.” which was written in 1914. Indeed. the same year that the case study was closed. without which the narrative cannot be concluded. as well as the culmination. “The patient does not remember anything of what he has forgotten and repressed. and WorkingThrough. but acts it out. Accepting the ﬁctional elements of his narrative (as well as its arbitrariness). “the later formation”? If we consider that he delayed the publication of this case study of the Wolf Man until after his announcement of the discovery of the death drive as a cause of compulsive repetition. of Freud’s quest to outline the mechanism of remembering as deferred action. and anticipating the patient’s resistance to him (and the reader’s disagreement with his conclusions). Furthermore. not as an event of the past. Repeating. of course.”23 For Freud. but as a present-day force.the materiality of remembering 225 rereadings of this one case study is that much of the discussion focuses exclusively on the dream of the wolf and the primal scene. Repeating. there are many reasons that so much attention has been lavished on this case study in general and on the dream of the wolf in particular. and Working-Through. I have abstained from writing a complete history of his illness” and that “distortion and refurbishing” is inevitable because a person’s own past is subjected to this reworking when it is looked back upon from a later period (IN 9). and therefore. the narrative seems to be carefully devised to move beyond the Pleasure Principle. Freud tenaciously clings to the role of infantile experience. he positions the memory of the butterﬂy after the dream of the wolves in his narrative sequence. and toward what is perhaps the most explosively controversial issue in the history of psychoanalysis. without. Writing of his patient. knowing that he is repeating it.
where they were inscribed as fear and humiliation. internalizing these features in his body. incapable of doing anything on his own. sustaining a remarkable intimacy. both elements point toward the existence of an infantile stage. He spent his early childhood in a pastoral environment. Instead of becoming a positive character by identifying with his father. which the analyst essentially forces upon the patient (IN 52). These ﬁgures worked collectively to push him toward a sexually passive role.” and his sister—all of whom exerted negative inﬂuences upon him. Freud carefully constructs a narrative that builds toward the synthesis of the dream of the wolf and the memory of the butterﬂy. fear of the father was replaced by fear of the wolf. their resemblance to white sheep. fairy . whether they are friends or enemies. Hence. we ﬁnd that the memory of the “swallowtail butterﬂy” plays no less signiﬁcant a role than the wolf dream in the development of his fear of animals. where he was exposed to life on a countryside estate. “Nanny. Freud anticipates claims that the analysis is the product of the analyst’s own fantasies. his nurse. a masochistic tendency. Indeed. In contrast to “little Hans. The fairytales and picture books that Freud regarded as primary inﬂuences upon the patient may have inspired his animal phobia and the dream of the wolf. and humiliation at the hands of his older sister (who was intellectually superior to the patient) led him to become dependent. the number of wolves in the tree. with an emphasis on his phobia and his family relations. which suggests he considered both equally important to remembering the past and exploring the trauma. Signiﬁcantly. peasant life. If we explore the patient’s early life. he was caught in the split between love and hate. and their manner of observing him recall features of widely known fairy tales. the Wolf Man has no one to turn to for proper guidance. whose own son had died at a young age. fairytales. most parts of the narrative are devoted to an account of the patient’s history. even though Freud postpones any discussion of this particular memory until the close of the narration. in fairy tales. His gesture (which appears to indicate that the ﬁve or six wolves are the only source of the patient’s phobia) adds a story-like element to the narration. especially his relationship with his parents.226 new literary history The relationship between repetitive acts and the primal scene—despite most reviewers’ fascination with the wolf dream—should be presented in a way that places greater emphasis on the memory of the butterﬂy. The patient also served as a surrogate son for Nanny. human beings converse with animals and live together with them.” who had a similar fear of animals (a phobia regarding horses in this case). Boldly accepting the possibility of the analyst’s transference. At the same time. and picture books—all of which served as the sole sources of his education. In this way. Evidently.
Is it possible that Freud. can be explained by referring to Freud’s comment in another meta-psychological piece. “standing upright and striding along.) He was suddenly seized with a terrible fear of the creature and.” and other animals (whether large or small) also frightened him: “Once he was running after a beautiful big butterﬂy. conceals the memory of the butterﬂy as a means of heightening its dramatic effect later on? Yet.25 Thus. without intending any derogation of his father by it. in turn. The Wolf Man was fearful of the wolves depicted in the picture book. He is not astonished at animals thinking and talking in fairy-tales. and deprived of any meaningful opportunities for socialization. which is not very different from the theory of repression and resistance. (It was no doubt a ‘swallow-tail’. The patient’s conﬂicting reactions of love and hate. “A Difﬁculty in the Path of Psycho-analysis”: “A child can see no difference between his own nature and that of animals. or (to put it in Freudian terms) infantile experiences. but instead. Freud analyzes the patient’s contradictory feeling towards animals and sets . by homosexual eroticism. as part of a narrative strategy. and for the remembering as repeated acts that occurred later in the patient’s life. in the hope of catching it. responsible man. there is nothing to do but wait until the memory of the butterﬂy reﬂects the dream of the wolf and thereby supports the primal scene. along with mixed feelings of empathy and hostility toward animals (which often contributed to his disruptive behavior). screaming. slipped into an “object-choice.the materiality of remembering 227 tales belong to the heritage of the prehistorical period.”26 Under the inﬂuence of a persistently passive sexual role (through “the path from his sister via his Nanny to his father”).”27 At this point. the animal phobia was replaced by the patient’s fear of his father. the patient was unable to identify himself as an independent. At this point. he will transfer an emotion of fear which he feels for his human father onto a dog or a horse. with striped yellow wings which ended in points. According to Freud. insofar as both reserve the most important element of the narrative for the dramatic reversal. why does Freud barely touch upon the memory of the butterﬂy (limiting himself to the briefest of descriptions) as though it were nothing? Could it be that he is enacting his own theory of repression and resistance? We will discover that this seemingly innocuous memory of the butterﬂy is of monumental importance to Freud’s claims for infantile sexuality. Freud might have come to appreciate Aristotle’s notion of catharsis. gave up the chase” (IN 16). which was caused. the Wolf Man was burdened by feelings of guilt and a profound fear of punishment. Freud interrupts his discussion of the butterﬂy and will not pick up the topic again until the conclusion of the narrative. Vulnerable to the effects of instinctive sexuality.
as though he had inferred that his parents did things in the same way” (IN 57).” the patient’s ﬁrst loved one during the primal period. we might stray for a moment in the Asian countryside to visit another “dream” of a butterﬂy. the fear of the father to the fear of the mother. a “prehistoric” form of lovemaking that is now associated with animals.” a big delicious pear with a yellow stripe on its skin. and emphasizes that the Wolf Man’s history is about the mode of remembering involved in reaching the primal scene. the patient is looking at something. The patient would fall in love with a maid. in relation to the primal scene). Freud ﬁnally settles on the proper name “Grusha. the scene provides the missing link between the primal scene and the later. he suddenly ﬂed. The crucial material needed to solidify this scene is provided by the patient. he substitutes the gaze of the patient for that of the wolves. whose posture resembled that of his mother in coitus a tergo. that is. Avoiding any absolute convictions regarding the primal scene—and offering such excuses as “the reader’s belief will abandon me” or “join me in adopting a provisional belief in the reality of the scene” (IN 39)—Freud remains open to other possible approaches to resolving its mystery. or peasant girl. Freud then makes a brief tour into Russian vocabulary. Thus. this “Grusha” scenario was repeated during his later life. one described in a well-known poem by Chuang-tzu: . which “he then displaced on to his parents. Freud reminds us that dreaming is another kind of remembering (one that is hardly inferior to recollection). on at least three occasions. he replaces the wolves with the patient’s parents. whose postures are similar to those of the animals. compulsive love affairs. Secondly.” his mother. Freud attributes this posture (coitus a tergo) to the child’s likely observation of copulation between animals. focusing on words such as “babushka” (granny) and “babochka” (butterﬂy). First. Freud concludes that the deeply concealed erotic objects lying beneath the patient’s repeated acts were “surrogates for one person. as well as “grusha. What does this mother surrogate mean to Freud and the patient? How is this connected to the fear of the wolf and the recurrence of the wolf dream? Before we connect the wolf dream to the memory of the butterﬂy (in other words. when he was two-and-a-half years old.” While he initially pursued the butterﬂy. Signiﬁcantly. with a feeling of terror. The butterﬂy is usually interpreted as the signiﬁer for a girl. when he describes the memory of “a beautiful big butterﬂy with yellow stripes and large wings. thereby rendering it a metaphor of the patient’s erotic passion for a particular woman.228 new literary history out to compose the primal scene. instead of a wolf looking at him.
Obviously. is not an easy task in the context of our daily lives. where he illustrates the concept of the gaze.the materiality of remembering 昔者莊周夢爲胡蝶， 然胡蝶也。自喩適志與！不知周也。俄然 覺，則蘧蘧然周也。不知周之夢爲胡蝶與？胡蝶之夢爲周與？周與 胡蝶則必有分矣。此之謂物化。 229 [On one occasion. this time from the work of Lao-tzu. 三 生 萬 物). which is called ‘yang-hang’ (Korean pronunciation of 兩行). 二 生 三. From the number one. there can be no reconstruction.29 Although we are not far from Lacan’s understanding of Chuang-tzu’s dream of the butterﬂy. from which two is engendered. it may be useful to investigate it further in the context of the Wolf Man’s memory. In the throes of this experience. three is engendered. he stated. given that we live as human beings in a civilized . only to realize that he was indeed Chuang-tzu. it is enormously difﬁcult to apply it to our own experience. or the negation of the unconscious to achieve consciousness. Tao. from the three. Nor is it possible to maintain the harmony of yin and yang. as counterparts. who represents the spirit of Tao in the symbolic statement: “There is the original One. Chuang-tzu transgresses the boundary between man and animal. keeping a balance between yin and yang. 一 生 二. Maintaining a balance between these two polarities. there needs to be a distinction between Chuang-tzu and the butterﬂy. His dream ﬂight proved so delightful. matter and spirit. “I hardly know whether I am Chuang-tzu who dreams of a butterﬂy. While it is easy for us to appreciate Chuang-tzu’s playful poem of the butterﬂy (perhaps even to discern its essential truth). is essential for repetition and transference. that the poet simply forgot he was Chuangtzu. linking the patient’s memory of the butterﬂy to his dream of the wolf and treating them as counterparts. We could add to this list the “mutually exclusive” relationships of consciousness and memory trace. Chuang-tzu dreamed that he was a butterﬂy. from the two. To conﬁrm this spirit of transgression. or any two polarities. the supreme void. given that we are confronted with the two sides of memory trace and consciousness. In the absence of three. However. ten thousand things are born” (道 生 一. Suddenly. we might turn to another example.30 What have these numbers to do with the Freudian mode of remembering? Let’s start with the number three. so it is said that he became “a thing. so congenial. Notably. that is. in order to consider both counterparts simultaneously.”28] Little wonder that Jacques Lacan quotes Chuang-tzu in his Seminar XI. we need three. Therefore. two are born—as with yin and yang. he awoke. which creates ten thousand things that subsist through the endless cycle of nature. or a butterﬂy who dreams of Chuang-tzu. between dream and reality.
and made claims to a divine descent which permitted him to break the bond of community between him and the animal kingdom. Perhaps this accounts for Freud’s impulse to cling tenaciously to the materiality of remembering. while the latter takes the form of womb fantasy. for he dared to dream of being loved by that butterﬂy. just as it is to primitive and primaeval man. this desire is related as a fantasy of rebirth. he began to place a gulf between his nature and theirs.” where he identiﬁes with his patient in a way he could scarcely admit in the course of the analysis: In the course of the development of civilization. are inclined to move beyond the boundaries of the human and in the direction of the realm of animals. Not content with this supremacy. Thus.230 new literary history world. In the former. along with the dream of the Wolf Man. it cannot be described as a real boundary. Curiously enough. Chuang-tzu is compelled to ask himself whether he is a butterﬂy who dreams of Chuang-tzu. being more closely related to some species and more distantly to others. remembering is nothing more than a wish to move beyond the Pleasure Principle (through a path of compulsive repetition) until we reach the primal scene. he himself is of animal descent. Both men. He denied the possession of reason to them. of materiality. the butterﬂy in the dream of Chuang-tzu.31 Contending that “man is not the master in its own house. In this context. a mother surrogate. that “man is not a being different from animals or superior to them. in his confession. man acquired a dominating position over his fellow-creatures in the animal kingdom. that is. Similarly. as reﬂected by Freud’s own confession. is the residue of . By contrast. it may be illuminating to conclude by reviewing Freud’s confession in “A Difﬁculty in the Path of Psycho-Analysis. which involves accepting the animality of primitive humans? Freud ends his Wolf Man analysis by drawing together two distinct kinds of remembering: the dream of a wolf and the memory of a butterﬂy.”32 Is it possible for us to substitute Chuang-tzu’s dream of a butterﬂy for the Wolf Man’s recurring dream of wolves. but both are united in a common fantasy of rebirth (IN 101–3). or Chuangtzu who dreams of a butterﬂy. the void. Therefore. this piece of arrogance is still foreign to children. They are counterparts of a single wish to return to the inﬁnite. however. the Wolf Man admits that he screamed and ran from that swallowtail butterﬂy. after all. Chuang-tzu’s resemblance to the Wolf Man (not to mention to Freud himself) is the product of their common empathy for Nature and their resistance to human law.” Freud acknowledges. and to himself he attributed an immortal soul. where stories begin and return ceaselessly. Although there is a boundary between human beings and butterﬂies.
Kris.” 10 Freud. and accordingly withholds the publication of this case study (though we should also recall the fact of WWI. which were then of topical interest. Lawrence Johnson examines “autobiography” as a mode of psychoanalytic speculation. Freud complains about Adler and Jung’s hope of escaping “the need for recognizing the importance of infantile sexuality. the excess that causes compulsive erotic drives—the materiality of remembering. vol. 1935]. Press. Sulloway. “A Note Upon the ‘Mystic-Pad. Freud’s Autobiography. Nancy Paul and W. The Foundations of Psychoanalysis: A Philosophical Critique (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Univ. 19. 105–6). The essay was written in 1895. 1979) (hereafter cited as FB). 11 Derrida. Kyung Hee University. James Strachey (New York: Basic Books. and Ernst Kris. The Origins of Psycho-Analysis: Letters to Wilhelm Fliess: Drafts and Notes. which caused the delay of many publications). 1888–1938. 196–231 (hereafter cited as FS). ed. 13 For Freud. “Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression (Chicago: Univ. He also lists criticisms and reviews of the case study of the Wolf Man.. 1995). 179. “Freud and the Scene of Writing. Eric Mosbacher and James Strachey (New York: Basic Books. 1959). Scott Palmer (New York: Dover. . trans. The Origins of Psycho-Analysis. 5 Bonaparte.the materiality of remembering 231 our consciousness. 413. 126–28). Biologist of the Mind: Beyond the Psychoanalytic Legend (New York: Basic Books. strongly attracted me. He points out how Freud transfers aspects of his own life. Seoul. 1953–74). Adolf Grünbaum. Freud.” Standard Edition 18:1–64. Alan Bass (Chicago: Univ. 175–80. to an analysis of the Wolf Man. and it was hearing Goethe’s beautiful essay on Nature read aloud at a popular lecture by professor Carl Brühl just before I left school that decided me to become a medical student” (10–11). 1:281–397.” The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. “Project for a Scientiﬁc Psychology. Republic of Korea NOTES 1 In his book The Wolf Man’s Burden ([Ithaca. eds. of California Press. The Memory Wars: Freud’s Legacy in Dispute (New York: A New York Review Book. 1887–1902. 3 Henri Bergson. for they held out hopes of an extraordinary advance in our understanding of the world. 5. of Chicago Press. where he confesses how he chose his vocation as a medical student. 6 Sigmund Freud. Miscellaneous Papers. NY: Cornell Univ. conﬁrms this supposition: “At the same time. especially his guilt and jealousy towards his brother and sister. 1984) (hereafter cited as FP). (London: The Hogwarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis. ed. 37 (hereafter cited as BP). 2004) (hereafter cited as MM). “A Note Upon the ‘Mystic-Pad. Frederick Crews. James Strachey et al. 4 Marie Bonaparte. natural science does not stand far from human science. the theories of Darwin. 1978). trans. 2 Jacques Derrida. 12 See Frank J. Anna Freud. 1995) (hereafter cited as MW). of Chicago Press.’” 176. Matter and Memory. 174. 9 In his Autobiography ([New York: Norton. Freud. 1954).” Writing and Difference. trans. 8 Freud.’” Collected Papers. 7 Freud. 2001]. yet only translated into English and edited by James Strachey in 1950.
“Where in the Brain Is the Awareness of One’s Past?” Memory.” 150 25 Peter Rudnytsky notes Freud’s literary inclinations in Reading Psychoanalysis: Freud.” 219. “The Cognitive Neuroscience of Constructive Memory. took care of his job and his mother. along with Lao-tzu. Stuss. “PET Studies of Encoding and Retrieval: The HERA Model. 2000.” Standard Edition. and Working-Through. However. 3 (1997): 331–54. 24 Freud. .” Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 3. Roger T. “Toward a Theory. “Toward a Theory. Ferenczi. “Where in the Brain. 49 (1998): 289–318. Ames & David L. Roberto Cabeza. Press. 15 Nyberg et al. Daniel L. Rev. 齊物論. “Where in the Brain. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan. Repeating. Wheeler. 17 Nyberg et al. 126.” Annu. 23 Freud. Endel Tulving and Martin Lepage. 31 Freud. my translation. The Wolf Man and Sigmund Freud (New York: Penguin Books.” Standard Edition. “PET Studies.” 136. Alan Sheridan (New York: Norton. 2001). Groddeck (Ithaca. 71. 22 Freud. “Remembering. Taoism would be a dry and tasteless set of principles of Nature for teaching the proper way of man in society. trans. 29 Jacques Lacan uses Chuang-tzu’s fable “dream of a butterﬂy” for his illustration of the objet petit a. 1981). Book XI: Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis. See 譯註 莊子 1. 17: 137–44. 18 Nyberg et al. trans. 12: 145–156.” 331. 32 Freud. and Wilma Koutstaal. For a recent translation of the whole poem. people have generally agreed that without Chuangtzu and his disciples. Las Nyberg.232 new literary history 14 Of recent experimental data. 140. Indeed. he wrote many interesting poems and fables supporting the ﬂexible ethics grounded in natural phenomena from the prehistoric age of China. 26 Freud. Psychol. NY: Cornell Univ. and Endel Tuving. 151. and Endel Tulving. after his analysis with Freud. work. trans. Tao Te Ching (道德經). see Daodejing: A Philosophical Translation. 19 Tulving and Lepage. he completed his studies. 20 Wheeler et al. 30 Lao-tzu (老子).” 345. Schacter and Elaine Scarry (Cambridge. Chuang-tzu. 21 Wheeler et al. 2003). 第 2篇. “PET Studies.” 140. edited by Muriel Gardiner. Press. “PET Studies. no. Kenneth A. 安 炳 周. 142.” 141. MA: Harvard Univ. Chuang-tzu added an aesthetic touch to Taoist thought by enriching it with his poetic imagination. Rank. represents a spirit of Taoism.” Standard Edition. and managed a relatively normal life. and Belief. Though Taoism originated with Lao-tzu.. married the woman he loved. no. 28 莊子 內篇. Hall (New York: Ballantine Books. 17:3–122 (hereafter cited as IN). 2002). 27 At the end of the memoir of the Wolf Man. Donald T. there is an impressive passage about the Wolf Man’s incapacity to engage in study. 2 (1996):135–48. 16 Tulving and Lepage. “A Difﬁculty in the Path of Psycho-Analysis. Against the strict moral code in the Confucianism of his time. 208–28. Schacter. “A Difﬁculty. He remarks that Chuang-tzu apprehended one of the roots of his identity as a butterﬂy. Mark A. 76. 田 好 根(Seoul: 傳統 文化 硏究會.. and love. 390.” 135. “Toward a Theory of Episodic Memory: The Frontal Lobes and Autonoetic Consciousness. ed.” 140.. 2001). “From the History of an Infantile Neurosis. 42 (장). Jacques A. Miller. “A Difﬁculty.” Psychological Bulletin 121.. ed.. Brain. Daniel L. the following are regarded as important for the investigation. Norman. 1973).” 214. who wrote Tao-Tae-Ching (道德經). “Remembering.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.