I’ve met a lot of people like Freud – yes, less accomplished, but nevertheless just as certain in their opinions. He reminds me of various guys I knew in my late teens and twenties. One of the advantages of getting older is that you’re less excited by the brilliant – and not so brilliant – narcissists.
I asked Greg if he’d had similar experiences with women. He said not exactly, but he’d had his own problems in his twenties: he kept being attracted to women who were quirky, self-assured, fascinating and ultimately gay. Or at least that’s what they told him.
But as for the brilliant guys, look at poor Sabina Spielrein. I was browsing the library at the Jewish Museum on Sunday when I came across the book Sex Versus Survival: The Life and Ideas of Sabina Spielrein by John Launer. (I find it’s my preferred method for finding books: a random browse along any old shelf in a library.) Her surname means ‘pure play’ but her life was anything but. Unfortunately for her she fell in love with Jung, who was her therapist. He had a brief fling with her, despite his pregnant wife at home. Spielrein remained in love with him for years afterwards. She sent him lots of letters, but he only ever wrote four back to her, and some of these were harsh, anti-Semitic or anti-woman.
But in some ways the worst came later. The movie A Dangerous Method was made about her relationship with Jung. It featured bondage scenes, but there is no proof that this actually happened. It’s a horrible thought: somebody making a movie of your life and including unsubstantiated fantasies for an surely largely ignorant audience.
I suppose that’s one of the advantages of getting older. I no longer like jerks. After my library browse, I had tea with the four-year-old in the museum cafe.
‘I like your pants,’ I told him.
‘Buy your own,’ he said.
He had a point.
Rereading this piece, I feel that a Freudian might have something to say – something less than pleasant – about the degree of rationality of my thought processes. Luckily for me, I haven’t asked a Freudian for his opinion.
(The graphic comes from The Last Outdoor Fight by Chris Onstad.)