LRO 337: “Return Ticket”


When they poured across the border
I was cautioned to surrender
This I could not do

(Leonard Cohen, The Partisan)

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LRO 337
20th April 2022


Return Ticket
Cyrus St. Amand Poliakoff | Brooklyn, NY, U.S.A.

Arriving in the harbor of New York City, Sigmund Freud beholds the Statue of Liberty illuminating the universe and jokes to his colleague, Carl Jung: “They don’t realize we’re bringing them the plague.” This is a story about Freud that Jacques Lacan used to tell. Jacques-Alain Miller reminded us of this. In Écrits, Lacan revealed the twist in Freud’s witz upon arrival in America: “To catch their author in its trap, Nemesis had only to take him at his word. We could be justified in fearing that Nemesis has added a first-class return ticket.” What gets infected by the plague is not just the New World. The joke is on Freud, as the infection is returned to its sender in an inverted form. The invitation to bring in a psychoanalyst is a happy one, provided that the analyst is expected to bring along a cure. Sailing into America, Freud knew very well that the analyst hands over the disease, not the cure. Freud did not know, on account of his hubris, that the success of psychoanalysis in America would plague psychoanalysis itself….. [Read full article]

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