‘Sin your way to heaven and get slaughtered: A byzantine general problem of the self’ (part nineteen)

Filed under:Sin your Way to Heaven and get Slaughtered — posted by Schizostroller on January 10, 2019 @ 3:12 pm

Das Beste, was du wissen kannst,
Darfst du den Buben doch nicht sagen.
(Goethe – Faust, Part 1 Scene 4)



To take up the question of dream distortion Freud analyses one of his own dreams, the upshot of the interpretation is that it is a dream that presents some affection but seem to be some disguised insult, that is the “distortion was shown in this case to be deliberate and to be a means of dissimulation.” (p.141). Freud suggests that although some dreams are undisguised fulfilments of wishes, “in cases where the wish-fulfilment is unrecognisable, where it has been disguised, there must have existed some inclination to put up a defence against the wish; and owing to this defence the wish was unable to express itself in a distorted shape.” (p.141). Freud attempts to find a social parallel and finds an analogy in situations where there are two persons, “one of whom possess a certain degree of power which the second is obliged to take into account. In such a case the second person will distort his psychical acts, or as we might put it, will dissimulate”. (p.142). This he also relates to politeness and social convention. Freud mentions the obfuscation political writers use to avoid censorship, “the stricter the censorship, the more far-reaching will be the disguise and more ingenious too may be the means employed for putting the reader on the scent of the true meaning. The fact that the phenomena of censorship and of dreams distortion correspond down to their smallest details justifies us in presuming that they are similarly determined. We may therefore suppose that dreams are given their shape in human beings by the operation of two psychical forces (or we may describe them as currents or systems); and that one of these forces constructs the wish which is expressed by the dream, while the other exercises a censorship upon this dream-wish and, by the use of that censorship, forcibly brings about a distortion in the expression of the wish.” (142-144). Freud concludes that everything from the first agency must pass through the second agency to reach consciousness as such “we see the process of a thing becoming conscious as a specific psychical act, distinct from and independent of the process of formation of a presentation or idea; and we regard consciousness as sense organ which perceives data that arise elsewhere.” (p.144). Freud continues, “bearing in mind our assumption of the existence of two psychical agencies, we can further say that distressing dreams do in fact contain something that is distressing to the second agency, but something which at the same time fulfils a wish on the part of the first agency. They are wishful dreams in so far as every dream arises from the first agency; the relation of the second agency towards dreams is of a defensive not of a creative kind.” (p.144-145). As such we cannot understand dreams through the actions of the second agency alone. Freud reaffirms his statement “A dream is a (disguised) fulfilment of a (supressed or repressed) wish.” (p.160).
The application of procedure for Freud’s dreamwork allows him to separate latent from manifest dreams, but the three characteristics of memory in dreams Freud suggests are as follows:
“1. Dreams show a clear preference for the impressions of the previous days.
2. They make their selection upon different principles from our waking memory, since they do not recall what is essential and important but what is subsidiary and unnoticed.
3. They have at their disposal the earliest impressions of our childhood and even bring up detiuls from that period of our life which, once again, strike us as trivial and which in our waking state we believe to have long since forgotten.” (p.163-164). These details are expressed in the manifest content.
With regards characteristic 1., Freud is quite specific, “the question may be raised whether the point of contact with the dream is invariably the events of the immediately preceding day or whether it may go back to the impressions derived from a rather extensive period of the most recent past…. I am inclined to decide in favour of the exclusiveness of the claims of the day immediately preceding the dream – which I shall speak of as the ‘dream-day’. Whenever it has seemed at first that the source of a dream was an impression two or three days earlier, closer enquiry has convinced me that the impression had been recalled on the previous day and thus it was possible to show that a reproduction of the impression, occurring on the previous day, could be inserted between the day of the original event and the time of the dream; moreover it has been possible to indicate the contingency on the previous day which may have led to the recalling of the older impressions.” (p.166). Freud clarifies “the instigating agent of every dream is to be found among the experiences which one has not yet ‘slept on’. Thus, the relations of a dream’s content to impressions of the recent past (with the single exception of the day immediately preceding the night of the dream) differ in no respect from its relations to impressions dating from any remoter period. Dreams can select their material from any part of the dreamer’s life, provided only that there is a train of thought linking the experience of the dream-day (the ‘recent’ impressions) with the earlier ones.” (p.169).
The question with regards voice hearing would be how much the previous 24-hour period affects the next day’s voices manifest content, and the distortion any secondary agency may have on the elucidating the latent content of voice hearing from the manifest content. This takes awareness of the possibility that Freud may be right on this, and from thence reflection on the process. I have done this, and I will use the next article to demonstrate from my own psychotic experience with examples of my own voice hearing. If there is any relation it might then be necessary to question what this secondary agency may be in waking life. As well as updating any issues with Freud with regards advances in modern psychology and therapy. I will also be in future articles pursuing the relation of this secondary agency with regards the Word Salads as described by RD Laing, and signifyin(g) as described by Henry Louis Gates Jr. Before relating it to biopolitics, but first I want to continue looking at Freud and dreams, and its relation to Deleuze and Guattari on the machinic unconscious.

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace