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October 13, 2006

Monika's Quote Commentary on Dora

“He that has eyes to see and ears to hear may convince himself that no mortal can keep a secret. If his lips are silent, he chatters with his finger-tips; betrayal oozes out of him at every pore. And thus the task of making conscious the most hidden recesses of the mind is one which it is quite possible to accomplish.” (pg 69)

This quote is part of Freud’s discussion on symptomatic acts (acts which people often do unconsciously, but which are significant expressions of the unconscious) after he notices Dora fiddling with her reticule. In the first sentence the word “mortal” emphasizes the fact that in undeliberate exposure of the unconscious is a natural thing, so much so that it is an unavoidable fact of life for all mortals. The word mortal is powerful here because it conveys something all-encompassing and all-inclusive, namely something that needs only the requirement of being mortal to occur. The second sentence derives a lot of meaning from the word “chatters.” Usually when someone is chattering, he or she is casually talking and not paying much attention to what they are revealing. This helps to describe Freud’s ability to see “chatter” when the person’s “lips are silent.” The word “betrayal” makes the reader think that we are not in control when it comes to hiding our unconscious and can be betrayed by our own selves. The last sentence shows Freud’s confidence in his abilities to unmask these hidden thoughts by acting like a detective and putting together all the small clues and actions which a person shows which consequently serve to betray his or her unconscious thoughts.

Posted by monikade at October 13, 2006 04:50 PM


Sayan's comments:

Interesting points.

It's interesting to note how the notion of "betrayal" also occurs on p. 2:

"If it is true that the cause of hysterical disorders are to be found in the intimacies of the patients' psycho-sexual life, and that hysterical symptoms are the expression of their most secret and repressed wishes, then the complete exposition of a case of hysteria is bound to involve the revelation of those intimacies and the betrayal of those secrets."

Also, the phrase "the most hidden recessed of the mind" remind me of a line from Poe's "William Wilson", where Poe is describing the house: "The huge old house, with its countless subdivisions, had several large chambers communicating with each other, where slept the greater number of the students. There were, however, (as must necessarily happen in a building so awkwardly planned,) many little nooks or recesses...

Posted by: bhattach at October 14, 2006 01:43 AM

(Interestingly enough, I was also reminded of that particular passage that Sayan just mentioned from William Wilson!) What I enjoy most about this passage is the language, because it almost seems like the language of deceit. The words "betrayal" and "secret" in this passage help to create this tone, and in my opinion they enhance the passage by illustrating the deceptive nature of one's own unconscious. This play on words almost seems to personify the unconscious, making it as a person that we are unable to deceive (but who is possibly able to deceive us...)

Posted by: burkmar at October 18, 2006 11:10 AM

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