:: Article

Anna and Sigm.

A fiction by Sharon Kivland.

“Go thou to Rome – at once the Paradise, The Grave, the City and the Wilderness.” Shelley

Often when I am invited to speak, I show this photograph. Look, it is a photograph of my father and me on holiday. No, of course it is not, do I seem to be a woman who would willingly wear a dirndl? Unless I were a small child. No, of course it is not really a photograph of my father and me on holiday.

In fact, here is a photograph of my father and me on holiday.

It was taken in Athens in 1967. But there are others in the photograph, my mother, my sister, another woman who may be a family friend, and I am seized with the sentiment of sibling rivalry and a more complex feeling of competition for possession with other women, all women, sisters, mothers, and friends of the family. Here is a another photograph of my father and me on holiday, the others eliminated, no siblings, no mother, no lady friend. On the steps of a hotel, I have my father to myself at last, for once, and that is certainly one way of resolving conflict.

Freud imagines, in Civilization and its Discontents, that the unconscious is like Rome, ‘a psychical entity (…) in which nothing that has once come into existence will have passed away and all the earlier phases of development continue to exist alongside the latest ones’. He suggests that the same space cannot have two different contents, however, that one must be done away with to allow another content to enter (like metaphor, in that in substitution – what Freud calls ‘condensation’, there is both manifest and latent content). In a footnote in The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud refers to Ernest Jones’ observation that while a dream is being analysed, a second dream may be remembered by the patient, one that has been dreamt the same night but whose existence is not suspected until the first dream is examined. One dream may underlie another, like French trains do (or so we are warned by signs at level crossings); this is the structure of dreaming itself. Freud dreams of Rome four times and his dreams are those of longing, until he discovers it needs only a little courage to fulfil his wish, as he adds in a footnote of 1909. In another note, sixteen years later, he appears delighted to add that after 1909 he becomes a constant pilgrim to Rome. In October 1898 he writes to his friend Wilhelm Fliess of his lassitude, moderated only by his study of the topography of Rome, ‘the yearning for which becomes ever more tormenting’. His dream book lies still and a conclusion evades him. He is lonely.

In his first dream, Freud is looking out of a railway carriage at the Ponte Sant’Angelo and the Tiber, when suddenly the train moves off and he realises that he has not so much as set foot in the city. The view he has of Rome, glimpsed so briefly before the train takes him away, is derived from an engraving, also seen only for a moment in the sitting-room of a patient the previous day. A scene breaks off in the dream, as all dreamers know, or Freud breaks off in his telling of the dream, for he will only allow so much narrative detail to escape.

In his second dream, Freud sees Rome from afar, shrouded in mist. Rome is so far away he is surprised at the clarity of the view. The first town he saw this way, shrouded in mist, was Lübeck and the top of the hill was at Gleichenberg, near Graz, the oldest and most important summer spa in South Styria, in a low-altitude setting of rolling hills and vineyards. It is, he remarks elsewhere, a matter of chance whether one discovers the source of particular elements of a dream, thinking of the image of a church tower that has pursued him for several years, which he suddenly recognised at a small station on the line between Salzburg and Reichenhall. Again he stops – as he does so frequently in recounting his dreams – saying there is more in the dream’s contents than he is prepared to detail. However, he allows that there is something of ‘the promised land seen from afar’. A year after his engagement to Martha, he mentions a lovely dream of a landscape, ‘which according to the private note-book on dreams which I have composed from my experience indicates travelling’.

In his third dream, Freud at last gets to Rome. He arrives in Rome but is disappointed to find that the scenery is not as he expected. Actually, what he sees is a ‘narrow stream of dark water’, on one side of which are dark cliffs, on the other a meadow with large white flowers. He asks a Herr Zucker, a man he notices whom he knows a little, to show him the way to the city. He says he is trying to see in his dream the city he has never seen in his waking life. Taking the elements of the dream, the white flowers remind him of Ravenna, where he found ‘the loveliest lilies growing in black water’ (he was very fond of flowers), though he was otherwise rather unimpressed by the city. The cliffs remind him of a valley near Karlsbad, which has a wonderfully hilly setting, with Belle Epoque mansions piled on top of each other along the steep, wooded bank of the River Tepla.

In the fourth dream, occurring shortly after the last, Freud is surprised to see so many posters in German stuck up in Rome. To Fliess he writes of his surprise at the large number of German street and shop signs. He writes that only a few days before he has sent a letter to a friend in which he suggests Prague might not be an agreeable place for a German to walk about in. To Fliess he writes that he awoke and immediately thought, ‘so this is Prague (where such German signs, as is well known, are called for)’. He thinks his dream expresses the wish that he meet his friend in Rome rather than in Prague, where people might be disagreeable to them when they hear them speak. He writes: ‘my longing for Rome is, by the way, deeply neurotic’. He imagines that the dream shows a desire that goes back to his student days, that the speaking of German might be more tolerated in Prague, and that there are many connections to his childhood in the dream. He believes he must have understood Czech as a child, yet although he remembers perfectly a Czech nursery rhyme he learnt, he does not at all understand its meaning.

At last Freud goes to Rome, an event he calls the highpoint of his life. He enters Rome with his brother Alexander on 2 September 1901, on the first of seven visits. It seems incomprehensible he has not achieved this until now, the fulfilment of a long- cherished wish. At the Hotel Milano he has a bath and changes his clothes. He has a lovely room on the third floor, with electric light. He writes to his wife Martha that he has become a Roman already and that it is not possible to speak of the wonders of the world on a postcard.

On 13 September 1913, on his sixth visit. Freud sends a postcard from Rome to his daughter Anna. He writes simply: ‘Papa to his future companion’. On 22 September he sends her another poscard, a view of the waterfalls in Tivoli, writing ‘In order to convince you’. This time he staying (again) at the Hotel Eden. He is travelling with his sister-in-law, Minna Bernays, but there should be no vulgar speculation on the nature of their relationship. The weather is splendid

In 1913 Anna is bursting with jealously of her sister Sophie, who has just married Max Halberstadt. It is then that Freud’s incomprehension towards the sexual orientation of his youngest daughter begins, and he makes allusion to her ‘bad habits’ She writes that she herself does not want these to overcome her. Freud calls her his ‘only’ daughter; and is convinced that she has transferred her rivalry of Sophie to a jealously with regard to her husband, and he exhorts Anna not to be frightened of men; no, what he says is rather that she should not be afraid of being desired by men. The following year, when she is welcomed by Jones in London, Freud writes to Jones that Anna does not ask to be treated as a woman, being ‘still distanced from her sexual desires and quite refusing men’. He does not see that his daughter is not attracted by Jones (a dreadful womaniser), but rather by his companion Loe Kann, of whom she dreams.

In September 1923 Freud travels to Rome with Anna. It is Freud’s last journey to Rome, his seventh visit. He writes to Lou Andreas-Salomé: ‘Here I am again in Rome, and I feel this will do me good. It is here that I realise just what excellent company my little girl is’. In 1923 Freud is halfway through the second part of his psychoanalysis of Anna. In a letter to Lou he is obliged to admit that Anna’s libido has ‘awakened’ and her object-choice has simply nothing to do with men. In 1923, after the death of Sophie’s second son, Heinz, and the diagnosis of the cancer of the jaw that will end her father’s life sixteen years later, Anna officially renounces marriage. Her father calls her his Antigone and buys her a dog, the Alsatian Wolf – or Wolfi. To Lou, Freud confides his dismay. He fears that Anna’s genitality will play a trick on her and he confesses that he is not able to separate her from him, nor himself from her. On Anna’s part she feels her attraction to women arising once again and confides in Lou herself. She dreams a dream with a woman protagonist and it is a story of love of which she cannot cease to think. She is tempted at once to write to her father about it, but decides to let it drop in order to concentrate on a paper she is writing. The paper ‘Beating Phantasies and Day-Dreams’ encompasses the dream. It is a paper about beating in young children, and follows the famous paper of her father’s, ‘A Child is being Beaten’, of 1919, in which the phantasies recounted by a little girl resemble strongly those of his daughter’s. He describes the daydream of ‘a girl of about fifteen, whose fantasy life, in spite of its abundance, had never come into conflict with reality. The origin, evolution, and termination of this daydream could be established with certainty, and its derivation from dependence on a beating fantasy of long standing were proved in a rather thoroughgoing analysis’. In her paper, Anna analyses phantasies as as though they are not her own, explaining that the dreamer has substituted a lovely story in the place of the memory of a scene.

From Rome on 16 September Sigmund sends a postcard home, remarking that Anna is as gay as a chaffinch. There is little correspondence from this holiday, though a detailed list, of what they did exists, compiled by both during their three last days. On their return from Rome, from their ‘Roman adventures’, Anna re-reads the notes – all that they experienced there comes to life again. She seeks to record part of the memory, to remember better. She notes down the journey from Florence to Rome, on 1 September, hot and uncomfortable, too many noisy Americans from Cincinnati, who take her father and her for Italians, wives who demand information about Roman pearls, hills that remind her of the background of numerous images of the Madonna. From the train, she does not see many people, but there are many small olive trees, amongst them the garlands of vines. Thirty minutes before arrival her papa points out the dome of St Peter’s, and at midday they arrive in Rome and taken to their hotel, the Hotel Eden, by the hotel’s omnibus. It is hard to see anything from the bus, but her papa shows her the baths of Diocletien near the train terminus.They are given two comfortable rooms, with a huge bathroom, numbers 119 and 120, the windows giving onto the Via de Porta Pinciano. At first they fear the south-west aspect will make their rooms too hot, and wonder if they should change them, but their fears are groundless. Except to protect the rooms from the sun, they never have to draw the curtains, for no-one can over-look them. In front of the window of her papa’s room is line of particularly pointed cyprus trees, solemnly nodding their heads in the light current of air, as they did in 1913, says her papa. They rearrange the furniture, turning a marble-topped washstand into a games table. Her papa’s desk has to be protected from the wind.

Anna and her father follow a dense programme of promenades, some taken on foot, and others by car, from the Hotel Eden. They visit many places, and because I have photographs, I like to think they included these, the views shown below.

1. Via Aurelia Antica
2. Ponte Fabricio
3. Via dei Cappellari
4. Piazza delle Minerva
5. Behind the servants’ quarters, Palazzo Santecroce
6. Via di Campo Marzio
7. Il Priorato di Malta
8. Via Triumphalis on Monte Cavo
9. The Pyramid of Cestius

One evening, they go to the cinema. Or at least, an excursion to the cinema that evening is noted. Perhaps, it is thought by some, Freud remains at the Hotel Eden, while Anna goes out to the flick with the daughter of the shareholder of the hotel, for there is a letter of the same day written to the family back at home that Anna is going out with that young woman. If so, perhaps Freud waits up for his daughter’s return, catching up on his correspondence in his hotel suite. In 1923 in Rome, the Italian films that they might have seen include A morte! Signor ladro, To death! Mr Thief, but I think it was not released until December, or La dama de Chez Maxim’s, which I think is after a farce by Feydeau, or Ali spezzate, Broken Wings. They might have seen The Ten Commandmants, of course, Cecil B. Demille’s film released that year, which tells the story of Moses leading the Jews from Egypt to the Promised Land, or The Eternal City, a film now lost, directed by George Fitzmaurice, in which there is footage of King Victor Emmanuel III and Benito Mussolini reviewing Italian troops, or Salomé, directed by Charles Bryant, in which Salomé, the daughter of Herodias, seduces her step-father Herod, governer of Judea, with a salacious dance.

Sharon Kivland is an artist and writer. Her work considers what is put at stake by art, politics, and psychoanalysis. The last book in her series Freud on Holiday, entitled A Cavernous Defile Part I was published in December 2013 by Cube Art Editions, and therein she visits Lavarone, with a detour to Vienna. Her works is represented by DOMOBAAL, London, Galerie Bugdahn&Kaimer, Düsseldorf, and Johan Deumens, Amsterdam. 

There was some discussion over where this work belonged. Finally, we arrived at housing it in fiction, though much of it is not. First this was two very short films, one of Anna Freud’s signature one of Sigmund Freud’s signature, projected side by side as film loops, in a project conceived by Lucy Reynolds for Camden Arts Centre in 2013, entitled Anthology. Lucy Reynolds invited seventeen  other women artists and writers, who work at the point of convergence between text and image, to participate, each including a short text to accompany the films. During the exhibition the event Anthology Live presented some explorations on the interplay of word and image in an evening of readings, screenings, music and performances, and this work was shown therein, albeit in a much reduced form (edited before the audience, rather bad-temperedly). It is part of a continuing series of books and other forms as Kivland follows Sigmund Freud, on holiday, at work, and on his arrival in London.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Monday, January 12th, 2015.