A reading (and writing) of Sharon Kivland’s publication ‘Freud on Holiday, Volume IV, A Cavernous Defile, Part 1’, carried out in my analyst’s waiting room.* – NB. this post also appears on my PhD blog.

Tuesday, 7.30 am… Introduction: Spaziergangsphantasie

I couldn’t sleep last night, woke early, and impatient to leave the house, ended up getting the 6.09 train, arriving a little dazed, disorientated. In the signing in book I see that others arrive even earlier, fitting in appointments at ludicrous times, before and after work, before and after who knows what. I have a full forty minutes before the call to ascend the stairs. There is another patient in the waiting room, and so my attention to the text is shaky.


She begins with an extract from a letter in which Freud writes, in relation to his work on The Interpretation of Dreams, that ‘the whole thing is planned on the model of an imaginary walk’, and SK treats us to a detail that conjures paths through woods and mountains, mushroom picking, and a fine summer. I  am disarmed by landscapes, ‘delightfully shady’. Then, further down the page a comment that ‘as well as writing about dreams, he [Freud] is thinking about bisexuality and is accustoming himself to regarding the sexual act as a process involving four people’. I am suddenly afraid of annotating, lest I reveal too much, or give the impression that I am revealing something that is, in fact, not there. The couch is leaking into the waiting room, and I anxiously analyse my own thoughts from the viewpoint of a tangle of internalised objects. But in the context of analysis, the comment is a useful one, and it occurs to me that all forms of interaction are framed by the echoes and costs of others. My solitary reading is in fact a process in which my mind evokes four people: myself, SK, and the two Dr F’s. There is a secondary haunting of course, a fifth character, the reason I am here.


The introduction sets up the stage of holidays, and walks, and following, and writing, (that of SK, and the first Dr F), and in a direct address, an appeal to the reader SK makes a case for an act of ventriloquism that is more than an imitation, and an admission that often she forgets who is speaking through her as she treads their steps. I resist the urge to annotate in terms that are too glowing. (I do like this book).

* Sharon Kivland, Freud on Holiday. Volume IV, A Cavernous Defile, Part I, Athens: Cube Art Editions, 2013