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.

Monday, 19th September, 7.40 am… Walking I

What a terrible idea, to read such a good book, in such a fraught place, where my capacities are so diminished. Or rather, what a wonderful idea to read it, what a terrible idea to write about it. It is impossible. I read about one Dr F, whilst sensing the gaze of the other Dr F, and think myself a traitor. And S.K watching, and of course myself, at a distance, watching the whole affair.


We learn in this chapter, that ‘Sigmund Freud was a remarkable walker, light, swift, and tireless.’* I try to picture this from the image with which I am most familiar – the one adorning the standard edition, of a Freud already old, already ill. I read on and hear of the reminiscences of his children, remembering walking with their father, following the conquistador’ as he strode through the mountain scenery of which he was so fond. Of their father’s belief that fresh air was good for them, of the company and benevolence that he offered, though perhaps I idealise a little here. I am suddenly jealous, and enraged, remembering my own father’s vacillation from a contemptuous, angry indifference, to a confusing, disturbing attention. (How wonderful too, to have a father who was willing to wonder). Again, I feel myself a traitor, for preferring this Dr F to my father, and to the other Dr F, who stands in for both. Perhaps this is why I am so drawn to S.K’s comment that Freud’s friendship with and closeness to his sister-in-law Minna Bernay was just that, a close friendship, and ‘completely open to view.’ The comment on this companionship seems a justified act of loyalty and goodwill. I am always touched by any absence of spite.

My jealousy abates to a kind of yearning.

‘The house Freud rented was on a hill with a splendid view of the mountains, pine forests stretching in every direction. Many flowers bloomed there in abundance, particularly the false narcissus, or the Lent lily. On holiday, Freud delighted in the detection of wild flowers and their identification undertaken with care at leisure; this was a knowledge he sought to pass on to his children’. p. 27

How lovely to be taught things, how lovely to share in knowledge. Having grown up on a farm, my knowledge of such things, as paradoxical as it may seem to an outsider, is limited. If you couldn’t eat it or sell it, it was a weed, or vermin. I find I have taken to encircling particular words: ‘lovely’, ‘delightful’, ‘enchanting’, (I continue to do this throughout the rest of the book), and find that I am not just yearning for a different kind of ‘F’, but for this writing, so precise, so understated, so charming, so disarming. It is, to pick up my theme from the top of the page, just the right kind of writing to read in here; provoking regret for my diminished capacities – could I have been as good as this? (I imagined these posts to be very different. I am embarrassing myself and there is nothing to be done).


*I should be doing my references properly, with page numbers, and so forth; but I am so dreadfully tired. I have been up since half past five, tearful, wrung out like a dishcloth.
†In here, every word is loaded, and I cringe as I write ‘affair’. I so often hate my objects, as longing for their affection is a kind of terror.