File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0103, message 85

Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2001 16:45:47 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Article: A Stone's Throw in Lebanon Is a Freudian Slip

    in Vienna

This article from

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A Stone's Throw in Lebanon Is a Freudian Slip in Vienna


The Freud Society of Vienna has canceled a lecture by Edward Said,
the Palestinian- American professor, after members saw a photograph
of him poised to hurl a stone at an Israeli guardhouse last July at
the Lebanese border, said Johann August Schülein, the society's

 Mr. Said was invited last August to give the speech, on Freud's
fascination with the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Palestine and
Greece, on May 6, the anniversary of Freud's birth. But on Feb. 5
Mr. Schülein wrote to Mr. Said, a strong champion of Palestinian
causes, and canceled the invitation because of "the political
development in the Middle East and the consequences expected."

 In a telephone interview from Vienna, Mr. Schülein said, "A lot of
members of our society told us they can't accept that we have
invited an engaged Palestinian who also throws stones against
Israeli soldiers."

 Mr. Said's action drew some sharp criticism last summer. Mr. Said
said he was having a stone-throwing contest with his son and called
it a "symbolic gesture of joy" at the end of Israel's occupation of

 "It was a pebble," Mr. Said said this week. "There was nobody
there. The guardhouse was at least half a mile away."

 He called the cancellation of his speech outrageous. "Freud was
hounded out of Vienna because he was a Jew," he said. "Now I am
hounded out because I'm a Palestinian."

 Mr. Said is a professor of English and comparative literature at
Columbia University. Its provost and dean of faculties, Jonathan R.
Cole, has defended Mr. Said's right to free speech.

 Several prominent psychoanalysts have written to the society
protesting the cancellation, calling it "contrary to the spirit of
psychoanalytic understanding and dialogue." They include Jonathan
Lear, an American; André Green and Julia Kristeva in Paris; and
Adam Phillips in England.

 Learning of the cancellation by the Vienna group, the Freud Museum
in London has invited Mr. Said to deliver his talk there, and he
said he plans to do so.

 Mr. Schülein said that a majority of the society's 18 board
members, who include psychoanalysts and representatives from
finance and politics, voted to withdraw the invitation, but he
would not give the exact vote. He said the society acted out of
concern for the anxieties of Austria's few remaining Jews in a
climate of pro-Nazi and anti-immigration statements by Jörg Haider,
the former leader of the extreme-right Freedom Party in Austria's
ruling coalition.

 "Anti-Semitism hasn't stopped with World War II and the Nazis,"
Mr. Schülein said. "It has become more dangerous since the Haider
party coalition has grown to a mighty force in Austrian politics."

 "Lots of Jews fear a situation when xenophobia and anti-Semitism
will grow, and will come to a situation where they fear they have
to leave the country again," he said. Before World War II there
were some 190,000 Jews in Vienna; only 5,000 to 10,000 are there

 "The majority decided to cancel the Freud lecture to avoid an
internal clash," Mr. Schülein said. He said he had argued against
the decision, adding, "I deeply regret that this has been done to
Professor Said."

 The Vienna Society occupies the Baroque-style building at
Berggasse 19, where Freud lived until 1938, when Nazi commandos
raided his home and he fled to England. Freud continued his work in
London and died there in Hampstead in 1939. The Vienna building is
now a museum and includes some of Freud's collection of ancient
Middle Eastern, Egyptian and Greek artifacts. His interest in such
objects is reflected in writings like "Moses and Monotheism,"
"Totem and Taboo," "Civilization and Its Discontents" and "The
Future of an Illusion."

 Mr. Said said that the withdrawal of the invitation particularly
angered him in light of his lecture topic. Freud, he said, was a
"Eurocentric who tried nevertheless without being reductive, to
talk about experience outside of Europe."

 In his writings, said Mr. Said, Freud "was talking about a
composite culture that didn't exclude races and civilizations."


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