Friday, 15 June 2007

Paging Dr. Freud "Making up" was the most essential activity of Pussy Jones' childhood: "Making up" began for her when [she] was four or five, and the family had just moved to Europe. She had begun inventing stories before then—from the moment she could remember, in fact—but now she "found the necessary formula." The "formula" is described very precisely: it was ritualistic, solitary and very physical. She had to have a book in her hands, preferably with lots of thick black type, and she would walk rapidly up and down in an "ecstasy" of invention, turning the pages as if reading, regardless of whether the book was upside down or not, and improvising out loud, and very fast, an imaginary story ... Her account of "the ecstasy which transported my little body" is extremely erotic: there is evidently something masturbatory and orgasmic about these "enraptured sessions." When Pussy Jones* writes of "making up" in her unpublished novel Literature, she does so through the character of a young boy who, of course, she christens "Dick Thaxter." Names are important. Lacan said so. To relate something I wrote back before you read me—when I thought differently about psychoanalysis, and a mere two days after I announced the arrival of a fantastic new blog—a Lacanian with whom I briefly shared an office once told me: Lacan thought seriously about names and their effect on development. I don't see anything wrong with teaching a lesson in a freshman composition class on how Richard Caputo's politics derive from the fact that he is, nominally and probably actually too, a "dick head." In light of this, I can only conclude that Pussy rewriting her masturbatory "make up" sessions as a Dick extremely significant. Would that I knew how. *Better known by her given and married names, Edith Wharton. The quote is from Hermione Lee's new biography, which is as good as advertised. In one of those tangled online coincidences, a search for "Hermione Lee" on the LRB site returns her review of this book, currently gracing my sidebar; even more tangled and coincidental, a search for "Edith Wharton" returns a host of articles written by a woman of no small recent interest. The internet is not as large as it looks. At the very least, today it contains the allusive density of a dream. How very apropos.

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