Sunday, May 11, 2008

Destrudo vs. Libido


After re-reading my last profanity-laced blog entry, I started shaking my head at myself: "I can't stand this negativity any more. WHAT do I do about it?"

Then I was channel-surfing and came across someone talking about "the opposite of libido---gestrado." (Right now I can't remember what I was watching; it could even be something as mundane as "Entourage"---which I just discovered for the first time and really enjoy, by the way!) So I started doing a search for the word online. Turns out I'd heard it wrong---the word is "destrudo," not "gestrado"!

From a 2006 article on Freud by Harold Bloom:

For years, I have meditated upon Freud's self-revelation in a thought he added to an interleaved copy of "The Psychopathology of Everyday Life":

"Rage, anger, and consequently a murderous impulse is the source of superstition in obsessional neurotics: a sadistic component, which is attached to love and is therefore directed against the loved person and repressed precisely because of this link and because of its intensity. -- My own superstition has its roots in suppressed ambition (immortality) and in my case takes the place of that anxiety about death which springs from the normal uncertainty of life."

...Freud's triumph was that millions of people who never read him nevertheless internalized his categories, a phenomenon still prevalent among us. We unthinkingly think we are governed by the psychic agencies he invented: id, ego, superego, which necessarily are merely useful fictions, and not components of the self. Again, we tend to believe we possess libido, a particular energy that fuels sexual desire, but libido is another fiction or Freudian metaphor. My favorite speculation on Freud's influence is to wonder what would have happened had he decided we had "destrudo" as well as libido. He briefly entertained the idea of destrudo as fuel for the Death Drive, just as libido energized Eros, but then rejected the notion. Had he settled upon destrudo, would we not now go about, on our more self-destructive days, muttering that our destrudo was raging within us?


Regardless of how silly Bloom thought Freud's divisions, "destrudo" actually explained something to me: I'm deeply, deeply disappointed at how things turned out between Julie and me. Seems a huge, senseless waste of what was initially very powerful, positive energy (libido), now apparently mutated into this...destrudo. On both of our parts.

The/Our/My Pattern lately: I'll have a very positive few hours online, for instance, working on my Joan Crawford site or chatting with people on the accompanying message board. Then it'll be late, and I won't quite feel like going to bed yet... "Hmmm. Wonder what Julie's up to?" Then I'll go to where I know she "hangs out" online and get pissed about something she said. Or, I'll check the responses to this blog... Because she's been similarly trolling around to see what I'm doing online, she'll have responded "anonymously" here, either directly to what I wrote about or in scatological "Kilroy" fashion. So I'll respond to that; then she'll respond to THAT; ad infinitum.

Aside from the "destrudo" bit of info, I also just this weekend came across the old Tom Hanks movie "Cast Away" on HBO... I'd seen it once before when it came out years ago, but it hadn't affected me in the same way. This time, I could not stop crying at his losses. I cried at his scratched pictures in the cave, I cried when he lost "Wilson"...and, much more so, I cried at his ultimate loss once he was back in civilization. Which, at the end, turned into a very long crying jag about my own sense of isolation, my own loss of someone I loved. I finally just stopped THINKING about how mad I was at Julie, and just cried at the waste of it all.



Now for the more pleasant "libido" part of this post! (nothing to do with Julie Lindberg, just Julie Delpy!) :)

Again, just channel-surfing, and tonight I came upon Richard Linklater's "Before Sunrise," his 1995 film co-starring Ethan Hawke and Delpy as two young people who meet by chance on a train to Vienna and end up spending all night together walking around the city and talking. It's such a positive, thoughtful, beautiful movie. About life's ambiguities and potential.

I was just reading some critiques online, and one critic scoffed at its "unlikeliness," of both situation and conversation...

RE "situation"---That particular critic must have led a very sheltered, planned, controlled existence, because I've discovered that many of the very best things in life are discovered in just such a random fashion. RE "conversation"---That critic has never stayed up all night talking, getting goosebumps and chattering teeth because you (whether you're with just one other, or several) suddenly get the rare sensation that you're hitting upon some profound, beautiful, usually elusive truths? (The moment in the movie where the fortune-teller says, as she's walking away, "You're stars. You're all stardust..." In truth, we ARE all made up of the remnants of the Big Bang all those years ago... And the magic that comes from listening to a song with someone else, when you're both on exactly the same wavelength and "feeling it"... It's so rare for fleeting, quixotic moments like that to be captured on film.)

I first saw the movie at the theater when in came out in 1995, and for some reason didn't notice one credit at the end: the poem that the two lovers buy from the artist on the riverbank (who asks them to give him one word, and he'll write a poem---the word was "milkshake") was actually written by David Jewell, of Austin. When I was 19 and took my very first poetry-writing class at the University of Texas, Jewell was in that class. He was 30-ish then, and for a naive 19-year-old like me, he was too impossibly "hip" in aura. I could never get up the nerve to talk to him outside of class, except once: Me and a couple of other self-conscious "poets" were walking out of class with him and were gushing sillily, "We're going to the Cactus [a university cafe] to talk about poetry and be cool." He replied drolly: "I think I'm going to go home and be boring."

(Later, one of my proudest memories of my life as a poet was being asked to be on a 5-poet bill with him at a cafe reading at the end of that spring semester. I remember the roster to this day: Jewell, Dona, Sandra, Michael [a shy, blonde pianist whose last name I now can't remember], and me. Everyone else was 25 or older---they all seemed so much more incredibly mature and experienced in life than I was. Dona was rich and sickly and beautiful (poet boys in the class wrote odes to her! though she got on my nerves with her fey-ness); Sandra was a rich, beautiful painter and former alcoholic whose mother was a suicide---she had her mother's furs, and would write "LIVE" on her bathroom mirror with lipstick, as a reminder... I would go over to her apartment to talk on occasion, but I was extremely inadequate and awe-struck and a real kid in the face of that (to me) heavy, "womanly" glamour... Though one time my "real" self managed to break through: I remember getting jealously angry at her one evening because she was going on admiringly about Dona and how Ms. Brown had to "struggle" until she came into her inheritance at 25! Poor rich baby! Ooops---that jealous part was probably for the "destrudo" section of this blog entry!) :)

Oh, anyway, where was I?? Back to David Jewell! Jewell wrote some very avant-garde stuff, but it was intelligent and thought-provoking and full of humanity, not just "playing around" with theory or words. (I got the same sensation from reading his work as I get from reading e.e. cummings' poetry. At first, the surface might throw you off---if you're either new or a traditionalist, your first reaction might be either, "Huh? I don't get it," or, "This is bullshit nonsense"---but upon reading and paying full of insight and love.)

Here's the poem from "Before Sunrise." It's more "Beat-poem-ish" and atypical of Jewell's usual style, yet also typical of his lovely quirkiness and sincerity.

Delusion Angel

Daydream delusion,
limousine eyelash,
oh, baby with your pretty face,
drop a tear in my wineglass,
look at those big eyes,
see what you mean to me,
sweet cakes and milkshakes,
I am a delusioned angel,
I am a fantasy parade,
I want you to know what I think,
dont want you to guess anymore,
you have no idea where I came from,
we have no idea where we're going,
launched in life,
like branches in the river,
flowing downstream,
caught in the current,
I'll carry you, you'll carry me,
that's how it could be,
don't you know me?
don't you know me by now?

1 comment:

1minutefilmreview said...

Well said Beth! We loved Before Sunrise and we're fans of Linklater too!