"A glance at the nose": Freud's inscription of Jewish difference.
The surprising explanation of this was that the patient
had been brought up in an English nursery but had
later come to Germany, where he forgot his mother-tongue
almost completely. The fetish, which originated
from his earliest childhood, had to be understood in
English, not in German. The 'shine on the nose' [in
German |Glanz auf der Nase'] was in reality a 'glance at
the nose.' The nose was thus the fetish, which, incidently,
he endowed at will with the luminous shine
which was not perceptible to others. (152)
There are a number of most extraordinary aspects about this passage -- not the least being that Freud waited some twenty-two years after writing in Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality that "no other variation of the sexual instinct that borders on the pathological can lay so much claim to our interest as" (1905b, 153) fetishism, before he specifically dedicates a study to the topic and that study a mere six pages long. Perhaps more significant is that the story of the nose fetishist is simply not needed. Although the prominent position of and Freud's hyperbolic claim for the case would suggest that it would play an exemplary role in his discussion of fetishism, Freud fails to connect it with the ensuing argument; he no longer even refers to it. Moreover, its mention is as "surprising" as the source of the young man's choice of fetish. That is, the essay begins with Freud (1927) commenting that "in the last few years I have had the opportunity of studying analytically a number of men whose object-choice was dominated by a fetish." Alas, he adds: "For obvious reasons the details of these cases must be withheld from publication; I cannot, therefore, show in what way accidental circumstances have contributed to the choice of a fetish" (152). Rather than immediately embarking on the explanation which soon follows -- "in every instance, the meaning and the purpose of the fetish turned out, in analysis to be the same.... a substitute for the woman's (the mother's) penis" (152)-Freud provides the details of one of these cases, "the most extraordinary case." The decision to interpose the story of the nose fetishist hence seems to be marked by the same caprice that marks -- both in the original ethnographic reports on the African fetish (Pietz 1985, 8)(1) and in Alfred Binet's influential essay on sexual fetishism, "Le Fetichisme dans l'amour" (1887)(2) -- the fetish. At most, this example seems to play the role of a subsidiary finding in Freud's discussion, just as the fetish does, according to Freud (1927), in his patients' analyses ("spielte . . . der Rolle eines Nebenbefundes"; 152).
Still, although instances of nose fetishism are rare, the idea that a nose, shiny or otherwise, might be a fetishistic substitute for the penis is suggested by the sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld (1940): "Often there is connected with the fetishistic prepossession for large noses a more or less unconscious phallic cult, or the old folk belief, which is in no way organically founded, that the size of the nose is indicative of the size of the male organ" (73). Freud, one might suppose,(3) would make such an assumption about noses. And he does in the Interpretation of Dreams, at least with regard to typical dreams: "Comparisons between nose and penis are common" (Freud 1900, 387). Moreover, since at the end of his "Fetishism" essay Freud (1927) writes, "In conclusion, we may say that the normal prototype of fetishes is a man's penis" (157)(4) one might assume then that nose fetishes would be subsumed under this rubric of normality. But with regard to the man with a shine for shiny noses, he makes no manifest link. Indeed, it is as if Freud intentionally avoids such a connection. That is, whereas Freud has uncovered a homophonic displacement (from glance to Glanz) as the occasion for the particular object choice, he omits mention of another homophone which points directly at the underlying cause which engenders all fetishism. The missing word is glans, the Latin term for penis.(5)
What would motivate the omission of such an obvious association? Some have argued that the absence of the word glans betrays a mise-en-abime structure at play in Freud's text; that is, the elision reproduces the entire logic of fetishism. Thus Charles Bernheimer (1984) writes: "the text's exemplary denial of the Latin word glans, of the word that explicitly evokes the fantasy of the mother's penis, is the equivalent of the fetishist's denial of the difference between the sexes" 165-66).(6) Other moments of the account of the young nose fetishist support the contention that it reproduces Freud's notion of the fetish. For example, Freud seems to go out of his way to call attention to the epistemic problematic of fetishism (and of the word glans): namely, to see what is not there. Thus, after displacing the focus of his analysis from the Glanz to the Nase, he adds, seemingly gratuitously ("incidentally" [ubrigens]),(7) that the young man had endowed the fetishized nose "at will with the luminous shine [Glanzlicht] which was not perceptible to others" (1927, 152). The Glanz, like the maternal glans, is invisible.
Although such analyses of Freud's account accord this "most extraordinary case" an exemplary role, it might be stretching matters a bit to assume that Freud had such modern commentaries in mind when he included the discussion of the nose fetishist. Still Bernheimer's depiction of the fetishistic character of Freud's account combined with the case's "overvaluation" (Freud 1927, 153), its contiguous relation to the main argument, and its capricious selection suggest that Freud has exalted this exemplary instance into a fetish. But what is Freud disavowing through the construction of this fetish, and why the story of a nose? The remainder of this paper endeavors to answer these questions and thereby to understand Freud's insertion of this exemplary nose into the business at hand -- indeed, to explore the implications of a theory of fetishism that is led by the nose. In the process it will uncover feminizing metonyms of the male Jewish body, by which the Central European social and scientific imagination constructed the Jew; it will also reveal Freud's problematic relationship to that construct.
Before dealing with these questions a few more words on fetishism are needed. The fetish is a sexually overvalued object which represents the absent maternal penis. It is a substitute which is constructed to resolve the castration complex (cf. Freud 1927, 155). The crisis that creates the complex arises when the little boy perceives that a woman does not possess a penis -- and that consequently "his own possession of a penis [is] in danger" (153). The boy is confronted with sexual difference, and his narcissistic enjoyment of an undifferentiated, self-enclosed world is rudely interrupted. His reaction will lead him down one of three paths. He can become either a homosexual, or a fetishist, or a member of the "great majority [who] surmount" the castration complex (154).(8) With the resolution of the castration complex, that is, with the recognition of sexual difference, the boy not only assumes a gendered and sexually oriented identity, he is inserted in the social order. In his "Fetishism" essay Freud alludes to the societal implications of the (re)cognition of sexual difference; he analogizes the little boy's protestations of disbelief when confronted by the mother's missing penis to a different encounter: "In later life a grown man may perhaps experience a similar panic when the cry goes up that Throne and Altar [Thron und Altar](9) are in danger, and similar illogical consequences will ensue" (153). And in Freud's Vienna the gravest threat to Throne and Altar was to question the rigid gender-coded differentiation of roles and spheres, the sexual difference, which both marks and legitimates the bourgeois social order. Yet it seems curious that Freud would compare the infantile desire to elide sexual difference with the adult desire to preserve it; on the surface the two situations seem antithetical. In point of fact, however, the adult male abhors difference as much as the young boy. Within the masculine social order of bourgeois society, men preserve the narcissistic phantasy of wholeness: this world and its discourses reflect male values and hegemony. Women are objectified representations of what is not male; they are fetishes which substitute for the difference that would threaten male claims to identity and authority.(10) In sum, the fetish has both an individual and a social dimension.
For the fetishist -- and the bourgeois male-female difference is not, however, absolutely elided or foreclosed. What allows the construction of the fetish is what Freud calls "disavowal." The little boy -- it's always a little boy -- has both retained and given up his belief in the maternal phallus: "In the conflict between the weight of the unwelcome perception and the force of his counterwish, a compromise has been reached" (154). The fetish as a substitute for the absent penis embodies that compromise; it both disavows and affirms the mother's castration (cf. 156). Like a scar which remains after a wound heals, the fetish both covers the injury and serves as a reminder of it. In Freud's article "Fetishism" the "most extraordinary case" is such a remainder.
In order to discover of what Freud's fetishistic account of the fetishized nose acts as a reminder, the presence of the nose needs to be paired with the absence of odor as either example or explanation of fetish object choice. In contrast to nose fetishes, fetishes related to smell are rather prevalent. Thus, the sexologist Iwan Bloch (1909) wrote that "Among the bodily functions which are capable of acting as fetishes, the smell, the emanation of the body, unquestionably takes the first place" (622). Indeed, Freud's earlier analyses had also emphasized the role of odor. In a footnote added in 1910 to his Three Essays discussion of fetishism, he wrote:
Psycho-analysis has cleared up one of the remaining
gaps in our understanding of fetishism. It has shown
the importance, as regards the choice of a fetish, of a
coprophilic pleasure in smelling which has disappeared
owing to repression. Both the feet and the hair are
objects with a strong smell which have been exalted into
fetishes after the olfactory sensation has become unpleasurable
and been abandoned. Accordingly, in the
perversion that corresponds to foot-fetishism, it is only
dirty and evil-smelling feet that become sexual objects.
(Freud 1905b, 155; cf. 1909b, 247) When Freud returns to the question of foot and hair fetishism in his 1927 essay, every trace of smell has been removed. Instead he focuses on two other factors: first, he shifts sensory registers from the olfactive to the visual.(11) Second, the sole object of our "inquisitive boy's" attention is the mother's genitals: "the longed-for sight of the female member" (Freud 1927, 155), that is of her penis. What had been in 1910 "another factor that helps towards explaining the fetishistic preference for the foot" (1905b, 155) (in addition to the repression of pleasure in smells) had become by 1927 the explanation. As Freud (1927) writes, "To put it more plainly: the fetish is a substitute for the woman's (the mother's) penis that the little boy once believed in and . . . does not want to give up" (152-53). To put it even more plainly: Freud's text has been deodorized.
Smell also played a very significant role in a major source of Freud's own considerations of fetishism: Binet's "Le Fetichisme dans l'amour." From the start, odor permeates the latter's essay. Thus, when first discussing the associationist psychology which underlies his analysis, Binet (1887) is careful to emphasize, like Freud after him, that particular fixations and accompanying excitations are "independent of the memory of what generated" them (144, cf. 272); to make this point he cites Descartes's discussion in his Treatise on Passions of an aversion to the odor of roses (147 and n. 1). Indeed, for Binet the fetishistic fixation on odor is paradigmatic of the potential disjunction between sexual excitation and conscious memory (155-58). Smell is even more prominent in Binet's descriptive passages. He distinguishes between grand fetichisme and petit fetichisme. Exemplifying the former is a young man who had a preference for big noses with huge nostrils (148); typifying the latter is the marriage of an unlikely pair, whose union, Binet suggests, is the result of "an olfactive sympathy" (145). He deals rather extensively with olfactive fetishism, and he comments on the extensive rapport between the sense of smell and love cited in both biblical and ethnographic sources. Further, lovers of smell, as a general class, are his prime examples of how the fetishized object is an end in itself, of how -- in contradistinction to Schopenhauer specifically (160)(12) as well as to the general consensus prior to Freud -- a universal form of sexuality can be determined by something other than the instinct to reproduce. Finally, the development of the sense of smell is among Binet's three general causes of fetishism (159).(13) Although Freud adopts and retains many of Binet's insights into fetishism, by the time of his own "Fetishism" essay the odor has dissipated.
What the absence of smell along with the presence of the nose points to is a miasma of tropes of Jewish difference. I have chronicled elsewhere how throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Jew was figured by the Judennase, the Jewish nose, and the foetor Judaicus, the Jewish stench (cf. Geller 1992). The employ of these metonyms of Jewish difference (i.e., noses and smells) by Freud and Binet as exemplary fetish objects suggests a connection between the Jew and the fetish -- and that for which the fetish substitutes: namely, the recognition of (sexual) difference. If we return to Binet's essay, we find a number of motifs besides smell which are related to how Jews were represented in the nineteenth-century cultural imagination. For instance, Binet employs the language of (self-) betrayal ("se trahit") and dissimulation ("se dissimule") to describe, respectively, grand and petit fetichisme. Such language was routinely employed to describe the Jewish threat to European culture; the so-called assimilated Jew was in fact a dissimulator whose loyalty in the last instance was to his fellow Jews, and hence he was a traitor to his adopted state (see Hartmann 1885). Binet's continuous references to Schopenhauer also resonate with Jewish associations: the German philosopher notoriously invoked the foetor Judaicus. Schopenhauer's discussion of the Jewish stench also carried suggestions of problematic gender identity and sexuality. As Binet makes clear, fetishism, like the Jew, contradicts the philosopher's metaphysics of love and his notion of the generative instinct. Further compounding the connection between the fetish and the Jew is Binet's determination of the general trajectory and ultimate consequence of fetishism: being outside of nature ("hors nature"), degeneracy sterility, and the perversion or absence of reproduction (Binet 1887, 266-67). These conditions are also associated with the Jews. Another prominent characteristic of the anti-semitic inventory of Jewish traits and, for Binet, no less specific to fetishism is "the tendency toward abstraction" (271).(14) Finally, the most curious connection is Binet's concluding analogies between kinds of love and stages of religious development: he compares normal love -- which is composed of a "myriad of [fetishistic] excitations" (274)-with polytheism, and he compares fetishism -- at that time considered among the bottom rungs if not at the bottom of the ladder of religious development (143)-in its most pronounced, singular, and "perverted" form, with what was considered the pinnacle of religious development, monotheism.
The Enlightenment-based notion of religious fetishism also shared a number of traits with the contemporary depiction of Judaism, most notably untranscended materiality and meaningless ritualism. Both the fetishists and the Jews, it was understood, worship the material, and their religions were viewed as "perversion[s] of the true principle of social order: [self-] interest" (Pietz 1988, 121, 120).(15) In addition, the label "fetishistic" was applied by Enlightenment thought to opposing religious systems. The notion of commodity fetishism also had an implicit connection with the Jews; for Marx, fetishism characterized the ideological appearance of those capitalistic social and economic relations which the so-called practical religion of the Jews epitomized.(16) Consequently, from a number of different contemporary, "scientific" perspectives, the discourse on fetishism overlapped with that on the Jews.
If we shift from the general notion of fetishism back to the specificity of that exemplary nose in Freud's essay, several other Jewish subtexts open up. One prominent subtext is Freud's earlier relationship with Wilhelm Fliess, the Berlin Jewish rhinolaryngologist -- nose doctor. During the period when he developed his initial psychoanalytic theories of unconscious processes and defense mechanisms as well as when he wrote his first important work, Interpretation of Dreams, Freud's chief confidant was Fliess. During the same period Fliess sought to draw homological connections between the nose and female genitalia. Testifying to the validity of his assumptions was the apparent relief of dysmenorrhea and labor pains by the application of cocaine to the turbinal bones of the nose, to the so-called "genital spots." Moreover, the nose became the bridge by which Fliess extended the theory of biological periodicity from menstruating women to all people, regardless of age or gender. The periodic nosebleeds of men as well as of prepubescent, pregnant, and postmenopausal women joined menstruation as expressions of general body rhythms (cf. Fliess 1897). Freud's letters to Fliess reveal that Freud was as much engaged in Fliess's work as in his own. Freud even describes his nosebleeds in terms of menstruation. Moreover, Freud wrote almost obsessively about noses: their congestions, suppurations, and effluvia. He remarks on how the condition of his nose reflects his psychic health as well as on how Fliess's surgery upon that same organ affects his physical health. Freud even developed an olfactive theory of repression: certain memories stink. According to Sander Gilman (1987), two factors in particular contributed to Freud and Fliess's mutual overvaluation of the nose. One motive is the transvaluation of a figure of Jewish denigration: the Jewish nose. For them the Judennase is neither just an object of derision nor a sign of decadent hypervirility.(17) Rather, through their research the nose (and so by implication the Jewish nose) becomes a source of scientific truth and a site for easing human misery. The second factor is the revaluation of medical specialties, like rhinolaryngology and neuropathology, which, because the medical establishment considered them to be of lesser importance, had become preserves for Jewish doctors.
Yet, just as, one might say, it was the nose that joined Freud and Fliess, it was a nose, Emma Eckstein's nose, which led to their breaking apart. Freud's patient Emma Eckstein was suffering from severe stomach distress. Since Fliess claimed that a portion of those same nasal turbinal bones, which figured so prominently in his theory of sexuality, had a reflexive effect upon the stomach, Eckstein, at Freud's suggestion, submitted to nasal surgery. Fliess botched the operation: he left a half-meter of toxic iodoform gauze in her nose. When some two weeks later Freud and a colleague discovered and removed this material, Eckstein nearly bled to death. Freud reports to Fliess over the next four months about her very slow recovery. In these letters he endeavors as well to absolve Fliess from responsibility for her condition. Eventually he manages to shift the blame onto Eckstein and in the process to claim validation for Fliess's theories. Thus, fourteen months after the operation Freud (1985) writes to Fliess: Eckstein's "episodes of bleeding were hysterical, were occasioned by longing, and probably occurred at the sexually relevant times (the woman, out of resistance, has not yet supplied me with the dates)" (183 [26 April 1896; Freud dates the particular passage 28 April]). Nevertheless, despite Freud's psychic expenditure to preserve both his idealization of Fliess and their relationship, his efforts retained a trace of doubt about Fliess which in time led to their break. Freud's correspondence -- like a scar covering Eckstein's excised nose -- appears to be the working out of a fetishistic logic: his discourse about her nose substitutes for the one "castrated" by Fliess (i.e., for the true account of Eckstein's nose, for woman's truth) and acts as "protection" (Freud 1927, 154) against the loss of his own ideal, namely, Fliess and the "truth" of his theories.
Freud's fetishized discourse, like his discourse on fetishes, betrays as well a concern about sexual difference. His account of the bloody aftermath of Eckstein's operation and his reworking of the event in his dream of Irma's injection, in which he clearly identifies with his patient Irma, reveal that these scenes problematized his own gender identity. Indeed Freud (1985) notes that Eckstein wielded the maternal phallus when she said to him when he returned to the near-death scene he had earlier fled: "So this is the strong sex" (117 [8 March 1895]). Both Freud's subsequent letters to Fliess and his dreams find him attempting to respond to this taunt and to refute its implications of unmanning. Freud's sense of being feminized manifests itself in the homosexual overtones which colored his understanding of his friendship with Fliess. In December 1912 Freud would still write to Jones of the ongoing effects of his broken relationship with the nose doctor as "some piece of unruly homosexual feeling" (Gay 1988,276). Although for Freud bisexuality is a universal, infantile characteristic, it is an orientation which must be worked through -- as Freud claims that he had -- or the patient risks severe psychoneurosis if not psychosis." As Freud writes in his "Fetishism" essay, the fetish "saves the fetishist from becoming homosexual" (21:154). Consequently, Freud's exemplary nose, which, again, substitutes for the maternal phallus, can serve as a substitute for Wilhelm Fliess, who wrote on the connection between the nose and female genitalia. The choice of this particular object as fetish thereby allows Freud to disavow his unmanning; it saves Freud from recognizing his own feminization.
The episode of Eckstein's nose and its problematization of gender identity had a social as well as an individual dimension. The social implications are particularly evident in the dream of Irma's injection, where Freud generalized his own problematic gender identity to include all male Jews (cf. Geller 1992). More pertinent to our concern with gender, the Jews, and the fetishized nose, however, is that Freud found himself embedded in a matrix of social discourses which increasingly associated (male) Jews with women. For instance, fetishism had, in addition to its connection with Judaism, an association with the socially threatening feminine. It embodied "that [feminine] force of irrational passion for unregulated power and of instinctive mendaciousness and lubricity, which perverted all the institutions of legitimate authority" (Pietz 1988, 120). And I've already alluded to Schopenhauer's dissemination of the gender-questioning foetor Judaicus as well as to male menstruation. The belief that male Jews menstruated, which in the late medieval period had been a warrant for the blood libel, began to resurface in the anti-Semitic literature of the late nineteenth century (cf. Gilman 1987, 303-4). Further, besides the fetishized nose and the fetid odor, there was a third feminizing metonym of the Jewish body: circumcision. These three figures are interconnected. Thus, according to Gilman (1987) the Jewish nose "represented that hidden sign of [the Jewish male's] sexual difference, his circumcised penis" (301). And the other marker of Jewish difference, odor, is -- like the circumcised penis -- invisible. Circumcision also had an impact on Freud's treatment of fetishism.
Freud's notion of circumcision bears a most extraordinary relationship to his notion of fetishism. Although both represented absences -- the foreskin and the maternal phallus -- circumcision is formally, substantively, and even linguistically an inversion of fetishism. Circumcision is the "symbolic substitute" for castration, for what is no longer there (Freud 1937, 122), whereas the fetish is the "substitutive symbol" of the woman's penis, of what was never there (Freud 1910, 96). The circumcised penis both asserts the possible threat of castration -- the foreskin has been removed -- and denies it -- the head of the penis is prominent as in an erection. Inversely, the fetish by definition both disavows the threat of castration -- the mother has a penis -- and affirms it -- "the horror of castration has set up a memorial to itself in the creation of this substitute" (i.e., the fetish; Freud 1927, 154). Circumcision (for the uncircumcised) calls forth the castration complex and elicits horror;(19) the fetish (for the fetishist) disavows that complex and generates pleasure.
This inverse relationship between circumcision and the fetish can be extended from these metonyms to what they represent: the circumcised Jew can be seen as the inverse of the fetishized woman. But this invert, the Jew, does not become male; rather, he seems to question sexual difference and break the fetishistic compromise. Thus his attempted entry into the public sphere poses a grave threat to a society determined by the maintenance of definite sex roles and stereotypes. The recognition of Jewish difference, like female difference, threatens Christian male bourgeois identity. That this threat inseminated the production of Freud's "Fetishism" essay becomes apparent when we consider one last manifestation of the inverse relationship between circumcision and fetishism: the act of circumcision bares the glans -- the head of the penis,(20) while Freud's account of the fetishized nose hides it.
Freud's account hides something else. Unlike the Jewish nose, Freud's discussion of the nose fetish does not manifestly betray the identity of its possessor. Yet the patient's resort to "the language of the nose" led Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok (1986, 9-12, 50-52) to conclude that the young man of Freud's example was none other than Sergei Pankeiev, the "Wolf Man," the patient analyzed in Freud's 1918 "From the History of an Infantile Neurosis" (Abraham and Torok 1986, 31-32).(21) Although in that case study Freud (1918) claims that the Wolf Man successfully resolved his neurosis (100-101, 121-22n),(22) he in fact returned to analysis with Freud's pupil Ruth Mack Brunswick in October 1926. His analysis lasted until shortly before Freud would write "Fetishism" in August 1927.
In her "A Supplement to Freud's' |History of an Infantile Neurosis,'" Brunswick (1971) describes her patient's condition when he recommenced treatment:
He was suffering from a hypochondriacal idee fixe.
He complained that he was the victim of a nasal injury
caused by electrolysis, which had been used in the treatment
of obstructed sebaceous glands of the nose. According
to him the injury consisted varyingly of a scar,
a hole or a groove in the scar tissue. The contour of
the nose was ruined. Let me state at once that nothing
whatsoever was visible on the small, snub, typically Russian
nose of the patient. (264)
As is quite apparent, if Abraham and Torok's assumption (1986, 32) is to be accepted, then Freud, to preserve the anonymity of his example, had displaced the object of fetishistic attention from his former patient's nose to the nose(s) of other people.(23) Freud also once again displaced the Glans -- or rather its absence, since the Wolf Man draws upon the verbarium of castration phantasy to describe his condition -- to the Glanz. Brunswick (1971) goes on to describe how the Wolf Man played out the epistemic ambivalence characteristic of fetishism:
[H]e carried a pocket mirror which he took out to look
at every few minutes. First he would powder his nose
[give it a shine? -- J.G.]; a moment later he would inspect
it and move the powder. He would then examine the
pores, to see if they were enlarging, to catch the hole,
as it were, in its moment of growth and development.
Then he would again powder his nose, put away the
mirror, and a moment later begin the process anew.
His life was centered on the little mirror in his pocket,
and his fate depended on what it revealed or was about
to reveal. (265) Brunswick theorizes that the source of this particular obsession originated in his circle of acquaintances: "In the years following the war ... he had even become rather proud (I suspect because of his many Jewish contacts) of his own nose. It now occurred to him that he was really exceptionally lucky to have a nose without a blemish" (269; emphasis added). It was his Russian nose which differentiated him from and marked him as superior to his cohort, both individually and ethnically. The nose was the mark of difference and of identity. Moreover, since for psychoanalysis the nose is a classic exemplar of the displacement (Verlegung/Verschiebung) from lower to upper in dream symbols and neurotic symptoms (cf. Freud 1900, 387; 1905a, 30), when the Wolf Man saw these "hole[s]," these phantasms of castration staring back at him in the mirror, not only did he recall his earlier identifications with women (cf. Freud 1918, 47, 64, 76-79, 81-82, 84, 100-101),(24) but he was unable to differentiate "his irreparably mutilated state" (Brunswick 1971, 265) from that of the circumcised Jews.
Brunswick (1971) clearly draws the connection between the Wolf Man's altered nose and a circumcised penis in the analysis of one of his dreams where his father is a professor resembling, however, a begging musician known to the patient. . . . His father's nose is long and hooked causing the patient to wonder at its change" (286). In her commentary, Brunswick notes that the musician "looks like Christ [with whom the young Sergei had identified; cf. Freud 1918, 63, 66, 115, 117]. An association recalls an incident in which the patient's father was termed a |sale juif' -- which of course he was not!" She continues:
The begging musician who looks like Christ and the
patient's father, and is at the same time a professor
[whom Brunswick reads as Freud -- J.G.], is obviously
according to his nose a Jew. Since the nose is throughout
the symbol for the genital, the change in the father's
[and the son's -- J.G.] nose making it Jewish denotes
circumcision -- castration. (286) When he looked in the mirror he recalled the early encounters with circumcision and identifications with the circumcised which according to Freud in "History of an Infantile Neurosis" had convinced the Wolf Man of the reality both of castration and of the father as the castrator. The collapse of ethnic difference both screened and reactivated the elision of gender difference in the primal scene. Even his grandfather's story of the tailor and the wolf, which had instigated the famous dream of the wolves, was coded by circumcision -- from Schneider to schneiden to beschneiden.(25) And the ensuing failure to resolve his castration complex led both to his obsessional neurosis and his assumption of a feminine, that is, a passive homosexual attitude. Clearly, Freud is connecting the Wolf Man's effeminate symptomology with circumcision, and such an association would not have been absent in the Wolf Man's return, albeit in disguised form, in the essay on "Fetishism."
In sum, the fetishized nose as the substitute for the circumcised penis belies that feminine-coded Jewish difference. On the one hand, Freud's elision of odor and his failure to integrate his "most extraordinary case" into his argument may be an attempt to disavow the connection of Jews to the perverse sexuality and problematic gender identity which are constitutive of the notion of fetishism. On the other hand, his gratuitous example, like all fetishes, "remains a token of triumph over the threat of [Jewish difference] and a protection against it" (Freud 1927, 154). Freud's nose leaves a trace of the inscription of ethnic -- and gender -- difference on the male Jewish body.
Department of Religion
(1.) Pietz's 3 + part essay on fetishism, "The Problem of the Fetish" (1985, 1987, 1988), is a brilliant, self-proclaimed historical dialectic exploration of the term. He demonstrates its origin as an effect of cultural contact and its career as a negative critical force. (2.) Freud (1905b) comments on "chance experiences as an explanatory principle in Binet's theory" (171). Binet's work shifted the object of study from the religious life of the "primitives" to the love life of the civilized and the methodological perspective from nosological observation of perverse behavior to psychological analysis of normal sexuality: "everyone is more or less fetishistic in love" (1887, 144, cf. 272). Freud (1905b) notes that Binet was the first to recognize that the choice of fetish object is the "after-effect of some sexual impression" (154). (3.) In "Fetishism," Freud (1927) recognizes how he is popularly associated with omnipresent phallic symbols. Thus he writes: "When now I announce that the fetish is a substitute for the penis I shall certainly create disappointment" (Enttauschung). So what else is new. But he continues: "so I hasten to add that it is not a substitute for any chance penis. . ." (152). (4.) Nor does Freud (1927) connect the opening example to the other motivation for the particular choice of fetish: "the last impression before the uncanny and traumatic one" (i.e., before the perception of woman's lack; 155). (5.) Bernheimer (1984, 165-66) has also called attention to this extraordinary omission. He draws on the insight of Rosolato (1970). (6.) Bernheimer continues: "The absence of glans, where the real meaning lies, promotes the movement of translation between languages, while it retains the hidden fantasy of the ultimate inclusion of all semantic differences in one universal language" (166). (7.) Just as the absent glans recalls the absent maternal phallus, the presence of ubrigens evokes a number of the material characteristics of the fetish itself: it is "nebenbei" or in some contiguous relationship with the mother's genitals, and it leaves a remainder (ubrigbleiben), a reminder of castration. (8.) There is a fourth option: psychosis. If the boy chooses to foreclose rather than disavow (which leaves a remainder and thus is analogous to neurotic repression; cf. Freud 1927, 153-56) maternal difference, he follows the fourth path. (9.) Freud's choice of example is once again very curious; the imperial authority of his youth, the Hapsburg monarchy, had been dissolved nine years earlier and had been replaced by a republican form of government. The mention of the nonexistent throne is also yet another remainder of the repression of (coprophilic) smell which marks this essay (see below). That is, the pervasive sign of royal rule was the adjectival phrase kaiserlich- koniglich or more frequently the initials k.k.; these initials were pronounced Kaka (= feces); cf. Robert Musil's characterization of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy as the State of Kakania in his The Man without Qualities. (10.) On woman (and the ethnic, racial, colonial, class other) as fetish see Stratton (1987); and Bhabha (1986). Among other texts which analyze the importance of sexual difference in the legitimation of the bourgeois order, see Poovey (1988); Nicholson (1986). (11.) The scopophilic component of foot fetishism was already mentioned in a 1915 addition to the 1910 footnote discussed above. (12.) Binet suggests later on that Schopenhauer may have had his own fetishistic predilections (261). (13.) The other two are heredity, which "prepares the ground necessary for the germination and growth of love sickness [but which] is incapable of giving this illness its characteristic form" (164), and the association of ideas and sentiment engendered by social custom. (14.) On Judaism as the embodiment of abstraction, see the writings of Renan and Chamberlain, among many. (15.) Pietz, "Fetish, IIIa," 121, 120. The rampant characterization of the Jewish religion as a fossil bears marks of an implicit comparison with fetish religion. (16.) On commodity fetishism, see the opening chapter of Capital; on the tie between Jews and capitalism, see "On the Jewish Question." For Marx, the Jews personify civil society, which is characterized by self-interest, continuous bargaining, and money; indeed, the practice of Christian economic society has become Jewish. Another reading of the relationship between the representations of Jewry and of the commodity is provided by Postone (1986). He postulates that the anticapitalistic and anti-modern anti-Semitic movement identified the Jews with the same fetishized characteristics as the commodity: on the one hand, abstract, intangible, universal, mobile, and on the other hand, destructive, immensely powerful, international. (17.) In the logic of the time excess maleness signified that to which its concomitant sexual excess was presumed to lead, namely, to decadent weakness and effeminacy. (18.) Gay (1988, 274-77) offers a concise summary of the homosexual overcoding of Freud's relationship with Fliess. (19.) Freud (1909a): "The castration complex is the deepest unconscious root of anti-Semitism" (36 n. 1). (20.) Interestingly, the first appearance of the term glans in the Standard Edition of Freud's works (1905b, 187) refers to the head of an uncircumcised penis. (21.) I would like to thank Professor Ned Lukacher for calling my attention to Abraham and Torok's identification of Freud's exemplary patient as the "Wolf Man." (22.) The first claim reflected Freud's conviction at the termination of the analysis in 1914 that Pankeiev was cured; the latter, appended in 1923, notes that his recovery needed to be reconsolidated after the war and that the effort met with success. Fourteen years later in "Analysis Terminable and Interminable," Freud (1937) would remark about the Wolf Man's recurrent illnesses in an image that recalls Freud's own primal scene, the near death of Emma Eckstein: "In other attacks [of illness], however, the pathogenic material consisted of pieces of the patient's childhood history, which . . . now came away -- the comparison is unavoidable -- like sutures after an operation, or small fragments of necrotic bone" (218). (23.) Abraham and Torok draw their conclusion not only from the nasal symptomology but also from the references to the English nursery -- the Wolf Man's English governess plays a significant role in his case history -- and to the relationship between words and symptoms. (24.) Brunswick (1971) describes how her patient reenacted his youthful desire to put himself in the woman's place when he "borrowed first his wife's mirror, in order to examine his nose, as it were, her feminine habit of frequently looking at herself in it" (281). (25.) As the translator of "History of an Infantile Neurosis" felt compelled to point out when, in his discussion of the Wolf Man's identification of the father with the castrator, Freud appends a note on the Wolf Man's neurotic attitude toward tailors (Freud 1918, 87n.2). It is a curious occasion to invoke this particular symptom. First, the grandfather's story appears several chapters earlier, and second, Freud had just discussed how paternal castration practices had been softened to circumcision (Beschneidung).
Abraham, Nicolas, and Maria Torok. 1986. The Wolf Man's Magic Word: A Cryptonomy. Tr. Nicholas Rand. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Orig. 1976. Bernheimer, Charles. 1984. "Fetishism and Allegory in Bouvard et Pecuchet." In Flaubert and Postmodernism. Ed. N. Schor and H. F. Majewski. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Bhabha, Homi K. 1986. "The Other Question: Difference, Discrimination and the Discourse of Colonialism." In Literature, Politics, and Theory. Papers from the Essex Conference 1976-84. Ed. F. Barker, P. Hulme, M. Iversen, and D.Loxley. London: Methuen. Binet, Alfred. 1887. "Le Fetichisme dans l'amour." Revue philosophique de la France et de l'etranger, 24: 143-67, 252-74. Bloch, Iwan. 1909. The Sexual Life of Our Time in Its Relations to Modem Civilization. Tr. M.E. Paul from 6th Germ. ed. London: Rebman. Brunswick, Ruth Mack. 1971. "A Supplement to Freud's |History of an Infantile Neurosis."' In The Wolf-Man by the Wolf-Man. Ed. Muriel Gardiner. New York: Basic Books. Orig. 1928. Fliess, Wilhelm. 1897. Die Beziehungen zwischen Nase und weiblichen Geschlechtsorganen: In ihrer biologischen Bedeutung dargestellt. Leipzig/Vienna: Franz Deuticke. Freud, Sigmund. 1900. Interpretation of Dreams. SE 4-5. --. 1905a. "Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria." SE 7. --. 1905b. Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. SE 7. --. 1909a. "Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-Year Old Boy."SE 10. --. 1909b. "Notes Upon a Case of Obsessional Neurosis." SE 10. --. 1910. "Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of his Childhood." SE 11. --. 1918. "From the History of an Infantile Neurosis." SE 17. --. 1927. "Fetishism." SE 21. --. 1937. "Analysis Terminable and Interminable." SE 23. --. 1985. The Complete Letters of Sigmund Freud to Wilhelm Fliess. Ed. and tr. effrey M. Masson. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Gay, Peter. 1988. Freud. A Life for Our Time. New York: Norton. Geller, jay. 1992. "(G)nos(e)ology: The Cultural Construction of the Other." In The People of the Body. Ed. Howard Eilberg-Schwartz. Albany: SUNY Press. Gilman, Sander. 1987. "The Struggle of Psychiatry with Psychoanalysis: Who Won?" Critical Inquity, 13: 293-313. Hartmann, Eduard. 1885. Das Judentum in Gegenwart und Zukunft. Leipzig: Wilhelm Friedrich. Hirschfeld, Magnus. 1940. Sexual Pathology. A Study of the Derangements of the Sexual Instinct. Tr. J. Gibbs. Rev. ed. New York: Emerson Books. Nicholson, Linda J. 1986. Gender and History: The Limits of Social Theory in the Age of the Family. New York: Columbia University Press. Pietz, William. 1985. "The Problem of the Fetish, I." RES, 9: 5-17. 1987. "The Problem of the Fetish, II." RES, 13: 23-45. 1988. "The Problem of the Fetish, IlIa." RES, 16: 105-23. Poovey, Mary. 1988. Uneven Developments. The Ideological Work of Gender in Mid-Victorian England. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Postone, Moise. 1986. "Anti-Semitism and National Socialism." In Germans and Jews since the Holocaust. Ed. A. Rabinbach and J. Zipes. New York: Holmes & Meier. Rosolato, Guy. 1970. "Le Fetichisme dont se derobe l'objet." Nouvelle Revue de psychanalyse, 2: 31-39. Stratton, Jon. 1987. The Virgin Text. Fiction, Sexuality, and Ideology. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
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|Title Annotation:||The Body; Sigmund Freud|
|Date:||Dec 22, 1992|
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