Saturday, May 10, 2008

Jason and the broken kettle

In Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams, there is a famous story in which he explores the problem of denial and unconscious thought processes. It goes like this:

.. the dream… reminded one vividly of a defence put forward by the man who was charged by one of his neighbours with having given him back a borrowed kettle in a damaged condition. The defendant asserted, first, that he had given it back undamaged; secondly that the kettle had a hole in it when he borrowed it; and, thirdly, that he never borrowed a kettle from his neighbour at all. So much the better if only a single one of these three lines of defence were to be accepted as valid the man would have to be acquitted. (Vol 4, Pelican Freud Library, p197)

For Freud, unconscious thought processes involve no logic or contradiction. Acts of denial and disavowal involve processes whereby one projects certain ‘realities’ about the way things are, such ideas can comfort us from the psychic injuries incurred by recognising we may have done something wrong, stupid or cowardly. Of course, life and our relationships with others are full of such happenings, the challenge for all of us is to be aware of when we are ‘acting out’ in such ways. Bart Simpson’s “I didn’t do it, no body saw me do it, you can’t prove anything” is a modern day version of the broken kettle. The story of the broken kettle indicates that sometimes in our effort to protect our conceptions of ‘reality’, we go too far and start to construct contradictory justifications that only serve to reveal the work of fantasy within our minds. In fact sometimes we can come up with also sorts of horse-shit to convince ourselves that we did nothing wrong.

Enter Jason of Claymore.

My car stalled
(then it magically got better and I drove off from the scene of an accident)

My girlfriend said there's no damage, its not our fault, lets go...

(but neither driver nor passenger had anyway of checking for damage because they were both too scared to get out of the car with the angry group of cyclists).

Because I don't sorta, I'm intimidated by the police, I don't like the police, I don't really like them that much... some are good, some arn't, I'm intimidated by the police, and I choose not to do anything about it, cause... there is no damage to my car, there's a tiny scratch on my boot where a handle bar must of hit...

I think we'll leave this one for the jury to decide! Another Bonfire of the Vanities.

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