Series Z: An Archival Fantasy
- Before the Archives stands a doorkeeper. To this doorkeeper there come men and women from many countries who beg for admittance to Series Z. But the doorkeeper says that he cannot admit them at the moment. They, on reflection ask if they will be allowed, then, to enter later. “It is possible,” answers the doorkeeper, “but not at this moment.” Since the door to the Archives stands open as usual and the doorkeeper steps to one side, the people bend down to peer through the entrance. When the doorkeeper sees that he laughs and says: “If you are so strongly tempted, try to get in without my permission. But note that I am powerful and I am only the lowest doorkeeper.” These are difficulties that the men and women from many countries have not expected to meet. Series Z, they think, should be accessible to everyone. But they decide that they had better wait. They sit down at the side of the door. There they sit waiting for days and years. They make many attempts to be allowed in and weary the doorkeeper with their importunity. They can perceive a radiance that streams from the door to Series Z. Finally the doorkeeper bellows in their ears: “This door was intended for all of you. I am now going to open it.”
But I am already running ahead of myself with this admittedly outrageous appropriation of Kafka’s parable, for which I offer him and you my profound apologies and to which, stubbornly, I shall yet return.
So far as I am aware, the only place in Freud’s published works where the word “archive” appears is in the early paper (1898) on “The Psychical Mechanism of Forgetfulness” (Zum Psychischen Mechanismus der Vergesslichkeit). He writes: “Thus the function of memory, which we like to imagine as an archive open to any who is curious (wie ein allen Wissbegierigen geöffnetes Archiv vorstellen), is in this way subjected to restriction by a trend of the will…” Subsequently Freud appears to have completely abandoned this particular metaphor and, I think, rightly so. Indeed, the very title of this conference”Memory: The Question of Archives”has made me uneasy (the original French “La Mémoire des Archives” was even more alarming), and I propose immediately to separate its two components. Archives and memory have nothing incommon. Memory is not an archive, nor is an archive a memory bank. The documents in an archive are not part of memory; if they were, we should have no need to retrieve them; once retrieved, they are often at odds with memory. I shall therefore promptly banish memory from my discussion and focus on archives.
Here my malaise is of a different order. I do not want to appear before you under false pretenses. To be sure, I have spent a good deal of time in archivesin Lisbon, Madrid, Valladolid, Salamanca, Venice, Verona, Jerusalem. But though I also often move in psychoanalytic circles in New York and to a degree in Paris, my actual use of the Freud Archives has been limited. Which is to say that I come to you as something of an outsider, neither an analyst nor a historian of psychoanalysis (one book and two articles on Freud’s Moses were written out of other concerns), but simply as a historian tout court who, as such, may know something about the nature of archives, and who also happens to have a considerable interest in both Freud and psychoanalysis.
“Series Z,” as I need hardly tell you (the very letter sounds ominously terminal), is the section of the Sigmund Freud Collection in Washington “totally closed to researchers for varying lengths of time.” Series A, E and F, have other kinds of restrictions. Series B, more happily described as “open without restriction,” has the proviso that this is so “except for unpublished writings by Sigmund Freud and Anna Freud” for which permission even to photocopy, let alone publish, must first be obtained from Sigmund Freud Copyrights. What is not generally known, but which I discovered to my astonished dismay as I was forced to eliminate a short appendix when my book was already in page-proof, is that to publish even part of a Freud manuscript in German from the accessible Series B, one must also have the additional benediction of S. Fischer Verlag in Frankfurt. But I shall not weary you with my ultimately minor personal tribulations, nor shall I dwell on the fact that with regard to the Archives all scholars are equal but some are more equal than others (that is so in many other archives), nor do I intend to dicuss Series A,B, E and F. The proper focus of our attention shall remainSeries Z.
Here, in all fairness, let me state immediately that the Freud Archives are hardly the only ones to impose restrictions. On the contrary, these are quite common, especially when it comes to the private papers of modern individuals deposited in public institutions. Since we are gathered in London, let me remind you that in 1909 Robert Ross, in order to prevent the manuscript of Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis from falling into the hands of Lord Alfred Douglas, the agent of Wilde’s ruin, presented it to the British Museum on condition that it be sealed for sixty years. Ross did keep a carbon copy for himself. In 1913, in a libel suit initiated by Douglas, the original manuscript was brought temporarily under subpoena from the Museum to the court, large excerpts were read aloud and its contents widely reported in the press. Douglas lost the case, but, having received a second copy for the purposes of the trial, he now announced his intention to publish it himself. To prevent that, Ross rushed his carbon to New York and had it speedily published in an edition of sixteen copies which, though full of errors and omissions, secured copyright. Ross died in 1918 and the carbon passed to Vyvyan Holland, Wilde’s son. Douglas died in 1945. In 1949 Holland published the full and correct text of De Profundis from Gray’s carbon. In his introduction he wrote: “The manuscript itself still reposes in the British Museum: the authorities there have always refused to allow anyone access to it, in spite of the fact that its contents are no longer secret, and therefore the reason for which it was sealed up no longer exists.”
What is bizarre about the Freud Collection is not the fact of restriction but the manner in which the policy is implemented. Anyone, mind you, can request and receive from the Library of Congress a copy of the typewritten catalogue of the collection, which laconically lists virtually everything in it, even in Series Z, with names of correspondants and interviewees, but of course without revealing its actual contents. I have the 1985 version and the revised one completed in October 1993. This catalogue is itself Kafkaesque; I know of no other like it. All items in Series Z are listed under the year in which they are to be declassified, starting in 1995. Fair enough. But as one reads and re-reads these lists one begins to have the eerie feeling that not only the professed concern for living persons and patient privacy is at stake, but some insane logic all its own. Why should a photocopy of the manuscript of Träume im Folklore, written in 1911 in collaboration with D.E. Oppenheim and published in 1958, be in Series Z until the year 2,000? Is it merely because it includes “unidentified poetry and writings by someone other than Freud”? But then what of Freud’s corrected typescript and Introduction to his and W.C. Bullit’s unfortunate book on Woodrow Wilson, published in 1967, which is placed under the same restriction? Again, why totally restrict a file on Josef Freud, Sigmund’s uncle, containing “photocopies and documents regarding conviction for counterfeiting rubles, 1865-66,” when Freud himself alluded to it in The Interpretation of Dreams, and the documented details were published by Renée Gicklhorn in 1976 and Marianne Krüll in 1979?
But let me give some choice examples closer to my own interests. Under correspondence slated for liberation in 2,008 we find Einstein, Albert, 1931. What could he and/or Freud have been writing about? Well, who knows. But surely there could have been no scarlet passages in the item in the same 2,008 column that states: “Reading Room of Jewish Students of Vienna, 1911”! In 1940 Israel Doryon published a book in Hebrew about Freud’s greatly admired Josef Popper-Linkeus and prefaced it with a letter he had solicited in 1938 from Freud. Judah Magnes was the first president of the Hebrew University, of whose board Freud was a member. Why are Doryon and Magnes listed under “Year 2,010”? The absurdities go on. To find under “Year 2,013” a correspondence with “Maccabi World Union [the international Jewish sports organization], 1939,” leaves one breathless, and one can hardly wait for 2,013 to examine “Contract with Toeplitz & Deuticke [Freud’s publishers], 1885, 1887.” In the 1985 catalogue the final date for opening sealed material was 2,102; in 1993 it is 2,113. But enough. There are larger issues to explore.
What was once an intramural grumbling among scholars about the Freud Archives has by now become a loud clamor eagerly reported in the press. No doubt this agitated sensationalism is overdetermined, but two reasons immediately suggest themselves: Through her In the Freud Archives (1984) Janet Malcom cleverly made the issue a cause célèbre. Meanwhile, attacks against psychoanalysis, fused with assaults against the personal integrity of Freud himself, have by now reached an unprecedented crescendo of vilification. One result is a widespread belief that the “real truth,” for better or worse, is in the Archives, and that once they are fully accessible the truth will out. What both attackers and defenders of Freud have in common is a faith in the facticity of archives, in the archival document as somehow the ultimate arbiter of historical truth.
Now, this cult of the archive can be traced back to the nineteenth century when, in the 1830’s and especially after 1860, governments seemed almost to compete in their eagerness to open their archives to research. Lord Acton put the reason succinctly: To keep one’s archives barred against the historians was tantamount to “leaving one’s history to one’s enemies.”
The historians came, the writing of history (at least political history) was put on a firmer basis than ever before. It was the heyday of “scientific” history, full of optimism. The “crisis of historicism” was not yet on the horizon and the archival document seemed to herald a historiographical millennium. Paleography became a science and the archivist a professional, nowhere more superbly trained than at the École des Chartes, established in Paris in 1821. By the end of the century one spoke somewhat bemusedly in France of “la fureur de l’inédit,” the furor to publish the unpublished document.
Please do not misunderstand me. No contemporary historian, myself included, can be against archival research per se. It is simply that we have today a more modest and sophisticated notion of what archives and their documents really represent, their possibilities and their limitations.
So by all means let the Freud Collection be opened wide. Indeed, let me continue the parable with which I began. The doorkeeper, representing the Board of Directors of the Archives, has declassified everything. The very rubricSeries Zhas been abolished. Freud Copyrights cooperates. The men and women from many countries have packed the Reading Room of the Library of Congress to capacity; researchers on all other subjects are banished to the basement. New photocopying machines are constantly acquired to replace those so rapidly burnt out. Already after the first months conferences are being organized from New York to Tokyo, dissertations are being written, papers published, new books appear, all based on what was once Series Z. A veritable “fureur de l’inédit.” The real question remainswhat, fundamentally, will have changed as a result? And my provisional answer isvery little of genuine consequence. To explain why, let me first come back to the question of archives in general and then to the Freud Archives in particular.
I shall limit myself to four basic observations:
1. Ideally an archive should be naive, that isit should have been created and maintained for purposes other than those which we, as historians, seek. Copies of contracts and deeds of property were preserved in archives in case any future disputes should arise, not so that we might write economic history. Tax records were kept to collect taxes, not for historical demography. The dossiers of the trials of Domenico Scandella by the Inquisition in Italy were saved in the archiepiscopal archives of Udine for the secret information of other Inquisitors on heresy and heretics, not in order to enable Carlo Ginzburg to reconstruct the mental world of a sixteenth-century Friulian miller, and the popular culture of his time, in his remarkable book The Cheese and the Worms.
2. Dust on the documents. Ideally the documents in the archives should have been handled by as few people as possible, and certainly not by anyone personally involved. I take this metaphor from the following incident. In 1851 the Prussian historian Heinrich Von Sybel, received special permission from Napoleon III to examine the papers of the notorious Committee for Public Safety (Comité de Salut Publique) which functioned during the Terror following the French Revolution. They were covered with dust. The keeper said to him: “Sir, you must have some respect for this dustit is dust from the year 1795. I can assure you…that since that time no hand has disturbed these papers…”
3. No archive is ever complete, that isno archive can yield sufficient material to understand the subjects or answer the questions that its own documents present. This is so not only because so many pertinent documents never reached the archive to begin with and are forever lost to us, or because for those that have been preserved there are related documents in other archives that may be equally or more important, but because in order to be understood any archival document must be contextualized by information outside and beyond the archive, even beyond the field itself.
4. Perhaps most importantthough most difficult to convey in brief compass”the Past,” by definition, no longer exists. It is not somewhere “out there” waiting to be recovered. The archive is not a repository of the past, only of certain artifacts that have survived from the past, and we encounter them in the present. The contents of archival documents are not “historical facts” except on the most primitive leveldates, names, places. The truly vital data in these documents do not become “historical” until, filtered through the mind and the imagination of the historian, they are interpreted and articulated.
These remarks, incomplete as they are, should suffice to indicate some of the problematics of the Freud Archives.
The Freud Archives are, by their very nature, the very opposite of “naive.” They were created by Anna Freud, Freud’s devoted daughter, and Dr. Kurt Eissler, surely the most zealous guardian of his reputation, for the obviously express purpose of preserving Freud’s legacy and memory for future generations. I have not a word of criticism against either of them; both acted according to the natural dictates of their feelings. But I simply cannot imagine that either of them would leave anything fundamentally compromising to Freud in the Archives. It is the difference, if you wish, between the diaries of Franz Kafka, who never dreamed that they would be published, and André Gide’s journals, where one senses that as he writes one eye is gazing at posterity.
There is not enough “dust” in the Freud Archives. Freud himself radically sifted his papers several times. For years Anna had what was brought to England all to herself at Maresfield Gardens. Until his resignation from his long rule over the Archives (whose holdings, it should not be forgotten, were greatly expanded through his energetic initiatives), Eissler had unlimited access to all its materials, and I have reason to suspect he was not the only one to handle them.
From both points of view the Archives may be regarded as tainted. To understand why they should at least initially be suspect, we have only to consider the protective mentality of those close to Freud as revealed in the way they edited some of his unpublished letters. Compare, for example, the first edition of the letters to Wilhelm Fliess, edited by Marie Bonaparte, Anna Freud and Ernst Kris, and published in 1950, with the complete edition of 1985 edited by Jeffrey Moussaieff Mason that restored the omitted passages and added over one hundred letters originally withheld. In her important book Zurück zu Freud’s Texten Ilse Grubrich-Simitis, than whom I know of no finer textual scholar of Freud, observes correctly that other collections of Freud letters, published by people without sufficient distance from their subject, excised passages that dealt with private persons, not infrequently patients and their families.
These, howevever, were by no means the only criteria for omission. I should like to give you two examples from the Freud-Arnold Zweig correspondence edited by Ernst Freud and published in German in 1968. Again, I intend no criticism of Freud’s son, but merely offer this as an instance of that protective mentality to which I have alluded. In each of two published letters of Freud to Zweig (December 16, 1934 and June 17, 1936), a line is missing, as revealed by the manuscripts in the Arnold Zweig archive at the Akademie der Kunste in Berlin. In the first, Freud concludes with these words: “Finden Sie nicht auch manchmal, dass dieser Jesus-Joschua ein ziemlich überflüssiger Glaubensgenosse war?” (Don’t you also sometimes find that this Jesus-Joshua was a rather superfluous coreligionist?) In the second, in which Freud describes glowingly how Thomas Mann came specially to his home to read his lecture “Freud und die Zukunft” which he had already delivered in other places, he writes: “Ein edler Goi! Schön, dass es auch das giebt. Man könte manchmal zweifeln” (A noble Goy! Nice that this also occurs. One can sometimes doubt it).
When Frau Grubrich-Simitis assures us that no previously unknown masterpiece of Freud will be found in the archive, nor evidence that any canonical work of his has been falsified (such as occurred with Nietzsche’s Will to Power), she is undoubtedly right. “Anna Freud and Ernst Freud were cut from different cloth,” as she puts it, “than Elisabeth Forster-Nietzsche and Peter Gast.” Of course. But she is referring primarily to Freud’s works, not to the documentary contents (or lack of them) in the Freud Archives, while between Freud’s loyal children and Nietzsche’s malevolently power-hungry sister and her servile accomplice there is still a considerable spectrum of possibilities for well-intentioned intervention.
The most significant and irremediable gap in the Freud Archives is the result of Freud’s own doing. “On two occasions [in 1885 and 1907],” Ernest Jones observed, “he completely destroyed all his correspondence, notes, diaries and manuscripts.” The letter of April 28, 1885 to Martha, announcing his determination to thereby frustrate his future biographers, is too well-known to be quoted yet again. Other lacunae in the documentation are, as I have hinted, intrinsic to the nature of archives. We have already heard from Riccardo Steiner on how much there is in the archives of the British Psychoanalytic Society. There are other arcadias on three continents, some, like the Jung Archives, inaccessible, others not yet known or barely touched. The letters from Fliess to Freud incorporated in the 1985 edition are there only because Peter Swales, that indispensible enfant terrible of psychoanalytic historiography, tracked Fliess’ daughter Pauline to an old age home in Israel and learned that she had donated all of her father’s papers to the National Library in Jerusalem.
My remarks thus far are meant to point to some of the potential pitfalls of a misperception and overestimation of what Series Z may hold for us. Perhaps you find me too suspicious, overcautious. Let us, then, momentarily cast these cautions to the winds. After all, in our ongoing parable Series Z has already been thrown wide open, a stream of articles and books have been published. What now?
Inevitably, a huge amount of previously unknown information has thereby become available. The real question iswhat is the epistemological value of this new information? The answers very much depend on what it is we want to know.
Nothing in the Freud Collection nor in any other archive can possibly decide any of the major scientific or philosophical issues that have arisen in the ongoing controversies over Freud. No document can prove or disprove the validity of Freudian psychoanalytic theory nor the efficacy of psychoanalytic therapy. Infantile sexuality, the existence of the unconscious, the mechanisms of repression, and other central tenets of Freudian theory, are not subject to archival arbitration. Thus let us imagine that our men and women from many countries have published letters from former patients of Freud, some blessing him for saving their lives and others cursing him for ruining them. Some of these letters are in themselves very interesting, even poignant, but they have changed nothing. Let us imagine that a Brazilian scholar has published an amazing letter from the Vienna Medical Society threatening Freud with ostracism for abandoning the seduction theory. Will Jeffrey Masson, in light of this, retract a word of what he has written concerning Freud’s motives? I doubt it.
What do we really want to know, and how can the Archives be of help? My own order of priority would be: To understand Freud’s teaching; to understand the history of the psychoanalytic movement; to understand Freud’s life insofar as it relates to the first two goals.
The teaching above all, and for that we would all profit from a critical edition of the German text of Freud’s writings, taking account of manuscript drafts, notes, correspondence, along the lines that Frau Grubrich-Simitis has so carefully mapped out in her aforementioned book. Note, however, that the manuscripts of Freud works were not placed in Series Z to begin with. But what does understanding Freud’s teaching mean? For me, as a historian, it entails coming as close as possible to his own intentions. This, as I have argued elsewhere must take pride of place. At least in his published works Freud was consciously trying to communicate various ideas to his readers. That these works, like all texts, also contain latent meanings of which he was unaware, that they can be approached with a variety of hermeneutic strategies, does not absolve us from rigorously seeking their conscious intentionality which, alone, can keep us from flying off the deep end. For that, not only is the value of a correct text self-evident, but any information relevant to its evolution, whether through variants or revisions, or through letters in which Freud discusses work in progress. It is in this sense that the letters in Series Z may make their most important contribution. But even then the archives are only an aid. Ultimately the student must bring to an understanding of Freud’s work his or her philological, literary, and historical instincts, and an entire culture derived from other fields. Philip Rieff’s Freud: The Mind of the Moralist (1959) remains, in my opinion, one of the most penetrating explorations of Freud’s thought. And Rieff never even consulted an archive.
The history of the psychoanalytic movement (I have in mind only Freudian psychoanalysis). Here, surely, our men and women from many countries will have reaped abundant harvests. But how much wheat and how much chaff? Any history of the psychoanalytic movement cannot ignore the archives, but it must also transcend them. Once again all depends on how we conceptualize the problem. If we have in mind a historical narrative of its leading personalities, its congresses and schisms, its dispersal after the German catastrophe of 1933 and the Austrian of 1938, then certainly these and many other aspects will have been fleshed out by Series Z. But this kind of history remains business as usual. I shall take as an instance Phyllis Grosskurth’s The Secret Ring: Freud’s Inner Circle and the Politics of Psychoanalysis published three years ago to considerable acclaim. Assuredly the book contains new and sometimes vivid detailsMs. Grosskurth had spent time in several archives, including the Rank papers at my own university, and she writes well. For me, however, the book, like so many others in the genre, represents yet another missed opportunity. That Freud’s secret entourage, the “Committee” was racked by dissentions, backbiting, competition for Freud’s imperious favor, was essentially known. The issue that is never addressed, is how this group of quite imperfect and in many ways incompatible men were able to sustain and propogate not only a therapy, but a teaching that became a vital component of Modernism around the globe. And, in a larger sense, is this not the issue for any history of the psychoanalytic movement worthy of itselfnot merely to describe its inner workings or proselytizing activities, but to ask what prior spiritual or cultural needs did Freud’s teaching fulfill that enabled it to spread from a small group of Jews meeting in 1902 at Berggasse 19, to become what W.H. Auden called after Freud’s death “a whole climate of opinion”?
I come finally to the vexing question of Freud’s biography and here I am prepared to abandon my parable. I am only certain that the men and women from many countries will not find anything of significance about Freud’s childhood and adolescence. That stumbling block to biographers, especially those who are psychoanalytically oriented, will remain. Some information about Freud’s parents may perhaps yet be found in Moravian and Viennese archives. As for Freud’s mature life, for reasons already given I doubt that very much of a sensational nature will be found in Series Z, though of course one cannot be sure. Once again, however, I feel that the really important issues extend beyond the archives.
The first concerns the motivations of the biographers, and this cannot be divorced from the current wars over Freud nor, ultimately, from the cultural and psychological climate in which we find ourselves. That there should be widespread interest in the life of someone as famous as Freud is, of itself, natural. Many of us like to read biographies; I do so myself. But I do not know of any other personage (Sylvia Plath included), over whom biographical research is conducted in such a hothouse atmosphere and with such venom. The polarity between defenders and detractors of Freud is such as to make both sober discourse and reasonable objectivity increasingly difficult. I am fairly sure that most of the pressure to declassify Series Z has come from Freud’s detractors, who are certain that dark and damaging secrets are to be found there, this being the only reason it has been kept closed. (Turned around, this has been the best argument for those partisans of Freud who would like to see it opened in order to put an end to wild speculations.
It seems almost yesterday that Freud was, for most, a hero. By now the accusations range from malpractice to outright murder. Is it merely an inevitable reaction against a prior hagiography? Or does the age have a need to diminish its former heroes? I note that a book published in England and entitled The Private Lives of Albert Einstein, elicited an article in the Times of London on July 25, 1993 under the banner headline: “EINSTEIN=MC2 (where M is for Mysogyny and C is for Cheat.)” Will the archives ever settle such trench warfare? I don’t think so. What makes it worse is that where there is evidence for both virtue and vice about a historical character there is also a psychological inclination on the part of the historian (much to be guarded against) to assume that the negative is probably the more objective and truer version. The problem is at least as old as Plutarch, who wrote (in On the Malice of Herodotus) that “ill will in history writing is a preference for the less creditable version when two accounts of the same incident are current.”
The other issue is so vital and so complex as to require a conference of its own. I have in mind the relation between biography and a person’s achievement. How much of the former do we need to know in order to understand the latter? We do not even know the names of the authors of most biblical texts. Has this inhibited our understanding of Deuteronomy? So little of Shakespeare’s life is known that Freud himself subscribed to the Earl of Oxford theory. Were it so, would it make a difference in our appreciation of Hamlet? How much about Freud’s life must we know in order to interpret The Interpretation of Dreams? Or would our interpretation simply be different, with less ferreting for biographical links and more concentration on what he was trying to teach us?
Such and similar questions have often been debated in the past, but even the debate has been further complicated by the spirit of our time. It seems to me that the very questions have receded in the face of today’s almost universal assumption that, especially when it comes to prominent men or women there is an inherent and boundless right to know everything about their lives, down to the most intimate details. The ethics of such probing are either taken for granted or rationalized. Thus the biographer of the American poet Ann Sexton, who committed suicide, was given access by Sexton’s therapist to all the tapes he had recorded of their analytic sessions, on the grounds that she had herself been a “confessional” poet and would not have minded.
I have no ready answers to the ethical conundrum (though I hope you will not be shocked if I now belatedly reveal that at times I have a heretical empathy with the much maligned Dr. Eissler who, whatever his other follies, believed as a gentlemen of the old school that certain bounds of privacy must not be transgressed). But if not the question of ethics, then surely that of relevance must at least be faced.
To understand the time in which we live, let us observe that a well-known musicologist has taken the pains to prove, at least to his satisfaction, that Franz Schubert was not only a homosexual but a pederast. Well suppose he was. Will this information enhance my appreciation of a Schubert Lied or Quartet? (The musicologist thinks it has a bearing on the “Unfinished Symphony”). Well, that’s music you say, too abstract for direct connections. Literature, then. Some letters of James Joyce have been published which reveal that his wife Nora would on occasion oblige a sexual desire of his that can only be described as unusual even by our emancipated standards. Do these documents enable us to better understand Ulysses and Molly Bloom, or have we not more fruitfully to read Homer’s Odyssey and acquire a map of Dublin? Ironically, it may have been Freud himself who first opened this Pandora’s Box, but let’s not hold this against him. Rather, let us askmust we really know whether Freud slept with Minna? Those who want to discover that he really did, are gripped by an unstated and faulty syllogism: a) Freud presented a public image of a devoted husband; b) Freud comitted incest with his sister-in-law; ergo Freud is not to be trusted, and so neither should his work…
But I have held you long enough. If I have displeased you with my skepticism about the ultimate value of Series Z, be comforted that whether or not it is declassified does not depend on me. I should like merely to summarize my stance. I believe that those on either side of the Freudian fence who think that within Series Z is to be found a decisive resolution to any of the really burning problems that face psychoanalysis and the writing of its history are deluding themselves with a credulous positivist conception of archives more appropriate to the nineteenth century than to ours. This, and not my poor parable, is the “archival fantasy” in my title. I believe equally that the seduction of the archives is distracting many from the real questions and the more important work to be done in understanding Freud and in determining what is alive and what obsolete in his legacy.
I ask your indulgence if I close on a personal, existential note. We live in a time when we are flooded with information in every field of endeavor, a deluge from which Freud scholarship is not exempt. It has has become a veritable industry over which it is difficult to maintain even bibliographical control. The amount of sheer information increases incessantly. I confess that I have reached an age when I am haunted by the question of when information becomes knowledge. What I have presented here is only a special instance of that larger Angst. I am perhaps not yet old enough to seek the further line where knowledge becomes wisdom.