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Agnomenosis 2:

On the obsession with being titled 


Ghiath el-Marzouk



Titles distinguish the mediocre, embarrass the superior,
and are disgraced by the inferior.

George Bernard Shaw


As discussed in Part 1 of this research, there exist at least two distinguishable kinds of internal correlation between those psychical structures which act as direct preconditions or Ďmechanismsí for the normal furtherance of the state of heterosexual love, or that of emotional life, in general. Thus, the antithetical interdependence between egoism and altruism, where the former psychical structure is Ďlibidinallyí consummated by narcissism, would find itself sharply neutralized in the (assiduous) presence of the consignificant interdependence between altruistic egoism and sexual overvaluation, whatever the Ďprimary indicationsí of such normal furtherance. From a biological perspective, moreover, the sexual overvaluation being talked about is, fundamentally, nothing more than an anatomical extension of what may be called Ďpsychical overvaluationí by analogy. As such, the (desiring) subject would resort to the cathexis (or investment) of this Ďpsychical overvaluationí in the object of desire, in the first place, and would therefore harbour a propensity for eclipsing the Ďeffulgenceí of his or her sensual sentimentalization in the genital organs so as to transcend their sensual limits in a more sentimental manner Ėan ordained transcendence whose Ďmentalizationí would be idealized as a nonsensual threshold for the psychical overvaluation, and whose Ďsexualizationí would be materialized as a sensual threshold for the sexual overvaluation, given the aforesaid anatomical extension.[1] What is more, the same sexual overvaluation seeks to penetrate into the subjectís (desiring) mind and to create a mental state in which he or she is intellectually infatuated by the objectís (desired) perfection of whatever sort, thus resulting in the debilitation of the formerís judgemental powers, and subsequently in the enhancement of his or her credulous submissiveness to those of the latter. Let me now recite the stanza from Goetheís love poem, which was quoted at the end of Part 1, should the Ďmental stateí in question become crystallized even further (see el-Marzouk, 2016a; 2016b):

     Wie sie sich an mich verschwendet,
     Bin ich mir ein wertes Ich;
     Haette sie sich weggewendet,
     Augenblicks verloer ich mich.

     (Does she expend her being on me,
     Myself grows to myself of cost;
     Turns she away, then instantly
     I to my very self am lost)

Hence, it is this credulous submissiveness, in particular, which generates in the object of desire the delusional feeling of Ďimmense grandeurí, as mentioned there, and which ultimately becomes the most significant source of abiding authority or even authoritarianism with more domineering efficacity Ėsomething like the dupable docility of the hypnotized towards the hypnotist so far as the unconscious fixation of libidinal energy is concerned. Considering every possible import of the first two lines in the above-cited stanza, the psychical magnification of the desired objectís egoism, which is engendered synchronously by the endowed absorption of the desiring subjectís (altruistic) egoism, may, in effect, represent a rather superlative aspiration for self-gratification which would, in turn, culminate in self-assertion and would appeal to human nature as something universally indubitable and indisputable, regardless of its very transcendental corroboration by the highly aesthetic vehemence of poeticization. Whether or not it disappears from the conscious or unconscious sight or even insight, one telling implication of the last two lines in the stanza, an implication whose mere association guarantees the maintenance of ideational counterpoise, may well surround the entire mental state under consideration with extreme peril and terror, given the dreadful lurking of those uncontrollable and insurmountable Ďnemesesí such as organic disease or even sudden death, to say nothing of those controllable and surmountable Ďmimesesí such as willful disloyalty or forcible abandonment.

Even if the human mindís intrinsic qualities attempt to outshine these potentially portentous Ďnemesesí and Ďmimesesí with quite optimistic auras, they will affect neither the expression of the sexual overvaluation in question nor the altruistic transformation which may emanate from it at any moment in time. This is because the articulation of such an expression, and the ensuing delusional feeling of grandeur that is generated by the credulous submissiveness just mentioned, may well be  comparable with the fantastic disposition to Ďmegalomaniaí which can be observed in very serious psychopathological cases such as paranoia and schizophrenia (the latter being formerly known as Ďdementia praecoxí). In these very serious cases, which manifest themselves as derivative forms of functional psychosis, the libidinal energy that is to be actively orientated towards the object of desire is simply lacking (or, rather, available but psychically impaired), thereby leading to a passive or reflexive reorientation of the libidinal energy itself towards the ego of the (desiring) subject. According to Freud, it is this resultant introversion of the libidinal energy which would account for the forfeited sense of reality in the fragmented psychologies of the paranoiac and the schizophrenic rather than in the Ďunfragmentedí psychology of the ascetic anchorite in the sense intended by Jung (see Freud, 1914:73).

It follows from the above that the abnormal disposition to megalomania with which the subject is fantastically infatuated in diverse cases of functional psychosis, in general, is in fact a pathogenic disposition which has its biological roots in the mechanism underlying the process of Ďurethral erotismí as regards psychical-character formation and the variations it undergoes during libidinal and ego development. Such a mechanism dictates, among other things, that the persistent need to micturate can only be biologically satisfied when the other equally persistent need to ejaculate is simultaneously procrastinated or even dispensed with, and vice versa. Besides, this endogenous polarity between micturition and ejaculation has, in turn, its mythological roots in the exogenous antithesis between water and fire, the two elements which, together with the other three elements (i.e. air, earth, and ether), were idealized, and therefore deified, when they were Ďunknowní to the human mind in olden times. Hence, the psychoanalytic comparison seeks to seriously unearth the implications of such Ďexogenous antithesisí so as to illustrate that the dominating Ďwaterí of urine would quench the Ďfireí of semen at the one extreme, and that the predominating Ďfireí of semen would obstruct the Ďwaterí of urine at the other extreme.[2] 

Accordingly, the abnormally fantastic disposition to megalomania, with which the expression of sexual overvaluation is analogous in every way, is exemplified, among other dispositions, by one of the two types of object-choice (viz. the anaclitic type), which seems to be most typical of the masculine subject, in particular, even though its differentiation from the other type of object-choice (viz. the narcissistic type), is neither sharply marked nor universally underpinned. What appears to be universally emphasized, however, is that the (desiring) subject, during infancy, is originally faced with at least two objects of desire, the nurtured subject himself or herself and the nurturing woman (i.e. the biological mother or her substitute) Ėan all-embracing emphasis which inescapably presupposes the existence of a primary narcissism manifesting itself predominantly in his or her object-choice. On the face of it, the consummated object-choice of the anaclitic type is, once again, more characteristic of the masculine subject than it is of the feminine one, thereby displaying emphatically the demarcated enthrallment by the expression of sexual overvaluation which emanates from his (primary) narcissism, and subsequently conforms with the transmission of this narcissistic libido to the object of desire (see Freud, 1914:81f.).

In the more severe cases of Ďfunctional psychosisí such as schizophrenia, on the other hand, the intended clinical structure will not be exclusively identified with the specific symptom that is brought about by the forcible nonorientation of libidinal energy towards the object (or objects) of desire. Nor will this clinical structure be defined with the consequential passive (or reflexive) orientation of the selfsame libidinal energy as a given quantum of narcissistic libido towards the (desiring) subjectís own ego (see above). On the contrary, a considerable part of this quantum is determined by other phenomena which would reflect the inevitable propensity of the narcissistic libido in question for the attainment of an object (or objects) of desire once again: and such a propensity would, in turn, mirror the subjectís perseverant, albeit despondent, endeavour to achieve mental recuperation, thereby intimating a similar proclivity in the less severe cases of Ďtransference neurosisí such as obsessional neurosis and hysteria. Yet the essential difference, so far as these other phenomena are concerned, does indeed point to the fact that in schizophrenia, in particular, the latent narcissistic libido does not really catch hold of the (reattained) object of desire as an integrated, ideational being (as is the case with object-presentation), but only adheres to the peripheral apparition which belongs to it as a disintegrated, symbolic entity (as is the case with word-presentation). It is, therefore, this Freudian dichotomy between word-presentation and object-presentation which seems to conceptually approximate de Saussureís dichotomy between signifiant Ďsignifierí and signifiť Ďsignifiedí, respectively, notwithstanding the further injection of the Saussurian dichotomy with certain psychical significances within the Lacanian formulation (see, also, el-Marzouk, 2009c; 2009d).

Given the import of the clinical structure of schizophrenia (or Ďdementia praecoxí), the structure whose Ďoverlibidinized egoismí cannot but captivate the schizophrenicís imagination with the symbolic or emblematic superficiality of the external world, the purport of the clinical structure of what may now be called Ďagnomenosisí (i.e. the excessive obsession with titles) will certainly illuminate the implicit psychical convergence between these two clinical structures in even the most Ďaltruisticí exertion of personality. Just as the schizophrenic, in his or her abortive attempt to regain the vanishing object(s) of desire, finds himself or herself intensely contented with mere word-presentation instead of object-presentation, so too the agnomenotic, in his or her bootless endeavour to Ďretrieveí the disappearing sense(s) of identity, finds himself or herself inflatedly enraptured with the purely haphazard acquisition of an auxiliary agnomen, a quite mongrelized title (or appellation) which is in fact nothing else than an empiricist byproduct of fossilized social convention. And like the schizophrenic who is completely overwhelmed by the predominance of what relates to word-presentation over what relates to object-presentation under the Ďaffectiveí distortion of the inherent boundary between reality and delusion, the agnomenotic is also entirely subjugated by the enchantment of what has to do with the acquired bastardized agnomen rather than what has to do with the proper sense of identity under the same Ďaffectiveí distortion. From this viewpoint, the entire subjugation of the agnomenotic as such is seemingly attributable to the instantaneously attractive, and thence enervative, power of the enchantment in question, in spite of its constant circumscription with chimerical auras.

But the explicit psychical divergence between the two clinical structures, on the other hand, will also shed light on the mechanisms which underlie the internal distribution of libidinal energy in either clinical structure, even though such energy is still characterized by a narcissistic nature. In schizophrenia, specifically, the determinants of the process by which the quantum of libido is dissociated from object-presentation, and is thus accumulated in the ego (to become a quantum of narcissistic libido Ėsee above), appear to resemble the determinants of the process whereby the magnitude of repression operates belatedly as a defensive manoeuvre for libidinal cathexis (or investment) at a later stage. This resemblance is further substantiated insofar as the effusion of narcissistic libido is obstructed (or dammed up), and as long as the emergent impulses or their disguised derivatives are kept at a distance from consciousness, a Ďprovisoí whose modification entails the occurrence of object-presentation in the unconscious and the reoccurrence of word-presentation in the preconscious. As a result, the libidinal recathexis (or reinvestment)  in word-presentation does not, in itself, yield to the act of repression, and thus the indirect Ďretrievalí of the object of desire via its Ďindigenized verbalizationí represents the first effort to recuperate (see Freud, 1915b:146f.; 1915c:208f.). In agnomenosis, however, no such psychical or mental barrier would impede the effusion of narcissistic libido, since it has already been cathected (or, rather, hypercathected) in agnomen-representation, provided that the object of desire, being the subject himself or herself, is constantly being infused with narcissistic supplies to be further puffed up, especially those narcissistic supplies which are bestowed upon him or her by Ďinferiorí agencies. Although the agnomenotic reaches exactly the same megalomaniacal level that is reached by the functional psychotic, in general, and although the libidinal cathexis (or even hypercathexis) in agnomen-representation does not submit to the act of repression (as in the case of schizophrenia), the direct possession of the object of desire via its Ďhybridized verbalizationí is by no means an indication of the first (or any other) effort to recuperate.

It also follows that the utter subordination of the agnomenotic by the enchantment of what has to do with agnomen-representation, which is similar to the total inundation of the schizophrenic by the predominance of what relates to word-presentation, would no doubt impose on the hybridized agnomen (or the indigenized word, for that matter) a fetishistic characteristic in view of the very expression of sexual overvaluation referred to above, given its analogousness with the abnormal disposition to megalomania and the subjectís fantastic infatuation with it in the diverse cases of Ďfunctional psychosisí, in general. This is well ascribable to the psychopathological observation that, in fetishism and the import of Ďsexual perversioní it usually implies, the object of desire is not selectively represented in his or her real human form, but rather is obligatorily substituted by an Ďiconic intruderí that belongs to him or her in one form or another. This iconic intruder may stand for some Ďanimateí fragment of the selfsame object of desire (the Ďfootí, for example), an abnormally-infatuated-with fragment which is apparently inappropriate for the normal attainment of sexual satisfaction. The iconic intruder may also stand for some Ďinanimateí embodiment of the same object of desire (the Ďshoeí, for instance), an abnormally-fascinated-with embodiment that does bear an assignable signification of what is known in literary theory as Ďprosopopoeiaí, so far as the aberrant perception of sexuality is concerned.[3] In either exemplification, moreover, the substitution is reminiscent of how the latent narcissistic libido, within the psychical structure of schizophrenia (or agnomenosis, by extension), adheres only to the superficial appearance of word-presentation (or agnomen-representation, by extension, too).

Thus, in the usual psychological sense of the term Ďfetishismí as a form of sexual perversion (or aberration), the iconic intruder which has acted as an obligatory substitute for the object of desire (the Ďfootí or the Ďshoeí in the above two examples) becomes an obsessively adored fetish in the mentality of the sexual pervert (the Ďmoderní fetishist), who thinks that his desired idol is entirely epitomized in its corporeal Ďexistenceí. By comparison, in precisely the anthropological sense of the same term, the corresponding iconic intruder which is manifested by an animate or inanimate embodiment (an animal or a thing, for instance) also becomes a hauntingly worshiped fetish in the imagination of the primitive savage (the Ďancientí fetishist), who believes that his fancied god is utterly incarnated in its physical Ďrealityí. As it is true that some fetishistic Ďinclinationsí still persist in the normal progression of heterosexual love (or emotional life, in general), it is equally true that such Ďinclinationsí would point to nonpathogenic cases such as the unavailability of the object of desire in his or her Ďabsenceí, or the preventability of the sexual satisfaction with the same object of desire in his or her Ďpresenceí. Yet the situation can only exhibit its pathogenic structure when the fetish (or the yearning for it) is no longer associated with the object of desire as a necessary condition, and thus the resultant dissociation would indicate the more aberrant purport of the reversed transformation (or metamorphosis) of the fetish itself back into the object of desire himself or herself (see Freud, 1905a:65f.).

From this standpoint, the new destructive role of the fetish as a transformed (or metamorphosed) iconic intruder, which is in fact a recollective reflection of a rather submerged phase of libidinal (and ego) development during infancy, may be emphasized to further reemphasize the implicit psychopathological congruence between the fetishist and the agnomenotic, to say nothing of the fundamental division (or Ďfissureí) of the formerís ego between masculine sexuality and feminine sexuality (see, also, el-Marzouk, 2009a; 2009b). Just as the fetishist (or the primitive savage, for that matter) regards the chosen fetish as being endowed with sexual significance (or supernatural significance, in the case of the latter), whose presence guarantees the maintenance of excitement and self-satisfaction, so too the agnomenotic looks at the Ďacquired agnomení as being furnished with psychosocial importance whose appearance ensures the continuity of enticement and self-gratification. And like the fetishist (or the primitive savage) who is blindly convinced that the absence of the erotic power (or magical power) of the chosen fetish means the absence of both physical and mental capability (or Ďpotencyí), the agnomenotic is aimlessly persuaded that the disappearance of the normative (or Ďlegitimateí) force of the Ďacquired agnomení signifies the disappearance of both psychical identity and social status. But the explicit psychopathological incongruence, on the other hand, seems to touch on the type of object-choice in either: whereas the fetishistís Ďfailed loveí entails that the expression of sexual overvaluation functions actively in the anaclitic type (that is, from the subject to the object), the agnomenoticís Ďsuccessful loveí dictates that the same expression of sexual overvaluation operates passively (or Ďreflexivelyí) in the narcissistic type (that is, from the subject to the subject himself or herself).

Clearly, therefore, with the identification of agnomenosis as a psychopathological structure that emerges from overlibidinized (or Ďoveraggressifiedí) egoism, in the first place, the two principal characteristics of the structure can now be highlighted so as to suggest a possible terminology for the acquired agnomen in its hybridized (or mongrelized) verbalization: firstly, the megalomania that is indicative of Ďfunctional psychosesí, in general, such as schizophrenia and paranoia; and secondly, the obsessiveness which is symptomatic of Ďfetishismí as a form of sexual perversion, above all. Let us, for this reason, identify the acquired agnomen with a specific sort of signifier that bears the two principal characteristics in question (call it henceforth the Ďmanic-obsessive signifierí), and let us, for the same reason, differentiate it from all sorts of signifiers which have thus far been put forward within the Lacanian formulation (see, also, el-Marzouk, 2009c; 2009d). More specifically, the conception of this Ďmanic-obsessive signifierí is even quite distinct from the conception of what Lacan terms, the Ďmaster signifierí, despite their at-first-sight similitude in the merciless predominance of their (phallic) signification over the subjectís entire being and thinking alike, a predominance which appears to account for the ensuing recurrence of his or her defensive endeavours to prop up (or Ďback upí) the ego, first and foremost. This differentiation between the Ďmaster signifierí and the Ďmanic-obsessive signifierí may be further clarified, from a terminological perspective, as follows:

At the one extreme, the ascendancy of the master signifier is, first of all, the upshot of what may be termed, Ďautomatic symbolizationí, a process whereby the signifier is excessively used by the subject himself or herself, in various contexts, to the extent that it is proactively depleted of its literal meaning (the usual Ďsignifiedí), and is thence retroactively repleted with its antonymous counterpart in the unconscious (as in the excessive use of the word honest which contains within itself every possible nuance of Ďdishonestyí, for example). Originally derived from the dialectical relationship between the master and the slave in Hegelís sense, the master signifier would seem to be an orientational (or instructional) element in the endless signifying chain, an element which underpins Ďexistential totalizationí in the sense that the signifier in question represents the subject willy-nilly for all other signifiers (see Lacan, 1966a:99; 1966b:259; 1972-3:33f.). At the other extreme, the supremacy of the manic-obsessive signifier, as such, is the outcome of what may be called, Ďheteromatic symbolizationí, a procedure by which the signifier is repetitively employed by an agency (or agencies) other than the subject for the subject himself or herself to the degree that it becomes more significant than his or her genuine Ďproper nameí (the usual representative of the sense of identity) by being replenished with further nuances of meaning (or signification) in spite of its conspicuous redundancy in whatever context (as in the repetitive employment of the agnomens Sir, Professor, Doctor, and all other equally aggrandizing, but at bottom worthless, agnomens, for instance) (see al-Hakeem, 1938:146f.). Initially imparted by superior agencies and thereafter implemented by inferior and/or superior Ďequivalentsí, the manic-obsessive signifier  tends to undergo a series of psychically inflationary transformations, where each transformation would impose one such further nuance of meaning (or signification) depending on the level of libidinized (or Ďaggressifiedí) egoism which the agnomenotic basically typifies.

From this essential differentiation between the master signifier and the manic-obsessive signifier, it now becomes evident that the latter signifier as an Ďacquired agnomení stands in sharp contrast with the (less significant) Ďproper nameí which, within the Lacanian formulation, does not seem to change (or alter) its meaning at any moment of articulation, as will be seen in further detail in Part 3. Thus, in every hybridized or mongrelized or even bastardized sense of such an acquired agnomen, the essential differentiation would bring to light at least three generalized categories of Ďagnomenosisí as a clinical structure, that is, Ďagnomenosis of professionalismí, Ďagnomenosis of factionalismí, and Ďagnomenosis of authoritarianismí. Again, these three generalized categories will, in turn, be discussed and exemplified with reference to factual observations, both in the so-called Ďdeveloped societyí and the so-called Ďunderdeveloped societyí.

[End of Part 2, to be continued]


*** *** ***



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[1] Nevertheless, there exists some measure of controversy surrounding the concept of sexual overvaluation as an anatomical extension of the psychical overvaluation mentioned in the text, especially in relation to its psychological importance in either sex. Freud himself argues that the psychical structure of the concept can at best be discerned, and therefore investigated, in males rather than in females. This may be attributed to the empirical observation that the (normal or abnormal) emotional life of males is by far the more accessible to psychoanalytic research of the two sexes, an observation which seems to persist even today. This may also imply that the overlibidinization of the state of heterosexual love, in particular, is much more susceptible to overaggressification in males than in females Ėan implication which may well explain the magnitude of Ďanimalismí or Ďbestialityí in the former sex compared to its counterpart in the latter sex. Be that as it may, the further empirical observation that the emotional (or Ďeroticí) life of females is still circumscribed with impenetrable obscurity may be partly imputed to the psychological factors themselves, such as, conventional secretiveness and Ďinsincerityí (in the presence of an analyst, specifically), and partly ascribed to other sociological factors, such as, the stunting effects of civilization on the normal development of the human psyche in general. In a footnote added to the first of his Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality in 1920, Freud points to the typical cases in which ďwomen fail to exhibit any sexual overvaluation towards men; but they scarcely ever fail to do so towards their own childrenĒ (see Freud, 1905a:63, n.3).

[2] Notice, here, that the significant import of the exogenous antithesis between water and fire, which diachronically relates to the famous Greek myth of Prometheus, among other (less famous) myths and legends that revolve around the acquisition of control over the magic power of fire specifically, does point to the astonishing, albeit conjectural, origin (or origins) of this apparently human characteristic that has its own psychoanalytic importance. It seems that the primeval man had a compulsive tendency to satisfy an intractable infantile desire which was connected with the same antithesis by putting out Ďfireí with the Ďwaterí of his urine, an undoubtedly phallic perspective of the flaming tongues as they shoot upwards. This extinction of Ďfireí by the Ďwaterí of urination, which continued to be a satirical theme as regards far more Ďrecentí legendary giants such as those imagined in FranÁois Rabelaisí Gargantua and Pantagruel (1534) and in Jonathan Swiftís Gulliverís Travels (1726), is an essentially homosexual act between at least two Ďmasculineí figures (i.e. the desiring urinator and flaming tongue), and is therefore an exceedingly alluring enjoyment of satyriasis-based potency in a homosexual competition. As a result of damping down the Ďfireí of such satyriasis-based potency, the primeval man appeared to have domesticated, and thence subjugated, the element of fire as a natural force, a remarkable cultural conquest which was in itself an appreciatory reward for the renunciation of the unruly instinctual drive in question. Freud himself refers to the psychoanalytic experience that testifies to the fundamental relationship between the water-fire antithesis and urethral erotism on the one hand, and the analogical relationship between urethral erotism and impulsive ambition on the other hand (see Freud, 1905b:99f.; 1908:215; 1930:287f., n.3; 1932:229f.).  

[3] In this context, however, the term prosopopoeia should not be confused with the term personification, even though both terms are still used interchangeably as two figures of speech (or tropes) in literary criticism, in general, thereby signifying that a given thing, or a quality, or an abstraction, is impersonated in one way or another. On the one hand, the term prosopopoeia, which may figuratively mean Ďdramatizationí as being derived via Latin from the literal meaning of Ďfacializationí or Ďface makingí in its Greek origin, usually indicates the metaphoric implementation whereby an imaginary or absent (or even dead) person is conjured up through a certain inanimate embodiment to stand for the intended human agency that is acting or speaking. Accordingly, the inanimate embodiment takes the form of what may be called particularized impersonation in the sense that it is acting or speaking for one single person as a Ďparticular human agencyí, as in the example of the Ďfootí, or the Ďshoeí, which betokens the (particular) object of desire referred to in the text. The normative indication of the term personification, on the other hand, does underline the metaphoric implementation by which a human characteristic (or even a set of human characteristics) is imputed to a certain inanimate embodiment so as to heighten its literary or artistic value. In this case, the inanimate embodiment itself takes the form of what may be termed generalized impersonation in the sense that it is acting or speaking for any person as a Ďgeneral human agencyí, be it masculine or feminine, as in the instance of the moon which is personified as a woman whose excessive gestation has driven her insane in the circularly designed poem ďThe Crazed MoonĒ by W. B. Yeats (1865-1939). Here is the first stanza of this poem as a reminder:

     Crazed through much child-bearing
     The moon is staggering in the sky;
     Moon-struck by the despairing
     Glances of her wandering eye
     We grope, and grope in vain,
     For children born of her pain.



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The Sycamore Center

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