Lang Lang performs the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 15 by Franz Liszt in A minor. It’s the A Liszt!
Yes, I can claim a personal connection with the composer, Gustav Mahler. Well, sort of. I am but five degrees from the great man.
Alma Maria Mahler Gropius Werfel (born Alma Maria Schindler; 31 August 1879 – 11 December 1964) was a Viennese-born socialite well-known in her youth for her beauty and vivacity. She became the wife, successively, of composer Gustav Mahler, architect Walter Gropius, and novelist Franz Werfel, as well as the consort of several other prominent men. Musically active from her teens, she was the composer of at least seventeen songs for voice and piano. In later years her salon became an important feature of the artistic scene, first in Vienna, then in Los Angeles.
In 1951 Alma moved to New York. For some time already she had been working on her autobiography, which was based on her diaries. She was initially supported by Paul Frischauer — a Vienna-born historian — as ghost-writer, but they had fallen out with one another back in 1947 when he criticized her numerous anti-Semitic slurs. In the 1950s she worked with E. B. Ashton. He too perceived the necessity to censor her diaries due to her anti-Semitic utterances and numerous attacks on people who were still living. In 1958, “And the Bridge is Love” appeared in English.
During the period 1976 to 1979 I worked at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia with Paul Frischauer’s daughter, Silba. In fact, for a time, Silba and I shared an office at The Institute. I remember Silba’s distress in 1977 when she heard of her father’s death in Vienna. He died of an astrocytoma. Odd that I should remember that.
Yes, I can claim a five-degree connection to Gustav Mahler. Did I mention that?
My Facebook friend Matt, a resident of Manchester, England, is a professional trumpet player. We chat from time to time. He’s a great Mahler fan.
Hey Gary, I’ve just presently got a rare stretch of time where no one is bothering me and I don’t have any jobs, tasks or chores to do. I’m literally sat in my back yard in my dressing gown, smoking a cig and drinking Kronenbourg by the can and I just wanted to send you a message.
I know I’ve not been very present on Facebook recently but I just wanted you to know that I read everything you send to me and I’m sorry that I haven’t been replying at length any just how interested I am and how interesting and relevant the stuff you send to me ALWAYS is. I’ve just been dealing with lots of consuming things recently, both good and bad, and my Facebook presence has diminished because of that. One of the great things is that I’ve got a great girlfriend that I’ve been with for over a year now!
Oops, time for a new paragraph! Gary, I just want you to know – in case it ever played on your mind – that I’ve not in any way got less time for our remote friendship and you and your uniquely intriguing insights into things! There’s been so many things you’ve posted that I’ve wanted to talk about, but knew that I would get deep into it, so haven’t dived in. Add that to the fact that I don’t want to just throw a passing or filling in shortcut of a comment (because that’s not me, as you know!), then hopefully you’ll understand this message trying to explain why I’ve been (quite possibly to you) quiet!
Anyway, I will say that I loved your last post about Mahler 10. You also mentioned that alluring work sometime back in a way that grabbed me!
Forgive any lack of good grammar/structure to my writing at the moment – I’m drunk on my phone and just doing an open stream of waffle!
I love the connection you made to the Brahms. You see, I think you know a lot more music than I do. I don’t know that work, but I certainly know the small corner of the Mahler you were referring too and when I listened to the Brahms, it was certainly linked and I believe you may have stumbled upon something there, which is amazing! But, I must say that the connection to me, just on one hearing was that of a rhythmic and shape similarity. Is it not (just playing devil’s advocate note) a shape and feel/inclination that could be found in other works around that time? I mean there’s not a distinctly telling use of notes, it’s more a generic passage. I could be WAY OFF BASE with this given my drunkenness and offhandess about it after just one listen, but I’m just opening that conversation up!
I’m a more general context about the 10th – yes it’s exactly how you described. To me it’s a document depicting everything I have ever tried to tell anyone that only Mahler can do. The very fact that it is unfinished is telling about us as a race and reflected through that unique mystique that surrounds Mahler and everything he was. I haven’t listened to it in a while and it’s not because I avoid it. In fact, until I hear it again, until I’m in the present moment of that work, I forget exactly what means in every phrase. I’m fine with hearing another person’s respectful patching up of it, because in its orchestral sound, to anyone that truly knows Mahler, it is lacking in a down to earth boring detail level. I know instinctively that there is something missing sound wise throughout that finale, but it doesn’t hinder in any way Mahler’s voice coming through. We are allowed that glimpse and that’s all it is, but that’s all I need to leave me longing for the real deal or truth or an answer, just as Mahler longed for that.
My psychiatrist thinks I am overly concerned with categories. He seems vexed by my need to categorize people and objects. When I told him at our first session that I had a schizoid personality disorder, he chastised me mildly. “Psychiatric diagnoses are dehumanizing. They are just labels. A person is far more than a diagnosis.”
I told him that I felt comfort and reassurance in thinking of myself as schizoid. Before I had a name for my disorder I lived in a chaotic world of feelings that I could not explain to others and that I did not seem to share with others. Knowing that there are other people out there — 1% of the population, if we are to believe the epidemiologists — who share my struggles, my passions and my afflictions is reassuring.
A person is more than a diagnosis? That reminds me of something my father’s doctor told him weeks before my father died following heart surgery. The doctor said, “You know, for a man your age (my father was 69 years old at the time), you’d be in good health if it weren’t for your heart.” Well, it was my father’s heart disease that killed him. His healthy liver, healthy pancreas, healthy kidneys, healthy joints, and so on, did not save him. Yes, I am more than schizoid, but so many of my struggles in life center on a complex of characteristics that are typically associated with that specific category of mental illness: my brooding isolation, the unbearable and inescapable loneliness I feel, the massive splitting and isolative defenses, the identification with the antilibidinal object, the severe identity problems.
At my last consult I told my psychiatrist that since I was a child I was awed and fascinated by the periodic table of the elements, a tabular arrangement of the chemical elements, organized on the basis of their atomic numbers, electron configurations, and recurring chemical properties. The periodic table is a categorization scheme that allows the elements to be conveniently classified according to their shared physical and chemical properties into the major categories of metals, metalloids and nonmetals.
I said to my psychiatrist at our last meeting, “You seem to be saying that if an object is placed in a category of similar objects, the object loses a portion of its individual identity.” “To some extent, I am saying that,” he responded. “But,” I countered, “if you say that copper is a metal — that it shares with other metals the qualities of malleability and electrical conductivity, it remains copper. So an object can have a distinct identity and also share qualities with a class of similar objects.” I don’t think the periodic table is dehumanizing. My psychiatrist agreed: the periodic table is not dehumanizing. The periodic table, in fact, provides clarity and order and predictability.
It was only after the consult with my psychiatrist ended that it occurred to me that perhaps an individual’s fascination with the periodic table itself has psychological meaning. Two authors came to mind: the chemist and concentration camp survivor Primo Levi, who wrote The Periodic Table and the neurologist Oliver Sacks, who wrote Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood, a memoir that includes a discussion of Sacks’ lifelong interest in chemistry that features a description of Sacks’ terrible experiences of sadism at school.
Levi’s book is a collection of stories, or autobiographical episodes, of the author’s experiences as a Jewish-Italian doctoral-level chemist under the Fascist regime and afterwards. They include various themes following a chronological sequence: his ancestry, his study of chemistry and practicing the profession in wartime Italy, a pair of imaginative tales he wrote at that time, and his subsequent experiences as an anti-Fascist partisan, his arrest and imprisonment, interrogation, and internment in the Fossoli di Carpi and Auschwitz camps, and postwar life as an industrial chemist. Every story, 21 in total, has the name of a chemical element and is connected to it in some way.
Both authors experienced sadism, overstimulation, and the need to creatively transform their pain.
Sacks claims that his passion for chemistry was in part a way to deal with troubling and complex emotions: “I think my emotional and human world had become particularly disorderly when I was at [the boarding school] Braefield. And the relief and the delight of immersing myself in a world and a way of thinking where there was clarity and order and predictability was enormously strong.”
Sacks suspects that perhaps a similar search for order has comforted many creative scientists: “One wouldn’t want to say that the love of order is sort of defensive or obsessive, but it’s certainly a great delight. Writing is also an important bulwark against chaos. I always travel with pen and paper. I started keeping a journal at 14.”
“I like the way agony can be put into an epigram, so to speak,” says Sacks. “I think you see an extreme example of this in Gibbon, whom I am very fond of. In what was obviously a heartbreaking episode when, as a young man, he fell in love and his father forbade and spoiled it all. He said, ”I sighed as a lover, I obeyed as a son.”
“I have to write to come to terms with experience in one way and another,” Sacks explains. “A lot of the writing is private and secret; well, private, anyhow. I felt this strongly when I was confused and terrified with a leg injury in hospital. I had a huge notebook then, and I wrote ceaselessly. I didn’t think of it as a book. It was writing to hold on, to anchor, to clarify, to organize and also of course to indulge the imagination in various ways.”
So, yes, perhaps an individual’s need to organize objects as well as his need to organize experiences, thoughts, and feelings suggests the individual’s need for a bulwark against chaos: the chaos of emotional overstimulation, the feeling that the psychoanalyst Leonard Shengold calls “too muchness.” Perhaps a knowledgable psychiatrist should always suspect the presence of trauma in the past of someone who is obsessed with categorization, who feels comfort in the presence of an orderly scheme of things and finds solace in classifying experiences and feelings to make them predictable and meaningful.
The love of order — the love of categories that confer meaning, that disclose otherwise imperceptible patterns — is not defensive or obsessive; it’s a delight.
Richard Rubinstein worked at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia in the 1970s during my tenure at that organization. I once had lunch with him and another employee, Marcia Chase at The Kennedy House delicatessen. Mr. Rubinstein frequently had lunch with Bruce H. Kleinstein, Ph.D.
Adath Emanu-El, Burlington County’s only Reform synagogue, invites the public to a very special Sabbath service Friday, May 14, 8 p.m., as it celebrates and commemorates Richard Rubinstein and his 40 years as the temple’s organist and keyboardist.
The tribute, “Richard Rubinstein: A Man and His Music and the Musical Heritage of Adath Emanu-El,” will include music that Rubinstein composed, along with special prayers and songs chosen for this occasion. The Mount Laurel resident, who made the move along with the synagogue from Willingboro, will perform several musical numbers and share his insights about each piece that he plays.
Current members of the Adath Emanu-El Choir, along with choir alumni, will take part in the festivities as friends, family and congregants, as well as community members, also share in the event. The evening will conclude with a lavish reception and a few surprises.
The tribute, which is free to all, will be a fitting one for Rubinstein. His musical career began at age 5, when the Brooklyn native started studying piano and keyboard harmony with a professor at New York University.
Throughout his college career and a two-year stint in the Army, Rubinstein played in several large dance bands and small combos, and accompanied various vocalists and instrumentalists.
He met his wife, Robbie, while both were attending The Ohio State University. The couple moved back to New York and relocated to the Delaware Valley when Rubinstein got a job with a pharmaceutical company in the region. Eventually the young family settled in Willingboro, also home to then-Temple Emanu-El.
For the past 40 years, Rubinstein has been the organist/keyboardist at Adath Emanu-El and has accompanied various services for the Sabbath, High Holy Days, Festivals and numerous other religious and congregational functions. He has composed original songs for Purim and Hanukkah as well as for an annual synagogue highlight, Shabbat Shira (Sabbath of Song). He often wrote the script for Shabbat Shira besides serving as its accompanist.
Rubinstein has appeared as a guest soloist with the Wind Symphony of South Jersey and also leads The Burning Bush, a Klezmer band which has performed at Philadelphia venues and the Perkins Center for the Arts in Moorestown, as well as at Adath Emanu-El. He served as director of the congregation’s choir and instrumental ensemble for a number of years, arranging choral and instrumental music for both.
While music has always been Rubinstein’s passion, he holds a Master’s degree in biochemistry and enjoyed a successful career as a research biochemist, scientific information specialist and systems analyst.
He and Robbie have been married for 53 years and have three children and three grandchildren.
Adath Emanu-El is located at 205 Elbo Lane, Mount Laurel. For more information, call the temple office at 608-1200.
The symphonies of Gustav Mahler contain numerous quotations of melodies and melodic fragments from the works of other composers. The Ninth symphony famously quotes Beethoven’s Lebewohl Sonata (The Farewell), a Johann Strauss waltz significantly entitled Freuet Euch des Lebens (Enjoy Life) — as well as a transmogrified version of Schumann’s piano piece, Träumerei. Some of Mahler’s musical quotations were intentional, some, no doubt, unintentional.
Tim Ashley of The Guardian observes that Mahler’s Tenth Symphony is one of the most troubling, paradoxical works in musical history. Unfinished at his death, its composition formed part of a legendary, if futile, attempt to ward off mortality. While working on the score, Mahler also underwent a profound personal crisis that led him to consult Freud. The Tenth is consequently the ultimate musical act of agonized self-revelation — though its psychoanalytic intimacy can only be approached through one or more of its completions, none of which may be an accurate reflection of Mahler’s final intentions.
Mahler’s personal crisis centered on his wife, Alma’s marital infidelity with the architect Walter Gropius. Mahler, it would seem, found out about the affair when a letter, sent by Gropius to Alma but wrongly addressed to Mahler, arrived at Toblach, the country retreat where he spent the summer composing. Gropius soon pitched up in person, and if Alma’s accounts are to be believed, there was a three-way confrontation, during which Mahler, clutching a Bible, said to her, “Whatever you do, will be well done. Choose!” She ostensibly elected to stay with her husband. “Gustav’s love is so boundless that my remaining with him means life to him,” Alma told Gropius, whom she continued to see without Mahler’s knowledge, a fact she withholds in her memoirs.
The score of the unfinished Tenth symphony is annotated with what Alma, astonishingly, called “these outcries and ejaculations addressed to me.” Mahler’s language is essentially that of martyrdom. The brief, crucial central movement, Purgatorio, is accompanied by the Christ-like superscription: “Oh God, why hast thou forsaken me!” At one point he pleads for annihilation, “that I may forget that I am”, though at the end self-laceration gives way to calm. The final pages are annotated with, “To live for you! To die for you!” with the single word “Almschi” under the closing bars.
Be that as it may.
A few days ago I was listening to the Tenth symphony and was struck by a melody in the fourth movement. The brief melody, or melodic fragment, seemed to echo a Brahms Intermezzo — the opus 118, no. 1. I dismissed the similarities in the two melodies as simply another instance of Mahler’s musical borrowings, if that.
The following YouTube video is the fourth movement of the Mahler Tenth symphony. The melody that I refer to, a waltz tune, is at 02:52. It lasts only a few moments.
I see a connection between that waltz tune in the Mahler Tenth and the following Brahms Intermezzo, op. 118, no. 1.
It was a mere coincidence, I thought. But then I read the following biographical observations about Alma Mahler and her marital infidelities with the pianist Ossip Gabrilovich — and now I am not so sure. Is the Brahms-like melody in the Mahler Tenth a coincidence — or a reminiscence?
In her memoirs Alma Mahler admits that she became emotionally involved with the pianist Ossip Gabrilovich during the summer or winter of 1907. While Mahler was working, the couple gazed out of the window at a moonlit meadow and exchanged a kiss — according to Alma it was no more than this. Each time they saw each other, their feelings were rekindled. Much later in New York, Gabrilovich is said to have taken his leave of Alma by playing a Brahms Intermezzo. Mahler, who had already retired for the night, had apparently been suspicious and eavesdropped on their conversation, afterwards asking Alma to explain herself. She claims that she had a clear conscience and was able to defend her actions, even though, as she admits in her memoirs, she was close to suicide. On that occasion she was able to suppress her urges and desires.
Self-directedness is a personality trait referring to self-determination, that is, the ability to regulate and adapt behavior to the demands of a situation in order to achieve personally chosen goals and values. It is one of the “character” dimensions in Cloninger’s Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI). Cloninger has described it as “willpower,” defined as “a metaphorical abstract concept to describe the extent to which a person identifies the imaginal self as an integrated, purposeful whole individual, rather than a disorganized set of reactive impulses.” Cloninger’s research has found that low self-directedness is a major common feature of personality disorders generally. Self-directedness is conceptually related to locus of control. That is, low self-directedness is associated with external locus of control, whereas high self-directedness is associated with internal locus of control. In the five factor model of personality, self-directedness has a strong inverse association with neuroticism and a strong positive association with conscientiousness.
In the Temperament and Character Inventory self-directedness consists of five subscales:
- Responsibility Vs. Blaming (SD1)
- Purposefulness Vs. Lack Of Goal Direction (SD2)
- Resourcefulness Vs. Inertia (SD3)
- Self-Acceptance Vs. Self-Striving (SD4)
- Congruent Second Nature Vs. Incongruent Habits (SD5)
Cloninger compared SD1 to Rotter’s concept of locus of control. People with an internal locus of control tend to take responsibility for their actions and are resourceful in solving problems. People with an external locus of control tend to be apathetic and to blame others or bad luck for their problems. Regarding SD2, Cloninger noted that Viktor Frankl believed that meaningful purpose is a key source of motivation for mature adults and that fulfillment of meaning was more important than gratifying impulses. Cloninger related SD3 to Bandura’s concept of self-efficacy, beliefs about one’s ability to succeed in goal-directed behavior. In relation to SD4 he argued that self-esteem and realistic acceptance of one’s limitations are important to mature development of self-directed behavior. On the other hand, childish fantasies of unlimited ability and immortality are generally associated with poor adjustment and inferiority feelings. SD5 was related to a belief associated with Yoga that long-term cultivation of clear goals and values transforms effortful behavior into “second nature” so that a person automatically acts in ways aligned with their deeper goals and values.
Self-directedness has been seen to be a personality trait of creative persons. One study found that the personality profile associated with a high creativity index included the following traits: high exploratory excitability, low harm avoidance, high persistence, high self-directedness, self-transcendence and high cooperativeness. This means that highly creative individuals display exploratory behavior when encountering novelty, are optimistic, they are tolerant of uncertainty, they pursue goals with intensity against adversity; display responsibility, are directed to their goals, are able to utilize resources, are self-accepting and congruent, and they display empathy, tolerance, and integrated consciousness.
Be that as it may.
During the period 1988 to 1991 I worked as a paralegal at the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. During the entirety of my tenure at the firm I was a victim of a subtle form of job harassment known as workplace mobbing. Mobbing has been described as a deliberate attempt to force a person out of their workplace by humiliation, general harassment, emotional abuse and/or psychological terror. Mobbing can be described as being “ganged up on.” Mobbing is executed by a leader (who can be a manager, a co-worker, or a subordinate). The leader then rallies others into a systematic and frequent “mob-like” behavior toward the victim. Targets of mobbing are frequently “exceptional individuals who demonstrated intelligence, competence, creativity, integrity, accomplishment and dedication”.
Despite the adversity of my work environment I ganged my gait and carried on. My performance evaluations were consistently above-average or outstanding. One law firm partner (David Callet) once said to me, “I notice that you seem to work very hard.” On my last day on the job another lawyer (Dennis M. Race), a management partner, said to me: “I pass by your office from time to time during the day on my way to Malcolm Lassman’s office and I always see you at your desk working.” So, yes, I have a way of pursuing my goals with intensity against adversity.
In April 1993 I began working on a text that was eventually to become a full-length historical novel titled Significant Moments. The book is a more than 500-page work that is written entirely in quotations from the published literature. I worked on the manuscript for eleven years. I completed the book in the year 2004. My work on the book exhibited considerable self-directedness. I did not have a book contract nor did it seem likely that any New York publisher would be interested in publishing it. The book, which in many ways was a creative transformation of my difficulties in the workplace, emerged from my inner self without any hope of external recognition, praise, or monetary reward. But, hey, that’s me. It’s part of my psychopathology.
The following essay explores a central source of my motivation to write the book, namely, the adversities I experienced in the workplace.
Significant Moments: Self-States And Their Transformation
My use of the term self-state draws on contributions from several sources: Stern’s and Sander’s discussions of state transformation and the self-regulating other and Kohut’s discussion of self-states as noted in self-state dreams.
When used by infant researchers, state refers specifically to variations in sleep and wakefulness that occur as the infant passes between crying and alert or quiet activity, drowsiness and sleep, wet discomfort and dry discomfort, hunger and satiation. Different states affect how things are perceived, how those perceptions are integrated, and how such information is processed.
State transformations in early life accrue to both the child’s self-regulation and to the expectation that mutual regulation with the caretakers will facilitate or interfere in regulating one’s affects and states. Thus, early state transformations are associated with mastery or control over one’s own experience, and expectations that affect regulation can (or cannot) be shared with the self-regulating other.
With the advent of symbolic capacities and increasing elaboration upon one’s subjective experience, self-states in the child and adult include the domain of the self in a psychological sense. Post infancy self-state transformations may increase a sense of control, mastery, or agency, but in the case of traumatic self-state transformations, such states as devastation, outrage, or fragmentation may become dominant.
The subjective discomfort of painful self-states provides an impetus for finding means by which such states can be transformed. A creative endeavor, one means of transforming one’s self-state, enhances the range of the self-regulation. Furthermore, in the context of mutual regulations, expectations of a responsive environment shift the state of the self along the dimension of fragmentation-intactness toward greater cohesion and along the dimension of depletion-vitality toward an increased sense of efficacy.
Kohut described self-state dreams in which the imagery is undisguised or only minimally disguised, depicting the dreamer’s sense of self. Kohut likened these dreams to Freud’s discussion of dreams in traumatic neuroses, in which a traumatic event is realistically depicted. For example, a self-state may be depicted in a dream as a barren countryside, reflecting a sense of devastation and such self experiences as depression, despair, or hopelessness.
My use of self-state is broader than Stern’s since I extend my perspective into adult life, and my use of the term is not confined to the dream imagery described by Kohut. Dream imagery provides a glimpse into a person’s feelings of devastation and outrage, but the imagery of narratives can also convey self-states.
To construct the model scene that depicts the self-state that I attempted to recapture after I was subjected to devastating criticism in the form of job harassment and job termination, I combined facets of my life history.
For the first several years of my development, I experienced a childhood characterized by an overprotective but unempathic mother and a distant, but at times harsh, father. My father was a highly-intelligent man who settled for far less in life than he was capable. He had quit an academic high school restricted to college-bound students in the tenth grade, and worked at a factory job. Though he was raised in a strictly Orthodox Jewish family, he was the only one of seven children to marry outside the Jewish faith, in 1946. My mother was a Polish-Catholic whose father, an immigrant coal miner, died in the great swine flu epidemic following World War I. My father suffered both overt and covert anti-Semitism from my mother’s family during the marriage — itself a form of criticism. My father coped with the attacks directed at him by relying on a deeply-rooted sense of his cultural and religious superiority.
My mother doted on me, but paradoxically, had a tendency to negligent, even reckless, caretaking. At age three I developed scarlet fever, an unusual bacterial disease. I was late in being weaned from the bottle. Though I ate solid food by age three, of course, my mother indulged my desire to drink milk that had gone sour in the bottle. The pediatrician, Dr. Bloom, who diagnosed the illness attributed it to the sour milk. “And why is he still drinking from a bottle? He’s too old to be drinking milk from a bottle,” the doctor said. (Dr. Bloom! “Just who does Dr. Bloom think he is?”). My father was very angry, and chastised my mother bitterly for “spoiling” me, in the doctor’s presence. I felt humiliated and helpless in the face of the charges leveled at me. My secret oral perversion had been discovered! The secret was out! The doctor advised my parents that scarlet fever was considered a serious public health concern, and that he was bound by law to report my illness to the city health department. Several days later, the health department posted a quarantine notice on the front door of our home (1957). My private act led to unforeseeable consequences in the form of intervention by a government authority. In effect, at age three the government had determined that I was already “potentially dangerous.”
The scarlet fever incident contributed to the centrality of solitary self-experience for me. From an experience of pleasure (in drinking sour milk from the bottle), I was suddenly transformed to a state of loss and an inexplicable sense of guilt. I felt like a felon and, if you will excuse the hyperbole, “would hide when the constable approached the house.” The illness ushered in transformation from a positive, pleasurable, self-absorbed state to a secret state marked by guilt and a personal blame for wrongdoing. I did not find solace for my loss. On my own, I bore both my guilt and the surprising, disturbing impact I could have on others in my immediate world and beyond: indeed, reaching out to a world beyond my imagination, in the form of governmental authorities. The illness also signaled another transformation in the direction of having to regulate painful states on my own without the support of others. Both parents were concerned with public embarrassment, rather than with the state of their child. I propose that the model scene I have constructed organized my experience as a solitary, impactful onlooker: someone whose private actions could even trigger the intervention of government authorities. It is an experience that few three-year-olds have. An emotionally porous three-year-old who is “hypersensitive to the goings-on in his environment,” cf. Freedman v. D.C. Dept. of Human Rights, DCCA 96-CV-961 (Sept. 1998), will be affected by that experience.
This post, and particularly the above anecdote, is a metaphorical bridge of speculation that connects mystery to mystery, the known with the unknown. That bridge is like a single plank that requires the support of others to form a firm foundation. I offer the following thought. My age upon contracting scarlet fever, which resulted from my mother’s indulgence of my dependency needs — age three or three-and-a-half — is the same age my mother was when her father died of a communicable disease, influenza: in an influenza epidemic that, because of its magnitude, had evoked a vigorous public health response by government authorities nationwide. Is it possible that my “good” mother was instrumental in setting me up for serious illness? Was my mother’s seeming indulgence really an expression of a strong unconscious ambivalence toward me that was a derivative of her emotional reaction to her own father’s death?
Incidentally, the anecdote above parallels themes in several plays by Henrick Ibsen. In Ghosts a mother provides poison to her son to enable the son’s suicide in expiation of his father’s sins; An Enemy of the People pits a truth-fanatic (who discovers that the waters of a spa town are polluted) against the town’s mayor and its citizens; and in The Master Builder a mother, out of a perverse sense of duty, kills her twins — she contracted a fever because she could not stand the cold, but, despite the fever, she insisted on breast-feeding the twins, who died from her poisoned milk.
Note that I was the only male child in the family. Oddly, when I was a young boy, my older sister created the fiction that my middle name was “Stanley,” my mother’s father’s name. I actually came to believe at one point in childhood that my name was “Gary Stanley Freedman.”
Be that as it may.
My mother had a passionate interest in motion pictures and, in childhood, was fond of playing with dolls. I picked up on these interests in a way. In early adolescence I developed a fanatic attraction to the Wagner operas, and I had an interest in the craft of play writing. In high school and college I took elective courses in drama and theater. At age thirteen I staged (after a fashion), in the basement of our family home, a highly-abbreviated version (to say the least) of Wagner’s four-opera Ring Cycle for the entertainment of my parents — though, in reality, my parents were uninterested, if not hostile to my effort.
My father was subject to bouts of depression and sometimes became bitter and brutal toward my family, but he took no steps to change his situation, other than threatening, from time to time, to leave my mother. He was frequently morose and withdrawn. I reacted to my father throughout childhood with a range of irreconcilable emotions: idealization, sympathy, anger, and fear.
Taken as a unity, to be spelled out below, these accounts suggest that, for me, self-states and affects had to be regulated alone, by myself. In later life, I transformed my despondent state after my critical rebuff at Akin Gump by drawing on the themes encapsulated in the model scenes.
In psychoanalytic treatment, analyst and patient construct model scenes to convey, in graphic and metaphoric forms, significant events and repeated occurrences in the analysand’s life. The information used to form model scenes can be drawn from a variety of sources, including a patient’s narrative and recollections. Model scenes highlight and encapsulate experiences at any age, not only early childhood, and are representative of salient conscious and unconscious motivational themes. The concept of model scenes is broader than and includes screen memories, which Freud equated with the manifest dream content dream, in that they point toward something important that they disguise. The memory itself and its “indifferent” content are to be discarded as the analyst recovers and reconstructs the significant, concealed childhood event or fixation. Whereas screen memories focus on reconstructing what has happened, model scenes pay equal attention to what is happening, whether it is in the analytic transference or in the person’s life. For me, the model scene is based on recollections that capture my solitary self-regulation, self-restoration, and my triumph over my detractors.
MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY: SIGNIFICANT MOMENTS
The book is unusual in structure. It is drawn exclusively from published literature — it is a collection of quotations, really — with the quotes woven together to form a cohesive narrative, comparable in a sense to the structure of T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland.” A single, cohesive narrator or hero does not appear in the book. Rather, the author manipulates the quotations; he hovers overhead, as it were, like a puppet master, pulling all the strings. I am represented, through my identification with various literary and historical figures, by identity elements or identity fragments, which are the quotations. The themes of the book are numerous and diverse. The themes include antisemitism, the craft of writing, opera production, communicable disease, genetics, inheritance, the discovery of a secret that brings ruin on the discoverer, scientific discovery, truth seekers, critical response by peers, defiance of peers and authorities, banishment and social isolation, the absence of an empathic or supportive environment, the self-regulation of affects, the death of fathers, the intervention of government authorities into the private domain of citizens, the seductive or destructive mother, alleged corruption and cover-up, among other topics.
CRITICISM AND RESPONSE
The negative response I received upon my job termination and its aftermath was diffuse. It came from the employer, psychiatrists (doctors), and government authorities. If I were asked why I began to write my autobiography in April 1993, four months after I had received the employer’s responsive pleadings in a legal action I had initiated against the employer, I would have said: “I had to write my autobiography.”
In Significant Moments, “the hero” (who appears in various guises, or is represented by various identity elements) makes a discovery that results in his being pitted against “the powers that be.” The detractors of “the hero” are mocked and exposed as mean-spirited and unprincipled. I thereby expressed my distrust of the capacity of the “majority” to discriminate the “true” from the “false” and to exercise sound judgment. I showed “the powers that be” to be swayed by self-interest and incapable of distinguishing scientifically backed findings from self-serving rationalizations.
There is no decent, supportive public in Significant Moments. “The hero” naively values the support of “the powers that be” at the opening of the book. He believes that they will be responsive to truth and evidence. Before the book’s end, “the hero” could rightly say that the most dangerous enemy of truth and freedom amongst us is the solid majority. “The majority is never right! . . . The minority is always right!” The minority to which “the hero” refers is himself. By the end of the book, he can trust nothing but his own values, perceptions, and beliefs.
Wounded by the shortsighted managers at Akin Gump, I asserted that the creative artist stands alone, a minority of one, to maintain his integrity and the purity of his vision. In Significant Moments I spoke with one uncompromising, solitary voice clearly depicted in “the hero,” who loses all support and ends alone. “The strongest man in the world is the man who stands most alone.” Increasing isolation drives “the hero” to proclaim, “I want to expose the evils that sooner or later must come to light.”
To explore and to react aversively are dominant motivations for “the hero.” He is uncompromising to the end, a man who does not mean to settle for rapprochement with the majority. He was ready to bring ruin upon himself and others rather than “flourish because of a lie.”
In my response to the critics, I presented my hero as totally decent and honest, but naive with respect to political wheeling and dealing. His decency and goodness are contrasted with the narrow-mindedness of the majority. They are devoid of a sense of morality of their own and led by authorities who are rigid, unimaginative, self-serving, and bureaucratic — banal at best and corrupt (“poisoned”) at worst.
CREATIVE TRANSFORMATION: FROM JOB TERMINATION TO SIGNIFICANT MOMENTS
I had to write Significant Moments. The themes of that book, father-son tensions (real or symbolic), living a lie, the effects of learning “the truth,” inheritance (in my case, the transmission of parental strengths and weaknesses), all manifestly rooted in my early life, are taken up in my book. In so doing, I addressed my compelling, burning, residual issue from my past and depicted it as a metaphor for my society as well. Significant Moments thus combines painful memories with a devastating social critique. Personally, I expressed my disillusionment at my father’s legacy of academic, occupational, and marital failure, as well as my quest for an idealizable father of whom I could be proud.
Apparently I felt compelled to bare myself in a barely disguised form. I gathered together my past grievances and projected them on to “The Freud Archives Board.” In them I embodied the lies, hypocrisy, deception, and duplicity that I hated in society. So long as they typified “the powers that be” and its “opinions,” there could be no compromise. My uncompromising depiction of the “sins of the father,” the “ghosts” that demand placing duty and public appearances above self-expression and individual freedom, expresses my long-held convictions in the purest, boldest form.
At the center of Significant Moments lies my determination to explore two sides of deception. Some self-deception is held necessary to maintain hope and to survive, yet there is also a pernicious self-deception that erodes ethics and undermines morality. Both Nietzsche and Jeffrey Masson were compelled to counter, respectively, Wagner’s and The Freud Archives’ deceptions of themselves and others. “The Heroes’” (Nietzsche’s and Masson’s) duty-bound rejection was felt by “the powers that be” (Wagner and Dr. Eissler) as both a rejection of their ideals and a personal betrayal.
I was shocked by my sudden job termination in late October 1991; but later (in April 1993), within four months of receiving the employer’s responsive pleadings in the agency complaint I filed, I began work on Significant Moments. With my self-confidence shattered, if there was a moment when the capacity to transform shattered narcissism into artistic creativity was called for, this was it. The book became my response to the devastating experience of my termination and its aftermath. Note that it was only upon my receipt in late December 1992 of the employer’s pleadings that I learned that the employer had allegedly determined that I was potentially violent — that is, a physical danger to others: an allegation that must have resonated with my memory that at age three I had been determined by a municipal authority to pose a public health risk.
In Significant Moments moral integrity on one side is pitted against deception, greed, and narrow self-interests on the other. The battle lines are drawn clearly. Perhaps in outrage, all gloves are off. I myself step upon the stage and drag my enemy, conventional wisdom, front and center with me.
The hero pays the price for his naive belief in truth; he is socially totally isolated, but he remains undaunted. Throughout the book, he remains loyal to the idea that truth will win the day. He utters the line (through playwright Arthur Miller) that embodies “the hero’s” defiance of the “majority” and defines the state in which he feels himself to be: independent, invulnerable, and exquisitely self-contained. “The strongest man in the world is the man who stands most alone!”
To me, the artist’s strength lays in an undaunted capacity to maintain a vision in the face of opposition and to “cleanse and decontaminate the whole community.” I must disturb, be perpetually misunderstood, and walk alone. Yet I would call Significant Moments an expression of the “comedy of life” in that it expresses my recognition that the creative artist cannot totally stand alone. Ultimately, he needs an audience to respond to him.
CREATIVITY IN SELF-STATE TRANSFORMATION
The artist accepts isolation as a consequence of his superior, unique vision of the world. He depicts his ideal, to follow the dictates of his artistic integrity, irrespective of the consequences. Compromise means accommodating to societal pressures, hypocrisy, and deception.
In Significant Moments the tyranny of conventional wisdom, the legacy of father to son, and the strength inherent in one’s solitary loyalty to the “ideal” of truth appear on an unadorned stage.
It is always risky, when discussing an artist, to draw inferences about his life from his creative output. Nonetheless, parallels do exist between the artist’s life and his creative work.
Traumatic, painful, or humiliating life experiences sometimes provide the context for an artist’s work. To some extent, the creative product is the transformation by the artist of the effects of his painful past and narcissistically injurious experiences. Here, transformation refers to self-regulated alterations, the capacity to alter one’s self-state, when, for example, it is characterized by guilt or shame, stirred by feelings of defeat and, when exposed to contempt, derision, or ridicule. To turn painful self-states into a sense of triumph requires transforming narcissistic injuries, often though not invariably, via narcissistic rage, into a sense of having righted a wrong, avenged a slur, or seized self-”intactness” from the jaws of injury.
Significant Moments is a self-revelation. As the book proceeds headlong toward its tragic denouement, the passages that describe the weather and the lighting are psychologically revealing. Thus, the portion of the writing that describes the high point of the Wagner-Nietzsche relationship refers to the brilliance of the sun. While the last meeting of Wagner and Nietzsche takes place on a cold, drizzly evening — the night of a dinner party. Artists, including myself, often depict self-states of the characters through, for example, reference to weather. Changes in the weather foreshadow, just as a dream of a barren countryside may reveal and foreshadow, the state of the self.
The book also contains numerous biblical allusions and quotations. In adult years I have stood alone against my critics, who have usually been stronger and more numerous than my defenders. The source of my strength — my ability to stand alone, undaunted — I believe, is ultimately a positive inheritance from my father: namely, my father’s ego-strengthening identification with the historical struggle of the Jewish people for survival. My ambivalence toward my father now becomes more understandable. My “inheritance” did not only include my father’s failings, but contained a substantial quantum of support from him as well. My solitary faith in myself and my eventual triumph, coupled with my memory of my father’s loyalty to the best in the Jewish tradition, may have provided the strength that has enabled me to stand alone and continue my struggle without the aid or presence of another.
After my disappointing job termination in 1991, my self-state could be characterized as enraged by new disappointments, as well as the revival of the old hurts and disillusionments. I sought refuge through the transformation of my painful state to one that may also have been an enduring legacy of my childhood, a state devoid of impingements from others and free of the disappointment I felt in my father. I sought a sense of supremacy, alone and at peace. Akin to a puppeteer, I longed to be above the critics and the mundane world, without concern for social status, economics, or prestige.
Your Safety and Health Hazard Notice has been forwarded to the OSHA Federal Area Office listed below.
|If you identified yourself, you will be contacted by OSHA.
Please call the OSHA Federal Area Office below if you are not contacted.
|Complaint Number: 982962|
|District of Columbia|
|Baltimore/Washington Area Office
1099 Winterson Road
Linthicum, Maryland 21090
(410) 865-2068 FAX
|Establishment Name:||Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld (Washington, DC office)|
|Site Street:||1333 New Hampshire Ave., NW, Suite 400|
|Site State:||District of Columbia|
|Management Official:||Dennis M. Race, Esq.|
|Telephone Number:||202 887 4028|
|Type of Business:||law firm|
|1. On September 17, 2013 I was advised by my mental health treatment provider, The McClendon Center (Washington, DC), that the provider had diagnosed me with the following currently existing disorders: Delusional Disorder (297.1), Major Depression Recurrent Severe Without Psychotic Features (296.33), Alcohol Dependence in Sustained Remission (303.90), and PTSD (309.81), and Schizoid Personality Disorder (301.20). Paranoia, Major Depression, Alcohol Dependence and PTSD are recognized consequences of workplace mobbing a subtle form of job harassment defined by a federal court as a form of “group harassment” that involves “a process of abusive behaviors inflicted over time.” Sousa v. Roque, Docket No. 07-1892-CV, August 21, 2009.
OSHA defines “workplace violence” as harassment of any nature. Workplace mobbing is a subtle form of job harassment.
On September 17, 2013 I became aware for the first time that there was a causal connection between my current diagnosed symptoms and disorders and the abusive work environment to which I was subjected during the period June 13, 1988 to October 29, 1991.
2. I was a victim of workplace mobbing during my tenure at the Washington, DC office of the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld (1988-1991). The firm terminated my employment effective October 29, 1991, days after I complained to senior managers (Dennis M. Race, Esq., Malcolm Lassman, and Earl Segal, Esq.) that I was a victim of subtle job harassment.
3. The U.S. Social Security Administration determined that I became disabled and not suitable for employment effective October 29, 1991, based on a sworn declaration filed by Dennis M. Race, Esq. and Laurence J. Hoffman (of Akin Gump) with the D.C. Department of Human Rights on May 22, 1992. I have been continuously unemployed and disabled since October 29, 1991.
4. The Government of the District of Columbia determined that my allegations of facts concerning the abusive workplace environment at Akin Gump were genuine and truthful. Brief of Appellee District of Columbia, Freedman v. D.C. Department of Human Rights, D.C.C.A. no. 96-CV-961 (Sept. 1, 1998).
5. During my employment I was subjected to false, malicious, delusional and unfounded statements that tended to damage my reputation and inflicted severe emotional distress. OSHA specifically defines these behaviors as forms of verbal intimidation that constitute “workplace violence.”
–In August 1989 a coworker stated to me: “We’re all afraid of you. We’re all afraid you’re going to buy a gun, bring it in, and shoot everybody.”
–In late October 1991 my supervisor reportedly advised her employees (my coworkers) that she was afraid I was going to kill her and had arranged to have the locks to the office suite changed to prevent my entry. Neither the supervisor nor her superiors contacted law enforcement.
–On May 22, 1992 Dennis M. Race, Esq. and Laurence J. Hoffman, Esq., two Akin Gump attorney managers, advised the D.C. Department of Human Rights that the firm had consulted a psychiatrist about me and that the psychiatrist had opined that I appeared to suffer from a psychiatric “disorder” and that I might become violent. The psychiatrist had never examined me personally and her opinion violated the American Psychiatric Association’s so-called Goldwater Rule which prohibits a psychiatrist from offering a professional psychiatric opinion about an individual without benefit of personal examination and without the individual’s consent for the opinion. The D.C. Department of Human Rights determined that the psychiatric opinion was genuine and credible. In fact, the opinion was defamatory on its face and had no medical reliability.
I have been denied the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act because I am considered “potentially violent, ” i.e., a “direct threat in the workplace” based on the above-referenced defamatory allegation made by Akin Gump, a defamatory allegation that was affirmed as genuine and credible by the D.C. Department of Human Rights. The U.S. Supreme Court has held private citizens to be liable as state actors when they conspire with government officials to deprive persons of their rights. Thus, my former employer, Akin Gump may have committed a “color of law violation,” a felony that falls within the investigative jurisdiction of the FBI. See 18 USC § 241 (Conspiracy against rights).
|The Robert S. Strauss Building, 1333 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036|
|This condition has previously been brought to the attention of:|
|* The employer|
|* The following government agency: U.S. Social Security Administration, D.C. Department of Human Rights|
|I am an employee.|
|My name may be revealed to the employer.|
|Complainant Name:||Gary Freedman|
|Complainant Telephone Number:||202 362 7064|
|Complainant Mailing Address:|
|3801 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Apt. 136|
|District of Columbia|