Abstract

In the media room at the Freud Museum in Vienna, home movies of the Freud family run on an endless loop. Entitled Freud: 1930–1939, the movies are narrated by Anna Freud, who oversaw their compilation and editing during the last two years of her life. Within these ostensibly "private" scenes of the Freud family, the family dogs assume a surprisingly central role. This essay argues that the focus on the dogs becomes a way to narrate and narrate around traumatic loss. For the Freuds these traumatic losses involved their forced exile to London, in 1938, as well as the later deaths of four of Freud's sisters in concentration camps. In combination, the flickering images from 1930–1939 and Anna Freud's voiceover—recorded some fifty years later—generate an elliptical and asynchronous accounting of loss. In addition to offering an intimate glimpse of the Freud family, the home movies thus raise broader questions about the temporality of witness and how we can see and hear the pain of the other. As one way into these questions, the essay reads with and against Sigmund Freud's account of repetition compulsion and the management of loss in Beyond the Pleasure Principle.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1085-7931
Print ISSN
0065-860X
Pages
pp. 231-251
Launched on MUSE
2009-08-07
Open Access
No
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