7c 1910 LAY DOWN AT LEYDEN
August 26th, 1910. Gustav Mahler and Sigmund Freud in spa
Leyden in Holland.
much time do we have?
me. Did you say four hours? Four hours?!
train to Munich leaves at 8 p.m.
my dear Director Mahler! You must be joking! My dear friend!
got to be in Munich tomorrow morning. I have a rehearsal.
I have to ask you to go now! You're wasting your time, and
dear friend, what did you have in mind? Four hours?! This
is absurd! It's impudence! There's no precedent for it in
the entire history of psychoanalysis. I can't believe it.
Four hours! Adieu!
Don't turn me down! This is a death sentence! Worse: it's
FREUD I don't
know what you know about psychoanalysis, if you think...
And why then did you come to me at all? All the way to Holland?
With only four hours you'd be better off finding comfort on
some other kind of couch. Get thee to a brothel! It's less
risky and will bring you guaranteed relief. I'm sure my young
disciple Jung could give you some youthful addresses - I mean
useful addresses. He knows The »Lay Down in Leyden«!
isn't a joke. My condition is very serious.
FREUD I can
very well believe it! A man in your situation, at your age!
It was hopeless and disastrous from the outset! You were simply
looking for trouble, and now you've had it!
the hell do you mean by love?
The moment I can't say the word anymore, I'll be dead. It's
the only thing that makes me feel alive..
loves you, does she? She certainly furnished you with the
betraying you with that Gropius!
it happened after she'd sent him away. It was when I
there something you would like to tell me?
don't know. It is so
so shameful! I don't
know if I can put it in words. It's very hard for me.
a good reason for trying.
how shall I
You must know what I mean!
Ahhhh! C'est impuissible! Merde! I can't !
had a problem? - A potency/tial problem?
me. How did it happen?
the details that important?
dear friend, the devil dwells in the details, and so does
yes, I know.
you want me to help you, then you must trust me. You must
lead me into the dense forest of details. Take me where it's
darkest. Tell me in minute detail, what it was like.
after the first shock I spoke with Alma. I told her to make
her choice. I left her in the living room with her lover,
and went up to my study to wait for her verdict.
did you do while waiting?
read the bible.
Old or the New Testament?
Old Testament, of course.
course«! Of course. Of course. - Go on.
an eternity, nothing happened at all. They stayed down there
for a while, in my house, and I was upstairs. I had placed
myself entirely in her hands. Then she called me down. She
had said goodbye to Gropius and decided never to see him ever
again. I accompanied him to the garden gate. We shook hands,
without any enmity, and he disappeared into the darkness.
When I returned to the house, we fell into each other's arms,
with a fervent passion I had never experienced before. We
cried like little children. With no inhibitions. She kissed
my tears, and asked me to let her sleep in a separate room
that night. I begged her to leave the door open, I at least
wanted to hear her breathe. She indulged me, . And I must
admit, I spent hours in front of her door, lying on the carpet,
near the threshold of her room. I was like a demented man.
I was out of my mind. It went on like this for days. Then
one night she allowed me to come to her bed. It was indescribable.
I lay beside her, and she whispered into my ear: »I
love your spirit, I love it more than anything, but your body
feels awkward to me, so strange, so remote. Still - I want
to belong to you. Only to you. Possess me if you can and purge
his memory from my flesh .« But I... I
oi oi oi oi!! Enough, enough, enough, enough!
afraid I'm going out of my mind. Why did she do this to me?
What did I do to deserve it? I was so consumed with love,
that I feared nothing! And all of a sudden such a shmuck!
I mean such a shock! It was as if the ground had disappeared
from beneath my feet. When did this false existence begin?
Was it in my childhood? In Bohemia? Who is to blame for it?
Can I still correct it? On my way here I wrote: »Oh
Death, divine thought in painful hours! Oh Life, be born again
from all my wounds!«
music. Speak to me about it.
should I talk about ?
was a Polka. I was 6 years old. It had a funeral march for
FREUD A funeral
A »Zalozpev«. My first language was Bohemian. A
Zalozpev is a kind of a lamentation, , almost a moan. The instruments
should give the impression of moaning or sobbing like my mother
your mother used to?
suffered a lot.
Yes. He was violent and brutal. But he was the first one to
notice my talent for music. He encouraged me to play.
I played the accordion. I was four when it happened. A military
parade was playing on the street, early in the morning. I
was electrified, ran out of the house, following the band
with my little accordion. Like a little drum-major, I marched
behind them and played along with all the pieces by ear.
are you laughing ?
couldn't help remembering that later, I kept listening to
these military bands. I was completely obsessed with them.
Once I was so absorbed, that I forgot myself and I shat in
my pants. I think I didn't even feel ashamed about it. And
once in the synagogue when the cantor was singing, I suddenly
jumped up, and shouted: »Stop it! Stop it! Be quiet
! This is not music!«
you were punished?
no. Who would punish me?
no! He would only punish me for reading books or playing games
with other children instead of practicing the piano, but when
it came to my own music he wouldn't even touch me with his
little finger. Everything in the family revolved around my
music. I could even chase away my father when I was playing
for myself. And he would leave, without arguing. Otto was
the only one I let listen when I played.
brother. My poor, dead, little brother Otto. I let him stay
and listen. If he polished my shoes and brushed my clothes
music gave you power as a child?
could certainly say so. Yes. And attention. And fame and glory!
bitter substitute for love...
sorry. I didn't get that.
I was just thinking out loud.
you say: »A bitter substitute for love?«
What else is glory?
know what you are getting at, Doctor. You mean, I only got
Alma's attention because I was director of the Royal Opera
House, don't you? And that I mesmerized her? And that she
has been attached all these years only to my glory, which
for her has been a bitter substitute for love?! That's what
you are driving at, isn't it? She must have suffered bitterly
all these years of our married life.
FREUD I don't
know. Maybe this way she became a bitter substitute for your
mother, who had also been suffering in silence all the years
of her married life, swallowing the stifled cries that your
tyrannical father forbade her to express. So she kept moaning
and sobbing secretly. Clandestinely. In silence. She cried
noiselessly and sobbed inaudibly, so no one would notice.
And she invested all her hopes in the budding existence of
her beloved son, who would one day let the trumpets blow,
and give full expression to her suppressed moaning and sobbing.
With his music. In one, many-voiced, unmistakeable cry. What
was your mother's name? Marie?
it was indeed.
come you've married an Alma then? It's surprising. What's
your wife's middle name?
middle name? Maria.
What was Al - mama - ria doing when you met her?
What young girls tend to do. Reading books, playing the piano;
she composed a few songs too, I think
She never made a name as a composer.
I had to forbid her to compose. I made it a condition
of our marriage.
know what you have done to her?
tell you something: she chose not to grow. It's obvious! By
accepting your condition, she regressed to childhood. I used
to know Alma's father, the painter Schindler -- you probably
know his work. He died when she was only a child. She had
loved her father very much. Ever since his death she's been
looking for a father-substitute. Your advanced age, my dear
Director Mahler, which makes you so afraid of losing her,
is exactly what attracts your wife to you. Go back to her,
take her in your arms, embrace her, hold her tight, and give
her all the love that you swore to give your poor mother whenever
she was maltreated by your father. You will make her the happiest
woman on earth! - What makes you cry now?
remember all of a sudden an obscenely painful scene between
my parents, in our kitchen. A terrible scene, much worse than
everything that went before it. My father beat my mother,
he flogged her like a dog. I couldn't stand it. I rushed out
from the house. Aimless. Purposeless. I didn't know where
to go. At that moment, I saw a hurdy-gurdy player in the street.
He was playing »Oh, du lieber Augustin« on his
hurdy-gurdy. It's a scene I will never forget. You know that
popular Viennese song. The barrel-organ player looked at me
smiling with his bright and friendly eyes, while a small monkey
in uniform sat on top of the hurdy-gurdy collecting money
in a can. The monkey's face appeared to me quite different
from that of the hurdy-gurdy man. At least I thought so. It
appeared to be mocking me, grinning at me, scornful and snarling,
while its master continued cheerfully doffing his hat and
playing this song »O, du lieber Augustin, Augustin,
Augustin, O du lieber Augustin, alles ist hin!« - I've
never been able to get it out of my mind. It's like a curse
to me. I'm sure that's the moment when high tragedy and light
amusement were forever joined together in my mind, so much
so, that for me one mood inevitably suggests the other. That's
why the noblest passages in my symphonies are always spoiled
by the intrusion of commonplace melodies, and whenever I try
on! Gustav! Gustav! Give me a break! Again with this arrogance,
this egotism. That has nothing to do with your parents' quarrels,
or with a snarling monkey, or with a song called »Lieber
Augustin«. That explosive mixture of the sublime and
the grotesque flows in your veins, your Jewish veins! You
know why? Because God is crazy. He is meschugge. And we know
that. He needs a good analysis. A profound, thorough psychoanalysis.
And a long and careful treatment. But he won't lie down on
the couch! He simply won't do it! - Come on, Gustav, let's
take a walk in the beautiful Dutch streets of Leyden. I want
to show you something. And then we'll exchange some good old
Jewish jokes, ehh? Do you know this one: Sara Goldstein goes
to her husband's funeral, and suddenly the rabbi says to her...
not so fond of jokes.
know what your problem is, Gustav? You take things too damn
seriously. All that's happened to you is that your young wife
betrayed you with a 27 year old stinking prick of an architect.
So what?! Nebbich! What's the big deal? It could have been
you betrayed her with the architect! By the way, I'm afraid
he actually is in love with you, and not with your wife, that
Gropius. Or else why would he make his declaration of love
was a mix-up.
Who knows, who knows?
tell you: he's in love with her. I've got evidence.
me, Gustav, if it were my wife, I wouldn't even bother about
if it were your wife, I wouldn't bother either.
a wife is like an umbrella: sooner or later you have to take
can I say? I open my eyes in the morning and I'm in pain all
that's normal! That's only because you spend whole nights
on the carpet at her door! - He's in pain
! That's excellent!
so excellent about it?
when you're over fifty, and you wake up in the morning, and
you don't feel any pain - you can be sure you're dead.
wish I were.
worry. It will happen soon enough. You too, you're not immortal.
all I need to hear. What a relief! Thank you.
look: it's so difficult to die - it's better to live!
do you know? Have you experienced it already?
no. And I'm not in a hurry either. Believe me: experience
consists mainly of experiencing what we'd prefer not to experience.
A funeral march can be heard from outside.
FREUD A funeral.
patient of yours?
no. A very famous conductor from Vienna. - You know him.