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The concept of the “non-Oedipal” did not appear to Luca full-blown as some revelation after reading Freud; rather, his reference to “natal trauma” clearly suggests that he was conversant with the work of the Austrian psychoanalyst Otto Rank. Famous as Freud’s early disciple and author of The Trauma of Birth (1925), Rank was the first psychoanalyst to locate the origins of neurosis and intra-psychic conflict in earliest infancy. He wrote extensively about art and the artist, and to him may be owed, in fact, the very concept of the “non-Oedipal.” It is interesting to note that in a late essay — he died in 1939 — Rank wrote that “there is … in the child a tendency one might designate as ‘anti-Oedipean’ because, in contrast to the Oedipus complex, it aims at a bringing together of the parents instead of a separation of them.”14 The context here is Rank’s implicit rejection of the hypothetical innate determinants of the original Freudian conception of the Oedipal complex — a stance, moreover, that Luca and Trost adopted in their manifesto, with their explicit rejection of biology. Whereas Freud and early psychoanalysts regarded the theory of the Oedipal conflict as biological and universal, Luca was determined to view it as a social and cultural artifact. More pertinent still to Luca’s texts was work by another Austrian analyst with whom the poet was probably not familiar. Melanie Klein, in the late 1930s, essentially extended Rank’s concept of the birth trauma to assert that the Oedipus complex itself begins in infancy, not in later childhood — not at six years of age but at six months. Her theories caused major dissensions in psychoanalysis and entailed splits that have never healed. Indeed, while Luca was enduring wartime Bucharest, Klein and fellow analysts in London were holding a long series of “Controversial Discussions” that ended in 1946, resulting in a three-sided Mexican standoff in the British Psychoanalytical Society amongst Freudians, Kleinians, and Independents.15 Key to Klein’s theory, and its relevance for The Inventor of Love, are the two central “defense mechanisms” that she identified and claimed infants and young children use to contend with overwhelming fantasies and emotions. These are                                                                                                                       14

Otto Rank, The Myth of the Birth of the Hero (New York: Vintage Books, 1964) 297–98. Eli Zaretsky, Secrets of the Soul: A Social and Cultural History of Psychoanalysis (New York: A.A. Knopf, 2004). See ch. 10. 15

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Profile for Contra Mundum Press

Gherasim Luca Centenary Issue  

Essays and reflections in English and French on Romanian surrealist Gherasim Luca, including Luca's own texts and art. Also featuring rumi...

Gherasim Luca Centenary Issue  

Essays and reflections in English and French on Romanian surrealist Gherasim Luca, including Luca's own texts and art. Also featuring rumi...

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