Black Milk Will Not Do.

Unedited notes. Beograd. Train station. April 2012.
Soundtrack: Serbian songs include anthem-like riffs initially mistaken as Ani Di Franco and Bruce Springsteen intros.

Freud museum. London. Small bowl of fake strawberries on display refer to a dream, a night dream of the daughter spuriously crafted in plastic. a curatorial afterthought. 

The stairs to the second floor  leads to the room dominated by the sound of Anna Freud. 
Her voice briefly reverses her father’s narration of her life by laying down a soundtrack to the home movies, shot in london, of Sigmund Freud.  Later, in the museum, a photograph, the continuum of the couch is the daughter’s bed:  a very large framed portrait of her father hangs above. In sleep, under scope. Forever Analysis.
A ghost hand turns the psychoanalyst’s portrait to the wall, to both father and daughter’s relief.
The father’s gaze, instead of locking and unlocking with his kin protege, is against the wall. It travels down it’s interior gutter and dissipates.  Anna’s best work is now possible to complete. Posthumously. (Impossible.)

(The fantasy of Impossible Work, hers and ours, dogs us; what can be done from the grave?  The work i am referring to becomes impossible  because it wrestles with unwieldy dimensions: dimensions that are made up of our deaths, the gaze(s) and requisite translations between mortal, immortal, and the blankly dead.  I am defining dimension as  a space that is not a thing but enfolds things. Death is not a thing but enfolds things. The gaze is not a thing but enfolds things. Translation is not language, no matter how hard we suspend our disbelief, but it holds words and matter (with spirit or not) against and away from one another.  

Those who translate Paul Celan’s  Todfugue gripe: ” ‘Black Milk’ will not do.”  Their work does not work; they cannot fix language to death, and they  pause, mid word, subject to the open oculus of the corpse that cannot stop looking.    

 A woman, my Impossible Work, stands at the center of this project, as I mark, without her consent,the space she traversed in 1974. I follow her path, by train, from London to Syria. She makes this trip when she is nineteen years old. The woman, when still a young woman, hangs a metal reproduction of the eye of Horus around her neck. The Secret Eye, she calls it. It is beneath her blouse, between her breasts. Its the roving eye she stills, the one she gets to smother. In Freud’s consultation room, he collects, with unchecked Orientalist pleasure: scarabs, Egyptian figurines, and so on. Instead of gazing at the analysand, once H.D.!, his stare slides between these figurines.   What if Freud’s desk was swept clean of fetishes and replaced with false fruit? A stupid false bowl of strawberries in hatshepsut’s looted stead? His daughter is the last analysand of the day.  An impossible task. 

(is Freud another corpse that won’t stop looking?  A corpse that refuses to translate a plea traveling backwards from Our Future: Father, Please. Close your eyes. As I travel, I accidentally find that two of my hosts, one in France and one in Turkey, are female psychoanalysts. One has a photo of Freud hanging with the photos of her children. “your child?” I jibe. “no! Freud!” I know. His eyes are always open. The other repeating image is queen Nefertiti. A postcard tacked to the wall in two bedrooms. A postcard that belongs to two men. It is her profile, eye open but not towards.

My impossible work of following the woman. The American woman who is travelling with a British smuggler in 1974. In Beograd, I am seated next to a wall papered with gigantic blow up celebrity stills of Bogard, Marilyn Monroe, and Bacall. I give the waiter the script to read because he tells me he loves mystery and stories about gangsters and spies. The passage i hand over details the beginning of the woman’s journey. He reads it aloud, with Bacall’s  mouth behindb him. I shoot him reading. Twice. Before he dashes to other customers who order coffee and meat. I have troubled and  embarrassed him and I am no closer. 


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