In 1899, Sigmund Freud published The Interpretation of Dreams, the first psychoanalytic book in history. On the opening page he put the words of the goddess Juno from Vergil’s Aeneid: Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta movebo.
‘’If I cannot deflect the will of superior powers, then I shall move the River Acheron.’’
In Greek mythology, the Acheron was one of the underground rivers of Hades, on which the boatman carries the souls of the dead, and of those are who are led by pain in the upper-world. The Old Byzantine Encyclopaedia describes the Acheron as the river of healing and recovery. But for Freud the Acheron is a metaphor for the unconscious, where the rivers runs like the currents of dreams, paving the royal road to what they reveal.
Moving the Acheron therefore represents an act that can subvert even what it seems impossible to change. The remarkable words of Juno pave the way to the invention, which is what psychoanalysis is at its very core – in its discovery also in anyone’s subjectivity. Moving the Acheron is a rupture that makes space for novelty. If there is no act or space for novelty, there is no space for creation. Or as Dante wrote in Commedia Divina:
“Those who do not decide to take act in the course of their lives are those who only sit and wait at the bank of the Acheron.”
- study days
- reading groups
- French psychoanalytic terminology course
- academic consultations through e-mail or in person
Lecturer: Dr Nina Krajnik
Number of participants: minimum 6, maximum 10
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