A tale of two cities, Charles Dickens (1859)


  • .p. 74: “Notwithstanding Miss Pross’s denial of her own imagination, there was a perception of the pain of being monotonously haunted by one sad idea, in her repetition of the phrase, walking up and down, which testified to her possessing such a thing.”

Ari: Why this quote touched me is difficult to understand without the context. What touched me is that Dickens indicates that he infers from the way Miss Pross speaks, from the form of her speech (“repetition of the phrase, walking up and down”) some knowledge about Miss Pross – even if she denies this. The strict formal way of our speech betrays us, and there is no way around it: even in denial, even in lies, we can not do without choosing words to deny or to lie: and in these choices we can not but tell about ourselves…. That’s why psychoanalysis is possible: we don’t need conscious knowledge to grasp things, we just need the subject to speak. When he/she speaks, he/she betrays him/herself, can not but betray him/herself…

  • p.81: “Doctors who made great fortunes out of dainty remedies for imaginary disorders that never existed, smiled upon their courtly patients in the ante-chambers of Monseigneur. Projectors who had discovered every kind of remedy for the little evils with which the State was touched, except the remedy of setting to work in earnest to root out a single sin, poured their distracting babble into any ears they could lay hold of, at the reception of Monseigneur. Unbelieving Philosophers who were remodelling the world with words, and making card-towers of Babel to scale the skies with, talked with Unbelieving Chemists who had an eye on the transmutation of metals, at this wonderful gathering accumulated by Monseigneur.”

 Ari: If we recognize a sign of o u r times in this, this might mean that what we are living at the moment is more due to the fact that, like in 1789 when this scene is taking place, we are at the eve of a paradigm change (and the disinvestment from an old system) more than to the specificities of the system in and by itself.  DvB: You sound like a true Nietzschean, my dear: “What is great in man, declares Zarathustra, “is that he is a bridge and not an end: what can be loved in man is that he is an overture and a going under.”


  • p. 143: “All the women knitted. They knitted worthless things; but the mechanical work was a mechanical substitute for eating and drinking; the hands moved for the jaws and the digestive apparatus: if the bony fingers had been still, the stomachs would have been more famine-pinched.”.

Ari: The motor programs of hands and mouth are very close spatially in the motor cortex (Broca area) – together with the eye movement control, these three systems are the most elaborate motor systems on which we have fine motor control: mouth, hands and eyes. Eminently, these are the motor systems which generate consciousness. KH: Ariane, volgens mij was dat een erotische scene waar alle erotische fijngevoelige tactiele subtiele observaties en aanrakingen vertaald en gesublimeerd worden. The knitting of worthless things maakt net de erotische lading hoger juist omdat het worthless is. Ook eten en drinken, steken met de naald, opslokken en penetreren zijn erotische handelingen en zeker de verwijzing naar de maag die staat voor de vertering wat de totale overgave symboliseert.

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