Freud and the Genie

Below is the latest guest essay from our Russian correspondent Peter1.

Freud and the Genie
by Peter1

The soul of Arabs, the nomadic people living in desert, is best described by their fairy tales.

Aladdin and the Magic LampOne of the most famous tales is that of a Genie, who managed to get out from the closed bottle and started travelling around the world, bringing destruction and fear. Another similar tale is about the Genie who lives in a lamp, and who fulfills all your wishes if you rub the lamp.

Let’s look at the same tale from another, Freudian point of view. Freud himself noted that rubbing the lamp is actually rubbing some parts of your body, and then getting all you want in your imagination. Now, consider the closed bottle, with a magic stamp on it which nobody dares break. This magic stamp is the taboo of virginity; breaking it will free the dangerous spirit, which can make you overreach, or kill.
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The Genie from the bottle is known to be able to do only two tasks: build palaces or ruin the cities. Building a palace clearly means making the family home — the desired outcome of the marriage.

But another outcome is also possible. Freud himself, in his work “The Taboo of Virginity”, claimed that the man who breaks the taboo attracts the subconscious aggression and hatred of the woman, in addition to her devotion. That woman may become aggressive, and that is what ruining the city means.

Suppose that the spirit of the Arab-conquerors gets its inspiration from that tale. That is, it originates from breaking of their isolated tribal life in the desert by information from outer world.

And with their innocent tribal life broken, they react with an anger similar to that found by Freud.

4 thoughts on “Freud and the Genie

  1. Since we’re in the realm of symbolic fables and fairy-tales, here’s a passage I came across while researching Greek myths:
    “Hermes filled a cart with lies and dishonesty and all sorts of wicked tricks, and he journeyed in this cart throughout the land, going hither and thither from one tribe to another, dispensing to each nation a small portion of his wares. When he reached the land of the Arabs, so the story goes, his cart suddenly broke down along the way and was stuck there. The Arabs seized the contents of the cart as if it were a merchant’s valuable cargo, stripping the cart bare and preventing Hermes from continuing on his journey, although there
    were still some people he had not yet visited. As a result, Arabs are liars and charlatans, as I myself have learned from experience. There is not a word
    of truth that springs from their lips.” – Aesop, Fables 521 (from Babrius, Fabulae 57)

  2. Jung is nice, and even useful. I can’t understand why anyone would bother with Freud, though. His theories changed over and over because reality proved them flawed, but he just kept going. Jung was the one who brought Freud from obsurity to notority, but after only two years Jung found the works of Freud too confusing to be useful.

    As for the Genie, I dunno. Never read any works attributed to it (I did read both of the above), and didn’t see it destroy any cities recently. It escaped me that it might have escaped some bottle. Details would be welcome.

    Call me ‘infidel’, but I don’t have much confidence in the relevance or usefulness of Freud in the context.

  3. As a humanist, I must reject Freud on the basis of quotes like this:

    “I have found little that is ‘good’ about human beings on the whole. In my experience most of them are trash, no matter whether they publicly subscribe to this or that ethical doctrine or to none at all. That is something that you cannot say aloud, or perhaps even think.” Sigmund Freud

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