A little advice for Rep. Anthony Weiner

The seductions of the id and the ancient lures of power

Published June 9, 2011 5:01PM (EDT)

I wish Rep.  Anthony Weiner would write to me. He's probably feeling pretty bad right now.

I could give him some advice. It's nothing he doesn't already know. He probably studied a little bit about it in school.

It's about the unconscious. What made me think of it was reading about the death of Freudian psychoanalyst Leo Rangell at the age of 97.

His death made me think about the decline of certain ideas that were once revolutionary and startling, like the idea of the unconscious and its power.

I'd been thinking about the unconscious for a while, actually, trying to figure out something about the rust on my truck.

What I was trying to figure out was why I couldn't seem to really see the rust that was right before my eyes. After going into the hospital for surgery on a tumor that I did not believe was really there until they took it out, and after I watched the cab of my truck rotting away with rust that I likewise did not really believe was there, even though the guys at the body shop saw it and told me they'd have to replace the whole roof of the cab to get rid of it, well, it just reminded me of the power of the unconscious.

After watching Rep. Weiner acting like a besotted zombie denying for a whole week what he'd been doing, using that funny word "certitude," so Latinate and dignified and evasive, it just made me wonder. (There are many evocative directions one would like to pursue, including the preference for the Latinate in prevarication versus the more satisfying clunk and smack of the Anglo-Saxon and Gallic, and the way our unconscious linguistic history can be read in our most anxious and furtive moments before the assembled ladies and gentlemen of the press.)

When we do not give voice to certain aspects of our personality, they persist. Eventually they drive us to inexplicable behavior from which we awaken stunned, as if our minds had been clouded, as if we had been drugged and held captive!

Indeed, in his press conference, didn't Rep. Weiner look like he had just awakened from a drugged slumber in a prison cell, blinking before the lights and choking back sobs, then looking down worriedly at one point, after his most shameful admission, as if checking to see if the object of so much consternation were indeed still with him?

Eventually the unconscious wins. That's the theme of this little essay.

And what of his marriage to Huma Abedin? The Oedipal forces at work are quite extraordinary.

The unconscious sees family relations where power is exercised. It sees opportunity and opportunity is erotic. To the unconscious, an aide can seem like a daughter figure. By marrying the aide, or figurative daughter, of the wife of Bill Clinton, the great and charismatic wizard, elder chief of Democratic politics, Weiner ingratiates himself and challenges the king.

Then, like a zombie programmed to self-destruct, he symbolically repeats Bill's sins.

The unconscious does not learn. It just repeats.

What a tale. Let us stop with this. Let us utter one small opinion on the matter and retreat.

In the end, the id will out. Shakespeare knew. Freud knew.

The id will find a way. It will throw a cloak over our heads, drug us with chloroform, have its way and then when it is finished we will awaken, shaken, if from a blackout, asking, Where am I? What happened? What did I do this time?

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By Cary Tennis

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