Beethoven Prepares Us for Wilfred

Vienna. Around three in the afternoon.  Beethoven has finished lunch, huffed and puffed through a couple newspapers and leaves for a long walk. He had worked non-stop since five in the morning. Same routine every day. As he takes in the countryside, he has  thoughts. Musical thoughts. He pulls out a small notebook and jots down his ideas.

Fast forward six months. He takes those musical thoughts in his pocket notebook and transfers them to a second, larger notebook. He doesn’t simply copy them. He enlarges the ideas, deepens them, gives them lots of thought. Six months later he transfers them again, to a third notebook. What a hodge-podge! Deletions. Erasures. Fragments. Big and bulging, stuffed with ordinary stuff, but now recognizable by musicologists: the third notebook contains inchoate thoughts from a well-known Opus. It’s in there. Somewhere. Time passes. Then, one ordinary day,  a masterpiece falls into the lap of the world. Beethoven has transformed that third notebook into the third and final movement of The Appassionata.

What Beethoven demonstrates – not the  genius part! –  is what Wilfred meant by The Apparatus of Mind. We can see him, in broad daylight, as it were, linking his thoughts to a language, the language of music. The Apparatus of Mind consists of an on-going interchange between language and thoughts.


The work of a Scientific Conversation, my term for present-day Psychoanalysis, is to take thoughts that are unthinkable and give them a language, one made up of words and syntax. Psychoanalysis does not have exclusive rights to this enterprise.There are many venues, words the most frequent. So are a musician’s notes and a painter’s pigments. I talked with Giuseppe Verdi just last night. A moment ago we saw Beethoven in action.

The interrelationship between language and mind is well known. Noam Chomsky wrote a book titled Language and Mind. Wilfred, using the findings of Melanie studying small children through Play Therapy as well as his own work, such as with Samuel Beckett, learned the provenance of thought disorders. Beckett published his years-long relationship with Bion, not Wilfred. In his ten years as my mentor, Wilfred made no mention of Beckett. Beckett was extremely disturbed. In bed months on end. His brother had to sleep with him, or night-terrors overwhelmed him. Wilfred saved Waiting for Godot. The world owes him. Ireland outlawed psychoanalysis, so Beckett went to London. Specifically to work with Bion. Told Bion towered head and shoulders above all the rest. He took up residence to work with Bion.

Psychosis is defined as thoughts without a language to think them. Remember Frau Emmy, Freud’s first “talking cure” patient? High society dame from Livonia, wherever the hell that is. She was cruising along, talking to Freud, taking down her case history, Suddenly, without warning, she turned into a witch. Her hands, now shaped like claws, reached towards the good doctor. “Keep still!” she hissed. “Don’t say anything! Don’t touch me.” And just as suddenly, she became a society dame from Livonia. At a later point, Frau Emmy told Freud how terrible it would be if her thoughts came to life. They did. She became a witch to everyone, shunned and alone. Psychosis has no language,

The thoughts of the Pro-Lifers are without a language to think them.

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