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Freud and the Scene of Trauma$
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John Fletcher

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823254590

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823254590.001.0001

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Leonardo’s Screen Memory

Leonardo’s Screen Memory

(p.155) Six Leonardo’s Screen Memory
Freud and the Scene of Trauma

John Fletcher

Fordham University Press

Chapter Six is the first of two chapters that deal with Freud’s analysis of Leonardo’s memory of being visited in his cradle by a bird that aggressively penetrated his mouth with its tail, as the key to his psychological and sexual development. He aligns Leonardo’s memory with a childhood memory of Goethe’s. It is argued that this confuses Freud’s own distinction between a symbolic substitution in the content of an accurately remembered single scene and a substitution in the process of memory formation itself that replaces one disturbing scene with another real or fictional scene that acts as a screen for the first scene. As with Freud’s 1899 essay, the retrogressive dimension is dominant with later experiences borrowing the earlier scene as a screen. However, gradually the progressive dimension asserts itself as Freud interprets the memory as a fantasy that derives from the earliest experiences of being suckled at the breast and from the violence of the mother’s kisses and caresses represented by the intrusive bird. The memory’s manifest scene is then analyzed as an initiation into Leonardo’s scientific ambition to build a flying machine modelled on the bird, a compensatory fantasy that manages and sublimates the originary trauma of maternal seduction.

Keywords:   Goethe, primal scene, progressive screen memory, retrogressive screen memory, vulture, vulture child, kite, visitation by

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