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My Potential Patients: Origins, Detection, and Transference in - page 64 / 69





64 / 69

Cohen 61

contexts. "I was the shadow of the waxwing slain /By the false azure in the

windowpane," Shade imagines at the beginning of his poem, "I was the smudge of

ashen fluff-and I Lived on, flew on, in the reflected sky"



At Shade's

death, all the strands of Pale Fire intersect and open out, in inverted form, in the

"reflected sky" of the otherworld. From there, if we believe Brian Boyd, he and

Hazel benevolently manipulate Kinbote as he writes his commentary. Yet in his


death glimpse of the cosmos, Shade sees not a pair of worlds but "a system of cells

interlinked within Cells interlinked within cells interlinked Within one stem" (59,



11. 704-706). The image implies limitless expansion and attenuation, with the "stem"

presumably belonging to a plant that is itself a single organism in a world among and

within limitless others. Pale Fire, it is possible to argue, is a "lemniscate"



a two-world, metonymic expression of a cosmic order that is, as the figure of

the lemniscate implies, incomprehensibly infinite.

In Freud, the primal scene exists in an otherworldly beforetime unknowable to

the patient-despite a lifetime spent on analysts' couches, the Wolf-Man never could

remember it (Obholzer 36)-but detectable by the analyst in the transference.

Extending its invisible tendrils across the barrier between narratable history and

infantile prehistory, the primal scene orchestrates a life; by tracing these strands back

to their source, what seems on the surface to be a confused muddle of unrelated

events is granted satisfying order and coherence. In proposing that the primal scene

may be a fantasy, however, Freud threatens to replace the surety of a historical event

with what Peter Brooks calls an "infinite regress" (276) in human history,


another kind of referentiality, in that all tales may lead back not so

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