Modern Myths and Dissipated Ones

William Logan writing about Sylvia Plath and modern myths:

The two myths that defined the fifties for itself were those of Marx and Freud. We still live in the ruin of those sacred myths (the Christian myth is of longer standing but more dissipated effect). If half a century later Freud doesn’t command the old belief, we have labored so long in the age of the ego and the subconscious, of the Oedipus complex, of Eros and Thanatos, of compensation and sublimation, of projection and transference, it is difficult to imagine how people will explain themselves without such terms. … It’s a mistake to condescend to a thinker as subtle, if at times brilliantly wrongheaded, as Freud.

(From “You Must Not Take It So Hard, Madame,” originally published in Salamagundi, summer-fall, 2002 and republished in The Undiscovered Country: Poetry in the Age of Tin.)

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