Julie Powell, the World Cup Draw and Freud

What do the above three have in common? I’m tempted to say that the best answer wins some delectable prize but I think I should save the giveaway for a more deserving question. (And no, I won’t accept that they’re all a fraud. You’ll find an answer at the end.) The more mundane truth is that I felt like blogging about all three and so have lumped them together.

First up, Julie Powell. Are you feeling cheated that the feel-good image you had of Julie Powell is now having to be revised with the news that her latest book (Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession) carves up, you guessed it, her marriage (as well as meat)?

I’m not a regular Village Voice reader but I enjoyed Rebecca Marx’s excellent carve-up of Cleaving here.

I liked this paragraph:

How much you’ll enjoy Cleaving depends on how sympathetic you are to Powell’s dilemma, which, when it comes down to it, is a bit much to swallow: the act of trying to choose between one’s bottomlessly loving husband and one’s snakey-sounding lover, all while having the financial freedom to hang out with butchers just for the hell of it, is accompanied by the sound of the world’s most miniscule violin.

Friday’s Fifa 2010 World Cup Draw in Cape Town was a big deal. Huge street party with 50,000 people and the TV event was pretty good to my relatively untrained eye. I did wince a little when Sepp Blatter told the presenter Carol Manana that it was easy to fall in love with Africa when he looked at her. No, really – he said something as inane as that.

And then there were the countless repetitions of how wonderful the World Cup is going to be next year in South Africa and how historic it is that Africa is hosting the event. Granted. But given that hot air is one of Africa’s biggest exports, I could have done with less hype and more analysis. Some practical discussion of which game will be played where and which ones are likely to be the most popular.

For witty commentary you can’t beat Barney Ronay of the Guardian who was live-blogging the event. After commenting on Charlize Theron’s ditzy blonde routine and observing that her accent went quite mad he notes:

“Yes, Charlize, four teams in eight groups. Where has she been? Doesn’t she read the papers? Oh. It’s a kind of act. I see. Jerome is now explaining what a ball is and how you kick it and what “a goal” means. Or something. Who do they think is watching this? Martians?”

Nice. The best headline I’ve seen on the draw so far was from the Sun newspaper in the UK: Best English group since the Beatles.

England are apparently brimming with confidence after drawing Algeria, Slovenia and the USA. By contrast, South Africa “have a mountain to climb” after drawing Mexico, Uruguay and France. I wonder if the South African public will let Thierry Henry forget about his “Hand of Frog”?

And then, since this is supposed to be partly a psychology blog, I will add in a quote I read yesterday on Freud by Joan Raphael-Leff, a psychoanalyst at Unversity College in London.

My thesis is that for Freud Egypt plays an ambiguous and complex role as (unconscious) representation of the ‘dark continent’ – repudiated realm of the uncanny archaic mother / primordial ‘eternal feminine’. I suggest that his periodic preoccupation with ancient Egypt constitutes a particular form of unconscious repetition, which he called ‘return of the repressed’, and today we would link with revival of a filigree of implicit configurations, or dissociated memories. Association with traumatic events relating to his own earliest years induced avoidance of the Isis / Osiris / Horus myth with its evocative reminders of generational confusions, incestuous passions, fragmentation and fratricidal violence. This terrifying narrative rooted not in the phallic supremacy Freud chose to privilege but in maternal magic and integration of feminine powers of intuition as aspects of the masculine self. (from the journal parallax, 2007)

I know this is probably difficult to read without the surrounding context and discussion but I found it fascinating to read how Raphael-Leff uses Freud’s prehistory to explain his subsequent neglect of the feminine and the development of his (in)famous Oedipal theory.

Incidentally, one theme which brings all three together is that of Africa. Julie Powell visits Africa towards the end of Cleaving, the World Cup is being staged in Africa next year and this article was about Freud’s obsession with Egypt (which is still in Africa).


9 Responses to Julie Powell, the World Cup Draw and Freud

  1. sandy says:

    “accompanied by the sound of the world’s most miniscule violin”

    That is an excellent line (in the book review) and makes me laugh! makes me want to pantomime a teeny, tiny violin the next time I’m showing someone I don’t feel all that sorry for them.

    Oh and good job, tying it all together, weaving in Freud’s obsession with Egypt, which I hadn’t been aware of.

  2. adevotedreader says:

    I was sorry to hear Powell had an affair, but have been suprised by how strongly people have reacted against her and the new book. I will have to give it a try and see what I think.

    I confess I couldn’t watch the whole cup draw as it was so inane. Like South Africa, Australia have a tough group in Germany (our first match), Ghana and Serbia. And as for England… I will believe they can win the Cup when they do.

  3. Pete says:

    Sandy – That’s the line that got me as well. I know it’s not very empathic but it does make a point!

    Sarah – I didn’t realise that Australia had drawn Germany. And of course I have to support Ghana going through but if Australia do so, then I will be very happy for them too! I think my blogging friends have made me a lot more pro-Australia 😉

  4. litlove says:

    I’m so sorry to read Julie Powell’s latest book getting such a poor review – albeit a funny one that had me gripped to the end! It must be the curse of the second book. She wants to branch out, but stay in the territory for which she has become famous. The affair thing is always tricky to pull off though, so brave but unwise. Alas, I would not be able to stomach reading about butchery, so I will probably have to give it a miss.

  5. “the world’s most miniscule violin”–that is cutting. No pun intended!

  6. natalian says:

    I also watched the draw and must admit there were a few ‘cringeworthy’ moments! Enjoyed reading about Freud. Reminded me of Hermann Hesse and his obsession with India and how it influenced his work when he wrote Siddhartha.

  7. Courtney says:

    I hadn’t realized she had a new book, or that it received such a poor review! I think I will still read it…one thing I think people miss is just what an *honest* writer she really is…even in Julie and Julia, she was very, very honest about the struggles in her marriage and that put some people off. Hmmm, this might be one of the first books I tackle in 2010! I don’t think it did her any favors to have Amy Adams portray her on film – made her seem much more squeaky clean than she was in the book!

  8. Grad says:

    Oh my – another author I haven’t heard of before. But I loved your post. I guess the World Cup is a very big deal, right? Kind of like our Super Bowl but only on an international scale? Can you tell I know nothing of soccer? (It IS Soccer, isn’t it?) And I do think it would be very easy to fall in love with Africa – it’s a place I dream of seeing one day.

  9. Grad says:

    I went home and watched the DVD of Julie & Julia yesterday and finally figured out who Julie Powell is! Duh. In that case, I agree with Rebecca Marx completely! What a bummer.

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