[‘GOG’ by Giovanni Papini. Illustrations by Rémi]

“He passed on to another stage in his life in which decadent poetry began to attract his attention…”

A Dalmatian poet was committed in a private mental ward, and went mad over a shadow. His beloved was a “queen of the screen” and she smiled at him from the screen. From then on he had no life and his desperate passion for the shadow of his beloved destroyed his existence.

In the same mental ward there was a fairly peculiar character: he was a monster who must have spent half a century dressed in light green. His life was spectacular: originally he was one of the richest men in the world; with that fortune in his hands, he decided to take up the most refined drugs of a rotting culture. He began to travel, to get to know the most varied ideologies that govern the world, he held impassioned conversations with artists, read an enormous number of books and, with all this maniacal dilapidation, acquired, after 7 years, a perverse nose for the most radical ideologies. After much getting around, his spirit sickened, overwhelmed by the world, but he bequeathed us some writings (in green ink), giving us his impressions on the world in which we live.

I am talking about Gog, the character invented by the fabulous critic Giovanni Papini.

Gog delivered those writings in green ink to Giovanni Papini, who is a friend of the Dalmatian poet who is committed in the mental ward. Giovanni Papini takes advantage of his character, that ungainly monster with the judgment of a genius. In this book titled GOG, Giovanni Papini moves his ingenious character to Vienna to have him pay a visit to Sigmund Freud on his 70th birthday and, as a gift, he brings a beautiful Greek marble statue representing Narcissus. From the time he receives it, Freud is grateful to him for such a splendid gift and invites him to his house as a result. Once there, Freud begins to speak, and reveals to us the secret of his life.

Giovanni Papini creates the circumstances and puts the opinions that he deserves in Freud’s mouth. Let’s see, then, what this man with great judgment thinks about the creator of Psychoanalysis…

I shall add some information that will enable a greater understanding of Freud’s life, though, before this -

Freud searches for a way to study the mental development of human beings and he creates Psychoanalysis. He creates his system, based on the method used by Goethe when he wrote: release. Goethe, in Werther, writes to free himself of his pain; literature to him was catharsis. In this way, Freud has his patients use this method to cure themselves: confession, while Freud remained as if a priest, listening, advising and hushing secrets. Soon he realized that the confessions of his sick patients constituted a marvelous repertoire of human documents. Documents which he kept for himself, while Zola was publishing novels.

Another stage of his life arrived in which decadent poetry began to attract his attention, above all the similarity that exists between dreams and works of art and the importance of symbolic language. At this time, Romanticism reigned, which had proclaimed the primacy of passion and set love aside. In his capacity as a psychiatric researcher and under the influence of the naturalist novelists, he gave love a less sentimental and mystical interpretation. He wanted to see the more repugnant, though more common, sides of human life: the beast in man; with a scalpel he set aside the hypocrisy of good manners and found sensuality deprived of any masks.

Later, he wanted to write his conclusions and this is the best proof of his literary talents. The way in which Freud writes leans towards the essay, the paradox, the dramatic, and has nothing of the pedantic rigidness and technique of the true man of science. We cannot say that his books “are treatises on pathology.” His spontaneity and joy when writing is such that one feels how close he was to the works of imagination and there is irrefutable proof: those who have best captured Freudian ideas have been artists, especially writers.

All men of science have the propensity to let themselves be carried away by fantasy, but in the case of Freud we see how he traveled hand-in-hand with fantasy and how he translated the inspirations of modern literature into scientific theories.

In complete agreement with the opinions of Papini, it caused me much happiness to find such an accurate opinion of Freud, the polemical researcher and discoverer of the psyche, so unknown until now:

The Illusions of Sigmund Freud

When Freud was in high school, all his teachers saw in him a young man with a great talent for art, especially for poetry and novels. But he was very conscious of the obstacles that held back his illusions of being a literati. He was from a poor family and poetry, according to testimony by the most celebrated contemporaries, paid little or too late. Moreover he was Hebrew, which placed him in conditions of manifest inferiority in an anti-Semitic monarchy. The exile and miserable end of Heine discouraged him. He chose Natural Sciences. He graduated as a doctor, though he never practiced this profession. Instead, he conceived the idea of transforming a branch of medicine — Psychiatry — into literature. Literati by instinct and vocation and doctor by force and out of necessity, he was a poet and novelist beneath the image of a man of science.

Psychiatrist & Writer — Writing and meditating at the intersection of psychiatry, philosophy, Buddhism and the arts. More information at