The Uncivil Servant: Where the Hell Did We Come From?

by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: The Origin of the Jews, by Steven Weitzman. Princeton University Press, 2017, 408 pages.   AT THE END of Steven Weitzman’s Origin of the Jews, a scholarly but eminently accessible account of the search for the origin of the Jews (which we should not confuse with their beginnings), the […]

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MIDRASH: The Stories We Tell

WHY THE TORAH REMAINS AN OPEN BOOK by Reba Carmel   Moses received the Torah at Sinai and he transmitted it to Joshua,  and Joshua to the elders, and the elders to the prophets, and the prophets transmitted it to the Men of the Great Assembly . . . [who] said three maxims: Be measured […]

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The Uncivil Servant: Oliver Sacks’s Fabulous Mind

by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: The River of Consciousness by Oliver Sacks. Alfred A. Knopf, 2017, 237 pages; Oliver Sacks: The Last Interview, Melville House, 2016, 100 pages; Insomniac City by Bill Hayes, Bloomsbury, 2017, 291 pages.   WHEN OLIVER SACKS died in 2015, he left instructions with three friends for the assembling of what is (perhaps) […]

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The Uncivil Servant: Murdering Freud

by Mitchell Abidor   Discussed in this essay: Freud: The Making of an Illusion, by Frederick Crews. Metropolitan Books, 2017, 744 pages.   FREDERICK CREWS, a retired professor at Berkeley, has spent decades taking a pickaxe to the work and legacy of Sigmund Freud. His near monomania on the topic (equaled only by his interest […]

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July 6: Basic Books

Arthur Rosenthal, who took over a psychoanalytic book club in 1952 and turned it into Basic Books, an imprint that he sold to Harper and Row twenty years later for $4 million, died at 93 on this date in 2013. The New York Times called him “a publisher of intellectual masterworks in an era of […]

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April 22: Otto Rank and Human Mythology

Otto Rank (Rosenfeld), one of Sigmund Freud’s closest collaborators, was born in Vienna on this date in 1884. Rank hailed from a poor family and worked in a machine shop while educating himself at night. He became the first paid secretary of the emerging Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in 1905, at the age of 21. He […]

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Einstein and Freud on “Why War?”

by Dusty Sklar ALBERT EINSTEIN had two sons with his first wife, Mileva Maric. The youngest, Eduard, studied medicine at Zurich University and planned to become a psychiatrist. Sigmund Freud’s picture graced his bedroom wall. Eduard often wrote discourses to his father on the helpfulness of Freud’s theories in unraveling aspects of music and film. […]

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May 10: The Socialism of Fools

More than twenty thousand books deemed “Un-German” were burned by the National Socialist German Students’ League on this date in 1933 at the Opernplatz — now the Bebelplatz — near the University of Berlin. The purge began four days earlier when books from Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institut für Sexualwissenschaft were taken from the institute’s library and piled in […]

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