Unusual solidarity of an atheist and a religious man at the Dr. Freud’s last session

Neobična solidarnost ateista i vjernika u posljednoj seansi Dr. Freuda

lewisfreud

 

An interesting duo consisting of the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, and one of the greatest christian apologetics of the 20th century, the writer C.S. Lewis, has recently been introduced for the first time to the audience in Zagreb, in the production of Planet Art Theater, directed by Marko Torjanac. The director, Marko Torjanac, who translated this show written by Mark St. Germain, modern American author and scenarist, was embodying the Freud himself. The young C.S. Lewis was in the Croatian version of the Freud’s last session Franjo Dijak, from the Gavella Drama Theater.

The scene is taking place at the Dr. Freud’s office on the day of the German invasion of Poland, in 1939. At this time, Dr. Freud is sick and dying, and he asks the young, perspective Oxford professor C.S. Lewis to pay him a visit. At the repeated fading of a civilization, when the defense of humanity once again fails the exam, there is the sparkling joy of professor Lewis, who is convinced that, as long as we ask men only, there will be no war on this planet that will be the last. This attitude is opposed to the Freud’s belief that the war for eternal peace is yet to come.

The reason for this encounter was the conversion of C. S. Lewis, a young intellectual who, until recently, has shared Freud’s opinion, and is now claiming that God exists. The old and experienced psychologist wonders what happened and he is not satisfied with Lewis’s, at first infantile answer: “When I sat on my motorcycle, I did not believe, but when I got off a couple of minutes later, I believed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”.  His observational way of thinking makes him question the reasons why would Lewis, despite his brilliant intelligence, underlay the illusion of religion. Lewis insists that the grace simply hit him and turned him from a tough atheist to an enchanted believer. Freud describes this as offensive to his ego.

During this tremendous discussion, that escalates a few times with Freud’s nervous attacks, the gentleman approach of the two intellectuals that are in a direct conflict of opposing attitudes, but still treating each other with respect, becomes revealed. This is exactly what the modern polemics’ often miss. At the same time, they don’t hide beneath false correctitude and Freud does not jib to spice everything up with a little bit of cynicism when Lewis bravely and even arrogantly brags how he has in his latest book broke down some of Freud’s firmest thesis to nothing more than assumptions. They share the passion for discovering the truth and do not let anything slow them down on this journey. Besides, they both agree that the question of God is the most important existential question. If you ask Freud, the rejection of that illusion will make the man free from his neurotic need for authority and protection. According to Lewis, the existence of God is what gives the meaning to one’s life.

An illusory fight between faith and ratio is throwing a light over the deep search for meaning that has been bothering man since forever. This unfading and inexplicable craving is what Lewis, who has accepted the existence of meaning even though he cannot explain it, and Freud, who categorically refuses to submit to what he cannot explain, share.

It is the attempt of giving a sense to suffering that Freud cannot stand. In a way, he feels that Lewis has betrayed the modern thought and the prosperity of mankind by kneeling down in front of the mistery of suffering, and this part of his conversion is what upsets him the most. Freud rejects to be subordinated to his sufferings which will culminate with his death, so he, as a representative of an individual who has everything under control, even  the end  of his life, decides to commit suicide.

In reality, Freud and Lewis have never met. Dr. Armand Nicholli, psychiatrist and professor from Harvard, in his book  The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life, brings these two brilliant minds of the 20th century with a different view on religion and moral. He has been holding a course based on this book on Harvard for the last 30 years. In one interview, Nicholli says that what makes this debate relevant in our modern times is the fact that how we perceive the world affects who we are and how we live our lives. That is why it is crucial to give an opportunity for critical evaluation of the arguments for both points of view.

Therefore, this play does not bring us certain answers, does not even bother to announce the final winner. Although, this is exactly what we, atheists and believers, are expecting. Here and there you could hear a spontaneous applause that sounded like a desperate call for approval of  what we ourselves believe when the fragility of our own beliefs gets revealed to us.

This encounter reveals the inseparability of two totally opposed opinions and a weird solidarity in the final act of facing the reality that is painful, reminding us of the ever unanswered question: „What if it is true?“

As J. Ratzinger notes in his Introduction to Christianity, neither the believer nor the nonbeliever cannot escape the great dilemma of humanity. As the believer is constantly having doubts about the reality of his faith and only in this insecurity his faith can exist, so is the nonbelievers picture of the world as a whole, constantly being ruined by the question of faith and the possibility that that is the real truth.

In other words, says Ratzinger, they both “in their own way doubt and believe, if they don’t hide from themselves and their existence as humans”. This is obvious when Lewis shiftlessly just shakes his shoulders to the question of suffer and when Freud cannot explain his – at first just professional – obsession about religion.

Maybe Ratzinger wonders – this mutual doubt – can turn to be the point of communication because “it prevents both of them to close in their own world”.

Lewis and Freud leave very quickly, without unnecessary procedures, as if nothing special just happened between them. As if they have just shortly blabbered about the weather. There is no doubt that their conversation did not make them any more like-minded. Although, the pleasure and courage to set their own beliefs at the table, just for the sake of the truth and the power to, above all, respect the dignity of the other, made possible that their uncompromising worlds meet for just a moment.

That is why everyone who has enjoyed this play would wish these two have once actually met.

Zanimljiv duel oca psihoanalize, Sigmunda Freuda, i jednog od najvećih apologeta kršćanstva 20.st., književnika C. S. Lewisa, nedavno je premijerno prikazan u Zagrebu u produkciji kazališta Planet Art pod redateljskom palicom Marka Torjanca koji je ovu predstavu Marka St. Germaina, suvremenog američkog autora i scenarista, preveo i u njoj odigrao upravo Freuda. Mladog C. S. Lewisa u hrvatskoj verziji Posljednje Freudove seanse igra Franjo Dijak, član ansambla Dramskog kazališta Gavella.

Prizor se odigrava u radnoj sobi popularnog psihijatra na dan njemačke invazije na Poljsku, 1939., gdje na poziv smrtno bolesnog dr. Freuda dolazi mladi, perspektivni oxfordski profesor Clive Staples Lewis. Na ponovnom zalasku civilizacije, kad obrana ljudske humanosti još jednom pada na ispitu, iskričava radost profesora Lewisa koji uvjereno tvrdi da, dok se pita samo ljudski rod, nikada nijedan rat na ovoj planeti neće biti posljednji suprotstavlja se sumornom raspoloženju dr. Freuda koji je, pored svega, uvjeren kako će rat za vječni mir jednom ipak doći.

Povod susretu je obraćenje C.S. Lewisa, mladog intelektualca koji je donedavno dijelio Freudovo mišljenje, a sada tvrdi da Bog postoji. Ostarjeli i iskusni psihijatar želi saznati zašto se to dogodilo i ne zadovoljava ga Lewisov, naizgled infantilni odgovor „kad sam sjeo na motocikl nisam vjerovao, kad sam nakon nekoliko minuta stigao na odredište vjerovao sam da je Isus Krist Božji sin.“ Njegov opservacijski način razmišljanja nuka ga da propitkuje razloge zbog kojih je Lewis, usprkos svojoj neupitnoj inteligenciji, podlegao iluziji religije. Lewisovo inzistiranje na ‘udarcu milosti’ koji ga je od korifeja ateizma pretvorio u oduševljenog vjernika, Freud doživljava kao bačenu rukavicu koja u najmanju ruku vrijeđa njegov ego.

U žustroj raspravi koja nekoliko puta eskalira Freudovim nervoznim ispadima, očituje se đentlmentski pristup dvojice intelektualaca koji se u direktnom sukobu različitih mišljenja prije svega jedan prema drugom odnose s uvažavanjem i poštovanjem, ono što modernim polemičarima ponekad nedostaje. Istovremeno, oni se ne skrivaju iza lažne korektnosti i Freud ne zazire od finog cinizma u odgovoru na Lewisove smione i pomalo arogantne tvrdnje kako je u svojoj najnovijoj knjizi uspio pobiti neke njegove čvrste teze i svesti ih na puke pretpostavke. Oni dijele žar potrage za istinom i ne dopuštaju da ih na tom putu uspore lažni obziri. Osim toga, obojica se slažu da je pitanje Boga, najvažnije egzistencijalno pitanje. Prema Freudovom mišljenju, odbacivanje te iluzije dovest će do konačnog oslobođenja čovjeka od njegove neurotične potrebe za autoritetom i zaštitom, prema Lewisu, postojanje Boga čovjekovom životu daje smisao.

Prividni obračun vjere i razuma rasvjetljava duboku potragu čovjeka za smislom, neprolaznu i neobjašnjivu čežnju zajedničku Lewisu, koji je prihvatio postojanje smisla čak i ako ga ne može razumjeti, i Freudu, koji kategorički odbija podložiti se onome što ne može objasniti te i tu neutaživu žudnju svojstvenu svakom čovjeku nastoji znanstveno uokviriti.

Upravo je pokušaj davanja smisla patnji, ono što Freud ne može podnijeti. Na neki način osjeća da je Lewis izdao modernu misao i napredak čovječanstva spuštajući glavu pred misterijem patnje i taj ga dio njegovog obraćenja najviše kopka, uzrujava. Freud se odbija mirno podložiti vlastitim patnjama koje će izvjesno završiti njegovom smrću te se, kao pravi predstavnik samosvjesnog individualca koji pod kontrolom ima sve pa i kraj svog života, odlučuje na samoubojstvo.

U stvarnosti se Freud i Lewis nikada nisu sreli, psihijatar i harvardski profesor dr. Armand Nicholli u svojoj knjizi The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life, sučelio je dvojicu velikih mislilaca 20. st. s različitim pogledima na vjeru i moral te već 30 godina na sveučilištu Harvard provodi istoimeni kolegij. Nicholli u jednom intervjuu kaže kako je ono što ovu neobičnu debatu čini relevantnom u današnjem vremenu činjenica da naš pogled na svijet utječe na ono tko smo i kako živimo naše živote zbog čega je ključno pružiti priliku za kritičko vrednovanje argumenata oba svjetonazora.

Stoga, ova predstava ne donosi provjerene odgovore niti teži tome da proglasi konačnog pobjednika, premda je to možda ono što mi, ateisti i vjernici, očekujemo. Poneki spontani pljesak iz publike tijekom predstave zvuk je pomalo očajničke težnje za potvrdom uvjerenja kad krhkost vlastitih stavova postane preočita i nama samima.

Ovaj susret ponajprije otkriva neodvojivost dvaju suprotnih mišljenja i neku čudnu solidarnost u konačnom suočavanju sa stvarnosti koja nas nemilosrdno podsjeća na neodgovoreno pitanje „Što ako je ipak istina?“

Jer, kao što J. Ratzinger u svom Uvodu u kršćanstvo primjećuje, ni vjernik ni nevjernik ne mogu pobjeći iz dileme čovještva. Kao što vjernika neprekidno prati sumnja u zbilju vlastite vjere i jedino mu  u toj nesigurnosti vjera može egzistirati, tako i nevjernikovu zamisao svijeta kao potpunog i konačnog neprestano ugrožava pitanje krije li se u toj vjeri ipak istina.

Drugim riječima, kaže Ratzinger, obojica „na svoj način sumnjaju i vjeruju, ako se baš ne skrivaju pred samima sobom i pred istinom svog bića.“ To je očito i u trenutku kad Lewis bespomoćno sliježe ramenima pred pitanjem patnje i kad Freud ne može objasniti svoju, naizgled samo profesionalnu, opsesiju religijom.

Možda, pita se spomenuti autor, upravo ta obostrana sumnja može postati mjestom komunikacije jer „ona prijeći i jednog i drugog partnera da se zatvore u svoj vlastiti svijet.“

Lewis i Freud rastaju se brzo i hitro, bez suvišnih procedura, kao da se ništa posebno među njima nije maločas odvilo već su kratko pročavrljali o vremenu. Bez sumnje, njihov razgovor nije ih učinio istomišljenicima. Ipak, dobra volja, hrabrost da iz ljubavi prema istini svoja čvrsta uvjerenja stave na nišan te snaga da iznad svega poštuju dostojanstvo sugovornika učinili su da se njihovi, naizgled nepomirljivi svjetovi dodirnu bar na trenutak.

To je ono zbog čega bi svatko tko se u predstavu uživio mogao poželjeti da su se ova dvojica jednom uistinu i susrela.

 

Written by Tamara Bodor.