Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Odyssey- Polyphemus: proto-oral and oral deutero

In a previous post I drew attention to the hand as a psychosexual component in the literature and also placed it in the oral deutero stage with Chiron.

In the Odyssey the encounter with Polyphemus, the cyclops, illustrates the encounter with the hand in a sequence.

1. defusion from oral father substitute to proto -oral:  

He began to eat like a mountain lion, leaving nothing, devouring flesh and entrails and bones and marrow, while we in our tears and helplessness looked on at these monstrous doings and held up imploring hands to Zeus.

But when the Kyklops had filled his great belly with the human flesh that he had devoured and the raw milk he washed it down with he laid himself on the cavern floor with his limbs stretched out among his beasts. Then with courage rising I thought at first to go up to him, to draw the keen sword from my side and stab him in the chest, feeling with my hand for the spot where the midriff enfolds the liver; but second thoughts held me back, because we too should have perished irremediable; never could we with all our hands have pushed away from the lofty doorway the massy stone he had planted there. 

The stone blocking the door suggests an interesting connection to the phantasies Klein notes of being inside the mother's body. Phantasies of being swallowed which are linked to the oral-triangular conflict are paired with the proto oral stage phantasies of being trapped between the parents (i.e. Cronos separates Uranus and Gaia by severing the former's genitals).

2. Creation of the father imago: 

 Next to the sheep-pen the Kyklops had left a great cudgel of undried olive-wood, wrenched from the tree to carry with him when it was seasoned. As we looked at it, it seemed huge enough to be the mast of some great dark merchant-ship with its twenty oars . . . so long and so thick it loomed before us. I stood over this, and myself and cut off six feet of it; then I laid it in front of my companions and told them to make it smooth; smooth they made it, and again I stood over it and sharpened it to a point, then took it at once and put it in the fierce fire to harden.

‘Kyklops, you ask what name I boast of. I will tell you, and then you must grant me as your guest the favour that you have promised me. My name is Noman; Noman is what my mother and father call me; so likewise do all my friends.’

The phallus appears and marks the end of the proto stage and the creation of the oral father imago. What distinguishes the (pre-trito) oral ego ideal from the anal and the phallic is that it doesn't have a social ontology in which one is in competition with others. At the anal stage one competes with all others for the single anal phallus and at the phallic stage one competes for the polyphalli that represent different skills or fields of knowledge to conquer. At the oral stage, when a deutero non-universal adaptation is formed, one enshrines a part of ego ideal development in which a lack is experienced that has no competition with others to fill it.

3. The deutero defused interaction: 

To these words of mine the savage creature made quick response: ‘Noman that one shall come last among those I eat; his friends I will eat first; this is to be my favour to you.’

racked with anguish, lamenting loudly, the Kyklops groped for the great stone and pushed it from the door-way, then in the doorway he seated himself with outstretched hands, hoping to seize on some of us passing into the open among the sheep--so witless did he take me to be...
their master, consumed with hideous pains, felt along the backs of all the rams as they stood still in front of him. The witless giant never found out that men were tied under the fleecy creatures' bellies.

After the oral father imago is split and the deutero stage created, the significant interaction between the cyclops and Odysseus and his men involves the blinded Polyphemus groping with his hand, trying to seize, feeling for the men.


- there is fear of men being eaten in the proto-stage and it is coupled with being trapped in the cave

- after the father imago is encountered Odysseus creates a special (deutero) relationship with Polyphemus but is still threatened with being eaten and it is also coupled with the anxiety of being seized or handled  

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