“For two thousand years,” wrote Harold Rosenberg, “the main energies of Jewish communities have gone into the mass production of intellectuals.” For Rosenberg, the art critic who belonged to the receding constellation of writers known as the New York Intellectuals, such a claim was something between a boast and a self-justification. The New York Intellectuals were mainly second-generation Americans, whose self-sacrificing immigrant parents won them the opportunities America offered to newcomers, including Jews.
A few years ago, Edward Said was invited to give a lecture at the Freud Society in Vienna, at Berggasse 19 no less, on the subject of "Freud and the Non-European." Then he chose to enact his vocation as an intellectual by gayly throwing a rock at an Israeli guardhouse across the Lebanese border, and the Freud Society withdrew its invitation. "Freud was hounded out of Vienna because he was a Jew," Said explained to The New York Times. "Now I'm hounded out because I'm a Palestinian." It was one of the more extreme expressions of Said's compassion for himself. It put me in mind of an autobiograph
T'HE LOGIC behind the sexual revolution seemed compelling at the time: (1) Sex is fun; (2) Lots of sex will be lots of fun. But there must have been a flaw in the argument somewhere, because just about everyone seems to agree that sexual liberation has brought as much pain as joy, and that its present demise is not something to mourn. Maybe the weak link was the underlying assumption that males and females aren't very different when it comes to sex, love, and romance.
Today, thanks to Freud, the man-on-the-street knows (to quote by an inaccurate memory from Punch) that, when he thinks a thing, the thing he thinks is not the thing he thinks he thinks, but only the thing he thinks he thinks he thinks. Fifty years ago, a girl who sprained her ankle on the eve of a long-looked-forward-to ball, or a man who suffered from a shrewish wife, could be certain of the neighbors’ sympathy; today the latter will probably decide that misfortune is their real pleasure.