Lecture on the Psychoanalytic Properties of Books and Boys, Part One

At the Freud Museum in London, a naked young man is lying face-down on that couch.

His voluptuous form pressed against the psychedelia of the rug draped over the couch.

Has there ever been a sight more sumptuous? He's asleep. Although he’s technically a

man, we prefer the word boy, which, depending on the poetic context, carries less or

more psychic weight. The boy has been placed under our observation. A poem, like a

boy, is full of latent desire and emotion, a substitute for something. An original edition of

The Interpretation of Dreams also lies on the couch face-down, open to page 41: the

danger of sleep being disturbed by dreams must however, be guarded against. The boy

must have fallen asleep reading. His dreams are inaccessible to us, like the meaning of

this poem. Whatever you do, don’t wake him. They say beneath that Persian opulence,

the couch is falling apart.

Lecture on the Virtues of Abandoned Writing: A One-Act Play

A chorus of three Austrian Instagram boys with amazing Alexander the Greatesque hair

work out in a gym situated in the foyer of the Freud Museum in Vienna.

Gabriel: Some days, I just want to abandon writing books altogether, give up

writing—as a practice, a way of thinking, a course of action.

Laurenz: I feel you bro. I, however, am more interested in writing without abandon, with

a complete lack of textual inhibition or restraint.

Santavy: Yes, yes, you rascals, but let us take these thoughts even further. Let us ponder

the possibility of intentionally discarding the book before it is “finished”, denying the

material object an attractive surface appearance at the final stage of manufacture, what

the bourgeoisie deem “publishing.” The desired goal: leaving the textual object


All: No more books, no more boys, all that matters is the libidinal energy of inscription!

Lecture on The Psychoanalytic Properties of Books and Boys, Part Two

At the Freud Museum in Vienna, a naked young man is lying on that couch. He's lying on

his side, posed like Ingres’ Odalisque or perhaps Manet's Olympia. I'm sitting nearby, at

Freud’s desk, writing a poem, but what I call a poem might equally be described as a

trans-valuation of poetic values. The boy's flicking through an original edition of Über

den Traum, the radically abridged version of Die Traumdeutung, but he's not reading.

He's daydreaming. Freud wrote of daydreams as if they are tangible, but what he fails to

see is that unlike a book or a boy, you cannot hold a daydream in your hand. The couch is

of course not the original, nor the desk, the originals are safe in London, these objects are

imitations: a boy, like a poem, relies on a procedure of displacement and condensation.

When his daydream dissolves, the poem ends.

Lecture on Freud, Poetry, and Butter

The poem isn’t working.

Abandon poetry.

Rub butter into Freud.

A poem is a wish and

The fulfillment of that wish is

The content of the poem.

Rub butter and read:

A poem, neither pure derangement,

Nor pure irrationality.

Rub butter proceed

To the Freud Museum

NW3 5SeX.

Rub butter into

Every surface, that sofa,

Don't forget the Baedeker,

I mean Biedermeier cabinets.

Continue the process:

A poem is a playing of functions,

Language freed of itself,

Without control and without end.

Continue until the cathexis

Is creamy, until you dream of

A poem that cannot be

Denied, destroyed, or interpreted.

Butter Poem: A Performance

The boy lies face down on

The floor of the poem.

A stick of butter is placed on the boy’s back,

At the base of his spine.

Butter is made by agitating milk or cream.

A poem is made by agitating images.

The act of making butter or writing a poem can be performative.

The poem’s latent content [ butterfat]

Must be separated from its manifest content [buttermilk].

Language is churned until the poet and the poem are

Brought to a mutual state of agitation.

In that this is a collection of cathected ideas,

It is not so much a poem, as a complex.

Throughout the poem, the boy is perfectly still.

When the butter melts, the poem ends.

Alistair McCartney is the author of The Disintegrations and The End of the World Book, two experimental novels published with University of Wisconsin Press. The Disintegrations is the recipient of The Publishing Triangle’s Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBTQ Fiction. TEOTWB was a finalist for the PEN USA Fiction Award and the Publishing Triangle's Edmund White debut fiction award. His poetry and cross-genre writing has appeared in journals such as Hotel, Fence, Light/Air, LITStand, 3:AM, Vestiges, Nat.Brut, Concision, Animal Shelter (Semiotexte), Pilot Press's Paul Thek Anthology, and Queer Quarterly. He is currently working on a book of poetry and a novel. Originally from Australia, he lives in Los Angeles, where he is Teaching Faculty in Antioch University's MFA program.