Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Sigmund Freud: Moses and Monotheism
To look back so many years one sees 1937, through its major events, as a landmark year. Of gathering storm clouds battling against the tides of change and progress. The build-up towards war in Europe and Asia. Spain engulfed in civil war while Italy dominates Ethiopia with a heavy hand. Picasso would finish "Guernica", George VI & Elizabeth crowned("The Kings Speech", great movie.), General Motors recognized the united Auto Workers Union, F.D.R in his 2nd term, and the first issue of "Detective Comics" would be published(It would go on to be one of longest running comics to date. 27 issues after the 1st "The Batman" would make his first appearance.)Amelia Earhart and Fred Noon would disappear, and H.P lovecraft died.In a way 1937 was a very good year. One year before "The Third Reich's" occupation of Austria forced him to take refuge England, Freud would publish "Moses and Monotheism"(Imago). A short book, but the kind you end up reading several times or more, that would offend many in England, the U.S. and Heaven knows where else. Freud claimed, through "Psyhcoanalysis", that Moses was an Egyptian, and also that he was killed in a rebellion by the people he was leading, at the time. The rebels being unable to endure his harsh hand, temper, and the strictness of his "religion", a religion more then likely ahead of its time. Now of course the Egyptian religion being comprised of many "Gods", ceremonies, and Idols does not fit with the command of "One God", "no graven images", etc. But there was a time when the Egyptians worshiped one God, mostly by force. He was crowned Pharaoh Amenhotep IV then change it to "Akhenaton"('Living sprit of Aten'), as a sign to the "One God", "Aten". When you look at his face you can see looks like his mother, Queen Tiye. The religion professed the "Aten" was above a god, an all purveying force that is the essence of life. It "spurns sacrifice and ceremonial; he demands only belief and a life of truth and Justice". Moses was probably an adherent of this religion, while Pharaoh was alive, maybe a member of court. The people of Egypt at the time and the priests of the other gods didn't mind Pharaohs beliefs. Its when he stopped giving money to temples, disbanded the priesthoods of the other gods, and out in public, good god!, professing his f@#king! "beliefs" is when things got real bad. He also took the names of gods off records, temples, changed statues, and placed a ban on images pertaining to anything but "Aten". Keep in mind when the priests didn't have the money to buy the goods for the temples(incense, animals, plants, drugs, alcohol, flowers, papyrus, new statues etc.) the people they buy from don't get paid, the people who make and gather these things, decorate etc, don't get paid. Where did the money go? to build a new capital and glorify the "Aten". To some, naturally, this black man had lost his god damn mind. When Pharaoh died(they had quite the party, you could hear the cheering from the Sinai desert.) and many of the followers of "Aten" had to flee for their lives, Moses being one of them. With his close followers(the Levites of old, Egyptians according to Freud)and some if not all, of a large amount the Jews leaving as well. After the rebellion in the desert(and his killers buried Moses, or threw him in a ditch) the people went through a "latency period", joined the religion of "Jahve"(according to Eduard Meyer), due to "Midiantes" they dwelled amongest. The Levites, "we may suppose that a fair number of these Moses people escaped the fate that overtook him and his religion", with others would not forget the religion of their master, honored his memory, and observed his great teachings. Although a minority, they were more then likely culturally superior, in their way, to the rest."They exercised a more important influence on the later development of the modern Jewish religion because they brought with them a tradition the others lacked". Sooner or later the people would develop a deep yearning for the man they had killed, this naturally lead to them glorifying him and his teachings, out of guilt, love, and coming to see the beauty in what they could not understand. This does explain the need to re-write what happened, and the notion of the messiah as a hope for the return of Moses as the Saviour of the Israelites. Similar to when someone you knew for a while dies, then suddenly their great, remembered as so much more, yet you really didn't know this person that well. This would be part of what would push later "prophets", those of the line of original Levites and others to preach the old "Mosaic" doctrine. "The efforts of the prophets met with enduring success; the doctrines with which they re-established the old beliefs became the permanent content of the Jewish religion". Freud goes so much deeper with his theory, eventually showing how he thinks the guilt of killing Moses is inherited through the generations; this guilt then drives the Jews towards religion to make them feel better. Although his theory cannot be proven in every aspect, it does present something so engaging, it becomes fun to think about it and his(Freud's) methods.
Over the next few months we'll be collecting the opinions of others. Rabbi's, Scholars, random people off the streets, and pretty girls of course. Until then, cheers! "Art is the reason, art is the way". K.K.W