Betty Friedan’s Sigmund Freud Footnotes

Sigmund Freud, by Max Halberstadt (cropped).jpgThe footnotes in Betty Friedan’s seminal 1963 classic The Feminine Mystique are as good as the text:

“During the years Freud was germinating his sexual theory, before his own heroic self-analysis freed him from a passionate dependence on a series of men, his emotions were focused on a flamboyant nose-and-throat doctor named Fliess. This is one coincidence of history that was quite fateful for women. For Fliess had proposed, and obtained, Freud’s lifelong allegiance to, a fantastic ‘scientific theory’ which reduced all phenomena of life and death to ‘bisexuality,’ expressed in mathematical terms through a periodic table based on the number 28, the female menstrual cycle. Freud looked forward to meetings with Fliess ‘as for satisfying hunger and thirst’. He wrote to him: ‘No one can replace the intercourse with a friend that a particular, perhaps feminine side of me, demands.’ Even after his own self-analysis, Freud expected to die on the day predicted by Fliess’ periodic table, in which everything could be figured out in terms of the female number 28, or the male number 23, which was derived from the end of one female menstrual period to the beginning of the next.”

Footnote 20, for Chapter 5 The Sexual Solipsism of Sigmund Freud, The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan, 1963.

Photograph: Max Halberstadt, 1921.

Ronald Reagan Warns the Growers of Topanga

Patti Davis’ The Way I See It is obviously a much better read than Ivanka Trump’s Women Who Work or Chelsea Clinton’s It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired, and Get Going!. For instance, Patti wrote about growing 8 foot-tall marijuana plants in the ‘rich, black soil’ of the old chicken coop at her secluded bungalow in Topanga Canyon. She aired out her house before her parents came for dinner in 1977. “It was early November,” she recalled, “And what was left of my marijuana crop was in plastic Baggies, hidden under my bed, waiting to be sold.”

“When we moved into the the living room after dinner, my father started talking about  helicopters flying over the canyons, looking for marijuana plants and people to bust.

‘This is the time of year when the plants are harvested,’ he said, settling into an old oak rocker that had cost me about ten dollars at a garage sale. ‘Thank God I harvested mine early,’ I thought… ‘But does he know? Is that why he’s saying this?’ I will never know the answer, but I suspect he was trying to warn me. It wouldn’t look good if his daughter was busted.

‘I have information because of my years as governor,’ he was continuing, ‘and Topanga is one area they’re going to be concentrating on because a lot of people break the law around here and grow drugs. I don’t know if any of your friends…’ His sentence trailed off, and I abruptly changed the subject.

But after they left that night I called several other growers I knew and passed along the information that had been leaked to me– that narcotics agents would soon be circling Topanga in helicopters.

‘Your father told you this?’ one of them said. ‘Sort of like a double agent kind of thing? I mean, he’s giving us tips about when the narcs are coming?’

‘Something like that, I guess. I’m not really sure what his reasons were…’

‘Well, do you think he’d know exactly when the helicopters are coming? Maybe he has the schedule or something.’

My father was very popular in Topanga for the next few weeks. People were camouflaging their marijuana plants because they’d gotten tipped off by the former governor of California that Topanga was a big target area for busts that year. I didn’t hear about anyone getting caught.”

The Way I See It: An Autobiography, Patti Davis, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1992.

Nancy Reagan Dreams About Raisa Gorbachev

“I remember we were standing in the living room of Laurel Lodge at Camp David shortly before the President’s Saturday morning radio address. Nancy came in and said she’d had a dream the night before. During her audience with the Pope, the Pope’s ring had fallen on the floor. Nancy said she picked it up but couldn’t find the Pope. She went back to where the purses were, and there was the Pope. But the Pope was a woman with red hair. I wrote it down at the time because I thought it was an interesting historical detail that the First Lady would talk about her dreams. Only after the Geneva summit did I realize that the red-haired lady she was dreaming about was probably Raisa.”

White House Photographer Terry Arthur, Interview with Kitty Kelley.

Photograph Official White House photograph C44086-07, from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Grocery List

Toby Young’s slam of Elizabeth Wurtzel’s More, Now, Again in The Observer was pretty funny (“…Wurtzel’s overweening self-regard oozes from every sentence. On page 61, for instance, she congratulates herself on having done a good job of bringing up her cat: ‘For some reason, he’s turned out well. I did something right with him.’) The fact that Wurtzel spent time “describing the contents of her larder” seemed to him particularly egregious, though he confessed to admiring her chutzpah. “She’s gone one better than foisting her diary on her publishers: she’s actually made them pay to print her shopping lists!” I loved every one of her lists of amphetamines, television shows, and high-fructose corn syrup cereals. Who but Elizabeth Wurtzel could write a grocery list like this? 

“Yogurt, cereal, bagels, Lean Cuisine dinners, orange and grapefruit juices in plastic bottles–it’s supposed to be fresh-squeezed, but it’s not. I hate that. When I was little and we visited Florida, there were grove stands everywhere, you could get fresh-squeezed juice in roadside 7-Elevens. When did that stop? When did everything good go away? The whole world has gone to hell.”

Elizabeth Wurtzel, More, Now, Again, Virago Press, 2002.