On this day last week, I went to Freud, the bar in Jericho. This is relevant to the cultural-historical concerns of this column because ‘Freud’ also refers to the founder of psychoanalysis. Freud was a historical figure, and like Freud’s historic work, my trip to ‘Freud’ is also a regrettable entry into a long catalogue of awkward social history. In a further parallel, ‘Freud’ the bar, much like Freud’s work, has a great deal to say about culture and what it reveals about the social and psychological structures implicit in our collective enterprises.
‘Cat and Cucumber’ – sounds like one of those abstract but oddly figurative conjunctions that comprise the title of a provincial Wetherspoon’s. Like Wetherspoon’s, beneath the veneer of innocuous blandness there lies a more sinister reality. There is indeed a highly sinister subtext to the social and psychological phenomenon that is the success of cats being filmed in the presence of cucumbers. In diagnosing this symptomal point in our contemporary social existence, the joint historical-cultural interests of Freud the person and ‘Freud’ the bar, come together with all the probability of a successful hook-up over a Wetherspoon’s Thursday ‘curry club’.
In said videos, an unsuspecting cat is framed in the quotidian mise en scène of a family kitchen. The kitchen in its function of corporate nourishment is naturally the stage for the expression of Oedipal transactions. Indeed the ingestion of produce from the mother and father has a clear resonance with the intermingling of familial fluids that the paternal law prohibits (with the slowness of the staff at the cocktail bar, you all know why no fluids ever get mingled.)
In the face of this dramatic Oedipal encounter between the prohibition of the symbolic law and the sexual real that is expressed in the act of eating, the table becomes a veritable Greek tragedy (the Euripidean catharsis of finding a table having finally ordered a drink is poetic, I tell you). The poor cat becomes the Oedipus of modern times. Presented with an obscenely phallic cucumber, the feline cat jumps at the perverse presence of this erect grocery. The torture of the cat via the cucumber is a way for the YouTube savvy family to cathartically enact the repulsion and desire within the nuclear dynamic – on the cat. I won’t tell you how that relates to my trip to Freud…