Why were most of Abraham's family men?

Family fathers

Literature, psychoanalysis and cultural studies about a mystified type of human being

By Thomas Anz

Discussed books / references

The history of the father figures in literary and scientific texts of the 20th century was largely a history of permanent mystifications, a history of symbolizations, as it were, of divine or diabolical power. Numerous new publications in recent years can give the impression that this story has survived the turn of the century and millennium without a break.

This seems to be contradicted by the increasing number of findings, which, in connection with Alexander Mitscherlich's 1963 image of the "fatherless society", establish the father's loss of importance in family and society. The magazine "Kursbuch", which with its choice of topics is still an important indicator of the problem areas with which our current culture is dominantly concerned, gave its issue in June 2000 the title "The Fathers". As a biological fact, the father has not yet disappeared despite sperm banks, extrauterine fertilization and the technique of cloning, says the Viennese philosopher Konrad Paul Liessmann. "On the level of social relationships and social reputation, however, fathers have long been in retreat. Single mothers, quick divorces after the birth of a child, marriages at a distance and, on the one hand, the forced and on the other hand feared dissolution of traditional family structures have the classic Let father become a relic that hardly plays a significant role in reality, at most is conjured up in memories. "

In the same issue, Henryk M. Broder counters the ideas of Judaism as the epitome of patriarchal order with a reality in which the importance of the father is reduced to that of the sperm donor, bread maker and prayer. "The father has nothing to oppose the dominant-despotic role of the mother in the Jewish family. His task is to submit to himself anew every day, to provide for the maintenance of the family and to say the prayers, i.e. to establish a connection with the Almighty, while the woman raises the children, runs the household and determines the length of the leash that the man wears around his neck. While Judaism appears outwardly as a patriarchy, it is in reality a matriarchy. "

For some years now, reflections on family fathers have been increasing in psychoanalytic publications. The "father research" establishes itself here as a specially designated discipline. In the latest brochure of the meritorious "Psychosozial-Verlag", under the heading "Fathers and Parenthood", three books from the years 2001 and 2002 are displayed that deal with "Men as Fathers" or "The Importance of the Father in Early Childhood", what two of these titles are. The third refers most clearly to the general tendency of this research: "The distant father" (Josef Christian Aigner). The father's loss of social significance had also found an unmistakable expression in psychoanalytic theory and its long-standing fixation on the early mother-child relationship. This is now being counteracted. The "fatherlessness", the "fatherlessness", "the drama of father deprivation" (Horst Petri) or "the disappearance of the fathers" (Luigi Zoja) is now considered a problem that often assimilates these mystifications in dramatic descriptions of the social and psychological consequences who had already shaped the cultural construct of the overpowering, godlike father. For which the fatherlessness is not blamed for everything! Horst Petri, author of the paper on "The Drama of Father Deprivation", which was published in 1999 and is now also available as a paperback, lined up the consequences of a traumatic father loss as a warning in his contribution to the above-mentioned "course book" as follows: Drug addiction, neglect, propensity for violence and crime ". Josef Christian Aigner refers to Matthias Matussek's "overdue remarks on the battle between the sexes" (subtitle of the book "Die vaterlose Gesellschaft"), which caused a sensation in 1998. The "brutalization of the youth", according to Matussek, is a "consequence of their fatherlessness". In the right-wing extremist milieu, young violent criminals who often grew up with single mothers look for "fascist surrogate fathers". Volker Elis Pilgrim's 1986 book about those "mothersons" who became the 'great' violent criminals in history, including Stalin and Hitler, also acts as a key witness for the catastrophic consequences of being far removed from the father. The type of a new father and a psychoanalysis that justifies its necessity promise healing for the individual and for society as a whole. Religious doctrines of salvation can easily be attached to this. On Mother's Day, of all things, a pastor recently preached on the question "Who will show us the way out of a fatherless society?" He put his words on the Internet: "The fatherless society is in reality the godless society that detaches people from their basic roots, leaves them to be on their own and robs them of all security." (http://ember.lycos.de/standreas/texte/muttertag.htm)

The talk of the "fatherless society" goes back to the psychoanalyst Paul Federn. In 1919, after the First World War and the collapse of the German empires, he declared fatherlessness a prerequisite for revolutionary change. Today the diagnosis of "fatherlessness" has become a formula with unmistakably restorative tendencies. They are seldom as open as in the examples given by Richard Herzinger in the "Kursbuch" - to prove his thesis: "The only ones who still look up to their fathers and want to continue their work in faithfulness are the young right-wing people." The article does not speak of Busch junior and senior, but of Jörg Haider, who took on an assignment from his father, a "genuine Nazi from the very beginning". The restorative tendencies of the new father discourse make themselves more latently noticeable where, without being noticed by the authors and their readers, they continue ideas from the 19th century, such as those most prominently developed by Johann Jakob Bachofen.

"The progress from the maternal to the paternal conception of man marks the most important turning point in the history of gender relations." This sentence from Bachofen's extremely influential work "Das Mutterrecht", which was occasionally seen as the beginning of family research in cultural studies, clearly shows how the author assesses the cultural-historical transition from matriarchy to patriarchy: as "progress". Bachofen reproduces the central cultural pattern of interpretation, according to which the relation between femininity and masculinity corresponds to that between nature and culture. As analogies, he cites the opposites of body and mind, night and day, earth and sun, or of the Dionysian and the Apollonian. In the "emphasis on paternity" lies "the detachment of the spirit from the phenomena of nature, in its victorious implementation an elevation of human existence above the laws of material life." "The spiritual" rises above "the physical existence", whereby the "motherhood" belongs to the "bodily side of the human being", while the "fatherly-spiritual principle" enables the human being to "look to the higher regions of the cosmos" to raise. Because "victorious fatherhood is just as decidedly linked to heavenly light as child-bearing motherhood is to the all-giving birth earth".

The Bachofen reception in the context of literary modernism after 1900 adopts these dichotomous patterns, but often reverses the value hierarchies associated with them. Here as there, the constructs of 'father' are closely associated with constructs of 'male' gender identity. These links have only recently been examined in more detail with regard to literary texts and their contexts (cf. the review in literaturkritik.de on Walter Erhart's "Familienmänner"). When the Dadaist, literary anarchist and sexual revolutionary Raoul Hausmann fought out his profeminist struggle for "the abdication of the male spirit" and the "male instinct for order" around 1920, he relied primarily on an unorthodox, cultural revolutionary psychoanalyst who was in the bohemian circles of modernity especially in Expressionism and Dadaism, exerted a tremendous influence: on Otto Gross. In a synthesis of Bachofen's historiography, Nietzsche's philosophy, anarchist, psychiatric and above all psychoanalytic theories, his cultural criticism advocated the liberation of the individual, especially sexual needs of the individual from the alienating authorities of a patriarchally organized society. The conflict between the individual and society, which is pathogenic under the existing conditions, is internalized, mediated by the family, into an intrapersonal "conflict between what is one's own and what is foreign". The solution that Gross 1913 in the expressionist magazine The action propagated, reads: "The revolutionary of today [...] fights against rape in its original form, against the father and against father rights. The coming revolution is a revolution for mother right." All previous revolutions have collapsed "because the revolutionary of yesterday carried authority within himself. Only now can one recognize that the focus of all authority lies in the family, that the connection between sexuality and authority, as it is in the Family with the still valid father law shows that every individuality is in chains. "

Most of the writings published by Otto Gross between 1913 and 1920 were first collected in 1980 in a volume edited by Kurt Kreiler and made available to the public again. Based on this long out of print book, they were reissued two years ago by the major expert Raimund Dehmlow. The edition contains some essays that were not yet accessible in Kreiler's, including the draft "On the functional intellectual education of the revolutionary" published in a "Räte-Zeitung" in 1919. Mother right and communism have become synonyms, psychoanalysis and family politics have become instruments of communist revolution. It is about the "necessity of the destruction of the father right family under the establishment of the communist mother right."

Gross does not understand the established gender characters as given by nature, but as determined by family history. Passivity and masochism of women as well as the tendency towards violent will to power of men are based on "that the existing family order is based on the renunciation of freedom of women." While the mother right "granted women economic and thus sexual and human independence from the individual man", under the "order of father law" only a single man enables a single woman to have motherhood, "and this means material and thus universal dependence the woman of the man for the sake of motherhood. " The woman remains the "alternative between renouncing motherhood and renouncing free self-activity". In one case, this has to manifest itself as a "denial of one's own femininity" and as a "desire for masculinity", in the other in "a human and sexually passive end attitude", in "a masochistic instinctual component".

The historical genealogy of established father and mother roles, widespread gender characters as well as existing power and dependency relationships between the sexes puts all of this up for discussion and opens up scope for other constructions of masculinity and femininity. In literary expressionism, the permanent descriptions of family struggles between fathers and sons are involved. There are struggles over old and new concepts of masculinity, in which at the same time the psychoanalytic descriptions of oedipal conflicts are involved. That construct of masculinity, for example, which is economically defined by the ability to earn not only one's own livelihood but also that of an entire family, is a permanent problematic in Kafka's works, especially in the stories The judgment and The transformation as well as in Letter to the father. Kafka's sons suffer and fail because of these masculinity norms, against whose authority they rebel, but which they have internalized in a self-destructive way. The sons act more successfully against their fathers in the relevant 'family dramas' by Walter Hasenclever (The son) or Franz Werfel (Not the murderer, the murdered man is guilty). In contrast to Kafka, they are not outlived by their fathers, but are freed from them in the end. Her victory demonstrates the assertion of her own masculinity, which wants to differ from that of the father.

"Dear father, dear God?" is the title of a recently published dissertation by Arno A. Gassmann on the father-son conflict by the Prague authors Max Brod, Franz Kafka, Oskar Baum and Ludwig Winter. It deserves the credit of looking beyond Kafka to investigate this conflict comparatively with authors who are hardly known or at least have not yet been examined in more detail from the aspect of the father-son relationship. Unlike Kafka, Brod suffered more from the weakness than from the strength of his father. So the image of God sketched out in Brod's works is not that of an Almighty. The son is thus deprived of the opportunity to deal intensively with his father and to prove his own strength in the process. The ability to rebel against the authority of one's father seems to have been an exclusive proof of masculinity at least since the first literary youth movement of 'Sturm und Drang'. The youth movements remained male-dominated until the late 1960s, including in literary history.

In literary modernity, attributes and spheres of masculinity are called into question in the name of the sons with the authority of the father, which go far beyond mere private family dimensions. In the literary depictions, the family functions both as a mediator and as a model of patriarchal power relations. In an unmistakable reference to Otto Gross, the son receives in Franz Werfel's novella Not the murderer, the murdered man is guilty to his question "What do you mean by - rule of the father?" from an anarchist the answer "Everything! [...] Religion: because God is the father of men. The state: because king or president is the father of the citizens. The court: because judges and overseers are the fathers of those, which human society likes to call criminals. The army: for the officer is the father of the soldiers. Industry: for the entrepreneur is the father of the workers! "

The fact that the father becomes a universal metaphor of social power relations in the context of Expressionism and that this metaphor, together with the traditional stereotypes of masculinity, is at the center of the critique of power remains groundbreaking for the cultural history of anti-authoritarian movements in the 20th century. The studies on authority and family, with which the critical theory of the Frankfurt School constituted itself after the National Socialist seizure of power in the US-American exile and researched the foundations of the "authoritarian character" that made National Socialism possible, the anti-authoritarian student movement around 1968 and not least the patriarchal criticism of the feminist movements participated in these impulses of literary modernity.

In 1971 in London and a year later in a German translation, the book by the anti-psychiatrist David Cooper was extremely resonant with the title The death of the family. With him, the social criticism in the form of family criticism reached a culmination point. The family "repeats itself", according to Cooper, "according to its form in the social structures of the factory, the trade union, the elementary and high school, the university, the trading company, the church, the political parties and the government apparatus, the armed forces, the hospitals in general and mental hospitals in particular, etc. " The difference between reason and insanity, which dominated the book and the whole critical movement of psychiatry at the time, whose conventional evaluations were deconstructed by inversion, made school in the literature of the seventies and eighties. The juxtapositions of mind and nature, rationality and sensuality, head and body, compulsive order and anarchic unstructuredness, normality and madness, typical for their critical thrust of reason, could easily be integrated with traditional stereotypes of masculinity and femininity, albeit with a reversed appreciation Bring harmony. In particular, hysteria could thus be conceived in a positive sense as the feminine other of masculine reason. In the typeface typical of the time The other of reason by Hartmut and Gernot Böhme are the sentences symptomatic of such assessments: "The rise and victory of reason is at the same time the story of the subjection of nature in woman and of the feminine in nature: a victory that only comes about through the strict separation of the male armored subject from Woman and nature is possible. "

In the seventies, the intellectual as well as literary debates with power and domination relationships are reflected predominantly with regard to the family and gender order. Under the motto "The political is the private", the new subjective literature after 1968 relocated the previously more theoretical-abstract discussion of National Socialism to the area of ​​family relationships. Already in Ingeborg Bachmanns Types of deathProject was the father-figure incarnation of the fascist and a form of masculinity that is fatal for the protagonists in various ways. Referring back to Bachmann, Christa Wolfs reflected Kassandra in the 1980s political structures of the former GDR based on the model of the Trojan family and gender order. The "father literature" of the seventies and eighties was written by sons and daughters. Like the sons, the daughters often criticize the father as the symbolic representative of power and law.

The Fathers' books, like the many autobiographical family stories in general, have been processing psychoanalytic knowledge with a similar intensity as academic feminism since the 1970s. Juliet Mitchell's seminal early 1970s treatise on psychoanalysis and feminism culminates in a final chapter entitled "The Holy Family and Femininity". The previous discussion with Freud, Wilhelm Reich and the anti-psychiatrist Ronald D. Laing extends here to include those with Jacques Lacan. Its concepts of the real, imaginary and symbolic father have repeatedly and highly controversially challenged feminist theory formation and its reflection on male and female gender identities. When Lacan subordinated the "symbolic order" of culture to the law and the name of the father, he reproduced and affirmed those family and gender constructs that associate the masculine with culture and the feminine with a precultural nature. Judith Butler's attempt to contrast the dominance of the Oedipus figure in psychoanalytic discourse with the meaning of Antigone (cf. the review of "Antigone's Desires" in literaturkritik.de, https://literaturkritik.de/txt/2001-10/2001-10- 0022.html), called Lacan's father concept a "mystification". It is a mystification in the Bachofen tradition that psychoanalysis also continued in those younger concepts that tried to reevaluate the father in his function by declaring him to be the liberating authority from the dyadic, early childhood mother-child symbiosis. Accordingly, as Horst Petri puts it in the "Kursbuch", "the father offers the child the necessary support if it gets into a crisis when it comes to separation from the mother due to its fear of separation and ambivalence. Leaning towards the father helps it to fulfill its wishes to give up after symbiosis with the mother. " If the mother gives the child support "mainly through her emotionality and linguistic communication", then "the father communicates the world to him through active confrontation, encouragement, encouragement and socially prescribed systems of norms." Only the father enables individuation in this perspective and guides the child on the way from an original natural state into the realm of public culture and civilization.

Practicing in Milan and at the C.G. Jung Institute teaching psychotherapist and publicist Luigi Zoja explains: "The origin of the father principle lies at the interface between nature and culture." While the mother has already taken her position in the animal kingdom, fatherhood is an artificial construction and presupposes a rational way of thinking in terms of evolutionary history, which makes it clear to the man in the first place that he has his share in the creation of the child. In nature one knows nothing about a certain producer of what will be visibly born from a mother at some point. Fatherhood is a cultural achievement. The "psychic principle" or the "construction" of the father is an "overcoming" of "what we are accustomed to call nature." The book continues with attributions of this kind based on evolutionary history. Before the history of evolution, all historical changes of the last centuries are "like whitecaps on the mighty wave of history". The father's authority may have been democratized in recent history and his power may have evaporated in many respects. "But our unconscious," writes the Jungian, "does not simply erase within a few generations that which has shaped it for millennia." And this unconscious is shaped by the archaic image of the strong father. It accepts an unjust father rather than a weak one, and above all wants a father who can assert himself victoriously in the world outside the family. Because in this world the "law of Darwinian evolution applies, according to which the 'good' is synonymous with the ability to optimally ensure survival for yourself and your offspring."

In Luigi Zoja's much-praised book, the talk of the disappearance of fathers, which is critical of culture and modernity, is articulated in one of its currently most reactionary forms. The admonished "respect for the effectiveness of tradition - for symbols, prayers and rites", which is genuinely linked to intact fatherhood, the appeal to men to "return to their collective function in the service of genetic selection" are just harmless indicators of this . The dichotomous thought patterns that shape the use of the concepts of fatherliness and motherliness, masculinity and femininity, nature and culture, are far more problematic.

Josef Christian Aigner's book "Der ferne Vater" is completely different in this respect. It aims to dissolve the confrontations of physical closeness in the early mother-child relationship and disembodied fatherhood, which are also widespread in psychoanalysis. Referring to Freud's description of the "negative Oedipus complex", which focuses on same-sex tenderness between parents and children as well as opposite-sex rivalries, Aigner advocates integrating the "physical dimension of fatherly affection" into early parent-child relationships. To call them "maternal" would only mean continuing the old dichotomies between "maternal" and "paternal". The homophobic body distance and body defenses that are characteristic of patriarchal designs of masculinity have been reproduced and consolidated by many theories. With the physical presence in the early relationship with the child, on the other hand, the father is no longer the representative of a world that is opposite to the "mother-child world" due to his gender, and is no longer the authority that the child out of the narrow symbiotic world Unity with the mother freed. And conversely, when women as mothers have connections to a world other than the domestic-family world, this close symbiosis does not even exist. In such a constellation, Aigner hopes, "the ascription and socialization of rigid gender roles, which psychology and psychoanalysis in turn define as quasi-natural gender ascriptions, could be pushed back step by step."

Aigner's reference to Freud's concept of the "negative Oedipus complex", which, via the libidinal relationship between mother and son or father and daughter, also has that between father and son or mother and daughter in mind, touches on a special kind of cultural taboo. It is so deeply anchored that it was hardly an issue in the cultural history of incest and the incest prohibition. A stimulating contribution by Gert Mattenklott draws attention to this in the volume "Fathers and Sons" edited by Bernd Wirkus, which is due to a scientific symposium with participants mainly from the area around the Berlin Research Center for Historical Anthropology. "There is no culturally sanctioned form of love between fathers and sons, let alone an erotic one. It has been so thoroughly cultured and into an underworld that it has not even been washed up with the popular discourse of the abused child. [...] The fear of violating the ban seems culturally to have survived all education. " Freud's references to the problem complex escaped Mattenklott's attention, although the essay appears to be well acquainted with psychoanalysis and its cultural context. He goes into detail on a fundamental source of Freud's "Totem and Tabu", on the mythological compendium "The Golden Bough" by James George Frazer, and incidentally also on the "scandalous robber pistol about the psychoanalyst Otto Gross, whom his father, a famous criminalist , kidnapped with the assistance of the police and interned in an asylum. " And what the unfriendly views Stephen Dedalus expresses about fathers in "Ulysses" have to do with James Joyce's reading of psychoanalytic writings is well documented here.

Psychoanalytically inspired, Mattenklott finally shows himself in his surprising interpretation of a picture that he counts among the rare testimonies to the aforementioned taboo: "The only iconographic motif known to me that shows an ecstatically excited father bending over his naked son is Abraham , with the drawn dagger over Isaac on the sacrificial stone. In addition to the Sebastian iconography, the scene is one of the very few that allow a beautiful youthful male nude to be shown in the Christian-Jewish tradition. The license is tied to the desirous Phallus becomes a dagger. Abraham, the grown man, may only melt into the body of the loved one at the price of death; penetrate the son only by sacrificing him. "

The volume "Fathers and Sons", which occasionally also deals with mothers and daughters, shows overall how the perspectives of very different scientific disciplines can productively complement each other under thematic aspects of historical cultural anthropology. In addition to instructive articles on the "family novels" in the literary colportage (Gert Ueding) or in the more recent children's literature (Gundel Mattenklott), philosophers, sports scientists and educationalists have found many new perspectives on the subject. The tendency taken by Dieter Lenzen right from the start of telling European cultural history as a catastrophic "dismantling" of a "father concept" that was once binding long ago is fortunately not followed by the other contributions. The educational scientist Lenzen, author of the 1991 book "Fatherhood. From Patriarchy to Alimentation", is doing the process here in the name of the dismantled father of modern society and culture. Whether the French Revolution, the Marxism of the 19th century, the 1968 movement or feminism, in this perspective they all contributed to dismantling fatherhood in such a way that the poor, exploited fathers were essentially left with only one function: the " alimentary ". According to Lenzen, newer tendencies to reshape the child-father relationship are devalued by the fact that they only serve the mothers' need for relief. Instead of "dismantling", Lenzen occasionally also writes "liquidation", referring to Kafka and the youth movement of that time he speaks of "denunciation". It is astonishing what resentments that are critical of modernity and the Enlightenment can now be publicly spread again in the name of a good old patriarchy.

Note: Some passages in this article that do not refer to the new publications listed have been taken word for word from Christine Kanz / Thomas Anz: Family and Gender Roles in Modern German Literary History. Questions, research results and research perspectives (Part I). In: Jahrbuch für Internationale Germanistik 32, 2000, H. 1, S. 19-44.



Class book. The fathers. No. 140.
Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek near Hamburg 2000.
192 pages, 9.20 EUR.
ISBN-10: 3871341401

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Otto Gross: From sexual hardship to social catastrophe. With an essay by Franz Jung on the work and life of Otto Gross.
Edition Nautilus, Hamburg 2000.
192 pages, EUR 13.30.
ISBN-10: 3894013575

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Josef Christian Aigner: The distant father. For the psychoanalysis of father experience, male development and the negative Oedipus complex.
Psychosozial-Verlag, Giessen 2001.
440 pages, EUR 35.30.
ISBN-10: 3898060616

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Bernd Wirkus (ed.): Fathers and Sons.
UVK Verlagsgesellschaft, Konstanz 2001.
292 pages, 29.70 EUR.
ISBN-10: 3896699962

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Luigi Zoja: The Disappearance of the Fathers.
Translated from the Italian by Rita Seuss.
Walter Verlag, Düsseldorf 2002.
294 pages, EUR 28.00.
ISBN-10: 3530401382

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