"Archive Fever"

Derrida dedicated his presentation at the 1994 conference "Memory: the Question of Archive" and subsequent publication to Yerushalmi for his 'handsome' book Freud's Moses: Judaism Terminable and Interminable

Derrida excavates Yerushalmi's archival moment in which he became the

of the Jacob Freud's Hebrew dedication in the family Bible, written to Sigmund Freud on his thirty-fifth birthday in May, 1891. (Yerushalmi:1991 plate 2) The entire text in Hebrew and English is included in the appendix to Yerushalmi's final dramatic, audacious chapter of Freud's Moses entitled "Monologue with Freud." Yerushalmi addresses Professor Freud's spectre in a "fiction which [he] somehow do[es] not feel to be fictitious." (Yerushalmi 1991:81) Freud's own secrecy rivals that of Goethe who was "...a great self-revealer, but also in the abundance of autobiographical records, a careful concealer." (Freud 1930:212 cited in 1991:81)

Jacob Freud Inscription (Translation)

The inscription was written in Melitzah, "a mosiac of fragments and phrases from the Hebrew Bible as well as from rabbinic literature or the liturgy, fitted together to form a new statement of what the author intends to express at the moment. Melitza, in effect, recalls Walter Benjamin's desire to some day write a work composed entirely of quotations.' (Yeruslami Freud's Moses: 71)

Yerushalmi questioned why the father would write this inscription to his son in Hebrew, if the son, Sigmund Freud knew no Hebrew. Freud's father had memorized these phrases; they came from his heart spontaneously. Yerushalmi described this process comparing it to Eliot's use of quotations in The Waste Land. 'In the transposition of a quotation from the original (in this case canonical) text to a new one, the meaning of the original context may be retained, altered, or subverted. In any case the original context trails along as an invisible interlinear presence, and the readers, like the writer, must be aware of these associations if there are to savor the new text to the full.' ( Freud's Moses: 72) The following text provides the sources in []as revealed by Yerushalmi in the appendix of Freud's Moses:
1 'Son who is dear to me, Shelomoh, [Jeremiah]
2 In the seventh in the days of your the years of your life [Genesis] the Spirit of the Lord began to move you [Judges]
3 and spoke within you: Go, read in my Book that I have written [Exodus]
4 and there will burst open for you the wellsprings of understanding, knowledge and wisdom.[18 Benedictions]
5 Behold, it is in the Book of Books, from which sages have excavated and
6 lawmakers learned [Numbers, Judges] knowledge and justice.(
7 a vision of the Almighty did you see; (Numbers) you heard and strove to do, [Exodus]
8 and you soared upon the wings of the Spirit.
9 Since then the Book has been stored [Deuteronomy] like the fragments of the Tablets 10 in an ark [Babylonian Talmud] with me.
11 For the day on which your years were filled to five and thirty
12 I have put upon a cover of new skin [Numbers]
13 and have called it: "Spring up, O well, sing ye unto it!"[Numbers]
14 and I have presented it to you as a memorial [Exodus]
15 and as a reminder

['...the one and the other at once [...] and we have, perhaps in the economy of these two words the whole of the archival law: anamnesis, mneme, hypomnema.' Derrida Archives Fever.:23]
of love from your father,
16 who loves you with everlasting love. [Jeremiah] Jacob son of R'Sh[elomoh] Freid [sic]
17 In the capital city of Vienna 29 Nisan [5]651 6 May [1]891
( Freud's Moses: 105)

Derrida describes the

arch-archiving of the family Bible of the

arch-patriarch of psychoanalysis in the



prison cell


reservoir (Derrida 1995:23)

Freud's collection of antiquities was exhibited in a travelling exhibition in 1989. None of the exhibition items were Jewish, leading Yerushalmi to believe that Freud did not possess any specifically Jewish objects. Exhibition curator Dr. Gamwell informed Yerushalmi in 1990, after he had sent off his manuscript, that at the Freud Museum in London, objects had been found "which are related to Freud's Jewishness."

Included in the list of items was this Hannukah Menorah which was in Freud's study during his lifetime. (1991:111)The inscription on the 14th - 16th century Menorah reads, "For the commandment is a lamp and the Teaching is light." (1991: Plate 7) The postcard to Karl Abraham (13/09/1913) shows the arch of Titus. On the image depicting the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD (CE) with soldiers removing the Menorah from the Temple, Freud wrote, "The Jew survives it!" (Yerushalmi (1991) Freud's Moses: Judaism Terminable and Interminable)


Contact Maureen Flynn-Burhoe 2000 for comments, corrections and copyright concerns.