The Aleph, After Borges Truth and Fiction in Theatre and Psychoanalysis

Mavis Himes, Ph.D., C. Psych.

Last year, I saw a performance of The Aleph, After Borges, a one man play adapted from the short story by Jorge Borges and played by Diego Matamoros from Soulpepper Theatre Company (Toronto). Having been so moved by the play – its multiple layering, its themes of reality and illusion, memory and aging, performance and acting - I contacted Diego, expressed my interest in a dialogue for a series I was creating entitled “Psychoanalysis and the Arts: In Conversation.”

We met, talked over coffee, and without much persuasion on my part, Diego agreed to participate. I remember leaving that first meeting and feeling a special kinship; in spite of the discipline differences, we were speaking a common language about taking risks, the element of surprise and improv in theatre and analysis, the process of transmission, the place of uncertainty and openness in performance and analysis.

It is clear that there is an affinity between the dramatic arts and the unconscious. The unconscious itself also appears as a drama, punctuated with a sequence of acts, scenes, roles and characters. This is most evident in the landscape of the dream. Not surprisingly, Freud referred to the dream, considered the royal road of the unconscious as ‘the Other scene.’ For Freud, the interpretation of dreams was the highway, the route par excellence that could bring man to a knowledge of the fundamental riddles that inhabit his mysterious reality.

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