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‘THE STANDARD EDITION OF THE COMPLET PSYCHOLOGIUAL WORKS OF SIGMUND FREUD ‘Translated fom the German nde the Geel aitosip of JAMES STRAGHEY In Caboraton with ANNA. FREUD Asised by ALIX STRAGHEY and ALAN TYSON voiume xiv (aa4.1916) On the History of the Psycho-Analytic ‘Movement Papers on Metapsychology wd Other Works LONDON THE HOGARTH PRESS AND THE INSTITUTE OF PSYCHO-ANALYSIS NSF 63092 ‘VERGANGLICHKEXT (2) Gemux Eomoss: 1816 In Dar Lond Grether 1714-1010, Stagact: Dewtiche ‘Vevlagaanstalt. Fp. 37-8. 1926 Amanat 1927, 38-42 1923 GS 11, 301-4, 1916 GLH, 10, 986-261, () Escusie Transtar: ‘On Transenes? 1942. In, 7 Postardnaly 23 (2}, Bd. (Te, James Strachey.) 1950 CP, 5, 79-80. (Same watson) ‘The presen translation isa very lightly altered reprint ofthe one published in 1950, “This cay was writen in November, 1915, a the invitation ‘of the Berner Goethibund (dhe Berlin Goethe Society) fr a fommemorative volume they issued inthe fellowing year wader ‘the title of Das Land Geter (Goethe's County). This elaborately [produced volume iucluded sarge numberof contibntions fom, trel-known writers and arise past and preven, such a¢ Yor Bulovs, von Brentano, Ricarda Hoch, Hauptmann and Lieber- mann. The German orginal (apart irom the pitare it gives of Freud's flings about the war, which was then in itz second year) ib excellent evidence ot his trary powers: Its ofinterest fo note that the essay includes a statement of the theory of mourning contained in ‘Mourning and Melancholia’ (19176), twhich Freud had wttten some months before, but which wat ‘ot published until wo yems later. ON TRANSIENCE [Nor Jong ago T went on a summer walk through a smiling ‘countryside inthe company ofa tacitum frend and ofa youn Inu already famous poet. The poet admired the beauty of the Scene around us bat felt no joy in it. He was disturbed by the ‘thought that all this beauty was Eted to extinction, that ‘would vanish when winter came, like all hursam beauty and al the beauty and splendour dhat mea have created or may create All that he would otherwise have loved and admited seemed to him to be shorn ofits worth by the transience which wae its om, "The pronenes to decay ofall thats beausfil and perfect can, as we know, give rite to two different implies in he mind. The fone leads to the aching despondency felt by the young post ‘while the other leads to rebellion agains the fact aera Nol itis impossble that allthis loveliness of Nature and Art, of the ‘world four sensations and of the world outside, wil realy fade away into nothing, Te would be too senslew and too pre- “sumptuous to believe it, Somehow or ether this lovelines must be able to pent and to escape all the powers of destruction ‘ut this demand for immortality ism product of our wishes ‘two unmistakable to lay claim to reality: what ie painfal may rome theless be tri. could not see my way to dispute the transience ofall things, noe could Tint upon an exception in fevour of what is beausfal and perfect. But T did dispute the [pesmi poet's view thatthe transience of what i besatfal {Involves any las in is worth ‘On the contrary, an increase! Transence valve is searity value in time. Limitation in the posbity of an enjoyment ‘ates the value of the eajoyment. It was incomprehensible, T declared, that the thought ofthe wansience of beauty should {nteefze with our joy in its regard the beauty of Nase, exch itis destroyed by winter it comes again next yea, eo that ‘in relation tothe length of our lives it ean in fct be regarded as ternal. The beauty ofthe human form and face vanish forever 2 feud spent rt of Aug 195, nde Dolemite, bu the entity this companions eat be sabe) ae ON TRANSIENCE, ln the course of our ovm lives, but thar evanescence only lends them 2 fresh charm, A ower that blosoms only for 9 single ight docs not seem to us on tat account les lovely. Nor ean T ‘understand any better why the beauty and perfection of a work fof aft oF of am inellectual achievement aol loge its worth because ofits temporal limitation. A time may indeed come When the pictures aud slates which we admire today will crumble to dust, or race of men may follow us who no longer ‘understand the Works of our poels and thinker, ara geological fpoch may even arrive when all imate Kfe upon he cath ‘ceases; but suce the value of allthis beauty and perfection is ‘determined only by is significance for our oven emotional ives, ie has ao need to survive us and is therefore independent of abeolute duration, “Those considerations appeared wo me incontestable; but T noticed that I had mace no impresion either upon the poet oF tupon my Head. My failure led me to infer that some powerfal emotions fet was at work which was ciasbing the judge= ‘ent and I believed later that Thad discovered what ic wa. ‘Wh spelt their enjoyment of beauty mast have been a zevalt Sn their minds against mourning. The idea that all his beauty ‘was transient ws giving thes wo sensitive minds a fretste of ‘mourning over it decease; andy since the mind instinctively recoil from anything that ia pail, they fel their enjoyment of beauty interfered with by thoughts of its transience, ‘Mourning over the los of something that we have loved oF adiired seems s0 natural tothe layman that he regards it FelGevident, ut to peychclogits mourning is grea add, one of those phenomena which cannot themselves be explained but to which other obscuriis ean be traced back. We poses, sit seems, & cerain amount of eapacty for love—what we call bido-which in che earliest stages of development is diected towards our own ego, Later, hough sill ac avery ealy time, this bdo is diverted fm the ego on to objects, which ae thus ina sente taken into our ego. I the objects are destroyed or i they are let to us, cur capacity fr love (our ibid) is once more Tiberate and ic ean thea ether take other objec instead or can temporarily return tothe ego, But wy ic that this detachment ‘of libido ffom its objects should be such a painful process i a iystery 10 us and we have not hitherto been able o frame any ‘hypothesis co account for it. We only ee that libido clings to its ON TRANSIENCE so objects and will not renounce thote that are lst even when a Substitute lies ready to hand. Such shen is mouraing [My conversation with the poet took place in the stramer before the war. A year later the war broke aut and robbed the ‘world of its beauties. Tt desuoyed uot only the beauty of the countrysides through which it pased and the works of art which i met with on its path but it alo shatered one pride in the achievements of our civilization, our admiration for many Dhilesophers and arse and our hopes of final triumph over the diferences between nations and races It tarnished de ty impartallty of our science, it revealed ou ints i all theit nakednes: and let loose the evil spirits within us which we thought had been tamed for ever by centuries of continvens education by the noblest minds, It made our country small again and made the rest ofthe world far remote, Tt robbed ut of very much that we had loved, and showed us how ephemeral ‘were many things that we had regarded as changelest. "We eannot be ruprisel that our libido, thus bereft of 0 many ofits objects, has chung with all the greater intensity to wht it Tete to us, chat our love of or country, ur affection fr thowe ‘nearest us and our pide in what i common fo us have aude deny grown stronger. But have those other posession, which ‘we have now lit, really ceased to have any wort for us becasse they have proved so perishable and so unresstan? To many’ of lu this seems to be #9, Dut once more wrongly, ia my view. 1 Delieve that these wh think ths, and seem ready to make permanent renunciation becasse what was precious hae proved not to be lsting, are simply in a state of mourning for what is Tost. Mourning, as we now, however painfl it may be, ames to a spontaneous end. When i has rezounced everything that thas been lot, then it has consumed elf and ou Hida is once more fee (insofar as we aze stil young and ative) t replace the los objeess by fresh ones equally or still mote precious. Ie is tobe hoped that thesame wil be tre ofthe ler cared by this ‘war. Whea once the mourning ie over, it wil be fond that out Digh opinion of the viches of cvizaton has lost nothing from cour discovery of thee fragility. We shall bulld up again all that war bas destroyed, and perhaps on firmer grovnd and more lastingly than Before,