The truth is completely different. My work has a strong aesthetic motivation, if I may put it that way. I seize upon texts or ideas that strike me as profound, powerful, and impenetrably complex, and I puzzle over them, think them through, until I can see them in all their underlying simplicity and beauty. I then search for the simplest, least intimidating, most accessible way of showing those ideas to my students or my readers, in the hope that they will experience the same rush of aesthetic and intellectual pleasure that I do at contemplating them. To take one small, simple example, readers of Karl Marx's great work, CAPITAL, almost immediately encounter, in Chapter One, a long and seemingly incomprehensible passage about what Marx calls the Relative Form of Value and the Equivalent Form of Value. What on earth is that about?, every reader wonders. The passage is so off-putting that Louis Althusser actually advises readers of CAPITAL to skip Chapter One and return to it later on. I spent a long time brooding about that passage, until I finally saw exactly what Marx was saying there. It turned out to be quite simple, rather obvious in a way, and very important. When I came to write MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, I hit upon the happy idea of treating the entire passage as modeled on an old Jewish joke about a little boy who is afraid of blintzes. I was delighted to have found so elegantly simple a way of explaining something so deep and important, but so far as I have been able to discover, I am the only person who saw the real meaning of the joke. Had I written fifteen dense Hegelian pages quite as mysterious as Marx's text, I am sure I would have found an audience suitably impressed with my profundity. If I may get way above myself, I am reminded of a wonderful story about Michelangelo. He presented himself to compete for a commission at which other artists were offering samples of their most recherche work. Michelangelo, so the story goes, picked up a piece of chalk, walked up to a large piece of slate, and free hand drew an absolutely perfect circle. I do not know whether he got the commission.
Well, back to work, writing about The Thought of Sigmund Freud.