The Annotated Nexus - Page 48
48.1 trees she used to rub herself against in the moonlight
One of the “truthful” reminiscences that Stasia shares with Miller. It’s just a reference though, without any back-story. It’s a repeated story, actually; Henry already knew this about her on Page 16 (16.3).
48.2 Russian girl who tried to make love to her
Stasia mentions that she was put off by a Russian girl who tried to seduce her, because she was too "crude." This is followed by reference to a married woman with whom she had an assumed sexual “affair.” Although Miller often referred to June and Jean as “lesbians,” there is question whether their close relationship was in fact a sexual one. In any case, Stasia (Jean) certainly seems to have been Bisexual, not Lesbian. There are references throughout Nexus that place Stasia in sexual scenarios with both woman and men. In the case of the married woman, Stasia also had sex with her husband because his cheating wife thought it fair to him.
48.3 Barley (poet)
As introduced on the previous page (47.4). Stasia identifies her male poet friend Barley (“an odd sort”) as the inspiration for these reminiscences. “He was always pretending he wanted to lay her,” writes Henry, “but nothing ever happened,” although Stasia admits that he would masturbate her as she wrote poetry. Barley returns to Nexus on Page 57.
“Sounds like a page out of Krafft-Ebing,” remarks Henry to Stasia’s account of her relationship with Barley. Richard von Krafft-Ebing (1840-1902) was a psychiatrist whose reputation for pioneering study into sexual “perversity” was made when he published Psychopathia Sexualis in 1886 (in which the term “masochism” was coined).
48.5 Freud, Forel, Stekel, Weininger, et al.
Henry’s reference to Krafft-Ebing inspires a debate about the merits of he and other experts in the psychiatric field (listed above), all of whom Stasia feels are “old hat.” Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) is, well, Freud. Auguste Forel (1848-1931) was the first Swiss sexologist and an early advocate of gender equality and sexual permissiveness and tolerance. Wilhelm Stekel (1868-1940) was another Swiss sexologist and a devotee (and, later, an exile) of Freud. Otto Weininger (1880-1903) was an Austrian philosopher who published the book Sex And Character in 1903, and then committed suicide (he shot himself in the same house that Beethoven died in).
The Dr. Kronski in Nexus is based on the real Emil Conason. See 9.2, 13.5 and 42.2. Talk of psychiatry prompts Stasia to request that Kronski examine her, as if this is a favour to Henry. Not just psychoanalyze her, but “explore my anatomy.” Kronski enthusiastically arrives at the end of Page 48, calling for some vaseline. “A tight job, if I know my business.”
48.7 polymorph perverse … borrowed from Freud
After Stasia first mentions the idea to be explored by Kronski, Henry retorts that, if a medical examine turns up nothing, she’s at very least “polymorph perverse,” which he clarifies to the reader is borrowed from Freud. Stasia is tickled by this phrase, and would like to use it as a poem title. Freud’s theory of polymorphous perversity was explored in his Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905), in which he suggests that even infants have innate urges towards physical pleasure, even though this desire in not developed into as a sexual need at this stage.