OK, question: How many other writers or thinkers could possibly explain such mysteries as modern man's ongoing religious impulse and the roots of homosexuality - explaining them with panache, clarity, and a fearless, refreshing indifference to PC thinking - and, on top of all this, explain these mysteries - mysteries that continue to confound the vast majority of today's "leading" "thinkers" - as mere ASIDES in essays in which his main intent is to explain other DEEPER mysteries??
Welcome to Planet Freud.
This exceptional (and beautifully packaged - take a closer look at that front cover!) little slice of the man's work is thoughtfully arranged in such a way that each essay effectively builds upon and enriches the next in subtle, yet essential, ways.
The first essay, "Screen Memories," systematically reveals how many of our earliest childhood memories - perhaps even most of them - are significantly transformed by our later perceptions of them, and are therefore hardly memories at all as we generally conceive of them. But these "screened" memories are indeed important, but in a way that is hidden by the screening process.
For instance, think back to your first major childhood memory. Do you picture yourself in this memory, as if you were seeing yourself from an outside perspective? Well if so, this "memory" of yours is actually more a complex blend of fact and fantasy than a memory per-se. This screen memory is no mere benign or random distortion of the childhood memory in question, but is in fact an ingeniously disguised repression of a much more significant memory than the screened version would have you believe.
In another piece, Freud dissects the act of creative writing, and explains the central appeal of fiction - especially that of the more outre or disturbing sort - for readers AND writers.
In "Family Romances," the good Doctor puts forth a theory for why certain stories are more universally appealing than others. A few prime latter-day examples of how dead-accurate this theory is? STAR WARS, HARRY POTTER, and THE SOPRANOS.
His highly entertaining interpretation of one of Leonardo Da Vinci's childhood memories - most likely a screen memory, as it turns out - leads to fascinating "psycho-biography" of one history's most celebrated and enigmatic geniuses.
The titular piece is a fascinating and complex - and at times self-devouring - meditation on what it means to experience the rarified sensation of uncanniness. Not surprisingly, the explanation involves the emergence of repressed memories...
All in all, I'd say THE UNCANNY would be a perfectly good introduction to Freud for those who've never actually read any of his works.
Uncannily good, in fact.