Freese, Mathias B. 1940–
Freese, Mathias B. 1940–
(Mathias Balogh Freese)
PERSONAL: Born July 23, 1940, in Brooklyn, NY; son of Herbert F. (in sales) and Yocheved (a homemaker; maiden name, Altschuler) Freese; married Rochelle Barber (an office manager), February 15, 1970 (deceased); children: Caryn (deceased), Brett, Jordan. Ethnicity: "Jewish." Education: Queens College of the City University of New York, B.A., 1962, M.S., 1966; State University of New York at Stony Brook, M.S.W., 1978. Politics: "All societies are essentially corrupt; in our anonymity each of us needs to make his or her way." Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Eastern thought (works of Krishnamurti), cinema, travel, art, music, collecting Inuit sculpture, "psycho-spiritual approaches to becoming awake and aware."
ADDRESSES: Home—10 E. Camino De Diana, Coreen Valley, AZ 84614. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Junior high school teacher in Jamaica, NY, 1962–63; high school teacher in Elmont, NY, 1963–69; Board of Cooperative Educational Services, Jericho, NY, curriculum writer, 1969–72; high school teacher in Hauppauge, NY, 1972–74; Half Hollow Hills High School East, Dix Hills, NY, teacher and administrator of alternative high school, 1974–95; private practice of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, 1992–2002. Middle Country Center for Psychotherapy, clinical social worker, 1979–82; Center for Counseling Services, clinical social worker and senior therapist, 1987–.
MEMBER: National Association of Social Workers, Publishers Marketing Association, Mensa, Society of Southwestern Authors.
AWARDS, HONORS: Award from John Warkentin Essay Contest, 1987, for "He Tells Me"; Story Teller award for Personal Essay—Memoir, Society of Southwestern Authors, 2004, for "Ms. Foley, With Gratitude."
i (novel), Freese Publishing (Glendale, NY), 1997.
The i Tetralogy (contains i, I Am Gunther, Gunther's Lament, and Gunther Redux,), Hats Off Books (Tucson, AZ), 2005.
Contributor of stories and articles to periodicals, including Eotu, Ripples, Jewish Currents, Pilgrimage, Skywriters, CFIDS Chronicle, New York Times, PMA Newsletter, Pig Iron Press, and Voices: Art and Science of Psychotherapy.
WORK IN PROGRESS: I Am Not, a novella on a Holocaust survivor.
SIDELIGHTS: Mathias B. Freese once told CA: "At fifty-seven I published my first novel, i. According to conventional wisdom, it was much delayed. The world's axis is oiled with indifference to the writer—to one another, alas. To write anything of substance is a remarkable act of will, much in defiance of death. It is a kind of puzzling self-commitment, and it is a cosmic shout throughout the human dominion that one exists.
"What prompted me to invest in self-publishing my book is a knotted skein: of not having my books accepted over the years, of only recently, by chance, garnering surplus capital to make an investment in myself, of mourning the death of a friend, which reminded me that the obverse side of carpe diem is tempus fugit. Publishing my own book was more than a late middle-age hubristic binge. I self-publish to announce I am here, for I will soon be gone. Let me determine that my words be shaped, spent, and structured as I see fit; however, I revel in the book of life, not the book of death."
More recently Freese added: "I write about the Holocaust for it is an Amazonian cataract of great force, of thundering essence, when we examine human behavior at its most basic. We are all witnesses to the Holocaust. This is one of the essential themes of my work. It should be dealt with until the end of historic mankind on this planet, until its lessons become in some implacable and evolutionary way part of our germ plasm.
"We know this much: Human beings can be morally inhibited—and since we are not genetically wired not to kill our own, the only salvation is in the word, in memory, to stave off our id-impulses. This is why, for the Jew, memory is essential, probably one of the greater gifts of Judaism to the world. Jews, to use the vernacular, do not put things behind them and get on with it. The Jew metabolizes life, records, and registers it. Memory kept the Jew as one during a 2,000-year Diaspora—for indeed something indelible and lithographic had happened in Sinai that the Jew chose not to forget. This is the great and remarkable commentary on the history of the Jew. Metaphorically we are all Jews, if we allow that to be.
"I write about the Holocaust because it affects, concerns, intrigues, and moves me on levels beyond ethnicity. I want to understand why people do what they do, sometimes in such horrific ways. I will know them by examining myself. In me is all I need to know about you—in that way we are interconnected. Literature is truly the Internet of the human race.
"A close reading of the Holocaust quartet in progress will reveal the suffering of the species, as individually lived. It will tell you everything you need to know about the author's need to express, in prose, his unheard scream about the species, about life, about suffering, pain, and anguish, and his own terrible heartbreak of living life—agony is the better word for it. I am both the terrified and the terrifier."
In reference to The i Tetralogy, Freese told CA: "Within a two-week span, I wrote 'i in white heat,' the first novella of The i Tetralogy. The next three volumes, 'I Am Gunther,' 'Gunther's Lament,' and 'Gunther Redux,' followed in quick succession, fulfilling a compelling, psychologically imaginative need on my part to fathom a personal sense of Shoah. I believe that all four books on the Holocaust simmered and percolated inside me, away from consciousness, for about four decades. My life, my rearing, my secular Judaism, my Hebrew school training, my first encounters with anti-Semitism coalesced into a strong sense of identification with my forbears. In short, the tetralogy was written before I wrote it. I am of the second generation who came of age after the Holocaust and I bear witness to that.
"As a retired psychoanalytic psychotherapist, it is sadly and intellectually amusing to face the resistance to this book; the Holocaust is right up there with the denial of death. At the center of the apocalyptic nightmare of the Holocaust is most everything we need know about our nature—and our gods, I have concluded. And so The i Tetralogy aspires to reflect the shadow of that stark reality that happened more than sixty years ago but perturbs us to this day. One irony is that I composed a twenty page 'Raison d'Etre' at the end of the book in which I posed such questios as 'But why another book on the Holocaust?' and answered them. My agent thought it would be a good way to handle all the misgivings on the part of publishers. It has turned out to be a part of the book that answered for the reader questions about my intent. I consider volume five, what it is to be an American Jew.
"Allow me to quote from a personal essay that won first place in a contest sponsored by the Society of Southwestern authors: 'Ms. Foley, With Gratitude.' 'I struggle relentlessly to sustain some serious kind of deconditioned self. It is the writer's task to be perched outside and away from his society, to translate the telling societal hum beneath his furred talons as he squats on telephone wires outside of town. He remains off the grid if at all possible. It is a variant of the stranger in a strange land, only stranger. Rather, it is an attained awareness of self that leads to the isolation and cold sweat any truth reveals. Teiresias agonized over that with Oedipus. I write for self. I seek knowledge and clarity. I do not necessarily become wiser, that is an anointment. The windshield is clearer and clearer, I can tell you that, as I can see better ahead.'"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Arizona Daily Sun, February 19, 1998, p. A19.