Pride of Place: Magdalen Ki

Pride of Place: A series in which teaching staff and students from the English Department reflect on a place in Hong Kong. [Read all entries.] [Revisit the “Pet Sounds” series.] [Revisit the “Headspace” series.] [Revisit the “Ongoing” series.] [Revisit the “Interrogative” series.]

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“House, Couch, Study.” Photo. The Freud Museum in London. 15 April, 2009. <Via.>

My natural favourite place is—of course—a couch. My preference was different in the past, but now that I am older, a couch is a seat of learning.

A couch can mean a lot of things in a person’s life cycle. In a big family, young children often strive to bypass the pecking order and compete to have access to the couch. The result might surprise Darwin himself, for it is often not the fittest but the smallest boy or the most-loved daughters who are entitled to have a seat. Couch space can indicate parental favouritism and trigger lifelong sibling rivalry. Nevertheless, whenever a family has guests, it is the visitors who automatically enjoy their right to the couch. Social decorum calls for the display of hospitality, no matter how much hypocrisy or bitterness is involved. Once people join the workforce, they all know that the presence of a couch is a status symbol, for office cubicles are unlikely to have room for a couch. With the introduction of the Timesheet System, the majority of workers do not have the time for a couch either. Resting on a couch not only marks a violation of work ethics, but is also seen as an attempt to sabotage production time and productivity. Fortunately, when people are at home they are entitled to be unproductive and lie on the couch; many are conditioned by the mass media, by social networks, and various online video games to become addicted couch potatoes.

As for me, I am a student of the Freudian couch. One learns so much when one sees others in a comfort zone, talking about themselves, their sadness, and their dreams. Talking seldom leads to any cure, but as one witnesses the baring of a soul, as one’s knowledge increases, so can one’s sorrow.


Maddie KiMagdalen Ki is Associate Professor at the Department of English. [Click here to read all entries by Magdalen.]


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