Pevsner and the spirit of the ant
Pevsner did not greatly care for the methods of Auguste Forel, the Swiss psychiatrist to whom his mother regularly turned when depression overcame her. ‘The whole cure was wrapped in secrecy… The room, the techniques of suggestion and hypnosis – we had no way of knowing about them,’ he wrote later.
Forel – Nobel laureate, socialist, teetotaller, and an expert on sexual problems – was also a leading authority on the behaviour of the ant. He was impressed by the grim resolution of the younger Pevsner and in 1912 paid him (or his mother) the compliment of his own sub-species: Cremastogaster [sic] distans r. pevsnerae, a Venezuelan version of a type of ant found from Texas to Argentina. ‘Plus petite que l’espèce typique,’ according to Forel, at 2.8 – 3.2 millimetres long.