The enduring value of some artworks does not depend on fixed forms or meanings. On the contrary: these works tend to have an enigmatic quality; they cannot be fully explained. We treat such artworks as “theoretical objects.” One example is Albrecht Dürer’s small engraving Melencolia I, made almost exactly 400 years before Freud explained the affliction of melancholia in psychoanalytic terms, without reference to Dürer’s image. In a willfully anachronistic reading of Melencolia I, Bal stages the artist as responding to Freud. This “theoretical fiction"—a Freudian term—allows her to contend that in the engraving, Freud’s comparison between mourning and melancholia resonates, not as a unified representation of melancholia but as an internal dialogue between mourning (indifference to the world) and melancholia (an empty self; she does not look at her own reflection). The engraving thus undercuts the binary opposition put forward by Freud.