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Separation and Anxiety

The birth of the other we know is not just biological. It is psychological, depending on the forming of attachments and identifications and the modification, even dissolution, of these. One mechanism is separation – the necessary – un-cleaving – of foetus from the womb, neonate from the breast, developing infant from his or her omnipotence. […]

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THE SPEAKING BODY: THE PSYCHOANALYSIS OF GRAHAM GREENE

It is not possible to write well without reading. Reading is how writing is born – not because reading has to inform or provide information, but because it is in reading that the loose threads of what we wish to say emerge. The reading I have in mind is literary fiction, that is, language, which […]

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The Poetry of Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis cannot be taught but it can be transmitted: Which is to say that knowledge can be imparted by means other than pedagogy. What is this other means, and what is the knowledge? This is, in some ways a trick question, as the two can be considered different sides of the same coin, as both […]

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Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. Samuel Beckett All success is due to failure, and all advances in knowledge come about as a result of failed attempts. This is the reality of achievement. It is a truth that, once grasped, frees us to experiment and innovate –to discover, rather […]

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Men and the art of Motorcycles

I n 1948, Albert Camus wrote to his publisher Blanche Knopf asking if the sales of his novel, The Outsider, were as good as the reviews because “ je voudrais m’acheter une motocyclette” — he wanted to buy a motorcycle. He was not the first writer to be captured by the lure of two wheels. […]

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Walk on air against your better judgement

Freud loved and respected literature. He not only read the classics for inspiration, but credited novelists, such as Lytton Strachey, and Arthur Schnitzler, (upon whose writing Stanley Kubrick’s film, Eyes Wide Shut, is based), as best grasping his work. Despite striving for scientific precision, Freud famously admitted that his case studies read more like novellas, […]

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Failing for success

At a time when positive psychology is gaining ground, I want to ring the bell for the maligned art of coming to grips with failure. This is not a morbid preoccupation, but a wish to embrace possibility. As we approach the centenary of Anzac Day, it is worth reflecting that the myth sustaining Australian identity […]

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Know Hope or Know yourself

What is the best we can expect? Is it, as graffiti on a bridge over the Yarra advises: to “Know hope”, or is it to put hope aside and know where we actually are? I pose these two as alternatives because that is how they seem to me. Perhaps it is my quirkiness: But I […]

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Even the truest writing is false

Even the truest writing is false. It can’t be otherwise. Despite the best intentions, words fail. They carry our bias as much as our clarity. This is because writing is unnatural. To write well is to arrive with hands bloodied by platitudes, that is, to have been painstakingly selective with language. Such effort, while productive […]

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The past that haunts us

In Milan Kundera’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, inconvenient truths are dealt with by erasure. It is a crude but effective measure and means that politicians out of favour are painted from the pictorial record. I witnessed something similar after the Tiananmen Massacre in Beijing when China’s rulers turned what had been a pro-democracy […]