Saturday, October 22, 2011

out in the cold

For some unbeknown reason Facebook has currently suspended my account! So until it's been sorted out I might even get a few poems written!

I've been on a bit of a non-poetry reading frenzy lately which began with the following three Plath books I was sent: Bitter Fame by Anne Stevenson, The Haunting of Sylvia Plath by Jacqueline Rose and The Silent Woman by Janet Malcolm. The most interesting, for me, was the Rose book. There was much more of a focus on Plath's poems in it including some stuff I hadn't previously read much about such as the possible influence of cinema films on Plath's work, more on the influence of African folklore, and a rather extensive almost Freudian-like emphasis on sexuality in the interpretation of many Plath's poems. The infamous Bitter Fame was a pretty dull read and the Malcolm book offered an interesting perspective on the history and difficulties facing Plath biographiers.

After the Plath triad, I then became thoroughly engrossed in reading a biography of the Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing. R.D. Laing: A Divided Self by John Clay is an absolutely fascinating read. Laing was a forward thinker in his time and helped lead the way to modern thinking about mental illness, schizophrenia in particular, and therefore how it should be treated. Laing's psychiatry and writings were heavily influenced by existentiallism, at the height of his career he was a great success but on a personal level he was unpredictable and completely off-the-wall to put it mildly. A quote from wiki: "Many former colleagues regarded him as a brilliant mind gone wrong but there were some who thought Laing was somewhat psychotic".
You can read more about him on Jim's blog here.

Now I'm onto Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams. I'm only a few chapters in but it's fascinating reading Freud's hypothesis that all dreams are a form of wish-fulfillment which is backed up by detailed analysis of several of his own dreams, dreams of some of his patients and even dreams by some of his children. Even from a sociological perspective alone it is deeply interesting to see what people were dreaming about over a century ago!


Andrew Shields said...

A fascinating recent article on Freud and the role of cocaine in the development of his ideas:

That's the first article of two. If you only get part of the article but want to read the whole thing, I can download it for you (as a subscriber).

Jim Murdoch said...

Thanks for the plug, Marion. Always appreciated. Yes, Laing. All you have to do is look at that cover, don’t you? I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed researching him and, and this is the case with so many of my posts, there was so much material I could have written another book on him. Just what the world needs. As far as Plath goes I only really know about her what the film told me. My first wife had a copy of The Bell Jar and I read a few pages at the time but couldn’t get into it. I could now I’m sure. I probably should. As for dreams, I dream so much these days and I can remember scraps of two or three dreams each night. Can’t make a damn bit of sense out of any of them and don’t feel especially inclined to try. Have you ever seen Annandale Dream Gazette? It’s a repository of writers’ dreams. Elisabeth Hanscombe has 96 entries; I even have a cameo in one of them. I never dream about any of you – sorry about that.

Marion McCready said...

thanks andrew, that would be great if you could download it for me!

sounds like an interesting website, jim, I'll check it out. I'm not all that keen on The Bell Jar, aside from her poetry I'd recommend her journals, definitely fascinating reading.
the last few nights I've been testing my dreams against the wish-fulfillment theory, it's been interesting...!

Marion McCready said...

and yes, I think that's an amazing picture of Laing, it definitely captures something of the personality that comes through in the biography