Dreams of 2016

I watched Peter Ibbetson on New Year’s Eve. I can’t think of many more romantic films to watch with someone you love; and to leave you feeling you’ve been given something special without actually taking. I was so grateful: we need less on the outside and more on the inside (a film … a whole world, and in this film a world of love-dreams). But this won’t make sense unless I set the scene a little.
       For one reason or another, as 2015 ground its time out, various things about the job I do, a psychotherapist, had started to grate with me even more than usual. The organisations I belong to (BACP, UKCP) seemed more destructively irrelevant than ever. Seeing their bland, glossy magazines land on my doormat felt as if I’d been given a speeding ticket. And the theory. The stuff that some psychotherapists cling onto like DeForrest Kelley, the original Star Trek’s Dr McCoy, held onto his scanner-thing that took readings (‘It’s life Jim, but not as we know it’)   … oh God, the theory.
       Theory’s become like the ingredients list on a box of detergent; and you try washing your clothes in words. Theory, by which I suppose I mean psychoanalytic theory, needs to give way to art. Maybe not contemporary art, as I think it takes time for art to breathe in the kind of way I’m suggesting here: to say … I think this is what happens. Contemporary art does other things.
       I mean art by people like Proust. Art that inspires, which is never ‘official’ and which is certainly not scientific. I read, for example, The Way By Swann’s and I think I get a very good idea of what transference might be, and why it might be worth thinking about. Or I read Virginia Woolf’s Flush, a book about a dog, and when that little dog runs off on his own and listens I understand something about the collective unconscious. Or, again, transference. Or just the uncanny magic of not knowing – and the simple message, inscribed in Woolf’s descriptions of the oblique, doggish world of Flush as narrated by the author that we can’t know others, people or animals.
       Peter Ibbetson reminded me that anything can happen in dreams, and that what does, if you talk about it with somebody else, might be connected to what can’t happen outside of them.
       So here’s to some dreams in 2016, and somebody special to talk about them with. Finding someone to talk about things with, someone distinctly not you with their own, other thoughts – whoever they are – that’s one of life’s secrets: don’t be scared of strangers, of foreigners to the land of me … of someone prepared to disagree or tell you something you don’t know or understand.
       In Peter Ibbetson it takes Gary Cooper time to realise he can walk through prison bars, and he’d never have tried if Ann Harding hadn’t suggested it.

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