I gave a talk yesterday and listened to one by a psychologist – an engaging one, but one who still left me with most of the questions I end up carrying after listening to a psychologist. There are two that tend to recur.
First of all, although she took pains to explain what she saw as the events which had inspired here work (her family history, her personal relationship to the subject she was discussing) I found myself wondering what her enthusiasm left her impatient of, or intolerant of, and why her passionate perspective felt more like an advertisement for looking on the bright side than an exploration of the unknown. Continue reading “Do You feel Lucky?”
It’s nearing the end of January and it feels, if we were on a ship, as if the shore we are bound for is finally approaching. Back in December, bar the delightful interlude of Christmas, it felt as if we were in the middle of the Atlantic. November was ugly … cast off into the winter. Continue reading “A Theory of Time”
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. Continue reading “Dreams of 2016”
There was a time, after my sister’s revelation that Santa didn’t exist and that there was in fact nothing magical about Christmas, when this time of year only ever felt disappointing. I don’t think I really believed in any of it – only in my parents’ ability to stage things properly. It wasn’t what my sister said as much as how my mother replied that did the damage: she said my sister was right, looked sad, things never felt even vaguely similar again … and in some way related to this kind of thing I ended up writing novels. Continue reading “Christmas”
It’s a small distinction, but one that always feels very important to me: that it’s possible to write ‘about’ or simply to write. Writers I like, even when they are writing about a specific subject, seem to be doing something that conjures up all kinds of magic in me. People who write about a novel, for example, seem to be doing something the author never intended to do … they thematise, explain and elucidate. People who write may begin with, for example again, the subject of a novel, and of course they may elucidate, but what seems to happen in their writing is unpredictable, almost alive, and allows me to experience something other than the novel itself – its bones or whatever might be left after they’ve picked over it. Continue reading “Writing, or Writing About”
It’s painful to witness Labour MPs pronouncing and parading about how important it is for their party to remain ‘electable’. It seems as if they are putting something off … the moment they say what they stand for? I’m wondering if there are many differences between this strategy for survival and the one compulsively adopted by many of the people I treat for addiction: to try very hard to cause as little conflict as possible; and if conflict arises (done this way it inevitably does, somewhere, and is by then usually explosive) to distance yourself as quickly as possible by the most effective means available. It never ends well. Continue reading “Socialists Anonymous”
My anxiety is an experience of my absence. The less I am able to assert myself in life the more often I will find myself wishing I had. Anxiety is the experience of forthcoming resentment, of feeling trapped, becoming bored. Anxiety comes from the same place as anger, but as its ghost. Kill off, lose touch with or disavow your anger and you will feel anxious … and anger is there when I disagree. So anxiety arises when I can’t find it in myself, or the opportunity in the world, to disagree. Anxiety is a narrowing of me – a whittling down of me; a meanness. A difficulty. It’s Latin root: angustia. Continue reading “Anxiety”
There’s a part to emerging from a difficult situation that is sometimes overlooked: the inertia that can creep into a life out of a fear of taking risks again. I mean ordinary, everyday gambles over remembering and feeling things. The past can feel too much. Getting closer to someone or something can feel too frightening – and perhaps what makes this most difficult is that the fear I’m referring to is almost impossible to catch hold of. It might simply come upon you like an itch, a sense of wanting to squirm; an instinctive no, or a sense of relief if you move towards it (away from where you might actually need to be: getting to know another person, trying out another way of doing something, or looking back at something you did and realising it wasn’t quite like you’d imagined). Continue reading “Emergency Inertia”
I’m not sure what’s beautiful, but I appreciate it. What appeals to my senses might not appeal to yours, but I can’t be certain. The attraction I find to certain figures in the world … is it the degree of uncertainty that really draws my attention? The ‘who or what’s this?’ rather than the ‘that is’? Certainty makes me less interested, perhaps, because it’s an insistent lie. I can’t be certain. I lose interest in whatever I can’t trust; and I know I can’t be certain. Continue reading “Beautiful, I Don’t Know and Love”
It feels as if there is nothing there. There are so many things I could write about but the ‘something’ I am looking for hasn’t occurred to me yet. It’s not a bad place to start writing, but one where people usually stop. After all, what can you do if there’s nothing to do? Before I began this I could have written about David Cameron’s ‘arm candy’, whether there’s something anti-Semitic or anti-Islamic in all of the pig-presence in the news lately … but these were just thoughts in my head brought to me by some things I’d been reading, some conversations. Continue reading “Nothing There: A Cure for Writer’s Block and Other Things”