After World War Two,
we in 'The West'
were 'brainwashed' to believe
that Russia was Bad
and the USA was Good.
And so we were 'brainwashed' to behave
like the Babes in the Wood.
Sunday 30 April 2023
Saturday 29 April 2023
but what uses humans put it to
all mean more than love,
especially when combined,
and nothing to do with 'sex'
or (horrible expression!) 'getting laid'
which sounds so similar to 'getting paid'...
(though, I guess, there's nothing wrong with that
so long as love does not get up off the mat.)
I wrote a letter to the Pope
to say that I'd abandoned hope
(the slippery slope)
for Lent, and then decided
to give it up for good.
I hope I'm not misguided.
Friday 28 April 2023
In the land of Louis Braille
it is impossible for the halt or blind
to navigate the towns and villages
not just because of street furniture,
but also because of cars and vans
parked up on sidewalks with impunity.
The richly-hollow Tree
of Our Little Time is being felled
by industrial arrogance
and ignorance and bloody-mindedness.
Come! let me dance in isolation
If music be...etc., play on, Chopin
and play me off
to self-loving self-stimulation.
Thursday 27 April 2023
Wednesday 26 April 2023
This is the time of the Judas-tree
There's none to hang about with me
One is as none, but there is grim fun
Under the Yew, under the Ash
Under the Y'udash-tree
Under the boo under the bam
Under the bull under the ram
Under the bramble tree
The squirrels run
Three are as one
Twelve are as three
Under the do, under the done
Under the doo-don't tree.
This is the masochistic month
When priests do prance in hellish glee
Under the ewe under the ass
Under the Jew under the Dach
Aunder the Judas tree.
is the kindest adjective
that I can think of to describe
a culture that, for energy
and gluttony and cash,
pollutes and poisons us,
and will turn the world to ash.
who cannot - will not -
pronounce their Rs
come from an area
less than half the size of Britain.
Although my preference in 1957
was for Classical Romantic music
and traditional jazz,
I (along with Princess Margaret)
liked Calypso and the very popular
Banana Boat Song.
I also loved the colour of the singer's skin
(even though it was a bit too pale for me,
having once been in love with Epaminondas
and Little Black Sambo).
Later, from other singers,
came Yellow Bird up High Banana Tree,
and Three Little Birds...
I love fried bananas and have been to Bangui.
Tuesday 25 April 2023
The greatest power adapts.
Lev decided, as the night progressed, to try to remember
certain significant cigarettes of the past.
– Rose Tremain: The Road Home.
Even I as semi-hermit share
my time and space with spiders, moths
bacteria – and complicated air.
'The wisdom of trees'
is not poetic fancy or conceit.
From ancient seed-memory of hotter places,
hotter times, they can adapt to drought and heat.
Monday 24 April 2023
is that it is unconscious.
has been (erroneously)
by Henry Marsh
The Guru, the Bagman and the Sceptic: A Story of Science, Sex and Psychoanalysis
from the NEW STATESMAN, APRIL 2023
When I was very young, my mother fell ill with painful, haemorrhagic bruises over her joints, and became increasingly disabled. All treatment failed, including having the family pets put down in case the problem was an allergic one. Only arsenic helped, though it was to cause a rare skin cancer years later. Eventually, in despair, my parents wondered if there might be some deep underlying psychological cause, and my mother was admitted to hospital for intensive in-patient psychoanalysis. She emerged six weeks later, cured, her pain and bruises gone.
I was brought up, therefore, to take Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis seriously, and there were several of his books on my parents’ bookshelves, which I inherited after they died. I doubt if my parents took all of Freud’s theories as gospel truth, but in the middle of the last century, psychoanalysis was immensely influential, although it is now largely debunked.
Seamus O’Mahony is an Irish physician who has written three highly readable books regretting what he sees as the degeneration of medicine and the medical profession, with institutionalisation, the “medico-industrial complex”, the medicalisation of death and the steady loss of the autonomy that doctors had in what he calls the “golden age of medicine”. He laments that he largely missed out on this, as he graduated in 1983. Now retired, in his latest book, The Guru, the Bagman and the Sceptic: A Story of Science, Sex and Psychoanalysis, he has turned his witty and critical eye to Freud (the guru of his title), Freud’s biographer and associate Ernest Jones (the bagman) and the now obscure English surgeon Wilfred Trotter (the sceptic).
O’Mahony describes Freud’s evolutin from hard-up, struggling neurologist to dogmatic, international celebrity psychoanalyst, and Jones and Trotter starting out together in London as young doctors at University College Hospital (UCH) in 1902. Trotter was already outstanding – when he was still a very junior doctor the famous neurosurgeon Victor Horsley commented that Trotter was the only member of the UCH staff whose opinion he respected. Trotter was widely read and pathologically shy. “Surgery colonises its practitioners so comprehensively,” O’Mahony tells us, that “surgeon-intellectuals are as rare as unicorns.”
Despite their wildly different personalities – or perhaps because of them – Jones and Trotter became close friends (and Trotter married Jones’s sister). Trotter went on to write a bestselling book, Instincts of the Herd in Peace and War (1916), in which he stressed the “gregarious” nature of human beings, our irrationality and suggestibility, in marked contrast to Freud’s emphasis on the individual and early “sexual” childhood experiences. We have been using the phrase “herd instinct” ever since. Trotter wrote no more and devoted the rest of his life to becoming one of the most respected surgeons in Britain.
Trotter and Jones had both been interested in psychoanalysis and learned German so that they could read the literature. In 1908 they attended the first international psychoanalytic conference in Salzburg, organised by Carl Jung. Freud spoke for five hours without a break. He received a standing ovation but, Jones wrote, in deference to Freud’s dislike of debate, “papers read at psychoanalytic congresses have never been followed by discussion of them”. Trotter missed Freud’s speech and was to become increasingly sceptical about psychoanalysis.
O’Mahony gives an excellent account of the rise of psychoanalysis, and its cult-like nature. It had much more in common with the received, indisputable “truths” of religion than any science, and clearly filled a gap left by the decline of religious faith. As a counterpoint to Freud and his disciples, Trotter – the true hero of the book – is depicted by O’Mahony as a brilliant and modest surgeon in a prelapsarian age. When O’Mahony contacted UCH to ask if their archives had any material about him, the answer came back that there was none. It is Trotter, O’Mahony writes, who has much more to tell us about science and medicine, and even philosophy, than Freud, but is now completely forgotten. Freud, “flawed and fundamentally in error, a tragic figure whose life’s work was a chimera… is the great man”.
The real joy of this book – and it is immensely entertaining – is O’Mahony’s depiction of the “raggle-taggle army of failed neurologists, curious intellectuals, psychopaths, sexual opportunists… eccentric aristocrats and bored, rich dilettantes” who followed Freud’s banner. He describes them in often hilarious detail. There was, for instance, the manic-depressive, drug-addicted Otto Gross (at one point he and Jung were analysing each other and Jones was sleeping with his wife), who advocated free love and was one of the inspirations for the anti-psychiatry movement associated with RD Laing many years later.
Jones had to abandon hopes of a conventional medical career as a result of accusations of sexual impropriety with patients. He was even tried in court after three girls at the Edward Street School for Defective Children – for which he was medically responsible – made accusations against him. When he was acquitted on all charges, Horsley threw a party. The Royal College of Surgeons paid for his legal expenses. As O’Mahony dryly observes: “In 1906 the testimony of intellectually disabled children was not taken seriously by the courts.” But there were further similar problems, including in Toronto where he had gone in the hope of salvaging his medical career after more scandals.
Psychoanalysis, with Freud as its godhead, provided Jones with a career and purpose (and also many sexual liaisons) and he went on to write a three-volume biography of his hero. He also came to act, in effect, as Freud’s agent, referring many English patients to Freud in Vienna in the 1920s – patients he vetted for both social class and financial means.
It became quite fashionable for Cambridge intellectuals to go to Vienna, though Freud was often too busy to see them. Among them were the brilliant philosopher Frank Ramsey and Archibald Cochrane, the founding father of evidence-based medicine. Both had gone because of sexual problems. Neither was especially impressed by psychoanalysis or by Theodor Reik, the analyst who treated them. Ramsey was probably cured by a Viennese prostitute, and Cochrane was never cured, although he later attributed his problems to familial porphyria.
It is difficult to take psychoanalysis seriously – if you ever did – after reading this very well-researched book. Inspired by it, I found my parents’ copy of Freud’s masterwork The Interpretation of Dreams. Freud wrote extremely well, and reading it you are initially seduced by his dream stories and their interpretation. His fundamental – and completely mistaken – insight was that all dreams express wish fulfilment. In the chapter Distortion in Dreams he confidently explains away, with convoluted inventions, the fact that so many dreams are nightmares, filled with anxiety. How can they possibly express wishes?
Much of this chapter reads like a passage from Sherlock Holmes, with whom Freud liked to compare himself. The learned professor brilliantly reveals the clues. He tells us that when his patients had unpleasant dreams it was because their unconscious was trying to resist their analysis. Their dreams were fulfilling the wish that their dreams were not about wish-fulfilment. Heads I win, tails you lose.
As the book progresses, you start to descend into the “secular hell”, as O’Mahony calls it, of psychoanalytic writing. Freud had to invent repression and infant polymorphic sexuality, castration anxiety, penis envy, the Oedipus complex and so forth, to justify his dogma that all dreams express disguised desires and can be decoded by the initiated.
This is not to say that psychoanalysis did not help some patients, and since we know that confident doctors have greater therapeutic success than unconfident ones, belief in the Freudian mythology might well have been beneficial.
My mother did comment that her successful treatment may have been because her psychoanalyst, like her, was a refugee from Nazi Germany and this, combined with the enforced rest in hospital from a very demanding life as a mother of four children, might have been responsible for her cure, more than any Freudian insights. The haemorrhagic lesions recurred 30 years later, but on this occasion she was treated with the anti-leprotic drug Dapsone, and she recovered immediately without any psychoanalysis. The diagnosis was probably of some kind of vasculitis, which may or may not have been stress-related.
Freud did not discover the unconscious – Goethe, Schopenhauer and the ancient Greeks had all written about it. He was certainly right to stress the importance of early childhood in our later psychological development and the role of sexual repression in turn-of-the-century Vienna, but his theories of psychosexual development and neurosis now seem absurd. Nevertheless, despite a century of progress in neuroscience since Freud, the relationship between what is conscious and unconscious in our brains remains deeply mysterious.
The Guru, the Bagman and the Sceptic: A Story of Science, Sex and Psychoanalysis
Apollo, 336pp, £27.99
it would be
if some mutated Wuhan virus
infected humans with
or perhaps prevented the descent
of the testicles of boys;
and perhaps, in another part of the world
another kind of virus
(not originating from tortured dogs)
proved fatal for the internet
Sunday 23 April 2023
are amazing liars."
~ Harlan Coben, 'best-selling author', in Drop Shot.
"The guy's a politician.
That's like a step below child-molester."
Why do so few politicians and other liars read the rollicking Harlan Coben ?
from a cactus and succulent stall
at the plant-fair this morning
two Rebutias and a Sulcorebutia.
Saturday 22 April 2023
is no longer Pentobarbital (Nembutal)
which, in any case, is very difficult to come by –
but the opioid Fentanyl, much more powerful and
(if you are In The Know) probably
One small 'Earth Day' statistic :
there are six hundred million fewer birds
in Europe than there were in 1980.
My neighbour has eliminated bees and butterflies
along with other flora and fauna
in his now-dismal patch of garden.
No swallows have arrived this year,
no swifts and no house-martins.
Though the cherry and hazel trees remain, shrubs have been removed,
including a fine 'Snowball Bush'.
Note the remains of an illegal bonfire, and the decking
for eating outside. Needless to say, there is also a barbecue.
Bees and ladybirds have gone elsewhere, or died off.
Friday 21 April 2023
They said that
if you show a snake an emerald
it will weep for the verdant Eden
it was expelled from – even if
it is a serpent of the desert.
Thursday 20 April 2023
People (including the famous)
like to make famous people
even more famous.
Never mind the desiccation
and flooding of the planet,
wars everywhere, poisoned seas
and water – there will be a 'cure'
for the grey hair of the rich.
“It is the loss of chameleon-like function in melanocyte stem cells
that may be responsible for greying and loss of hair colour.”
Happy to be bald.
Wednesday 19 April 2023
Tuesday 18 April 2023
Monday 17 April 2023
Sunday 16 April 2023
Saturday 15 April 2023
I hope that I'll remember to say:
Well, so far, you survived your own stupidity.
In love with entropy,
I encourage sweet April woodworm.
(But because of 'unseasonable' weather,
they may not appear till May.)
Friday 14 April 2023
Since mankind has always treated
'Nature' as an even greater enemy
than other humans, it follows
that the creation of humans
is (as the Catholic church would put it)
in the Romanesque abbey-asylum
The corridor of the priory-become- asylum
where Vincent van Gogh was detained for a while,
after cutting off his ear-lobe.
at the former priory at Saint-Rémy-en-Provence.
|The painting on the right is of my childhood bedroom in Belfast.|
Thursday 13 April 2023
English literature had a profound effect
on politics. The writings of Pope, Addison, Steele;
of Dickens, Shaw, Cronin and Orwell
influenced the course of British
society and history.
Similarly in France.
But Russia's great tragedy
is that writers (even Gorky)
went unheeded, censored
and imprisoned by the deaf
and blind autocracy.
Wednesday 12 April 2023
Tuesday 11 April 2023
Psychology and psychiatry
have been blighted
by a crackpot
(father of psychiatry and Anna)
who could not,
or claimed that he could not, believe
that respectable middle-class fathers
could sexually abuse (and abusively deceive)
their young daughters
– yet insanely thought
that those daughters' brothers
to kill their fathers and marry their mothers.
is rooted in the belief that employment
can provide everything we have historically expected
from organized religion.
Well, not quite – and certainly not to the lowest paid,
such as imported sex-slaves and abattoir-employees –
not to mention prison warders/guards in the USA.
Careerism is an opiate of the middle classes.
Monday 10 April 2023
Sunday 9 April 2023
what I wanted to be
when I grew up.
I said: A doctor,
because that was what
they wanted me to be.
But what I really wanted
was to keep on being me.
Saturday 8 April 2023
Friday 7 April 2023
Thursday 6 April 2023
Wednesday 5 April 2023
Tuesday 4 April 2023
(pronounced Ee-Nuff, sometimes En-Uff)
that the Internet would celebrate
and increase, enhance
all kinds of diversity.
But it has turned out to be
a vast totalitarian machine
for narrow global uniformity.
Monday 3 April 2023
Sunday 2 April 2023
The following Nietzschisms come from a quotations website:
Wisdom maybe arrives in the world like a raven lured by carrion.
There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.
Scholarship has the same relationship to wisdom as righteousness has to holiness: it is cold and dry, it is loveless and knows nodeep feelings of inadequacy or longing.
The growth of wisdom may be gauged precisely by the diminution of ill-temper.
Wisdom sets limits even to knowledge.
My wisdom has long accumulated like a cloud; it becomes stiller and darker. So does all wisdom which shall one day produce thunderbolts.
Birds, of course, are a kind of fish.
that, 'hot on the heels' of Trumpism
comes a new McCarthyism
in the domineering nation
that the rest of the world
hears far too much of and from.
Saturday 1 April 2023
It is impossible to study Arabic
at universities in Israel!
This is wrong.
See comments below.
The situation is much subtler.
Dr David J. Heinemann writes to Haaretz:
'Sadly, it has been forgotten that when the State of Israel was first formed Arabic was accepted and endorsed by the forming agreement as an equal language along with Hebrew. All road signs were to be in both languages, and Arabic was to also be the language used together with Hebrew as a SPOKEN language of the Knesset.
That this has all changed is the result of the prominence of the Ashkanazei over the Sephardi, together with the dominance of the culture of the U.S.A. May this use of Arabic continue!'
Israel's main problem, really, is not other Middle-Eastern states or the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, but the Ashkenazy immigrants (pouring in from Eastern Europe and Russia since 1990), backward-thinking, bigoted, right-wing and anti-democratic. They are Israel's Trumpeters, who may actually destroy the overpopulated country in which they have 'pitched their tents', to use the Biblical phrase.
Every time there is a shooting by assault weapon
in an American school, disco or other venue
Good Citizens go out and buy (over the counter)
assault weapons 'to protect themselves'.
Untold millions have been sold.