Prayer and melancholia

That human life must be some kind of mistake is sufficiently proved by the simple observation that man is a compound of needs which are hard to satisfy; that their satisfaction achieves nothing but a painless condition in which he is only given over to boredom; and that boredom is a direct proof that existence…

Kafka’s Body

I have been in Venice this past weekend, at the Warwick Poetry in Medicine symposium. Even if you've been in Venice before, when the vaporetto comes from the Piazzale Roma onto the Grand Canal, in the bright morning sunlight, everything hangs like a Canaletto (1697-1768) canvas that is three dimensional, vast and alive. On either…

Melancholia

    Our sixth combat is with what the Greeks call ακηδια, which we may term weariness or distress of heart. This is akin to dejection, and is especially trying to solitaries, and dangerous and frequent foe to the dwellers in the desert… (Cassian circa 416 CE)   Ajax, in Sophocles’ play, after slaughtering cattle…

Poems of disquiet

    Sabi is the color of the poem. It does not necessarily refer to the poem that describes a lonely scene. If a man goes to war wearing stout armor or to a party dressed up in gay clothes, and if this man happens to be an old man, there is something lonely about…

Absence of mirrors

  Imagine an absence of mirrors. Without any reflective surface, how would anyone know what his face looked like? Whether or not he is comely? And, what of the link between his facial appearance and his self-identity, his distinctiveness? Everything is then in the eye, in the eye of the Other. In the absence of…

Borges and I

  In ‘Borges and I’ Borges (1899-1986) confronted the deep problems of the self, who we ultimately are, what persists of us when we die, and what our relationship is with the world and with our inner self. He said It would be an exaggeration to say that ours is a hostile relationship; I live,…

Vegas and over-extension of the flank

  We arrived at Las Vegas after a journey that took in Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, Panglitch & Zion. Zion was a different kind of place from Monument Valley or Bryce Canyon. The river, Virgin, was only at the start of its task to cut into the sandstone, gouging a canyon of the stature of…

Buttes, Mesas, Pillars and Time

I've been reading Eugene Minkowski's Lived Time. His preoccupation is with the structure of psychopathology as far as it concerns the experience of time. He does have novel ideas especially about future orientation or what he calls the future horizon. He makes the point that Desire, Hope and Prayer are future orientated. In melancholia, desire…

Verbal hallucinations

  I have just returned from Nice. European Psychiatrists were gathered together for 4 days talking about the issues that most concern us. At the heart of psychiatry is a concern for the individual who is in distress. The distress is subjectively experienced and has to be communicated in words, in language, in the main.…

Late Summer in Sussex

Late August 2009 we returned from Glyndebourne, travelling via Virginia Woolf's home, Monk's House Rodmell Sussex. We had seen a revival of Handel's Giulio Cesare and Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. We stopped for picnic lunch at a field not far from Monk's House and could see in the late summer light the River Ouse. Entering…