Sunday, August 22, 2010

Homospatiality On The Beach

Albert Rothenberg, M.D. first described or discovered a process he termed "homospatial thinking," which consists of actively conceiving two or more discrete entities occupying the same space, a conception leading to the articulation of new identities. Homospatial thinking has a salient role in the creative process in the following wide variety of fields: literature, the visual arts, music, science, and mathematics. This cognitive factor, along with "Janusian thinking," clarifies the nature of creative thinking as a highly adaptive and primarily nonregressive form of functioning.

There is a section of my book Significant Moments whose manifest content depicts a man talking to an imaginary friend on the beach.  Superimposed on that content is another theme: a latent theme or metaphor -- the theme of nuclear war and annihilation.  I include quotations from Neville Shute's book On The Beach, a novel about the aftermath of a worldwide nuclear conflagration.

The themes of having an imaginary friend and of annihilation form a cohesive duality in the psychoanalytic fantasy of "the twin sibling" first described by Dorothy Burlingham.

A common daydream which in spite of its frequency has received very little attention to-date is the fantasy of possessing a twin. It is a conscious fantasy, built up in the latency period as the result of disappointment by the parents in the oedipus situation, in the child's search for a partner who will give him all the attention, love and companionship he desires and who will provide an escape from loneliness and solitude. The same emotional conditions are the basis of the family romance. In that well-known daydream the child in the latency period develops fantasies of having a better, kinder and worthier family than his own, which has so bitterly disappointed and disillusioned him. The parents have been unable to gratify the child's instinctual wishes; in disappointment his love turns to hate; he now despises his family and, in revenge, turns against it. He has death-wishes against the former love-objects, and as a result feels alone and forsaken in the world. Burlingham, D.T. "The Fantasy of Having a Twin." In: The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. Vol. 1 at 205 (1945). A further element in many daydreams of having a twin is that of the imaginary twin being a complement to the daydreamer. The latter endows his twin with all the qualities and talents that he misses in himself and desires for himself. The twin thus represents his superego. Id. at 209.

The fantasy of having a twin sibling is inextricably bound up with a fantasy concerning the destruction of the parents, which may be projected onto humanity at large. In the projection, the world is depopulated, empty of human beings.  Wagner's opera Gotterdammerung and D.H. Lawrence's novel Women in Love both feature the dual themes of "blood brother" and of world annihilation.

In the following text the theme of the imaginary friend is manifest.  Portions of the text referring to annihilation are highlighted in red.  The references to "gaming" (highlighted in green) might be a reference to Atlantic City and to Venice, Italy.  In the summer of 1978 I visited Venice (the city where the composer Richard Wagner wrote the second act of his opera Tristan und Isolde and the city in which he later died -- on February 13, 1883.  He had been staying in Venice with his family for an extended holiday since September 18, 1882).  I stayed at the Hotel des Bains in Venice, which had a casino.  Thomas Mann's novella, Death in Venice takes place at the Hotel des Bains -- on the Lido, a beach resort in Venice on the Adriatic Sea.  According to Freud, gambling is symbolic of masturbation.  See The Dream of Milton's Successor -- Part II.  (In that dream analysis I wrote:

"According to Freud, 'the 'vice' of masturbation is replaced by the mania for gambling; and the emphasis laid upon the passionate activity of the hands betrays this derivation. . . . The irresistible nature of the temptation, the solemn resolutions, which are nevertheless invariably broken, never to do it again, the numbing pleasure and the bad conscience which tells the subject that he is ruining himself (committing suicide)--all these elements remain unaltered in the process of substitution." In: Character and Culture at 202.

I note, incidentally, that in April 1987 I pointed out to my coworker and rival Craig Dye that his name was an anagram of the phrase "gray dice," dice carrying the connotation of gambling. The color gray may suggest the concept of ambiguity (being neither black nor white), possibly connoting sexual ambiguity.")

Of course, gaming has other meanings as well.

Hotel des Bains on the Lido in Venice, Italy:


What does paramita mean? It is rendered into Chinese by "reaching the other shore." Reaching the other shore means detachment from birth and death. Just because people of the world lack stability of nature, they find appearances of birth and death in all things, flow in the waves of various courses of existence, and have not arrived at the ground of reality as is: all of this is "this shore." It is necessary to have great insightful wisdom, complete in respect to all things, detached from appearances of birth and death—this is "reaching the other shore." It is also said that when the mind is confused, it is "this shore." When the mind is enlightened, it is "the other shore." When the mind is distorted, it is "this shore." When the mind is sound, it is "the other shore." If you speak of it and carry it out mentally, then your own reality body is imbued with paramita. If you speak of it but do not carry it out mentally, then there is no paramita.
Commentary on the Diamond Sutra.
“ . . . I have had many thoughts, but it would be difficult for me to tell you about them. But this is one thought that has impressed me, . . .
Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha.
. . . my friend.
William Shakespeare, Two Gentlemen of Verona.
Wisdom is not communicable. The wisdom which a wise man tries to communicate always sounds foolish.”
“Are you jesting?”
Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha.
. . . his friend asked.
Henry James, The Lesson of the Master.
“No, I am telling you what I have discovered. Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, be fortified by it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it. . . . ”
Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha.
He sank into a reverie and became lost within himself.
Hermann Hesse, Demian.
He hesitated, and then . . .
Neville Shute, On The Beach.
. . . he continued, assuming the role of a mentor.
Arthur Rubinstein, My Young Years.
King Janaka, the legendary ruler of the Kingdom of Mithila in India, was once conversing on top of a hill overlooking his city with a wise Buddhist monk. The monk said, "King, look down and across the valley. Do you see those flames? Your city burns." Janaka was not perturbed. He watched quietly for a few minutes, then turned to the monk and said these words, which have been handed down for centuries in India as the quintessence of wisdom: "Mithilayam pradiptayam, na me dahyte kincana (In the conflagration of Mithila, nothing of mine is burned)." The story is told to demonstrate detachment, and the transcendence of any sense of ownership. What was truly Janaka's (love, for example) could not be burned.
J. Moussaieff Masson, Final Analysis: The Making and Unmaking of a Psychoanalyst.
Where is now my wisdom in this confusion?
Richard Wagner, Gotterdammerung.
—In truth, . . .
The Diary of Richard Wagner 1865-1882 – The Brown Book.
I feel a little bit like Janaka without the wisdom.
J. Moussaieff Masson, Final Analysis: The Making and Unmaking of a Psychoanalyst.
As I look back over my development and survey what I have achieved so far, . . .
Franz Kafka, A Report to an Academy.
. . . both in the university and in the professional world of psychoanalysis, I see flames, and the consumption of my life's work. My bridges are truly burned. But while I feel any kind of sadness and a nostalgia for what might have been, I cannot truly say that I am sorry for the loss.
J. Moussaieff Masson, Final Analysis: The Making and Unmaking of a Psychoanalyst.
He paused.
Bram Stoker, The Man.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
T.S. Eliot, Excerpt from “Burnt Norton.”
He begins to read, then lets it slip from his fingers, leans back, picks reflectively at . . .
Simon Grey, Butley.
. . . particles of sand . . .
Charles Darwin, The Voyage of the Beagle.
. . . On the Beach.
Neville Shute, On the Beach.
There was another place . . .
Richard Wilbur, Excerpt from “Someone Talking to Himself.”
. . . I have forgotten
And remember.
Simon Grey, Butley quoting T.S. Eliot, “Marina.”
He paused again, dreaming, lost in a reverie, then just above a whisper, murmured:
Frank Norris, The Octopus.
some other place—
George Eliot, The Lifted Veil.
fuck . . . Where?
Simon Grey, Butley.
By the hallowed . . .
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust (Part II) (Final Scene).
. . . inner sanctum, . . .
Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lost World.
. . . at the portal . . .
O. Henry, The Headhunter.
. . . to that . . .
Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Guardian Angel.
. . . last of meeting places . . .
Neville Shute, On the Beach quoting T.S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men.”
. . . in a world of time beyond me;
T.S. Eliot, Excerpt from “Marina.”
By the mystic arm immortal
Warning me to go my way;
By my forty years’ . . .
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust (Part II) (Final Scene).
. . . material existence . . .
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Devil in Manuscript.
. . . in this strange and savage world, . . .
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan the Terrible.
May I be excused for saying that I was forty years old?
Jules Verne, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
In the waste and desert land,
By the words of . . .
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust (Part II) (Final Scene).
. . . my banishment, . . .
E. Phillips Oppenheim, The Great Impersonation.
. . . the sentence,
Traced in parting, on the sand—
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust (Part II) (Final Scene).
(after a pause).
Simon Gray, Butley.
So long ago!
Frances Hodgson Burnett, T. Tembarom.
There is a silence.
Simon Grey, Butley.
Since you . . .
Lucy Maud Montgomery, The Golden Road.
. . . miscall’d the Morning Star,
Nor man nor fiend hath fallen so far.
George Gordon, Lord Byron, Excerpt from “Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte.”
“You might say that . . . ”
Agatha Christie, The Secret Adversary.
You played . . .
Thomas Hardy, A Pair of Blue Eyes.
. . . an intellectual game for high stakes, . . .
Peter Gay, Freud: A Life for Our Times.
. . . And you lost
Bret Harte, The Three Partners.
That my friend, . . .
Jeffrey Farnol, The Broad Highway.
. . . was your fate, and that your daring.—
The Diary of Richard Wagner 1865-1882 – The Brown Book, Epitaph for Karl Tausig—For the Marble Tablet.
‘I—suppose so.’
Thomas Hardy, A Pair of Blue Eyes.
I was an experiment on the part of Nature, a gamble within the unknown, perhaps for a new purpose, perhaps for nothing, and my only task was to allow this game on the part of primeval depths to take its course, to feel its will within me and make it wholly mine.
Hermann Hesse, Demian.
Perhaps my best years are gone. When there was a chance of happiness. But I wouldn’t want them back. Not with the fire in me now. No, I wouldn’t want them back.
Samuel Beckett, Krapp’s Last Tape.
As I look back now, it seems to me I must have had at least an inkling that I had to find a way out or die, but that my way out could not be reached through flight.
Franz Kafka, A Report to an Academy.
I could see he was talking about things he had brooded on for a long time and felt very strongly about.
Alexander Gladkov, Meetings with Pasternak: A Memoir.
He paused for a moment, then continued:
Arthur Rubinstein, My Young Years.
Many complain that the words of the wise are always merely parables and of no use in daily life, which is the only life we have. When the sage says: "Go over," he does not mean that we should cross to some actual place, which we could do anyhow if the labor were worth it; he means some fabulous yonder, something unknown to us, something too that he cannot designate more precisely, and therefore cannot help us here in the very least. All these parables really set out to say merely that the incomprehensible is incomprehensible, and we know that already. But the cares we have to struggle with every day: that is a different matter.
Concerning this a man once said: Why such reluctance? If you only followed the parables you yourselves would become parables and with that rid of all your daily cares.
Another said: I bet that is also a parable.
The first said: You have won.
The second said: But unfortunately only in parable.
The first said: No, in reality: in parable you have lost.
Franz Kafka, On Parables.
When he finished talking, . . .
Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha.
. . . his companion, . . .
Rudyard Kipling, Kim.
. . . an imaginary companion . . .
Virginia Woolf, Night and Day.
. . . to be sure, . . .
Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil.
. . .both ideal self and . . .
Lancaster University, Seamus Heaney and the ‘Othering’ of Britishness.
. . . fantasized “Other” . . .
Nihan Yelutas, Otherness Doubled: Being a Migrant and “Oriental” at the Same Time.
. . . but no less . . .
Thomas Hardy, A Pair of Blue Eyes. 
. . . his intimate and beloved companion . . .
Dorothy T. Burlingham, The Fantasy of Having a Twin.
. . . directed his somewhat weakened glance at him.
Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha.
It was very quiet then.
David Evanier, The Man Who Refused to Watch the Academy Awards.
A volley of the sun . . .
Richard Wilber, Excerpt from “Someone Talking to Himself.”
. . . shone down on them out of a cloudless sky, warm and comforting;
Neville Shute, On The Beach.
. . . Siddhartha sat absorbed, his . . .
Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha.
. . . clouded mind in a flash of illumination became an open mind: vast like the ocean and the sky. Yes, the eyes . . .
Siegfried Hessing, Prologue with Spinozana—Parallels via East and West in Speculum Spinozanum 1677-1977.
. . . his eyes far away yet gleaming like stars, . . .
Cosima Wagner’s Diaries (Tuesday, October 31, 1882 [while in Venice]).
. . . staring as if directed at a distant goal, the tip of his tongue showing a little between his teeth. He did not seem to be breathing. He sat thus, lost in meditation, thinking Om, his soul as arrow directed at Brahman.
Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha.
Then, quite unheralded, came the following cry from the heart:
Martin Gregor-Dellin, Richard Wagner: His Life, His Work, His Century.
"Why is it that you have not done great things in this world? With the power that is yours you might have risen to any height. Unpossessed of conscience or moral instinct, you might have mastered the world, broken it to your hand. And yet here you are, at the top of your life, where diminishing and dying begin, living an obscure and sordid existence, . . . reveling in a piggishness, to use your own words, which is anything and everything except splendid. Why, with all that wonderful strength, have you not done something? There was nothing to stop you, nothing that could stop you. What was wrong? Did you lack ambition? Did you fall under temptation? What was the matter? What was the matter?"
Jack London, The Sea Wolf.
He found it difficult to think; he really had no desire to, but he forced himself.
Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha.
He lifted his eyes to me at the commencement of my outburst, and followed me complacently until I had done and stood before him breathless and dismayed. He waited a moment as though seeking where to begin, and then said, "[Friend], do you know the parable of the sower who went forth to sow? If you will remember,
some of the seed fell upon stony places, where there was not much earth, and forthwith they sprung up because they had no deepness of earth. And when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.  And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprung up and choked them."
"Well?" I said.
"Well?" he queried, half petulantly. "It was not well. I was one of those seeds."
Jack London, The Sea Wolf.


Gary Freedman said...

Message for the D.C. Court of Appeals: Are you aware of just how much meaning there is in "trivial events?"

We psychoanalysts and members of law enforcement appreciate that fact. Speaking metaphorically, we revel in latent finger prints, trace DNA evidence, tone of voice, etc.

Why would that fact seem incredible to a Court of Appeals?

Gary Freedman said...

The word "die" itself is homospatial: it combines the idea of death and of gambling.

Gary Freedman said...

I had a friend named Craig W. Dye. We both worked at Hogan & Hartson. I always suspected he was homospatial.