Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Dead Leaves



Dead Leaves
By Georgia Douglas Johnson

The breaking dead leaves ’neath my feet
A plaintive melody repeat,
Recalling shattered hopes that lie
As relics of a bygone sky.
 
Again I thread the mazy past,
Back where the mounds are scattered fast—
Oh! foolish tears, why do you start,
To break of dead leaves in the heart?

Monday, March 27, 2017

Fritz Morgenthaler



Fritz Morgenthaler modeling for Sculptor Karl Geiser (1930s)

Fritz Morgenthaler (Swiss 1919-1984) was later the first psychoanalyst who said that homosexuality is not an illness or a psychological defect.

Fritz Morgenthaler, a Swiss physician specializing in neurology and a member of the Swiss Psychoanalytic Society, was born at Oberhofen on July 19, 1919 and died on October 26, 1984, while visiting Addis Ababa.

The son of a famous painter (Ernst Morgenthaler) and doll designer Sacha Morgenthaler-von Sinner, he was also a painter and a professional juggler. He was educated in Zurich and Paris, studied medicine in Zurich and then worked as a physician in war-torn Bosnia for one year. This was the beginning of his friendship, then scientific collaboration and, beginning in 1952, joint practice with Paul Parin and Goldy Parin-Matthèy. In 1947 he commenced his analysis with Rudolf Brun. Between 1954 and 1971, Morgenthaler accompanied the Parins on six voyages of ethno-psychoanalytic research in West Africa (Parin, et al., 1963, 1971).

Most of Morgenthaler's remarkable influence was due to his charm and the intellectual sparkle of his personality as a lecturer, seminar director, and supervisor. Starting from a case history or a dream, he had an exceptional gift for communicating the psychic functioning of the patient, the unconscious emotional relations between the analyst and the analysand, and for discovering new and unexpected aspects therein. His original approach to Freud's dream in 1986: Ein Traum als Beweismittel (An evidential dream) is a good example of this: although he may not have opened up new theoretical pathways, he used Freudian concepts pertinently and effectively.

His often playfully dialectic mode of thinking earned him divided opinions with regard to the scientific value of his work. When his admirers praised him for making great progress and outstripping Freud in therapeutic technique (1978), in the theory of sexuality (1984), and in analyzing dreams (1988), more detached observers ranked him in classic psychoanalytic thinking somewhere between Freud and Kohut. In his later work he did, however, try to work politico-social (Marxist-inspired) concepts into the theory of psychic functioning, but without much success: the "sexual" as an indeterminate motion, without orientation of the primary process (1988, p. 106-107), is considered as an "emotionality" (p. 107) that alone enables us to "appear alive," (p. 107) and this "sexual" runs up against the "dictatorship of sexuality" (1988, p. 110), which is "established by the instinctual and ego developments by means of the events in the secondary process in order to absorb the motion of the primary process, guide it into certain controllable channels, and restrict it by means of conditions" (p. 110).


"Morgenthaler, Fritz (1919-1984)." International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. . Encyclopedia.com.(March 26, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/psychology/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/morgenthaler-fritz-1919-1984

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Taming the Tongue



Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.  So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. 

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
James 3:1-12
What James has to say here in the third chapter is very true, practical teaching. This is lesson number one on how to be a good disciple. James says it very plainly in verse 2. "For we all stumble in many ways." No question there. "And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body." He's not saying anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect in speaking, but is perfect, period. Because if we can get hold of what comes out of our mouth, it will keep everything else we do in check. It's the same thing that psychologists have been telling us, that Jesus told us long ago -- what comes out of the mouth reflects what's in the heart, and it's what's in the heart that makes us do the things that we do. Sin begins first in our heart. We get the next indication of it as it comes out of our lips. Then finally, as we have felt it inside, as we have spoken it aloud, we create it.

We often don't pay much attention to sins of the tongue—gossip, slander, lying, exaggeration. Perhaps it's because we so mindlessly commit these "respectable sins" that we don't regard them as seriously as we do sins such as hate or adultery.

Also, let's admit that bridling the tongue is tough.  All of my life, my father told me that "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."  Nevertheless, I grew up speaking "rashly like the thrusts of a sword" (Proverbs 12:18). As I matured as a Christian, I tried to follow the advice of my father by cutting back on my cutting words—behavior modification. But I discovered I was focusing on the wrong organ.

I got help from the New Testament writer James, who calls the tongue a fire, a world of iniquity, a restless evil full of deadly poison (James 3:6, 8). That's serious!  James continues, saying that although many birds and reptiles have been tamed, "no human can tame the tongue" (James 3:8). And James leaves it at that—without a how-to formula!

Then James seems to switch subjects. In 3:13-18, he says that evil behavior comes from bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart. This heart-mouth connection sounds like the teaching of his half-brother, Jesus: "For his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart" (Luke 6:45).

Our words create and they endure, and James tell us we have got to watch what we say. The very first step in Christian discipleship is being able to keep track of what comes out of our mouths, and to guide and shape that to make sure that the words are good, kind, loving, and truthful. It's the most basic form of self-control. As James says, if we get that right we're likely to get everything else right as well. The basic rule for Christian speech happens to be the basic rule for all the rest of Christian action -- do it in love. If you can't do it in love, don't do it. Whether it's speech or action, love is the guiding principle that underlies every law in scripture, that underlies everything God wants from us. We need to think about that.

So I encourage you to look at the things you say. How much of it is criticism? How much of it is loving? How do those weigh out in the balance? If you put them on a scale, do the loving words weigh heavier than the critical ones?  The most important thing is that you say what you say with love in your heart. Remember that who you're talking to is someone made in the image of God, and a person for whom Christ died. They may be driving you crazy, but say that to yourself again and again until you can speak as if you were speaking to Jesus. Then, nine times out of ten, whatever you say is going to be all right.

Friday, March 24, 2017

White Creek



Yesterday, I finished a book, White Creek: A Fable, that I want to tell you about. It's a witty, haunting tale of family and friendship, regret and redemption, set on a remote Wyoming cattle ranch in the dead of winter.

The White Creek Ranch has been in Hap Cobb’s family for over a century and a half, but Hap is now eighty-two, and the last surviving member of his family. Tart-tongued, moody, and all too often “a miserable old fart” (in the words of his long-suffering ranch hand and closest friend, Aaron Littlefield), Hap has no rival as a home cook, owns the best-stocked private library in the state, and prides himself on his “God-given ability” to exasperate everyone he meets. He is also a world classed foul mouthed old man. My favorite expletive statement he makes in the book is the hilarious "He's happier than a two twatted whore in a room full of Siamese twins." The enormous ranch house he inherited long ago from his grandfather stands mostly empty these days, save for Hap and Aaron, and while their life together is both busy and comfortable, Hap often loses himself in his past, knowing he has little future left. 

When a sudden blizzard hits one January evening, however, and Aaron opens the door to a young woman and a teenaged boy seeking shelter from the storm, everything Hap thought he knew about the world begins to shift. With these two unlooked-for houseguests, the White Creek Ranch soon becomes a wellspring of mystery and possibility, and will never be the same again.

A story of magical realism in the tradition of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and John Crowley. It's a book with magic or the supernatural, however you want to think of it, presented in an otherwise real-world setting. The supernatural only begins at the end though you realize that it's been going on throughout the book.

White Creek: A Fable is by Bart Yates, who lives in Iowa City, Iowa, and is the author of four previous novels: Leave Myself Behind (winner of the 2004 Alex Award), The Brothers Bishop, The Distance Between Us, and (writing as Noah Bly) The Third Hill North Of Town. When I first read Leave Myself Behind I loved it so much that I read it again. I never read a book twice, but this one I loved. I've devoured each of his books since. I have yet to read The Third Hill North Of Town, but it is on its way from Amazon. Yates has a way with words like few authors I've ever read. You will care about and fall in love with the characters. While White Creek is the latest of his books I've loved and read, I urge you to pick up any of these books and give them a read. I don't think you'll regret it.

Yates books Leave Myself Behind, The Brothers Bishop, and The Distance Between Us represent gay fiction at its zenith. White Creek isn't gay fiction but it is a damn good book, and I expect no less of The Third Hill North Of Town.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Thursday



I almost went to bed last night without scheduling a blog post. I happened to remember it just as I was trying to fall asleep. I spent last night catching up on a few tv shows. I watched Fued on FX. If you aren't watching Feud you should be. It's about the feud between Betty Davis and Joan Crawford. It's quite interesting. Then it watched Dancing with the Stars. Let me just say, Bonner Bolton is one more sexy cowboy. He's worth watching the show for. Him and Gleb, one of the dance coaches. Gleb is also an underwear model. He is sex on legs.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cold



Yesterday, we never got below freezing. Today, the high is supposed to be 17. Welcome to spring in Vermont.