The Boy With the Perpetual Nervousness review- a narrative of disloyalty by the church15 days ago
Graham Caveneys defiant, important memoir details how the Catholic establishment fails abuse victims
Pope Francis has taken great strides in challenging all sorts of entrenched attitudes and prejudices in the Vatican that have given the Catholic church such a bad name of late. Progression has been disappointingly slow, however, on the commission he appointed in 2014 to tackle the appalling scandal of clerical sexual abuse. In March of this year Marie Collins, the last remaining is part of the panel who was a survivor of abuse, resigned after a Vatican department failed to comply with the commissions recommendation that it respond to every correspondent who writes in with allegations that they have been a victim. If the curia is resisting such simple steps, how to have faith that they will tackle the bigger underlying issues?
Reluctance to face up to the consequences of clerical abuse remains hard-wired into the structures of the church: an instinct to protect the institution at the cost of the individual who has suffered, and a brick-wall resistance to addressing the profound questions about the nature of vocation posed by such abhorrent behaviour. And so church leaders not all, awarded; surely not Pope Francis tend to speak of historical allegations whenever victims find the gallantry to speak up 20, 30 or even 40 years after events that are not for them in any way historical, but are a psychological and emotional trauma they will live with until their succumbing day.
Individuals like Graham Caveney. The Boy With the Perpetual Nervousness recounts with great courage and candour how, in the 1970 s, as the clever, awkward, nerdy, merely child of devoutly Catholic working-class parents in Accrington, Lancashire, he was groomed by a priest at his local grammar school in Blackburn, and then sexually abused by him.
A casual glance might indicate he has managed to set it behind him he has a successful career as a novelist on music( the voices of the 70 s are one thread of this well-structured, rounded memoir) and biographer of William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg. But as he describes, without self-pity, Caveney fell out of university, struggled to kind adult relationships, turned to beverage and drugs to blot out the trauma, and on occasion attempted suicide.
The abuse leads you to fuck up their own lives, he reflects bleakly but unsparingly, and a fucked-up life means that youre a less believable witness to the abuse that fucked you up in the first place. Its an ironic trick of memory and survival: abuse induces you want to forget the abuse.
John and Kath, his mum and father, had no idea what was wrong. They watched their beloved boy, in whom they had expended so much hope that he would have more life opportunities than them, change first into a sulky, angry adolescent who refused to go to mass, and then into a messed-up wreck, beset by panic attacks.
They died in 1998 and 2002, still none the wiser. They continued to direct their flailing son back towards his old headteacher for wise advise, never suspecting that Father Kevin ONeill had sexually abused him as a 15 -year-old and set off the downward spiral.
The Caveneys had believed that the youthful, relaxed Rev Kev the Catholic equivalent of a trendy vicar was doing their boy a favor by taking him to theaters, cinemas and restaurants, broadening his intellect. What they couldnt know was that on the way home, the priest they looked up to would turn his vehicle into quiet side-road and force himself on their son. Afterwards, where reference is invited young Graham to go on holiday to Greece with him and a group of others, John and Kath enlisted the help of relatives to scrape together the cost, but it was just a pretext for more abuse.
Its them that I cant forgive you for, Caveney writes, addressing his abuser in the pages of a book that must have cost him dear to complete, the route in which you stimulated their hopes and aspirations the tools of your own needs. Its them who expended their lives worrying if it was something they had done wrong to make their son turn out the way he did.
Given how much Catholic grammar schools from the 1950 s through to the 1970 s were the road by which generations of working-class Catholic boys and girls got to get in life the Irish Christian Friend in my own home township of Liverpool boasted that they took the sons of dockers and built them into physicians it is impossible to believe that the disloyalty of Graham Caveney and his mothers is an isolated incident. How widespread it is, however, remains impossible to know because every bit of information has to be dragged out of a compulsively secretive church that recoils from guessing in terms of deep-rooted, complex patterns of abuse.
And what happened when Caveney identified his abuser in the early 1990 s to Father ONeills religious order, the Marists? Id merely slashed up my limbs, he adds, by way of context. The clergyman was challenged, apparently confessed his crimes, but was referred to a US therapy centre rather than the police. In 1993, he retired with full honors as headteacher. Kath even sent her son a cutting about the celebrations from the local paper. You were always one of his favourites, she reminded him. The report told of ex-pupils lining up to sing the clergymen praises, little suspecting how they too had been betrayed.
ONeill died in 2011, the serious charges against him encompassed up to the grave. He still doesnt seem to appear on any register I can find of abusive clergy. What distresses Caveney almost as much as the churchs failure to involve the police and courts is that he now can never confront his abuser, save in this raw, defiant but important memoir. A part of him, he confesses, still thinks in his darkest moments that what happened was somehow his own fault.
What was it about me? he asks. You watch, theres a bit of me that still believes Im unique, that I genuinely was your prime number, indivisible merely by myself. I dont want to think of myself as part of a pattern, merely another victim.
ONeills old school, St Marys, Blackburn, today has a drama block named after him, an honour accorded despite the Marist order having been told about Caveneys accusations virtually 20 years earlier. Is it plausible that there is no one who knew of them who could have spoken up? Or did they consider that whatever good he had done at the school cancelled out sexually abusing a 15 -year-old in his care? It is part of the same impossible-to-fathom and offensive attitude that now apparently stops Vatican officials answering letters from those reporting abuse, in defiance of the pope.
Quite how long it will take for that prejudice to be defeated, I dont know. But after they have read The Boy With the Perpetual Nervousness , the school governors might at least like to revisit the naming of their drama block, which scratch salt into open wounds.
Peter Stanford is a former editor of the Catholic Herald
The Boy With the Perpetual Nervousness by Graham Caveney is published by Picador on 7 September( 14.99 ). To order a transcript for 12.74 go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p& p over 10, online orders only. Telephone orders min p& p of 1.99
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Fifty tints of Xi: scores of volumes praising chairman published in China17 days ago
Blitz on bookshelves comes ahead of next weeks political summit and includes tomes including Xi Jinping: Know More, Love More
” This is the first volume I’ve read on Xi ,” acknowledges software engineer Wu Huifeng as he leafs through one of the most recent tomes of China’s prolific president.
It need not be his last.
A Communist party publishing blitz ahead of next week’s political summit entails the shelves of Chinese bookshops are now packed with Xi Jinping-themed works designed to strengthen both his reputation and his rule.
Immediately inside the entrance to the state-run Beijing Book Building, one of the capital’s largest stores, a lately inaugurated showing features at least 50 runs by or about China’s scribbler-in-chief.
” The speech is simple and sincere – quite down-to-earth, I think ,” said Wu, 43, who was perusing one of the most recent publishings, a 452 -page paperback about Xi’s seven years of rural exile during the Culture Revolution that sells for 76 yuan( PS8. 75 ).
Nearby, Fan Yubiao, a 22 -year-old salesman, was examining another recent volume, Xi Jinping’s Discourse on Youth and the Work of the Chinese Communist Youth League.
” Xi’s quite a good person. He’s strict ,” Fan said, praising his leader’s populist anti-corruption campaign which has toppled some of China’s most powerful politicians since he took power in 2012.
The works of Xi- who some now suspect will seek to remain in power beyond the customary decade- boasting titles both stirring and sterile.
At the Beijing Book Building you can buy catchily named volumes including Xi Jinping: Wit and Vision, Xi Jinping: Know More, Love More and Xi Jinping Tells Stories as well as the president’s best-known opus, Xi Jinping: The Governance of China.
Other titles are less enticing: Xi Jinping: Statements on the Construction of a Clean Government and the Anti-Corruption Campaign, Excerpts from Xi Jinping: Comprehensively Managing the Party in Strict Manner, and, for environmentalists, Xi Jinping’s Discourse on Ecological Improvement.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: ‘Can people please stop telling me feminism is hot? ‘1 month, 11 days ago
The novelist has been accused of making equality mainstream: isnt that the phase? Plus an excerpt from her new Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was in Lagos last summer, teaching a writing workshop as part of an annual schedule that considers her period divided between Nigeria and the US. For much of the year, Adichie lives in a town 30 minutes west of Baltimore, where her Nigerian-American spouse runs as a medic and the 39 -year-old writes in the quiet of a suburban home. When Adichie is in Nigeria, where her parents and extended family still live, she has a house in the vast city she considers with the complicated love and condescension of the part-time expat.
Its an ambivalence with which many Nigerians regard her, too; last year, the workshop ended in a question-and-answer session, during which a young man rose to ask the famous novelist a question. I used to love you, she recalls him saying. Ive read all your volumes. But since you started this whole feminism thing, and since you started to talk about this gay thing, Im simply not sure about you any more. How do you intend to keep the love of people like me?
Adichie and I are in a coffee shop near her home in the Baltimore suburbs. We have met before, a few years ago, when her third novel Americanah was published, a book that examines what it is to be a Nigerian woman living in the US, and that went on to win a National Book Critics Circle award. A plenty has happened since then. Half Of A Yellow Sun, Adichies second and most well known novel, about the Biafran war, has been built into a film starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and Thandie Newton. Her essay, We Should All Be Feminists, accommodated from her 2013 TEDx talk, has remained on the bestseller listings, particularly in Sweden, where in 2015 it was distributed to every 16 -year-old high-school student in the land. The talk was sampled by Beyonc in her ballad Flawless. Adichie has become the face of Boots No7 makeup. And she has had a baby, a daughter , now 15 months old.
Adichie is still somewhat in the blast zone , not entirely caught up on sleep, but has published a short book, Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions, an extended version of a letter to a friend who, after having her own baby girl, asked Adichies advice on how to raise her to be feminist. I have had twin girls myself since our last meeting, so I am curious about her approach , not least because one of my two-year-olds currently identifies as Bob the Builder and the other as Penelope Pitstop. I would like to equip them to be themselves, while defying whatever projections might be foisted upon them. We depict each other baby photos and smile. Welcome to the world of anxiety, Adichie says.
The success of We Should All Be Feminists has attained Adichie as prominent for her feminism as for her novels, to the extent that now I get invited to every damned feminist thing in countries around the world. She has always been an agony aunt of sorts, the unpaid therapist for my family and friends, but having the feminist label attached has changed things, and not only among her intimates. I was opened to a certain level of enmity that I hadnt experienced before as a novelist and public figure.
This is partly why she has written the new volume, to reclaim the word feminism from its abusers and misusers, a category within which she would include certain other progressives, and to lay down in plain, elegant English her beliefs about child-raising.
Dear Ijeawele is, in some way, a very basic situated of appeals; to be careful with speech( never say because you are a girl ), avoid gendered dolls, foster read, dont treat marriage as an accomplishment, reject likability. Her chore is not to induce herself likable, her job must therefore be her full self, she writes in reference to her friends daughter, a selection Adichie has come to elevate almost above any other.
That day in Lagos last summertime, her friends were furious at the cheek of the young mans topic, but she instead liked his courage and franknes in asking it. She replied in the same spirit. Keep your love, Adichie said. Because, sadly, while I love to be loved, I will not accept your love if it comes with these conditions.
Having a newborn has built Adichie believe differently about her own parents, especially her mother. Grace Adichie, who had six “childrens and” worked her way up from being a university administrator to the registrar, taught her daughter to love manner as well as volumes, and was a very cool mum whom she idolised as small children. Nonetheless, and in the manner of most snotty young adults, young Chimamanda went through a phase of being very superior to her mom. Now, the novelist looks at her daughter and gulps.
Adichie recently came across her own kindergarten reports. My father keeps them all. You know what the educator wrote? She is brilliant, but she refuses to do any run when shes rile. I was five years old. She laughs. I couldnt believe it. My husband couldnt believe it. I must have been an riling child.
Its not as if she comes from a family of revolutionaries. My mothers are not like that. Theyre conventional, reasonable, responsible, good, kind people. Im the crazy. But their love and subsistence made that crazy thrive.
Unlike Adichie, who was raised exclusively in Nigeria, her daughter will be raised in two cultures and subject to somewhat diverging social expectations. Already, Adichie says with a laugh, friends and relatives from home are concerned that her mothering is insufficiently stern.
A friend was just visiting and she said to me, Your parenting is not very Nigerian. In Nigeria and, I suppose, in many cultures you control children. And I feel like, my daughter is 15 months, she doesnt have a sense of consequences. And I enjoy watching her. So she tears a page of a volume? Whatever. She hurls my shoes down. So? Its fun. I love that shes quite strong-willed. The joke between Adichie and her husband whom, to her intense aggravation, their daughter looks much more like is that her character cleaves to the maternal side. He says to me, Well, at least we know where she got her personality from. Shes quite fierce.
In the new book, Adichies advice is not just to provide children with alternatives to empower boys and girls to understand there is no single style to be but also to understand that the only universal in this world is difference. In terms of the evolution of feminism, these are not new lessons, but that is rather Adichies phase. She is not writing for other feminist writers, and demonstrates some annoyance at what she sees as the solipsism of much feminist debate.
That morning, on the way to see her, I had read a review of a new volume by Jessa Crispin, entitled Why I Am Not A Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto, a criticism of everything that is wrong with feminism today. If one can get over the eye-rolling aspect of volumes by feminists decrying the feminism of other feminists for degrading the word feminist by being insufficiently feminist, the book does raise questions about where 1 should be focusing ones efforts.
I Love Dick review- a treat for the intellect and the heart1 month, 12 days ago
Transparent creator Jill Soloway recasts the cult fiction about academics in a love triangle into a show thats innovative, well-acted and visually sumptuous
I Love Dick, the latest show by Transparent inventor Jill Soloway, boasts many amazing scenes, but the best is a sexuality fiction that imagines what media would be like from the female gaze. Movies and TV shows are littered with instances of men dreaming about women they are obsessed with but cant have guessed Kevin Spaceys rose-strewn sexcapades in American Beauty but here, a woman imagines being sexually pleasured by a human in a restaurant bathroom. Rather than naked breasts and breathy seductions, we consider waiters carrying plates with stuffed rabbits, a confident guy telepathically intuiting a womans needs, and a stoic stock figure of American masculinity filling out a white T-shirt in such a way that hasnt been ensure since James Deans death.
The woman is Chris( Kathryn Hahn ), a film-maker who has moved to Marfa, Texas, from New York City for the summer while her husband, academic Sylvre( Griffin Dunne ), has a residency for the season. The object of Chriss fixation and annoyance is Dick( Kevin Bacon ), the charismatic intellectual who selected her husband for the program. Dick is described as post-idea, but one budding aesthete at a cocktail party tells Chris that Dicks writing seminar has a two-year waiting list that hes been on for three years.
The show is based on the novel of the same name by Chris Kraus, and both the book and television reveal blur the lines between reality and fiction, intellectual epistemology and academic irony, and fine-fingered love and ruddy-faced lust. Every letter is a love letter, Chris tells Dick in a letter she writes as a short story to try to explain her love, but the protean formats simply construct things more complicated. Things get even more muddled when Chriss neighbor Devon( Roberta Colindrez) determined on stage a play about a couple that moves to Marfa from New York in which the woman detests herself and her husband detests her too.
Working off of a teleplay by Sarah Gubbins, Soloway lays out a series of inventive techniques, including the use of title cards to spell out Chriss narration and the aforementioned surreal fantasy sequence. The best innovation is when the footage turns from video to a series of still photographs, slackening everything down to a series of impressions which give it an intensity and visual fortitude that cant be found elsewhere. However, it is a technique that might construct some viewers streaming the present think that their Wi-Fi connections have abruptly seized up.
The performances are excellent, including Hahns harried film-maker yearn to love and be loved, and Bacons hollow-faced Dick whose misogynistic bravado( he thinks all cinemas by female directors suck) belies a human still mourning his recently deceased wife.
But the real starring of the show is Soloway, who proves here that she is one of the keenest minds working in television today. Like Transparent, I Love Dick is a heartbreaking, insightful and funny look at modern relationships. However, unlike in Transparent , none of these people are detestable. The skewering of the intelligentsia is sharp but accurate, as Sylvre insists that the Holocaust requires reinterpreting, but what keeps the 30 -minute program rolling is the idea of these three people thumping up against a longing for authentic feeling in a world that spoils everything with over-analysis.
While Amazon has yet to order the pilot to series, I can only imagine it is about how relationships become unglued and how artists become creatively unstuck. Just like the pilot to Transparent, this is a very promising beginning that points to a series imploring to be binged , no matter what insanely brilliant format it eventually takes.
Read more: www.theguardian.com
Therapy wars: the revenge of Freud | Oliver Burkeman1 month, 16 days ago
The long read: Cheap and effective, CBT became the dominant kind of therapy, consigning Freud to psychologys dingy basement. But new analyzes have cast doubt on its domination and presented dramatic results for psychoanalysis. Is it is high time to get back on the lounge?
Dr David Pollens is a psychoanalyst who assures his patients in a modest ground-floor office on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, a neighbourhood probably only rivalled by the Upper West Side for the highest concentration of therapists anywhere on countries around the world. Pollens, who is in his early 60 s, with thinning silver hair, sits in a wooden armchair at the head of a sofa; his patients lie on the lounge, facing away from him, the very best to investigate their most embarrassing fears or fantasies. Many of them come several times a week, sometimes for years, in keeping with analytic tradition. He has an impressive track record treating anxiety, depression and other disorders in adults and children, through the medium of uncensored and largely unstructured talk.
To visit Pollens, as I did one darknes wintertimes afternoon late last year, is to plunge immediately into the arcane Freudian speech of resistance and neurosis, transference and counter-transference. He exudes a sort of warm neutrality; you could easily imagine telling him your most troubling secrets. Like other members of his tribe, Pollens ensure himself as an excavator of the catacomb of the unconscious: of the sex drives that lurk beneath awareness; the hatred we feel for those we claim to love; and the other distasteful truths about ourselves we dont know, and often dont wish to know.
But theres a very well-known narrative when it comes to therapy and the relief of agony and it leaves Pollens and his fellow psychoanalysts decisively on the wrong side of history. For a start, Freud( this story runs) has been debunked. Young boys dont lust after their mothers, or fear their fathers will castrate them; adolescent girls dont envy their brethren penises. No brain scan has in the past situated the ego, super-ego or id. The practice of charging clients steep fees to ponder their childhoods for years while characterising any objections to this process as resistance, demanding farther psychoanalysis looks to many like a swindle. Arguably no other notable figure in history was so fantastically incorrect about nearly every important thing he had to say than Sigmund Freud, the philosopher Todd Dufresne proclaimed a few years back, summing up the consensus and echoing the Nobel prize-winning scientist Peter Medawar, who in 1975 called psychoanalysis the most stupendous intellectual confidence trick of the 20 th century. It was, Medawar went on, a terminal product as well something akin to a dinosaur or a zeppelin in the history of notions, a vast structure of radically unsound design and with no posterity.
A jumble of therapies emerged in Freuds wake, as therapists struggled to set their endeavours on a sounder empirical footing. But from all these approaches including humanistic therapy, interpersonal therapy, transpersonal therapy, transactional analysis and so on its generally agreed that one emerged triumphant. Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, is a down-to-earth technique focused not on the past but the present; not on mysterious inner drives, but on adjusting the unhelpful think patterns that cause negative emotions. In contrast to the meandering conversations of psychoanalysis, a typical CBT exercise might involve filling out a flowchart to identify the self-critical automatic thoughts that occur whenever you face a setback, like being criticised at work, or rejected after a date.
CBT has always had its critics, primarily on the left, because its cheapness and its focus on getting people promptly back to productive work constructs it suspiciously attractive to cost-cutting politicians. But even those opposed to it on ideological grounds have rarely questioned that CBT does the job. Since it first emerged in the 1960 s and 1970 s, so many studies have stacked up in its favour that, these days, the clinical lingo empirically supported therapies is usually simply a synonym for CBT: its the one thats based on facts. Seek a therapy referral on the NHS today, and youre much more likely to end up , not in anything resembling psychoanalysis, but in a short series of highly structured sessions with a CBT practitioner, or perhaps learning methods to interrupt your catastrophising believing via a PowerPoint presentation, or online.
Yet rumblings of dissent from the vanquished psychoanalytic old guard have never quite gone away. At their core is a fundamental disagreement about human nature about why we suffer, and how, if ever, we can hope to find peace of mind. CBT exemplifies a very concrete opinion of painful emotions: that theyre principally something be removed, or failing that, made tolerable. A condition such as depression, then, is a bit like a cancerous cancer: sure, it might be useful to figure out where it came from but its far more important to get rid of it. CBT doesnt exactly claim that happiness is easy, but it does imply that its relatively simple: your distress is caused by your irrational faith, and its within your power to confiscate hold of those faiths and change them.
Psychoanalysts contend that things are much more complicated. For one thing, psychological pain needs first not to be eliminated, but understood. From this perspective, depression is less like a tumour and more like a stabbing ache in your abdomen: its telling you something, and you need to find out what.( No responsible GP would just pump you with painkillers and send you home .) And happiness if such a thing is even achievable is a much murkier matter. We dont actually know our own minds, and we often have powerful motives for keeping things that way. We find life through the lens of our earliest relationships, though we usually dont realise it; we want contradictory things; and change is slow and hard. Our conscious minds are tiny iceberg-tips on the dark ocean of the unconscious and you cant genuinely investigated that ocean by means of CBTs simple, standardised, science-tested steps.
This viewpoint has much romantic appeal. But the analysts debates fell on deaf ears so long as experimentation after experiment seemed to confirm the superiority of CBT which helps explain the shocked response to a study, published last May, that seemed to show CBT get less and less effective, as a therapy for depression, over time.
Examining scores of earlier experimental trials, two researchers from Norway concluded that its consequence sizing a technological measure of its usefulness had fallen by half since 1977.( In the unlikely event that this trend were to persist, it could be entirely useless in a few decades .) Had CBT somehow benefited from a kind of placebo impact all along, effective merely so long as people believed it was a miracle cure?
That puzzle was still being digested when researchers at Londons Tavistock clinic published results in October from the first rigorous NHS study of long-term psychoanalysis as a treatment for chronic depression. For the most severely depressed, it concluded, 18 months of analysis worked far better and with much longer-lasting effects than treatment as usual on the NHS, which included some CBT. Two years after the various therapies ended, 44% of analysis patients no longer fulfilled the criteria for major depression, compared to one-tenth of the others. Around the same day, the Swedish press reported a finding from government auditors there: that a multimillion pound scheme to reorient mental healthcare towards CBT had proved completely ineffective in meeting its goals.
Such findings, it turns out, arent isolated and in their midst, a newly emboldened band of psychoanalytic therapists are pressing the instance that CBTs pre-eminence has been largely built on sand. Indeed, they argue that teaching people to guess themselves to wellness might sometimes make things worse. Every thoughtful person knows that self-understanding isnt something you get from the drive-thru, said Jonathan Shedler, a psychologist at the University of Colorado medical school, who is one of CBTs most unsparing critics. His default bearing is one of wry good humour, but exasperation ruffled his demeanor whenever our dialogue dwelt too long on CBTs claims of supremacy. Novelists and poets seemed to have understood this truth for thousands of years. Its only in the last few decades that people have said, Oh , no, in 16 sessions we can change lifelong patterns! If Shedler and others are right, it may be time for psychologists and therapists to re-evaluate much of what they thought they knew about therapy: about what works, what doesnt, and whether CBT has really consigned the cliche of the chin-stroking shrink and with it, Freuds picture of the human mind to history. The impact of such a re-evaluation could be profound; eventually, it might even change how millions of people around the world are treated for psychological problems.
How does that stimulate “youre feeling”?
Freud was full of horseshit ! the therapist Albert Ellis, arguably the progenitor of CBT, liked to say. Its hard to deny he had a phase. One big part of the problem for psychoanalysis has been the evidence that its founder was something of a charlatan, prone to distorting his findings, or worse.( In one especially eye-popping example, which only came to sun in the 1990 s, Freud told a patient, the American psychiatrist Horace Frink, that his sadnes stemmed from an inability to recognise that he was lesbian and hinted that the answer lay in making a large fiscal contribution to Freuds run .)
Drama queens: why it’s all about women and power on screen right now2 months, 6 days ago
From George RR Martins Game of Thrones to Margaret Atwoods The Handmaids Tale, fantastical narratives with women centre stage are everywhere. Feminist? Misogynist? Thats not the point
Fictions set in alternative realities have enjoyed huge popularity recently, which is perhaps unsurprising in a post-truth world. For the past decades or so, Hollywood appeared to have almost given up producing any cinema that was not about a comic book superhero opposing a CGI apocalypse: Thor , The Unbelievable Hulk , Captain America , Iron Man , Superman , Batman , Spider-Man , X-Men , even Ant-Man . Some might wonder if Hollywood was over-compensating: if you want to know what a crisis in popular masculinity looks like, appear no farther then all those super, super men. Even groups of superheroes, such as Guardians of the Galaxy and the Fantastic Four, rigorously preserved the culture statutory maximum of 25% female population for any group of leaders. The most realistic part of superhero movies, in fact, is that all the power is generally in the hands of white humen; physical laws might get overturned, but not political ones.
Gradually, however, females are pushing their way into the cultural tale on terms other than those defined by humen. Last summertime brought an all-female Ghostbusters , followed this summer by Wonder Woman , who leapt off a cliff and landed squarely, bow depict, in the centre of this masculine ground. From The Hunger Game to Game of Thrones , audiences have demonstrated a growing appetite for allegorical tales about women with political and moral authority: after more than 50 years and 12 incarnations, even Doctor Who s Doctor is ultimately about to become a woman.
Superhero movies are conspicuously allegories about power: they are preoccupied with its sources, how to control it, how to justify it. They are the fantasies of superpowers. What made Wonder Woman seem so different, and such a pleasure to so many spectators, was that its narrative remained focused throughout on the question of womens relationship to power. Induced by and starring females, the cinema has been a global blockbuster, dedicating the franchise commercial power, which is the only kind Hollywood pays attention to; but the cinema itself has provoked a debate over what this allegory of female power is actually saying. Meanwhile, one of the years most-discussed television series was also about women and power, albeit in a much less celebratory mode. The Handmaids Tale asks explicit questions about what happens in a totalitarian patriarchal society that denies girls access to all economic, legal and political rights. And now Game of Thrones , which is equally very interested in women and power, has finally premiered its seventh series to its tenterhooked fans.
Three days with The Dice Man:’ I never wrote for fund or fame’2 months, 14 days ago
His 1971 fiction was a countercultural sensation, selling 2m transcripts. But the author has surrounded himself in mystery. Why?
When I read The Dice Man 15 years ago, I wanted to know who had written it, and why. It read more like an act of survival than a novel, but whether it was the authors survival or mine, I wasnt sure. I had stopped drinking alcohol and I was looking, simply, for another drug. The volume attained me high; it offered multiple cosmoes, all of them safer than vodka.
The Dice Man is seemingly an autobiography, narrated by a bored, clever New York psychiatrist, Luke Rhinehart. He is a nerd run mad. He decides that, in pursuit of ultimate liberty or nihilism he will make decisions using dice. He offers the dice options, and they prefer for him. The dice tell him to rape his neighbour, but he fails because she wants him. The dice induce him tell his patients what he guesses of them( my favourite dice decision ). It was a perfect novel: a fantasy of escape and, for me, a search for an absent and charismatic father.
The book was published in 1971, an epoch to be given to psychoanalysis( not the mockery of it ), and it was not an instant success. But over the course of 45 years, it has become a famous volume, with devoted fans. The Dice Man has sold more than 2m transcripts in multiple languages and is still in print.
Dicing became a minor craze. Richard Branson said The Dice Man had inspired him, although he used the dice for only 24 hours because it was too dangerous to carry on longer. The entrepreneur Jeremy King opened a series of London restaurants due to a dice decision. In 1999, a Loaded publication novelist, who described Rhinehart as the novelist of the century, took heroin after a dice decision, while his girlfriend performed in a strip club. In 2005, comedian Danny Wallace published a memoir, Yes Man, in which he travelled the world saying yes to everything, again loosely inspired by Rhinehart.
As his notoriety grew, journalists came to interview the Dice Man. But Luke Rhinehart does not exist: he is the pseudonym of a human called George Powers Cockcroft, who shielded his real identity from his readers for many years. There was no Dice Man in these interviews, but there was no one else, either. Cockcroft played his part as an avuncular blank who liked dicing and drinking, a sort of Robert Mitchum pastiche; and of Cockcroft, whom I increasingly received more interesting than Rhinehart, there was almost nothing.
Why write a perfect novel, dedicate all the credit to a ghost, then never write its equal again? I have been emailing Cockcroft since 2002, when, in a craze of half-hearted self-destruction, I attempted to dice my way through a Conservative party conference in Brighton. It was for an article, and I tried his advice, which was friendly and encouraging. The options I gave myself were timid would I order a hamburger or a steak? though I do recollect pretending to be Jesus Christ in the restaurant of the Grand hotel. The article was not a success, and was never published. The appeal of the dice is: how much power will you give them? I devoted them nothing, and they dedicated nothing in return.
I have tried to interview Cockcroft before. I even satisfied him once, in a hotel bar in London 10 years ago. He looked large and alien amid the pale chintz of Kensington, wearing a stetson that virtually arrived at the chandelier. Last year, around the publication of its recent novel, Invasion, which is about a friendly and intelligent alien who comes to Earth and is bewildered by our folly, we had a telephone interview in which he claimed, at 84, to be multiple selves, describing himself as we. We he and I were on a conference call with his publicist, and I asked him where The Dice Man had come from. You must realise, he told me softly, his voice a little hoarse, I have always conceived of myself as being multiple having, you know, a dozen different egoes, if not hundreds of thousands of different selves, at any given moment. He voiced croaky and crotchety, and I didnt push him. Instead, I asked if I could come and stay with him in upstate New York.
George Cockcroft, I say for the tape recorder. Yes, he says. Here I am.
We are in a large white house in Canaan. The houses are widely spaced here, on mounds around a pond of ice; there are spindly trees on the horizon. The house is warm, comfy, shabby, with gust chimes on the terrace.
Cockcroft is very tall and lean, his face weather-beaten from years of sail and working in the garden. It has a kind of luminous pleasure that is very childlike, unless he is weary. His voice is deep, hoarse and excitable. He is, in some ways, very conventional for a myth: he chops wood, drinks whiskey, eats chocolate cookies, feeds the fire. When he wants something, he shouts for his wife, Ann. They have been married for 60 years and there is deep love between them. I can feel it all through the house.
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The 100 best nonfiction volumes: No 41- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie( 1936)2 months, 21 days ago
The original self-help manual on American life with its influence stretching from the Great Depression to Donald Trump has a lot to answer for
The selling of the American self, and its dream of a better future, began with the Declaration of Independence and founding father Benjamin Franklin, who once observed that God helps them that help themselves. Selling and salesmanship pervade American life and literature: Sister Carrie ( Theodore Dreiser ), Babbitt ( Sinclair Lewis ), The Iceman Cometh ( Eugene ONeill ), Death of a Salesman ( Arthur Miller ), and Glengarry Glen Ross ( David Mamet ).
Exactly 80 years after How to Win Friends first appeared, it comes as no surprise to find a distorted, and sickeningly corrupted, version of Dale Carnegies homespun and inspirational self-help manual prosper in the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, bestselling author of The Art of the Deal . Trump, indeed, continues actively to extol a later Carnegie fan( Norman Vincent Peale, writer of The Power of Positive Thinking ) for his contribution to the American way of life. Whatever the outcome of Tuesday 8 November, theres no doubt that the ecstatic selling of American greatness will remain part of “the member states national” psychodrama for years to come.
Trumps diehard supporters are an apt reminder that, for many Americans, the pursuit of happiness is unsatisfying, success painfully elusive, and failing shameful and/ or infuriate. The hunger for a better future remains a constant feature of the American sociopolitical scenery. In the depths of the Great Depression, it was this desperate need that Carnegie addressed in How to Win Friends and Influence People . Carnegies message was to inspire go-getting Americans to look on the bright side, and sell themselves better. By the time of Carnegies demise in 1955, more than 5m transcripts had been sold, the book had been translated into more than 30 speeches, and its title had passed into the language. Today, my paperback reprint from Vermilion( an imprint of Random House UK) boasts over 16 m transcripts sold. As Jay Parini, a devout student of Carnegies work, has noted: between 1989, when Soviet communism failed and 1997, How to Win Friends went through no fewer than 68 editions in a Russian translation. Notions of success usually make for a bestseller.
Carnegie himself, born in 1888, the same year as TS Eliot, represented the American idea of self- or re-invention. He grew up the son of a failed Missouri farmer named Carnagey. Ambitious young Dale changed the spelling of his name more closely to associate himself with the great steel baron, Andrew Carnegie, a late 19 th-century household name, and embarked on a career as a salesman while also attempting to make a future in the theatre as an actor, auditioning successfully for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Theatre life was hard. It was at this stage, he wrote, that the dreams I had nourished back in my college days turned into nightmares.
But he didnt give up, and it was from this cavity of despair and letdown that he conceived the idea of devoting courses in public speaking. Paraphrasing RW Emerson, a deeply influential American we shall meet later, he would say, Do the thing that you fear to do, and the death of fear is absolutely certain. By 1916, he was in a position to rent Carnegie Hall and lecture to full houses about his self-help techniques. His first book, Public Speaking: A Practical Course for Business Men , are still in 1926, and led inexorably through his growing stateswide audience to How to Win Friends .
The key to this new iteration of his optimistic message was its 12 principles( which ranged from No 1, The only route to get the best of an debate is to avoid it, to No 12, Throw down a challenge, via No 6, Let the other person do a great deal of the talking ). Each principle was deftly illustrated by Carnegies well-chosen examples of influential and successful Americans in action.
Carnegie left nothing to opportunity. To persuade his readers of his wisdom, he went to the top of American society in the 1930 s. I personally interviewed ratings of successful people, he writes, some of them world- famous inventors like Marconi and Edison; political leaders like Franklin D Roosevelt movie stars like Clark Gable and Mary Pickford and tried to discover the techniques they used in human relations. He ensure himself as an enabler, quoting Herbert Spencer: The great objective of education is not knowledge but action. This, he declared, was an action book.
As Donald Trump knows only too well, to hook the uncommitted, any good salesmans pitch must subtly invite the buyer to risk leaving his or her convenience zone, and take a chance. Carnegie was not afraid to connect his message to new ideas. Early on in his pitch for a mass audience, Carnegie mixed a simple American credo with revolutionary European suppose. He writes: Sigmund Freud said that everything you and I do springs from two motives: the sex exhort and the desire to be great.
Carnegie also traded in folksy wisdom, in the manner of his idol, Abraham Lincoln. His first chapter, If You Want to Gather Honey, Dont Kick Over the Beehive, fosters a positive, warm and optimistic posture in dealings with others. He argues against assaulting or criticising people. That they are able to merely induce them aggressive towards you. After that, successive chapters enter into negotiations with: how to get people to act as you want them to; how to build people like you; how to convince people of your arguments; and finally, how to be a Leader( Constructing People Glad to Do What You Want ). All this was packaged into Carnegies systematic technique, an important key to his popular success.
The measure of Carnegies extraordinary achievement can be seen in his many imitators. The most immediate was Norman Vincent Peale whose keynote sentence could have been written by Carnegie: If you feel that you are defeated and have lost confidence in your ability to win, sit down, take a piece of paper and make a list , not of the factors that are against you, but of those that are for you.
Unlike Carnegie, Peale was that now familiar American figure: a charismatic evangelist trading in a petroleum, faith-based optimism. The officiating priest at the Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan for more than half a century, Peale first began to promote positive thinking on the radio with a programme entitled The Art of Living . The latest edition of The Power of Positive Thinking proclaims: This Book Could Change Your Life, and specifically offers to enable everyone to enjoy confidence, success and exhilaration. Here, in about 300 pages, is a succinct expres of the American Dream in its purest form. From the outset, like Carnegie, Peale identifies squarely with the Common Man. His book, he proclaims, was written for the plain people of this world, of whom certainly I am one. With a sly allusion to Abraham Lincolns origins a straight lift from Carnegie he then makes a classic assertion of white American solidarity: I was born and reared in humble midwestern situations in a dedicated Christian home. The everyday people of this land are my own kind whom I know and love and believe in with great faith. Then follows Peales kicker: When any one of them lets God have charge of his life the power and glory are amazingly demonstrated.
What Peale offered was not merely spiritual counselling( over the years, plenty of other evangelists had already done that ), but a system of simple procedures that would generate untold peace of mind, improved health and a never-ceasing flow of energy. Extolling the common sense of his system, he goes on:[ This volume] induces no pretence to literary excellence , nor does it seek to demonstrate any unusual scholarship on my part. This is simply a practical, direct-action, personal improvement manual.
After Peale, the other American titles that owe a huge indebtednes to Carnegie include: The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson( 1982 ); The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R Covey( 1989 ); and Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day by Joel Osteen( 2007 ). From these popular bestsellers, bought by people who likely possess almost no other books, it is only a short step to Trumps Make America Great Again.
Dale Carnegie has something to answer for.
A signature sentence
Charles Schwabs personality, his charm, his ability to stimulate people like him, were almost wholly responsible for his extraordinary success; and one of the most delightful factors in his personality was his captivating smile.
Three to compare
How to Win Friends and Influence People is published by Vermilion ( 8.99 ). Click here to buy it for 7.37
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Moby:’ There were bags of drugs, I was having sexuality with a stranger’3 months, 10 days ago
He was the sober, Christian dance music innovator but then Moby discovered success … Now hes coming clean
Before I picked up Mobys new memoir, Porcelain, I thought of him as a small, bald, cheeky chappy who made tuneful dance music. I knew he had a few unconventional beliefs( wasnt he vegan? Hardcore Christian? Perhaps teetotal ?), but filed him as essentially harmless. After reading Porcelain, well Lets just say his volume is packed with incident. Lots of dodgy sex, oceans of alcohol, antics a-gogo. Plus: cockroaches, raves, demise, celebrities( from Madonna to Robert Downey Jr, but not in starry situations) and good old Top Of The Pops. Its a cavort of a book. Such outrageous fun, in fact, that Moby tells me hes “ve noticed that” people have regarded him differently after reading it.
They have a look, he says. Its odd being on the receiving objective of that appear. Its a seem of knowing, but its also a seem of fear. Like, Is everything OK?
The fact is, his volume constructs me like Moby more. For a start, he writes brilliantly, with none of the self-indulgence of most pop memoirs: I wanted each chapter to be like an anecdote youd tell in a bar, to have a punchline, he says. And also, theres something touching about who he was back then. At one point, he writes this, about some club children They were all doing obscene quantities of drugs and having sex with strangers, but they still seemed innocent and thats exactly how he comes across. Its quasi-Dickensian, he says. Naive boy from the country moves to the big city and things go wrong.
We are drinking herbal tea and eating( very tasty) vegetables in Mobys freshly opened vegan restaurant in blue-skied Los Angeles. Its a nice place and I am relaxed, but endearingly, Moby isnt. He picks up a fallen cushion and plumps it before putting it back on the bench; he asks me if Im too cold and alters the air con; he goes through the menu with me.
Moby has lived on the west coast for six years, but had no problem transporting himself back to his past for the book. Sometimes he would be used to describe being blind drunk in New York, contained within filth and squalor, and look up from his laptop and be shocked to see his swimming pool, bathed in sunshine. The writing felt true and current realities felt like fiction. It was like hour travel.
Lets zoom back in time with him, then. Porcelain contains general information with Mobys life between 1989 and 1999, from where reference is moved to New York to just before the release of Play, his fifth album, and the one that changed everything. Play was packed full of sample-heavy, catchy dance tunes, which interred themselves into everyday life. Even if you havent actively listened to the album, youll know the anthems: Honey, with its driving piano riff and Bessie Jones sample get my honey come back, sometimes; Natural Blues, featuring another blues sample( oh lordy, difficulty so hard ), this time from Vera Hall.( Moby sourced these samples, and others, from Alan Lomaxs folk music field recordings .) Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad ? has featured on the GSCE syllabus for music since 2008. Anyway, the big thing about Play was that every single one of its ways was subsequently licensed for ad or films. This was a huge bargain at the time, and a huge bargain for Moby. It moved him from the electronica shadows into the big league, changed him from a musician who scrabbled for a few thousand dollars to a fully fledged, in-the-spotlight, pop starring overlord. For a while, Moby was dance musics Adele: everyone liked his stuff.
Sales of George Orwell’s 1984 surge after Kellyanne Conway’s ‘alternative facts’3 months, 15 days ago
Comments made by Donald Trumps adviser have been compared to the classic dystopian fiction, pushing it to became the sixth best-selling book on Amazon
Sales of George Orwells dystopian drama 1984 have risen after Kellyanne Conway, consultant to the reality-TV-star-turned-president, Donald Trump, use the phrase alternative facts in an interview. As of Tuesday, the book was the sixth best-selling book on Amazon.
Comparisons were attained with the term newspeak used in the 1949 novel, which was used to signal a fictional language that aims at eliminating personal thought and also doublethink. In the book Orwell writes that it means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in ones mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.
The connection was initially attained on CNNs Reliable Sources. Alternative facts is a George Orwell phrase, said Washington Post reporter Karen Tumulty.
Conways use of the word was in reference to White House press secretary Sean Spicers commentaries about last weeks inauguration attracting the largest audience ever. Her interview was widely criticized and she was sub-tweeted by Merriam-Webster dictionary with a definition of the word fact. On last nights Late Night with Seth Meyers, the host joked: Kellyanne Conway is like someone trying to do a Jedi mind trick after only a week of Jedi training.
In 1984, a superstate wields extreme control over the person or persons and persecutes any form of independent thought.
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