The Boy With the Perpetual Nervousness review- a narrative of disloyalty by the church

15 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 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 China

17 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.

Wu Huifeng, 43, studies a new book about Xi Jinping’s youth at a bookshop in Beijing, China. Photo: Tom Phillips for the Guardian

China’s party-run press asserts Xi’s writings have proved a hitting both at home and abroad. If you believe Xinhua, the official news agency, a recent book of Xi anecdotes sold nearly 1.5 m copies in under four months. The Governance of China has supposedly shifted 6.42 m transcripts in 21 different languages.

” These vivid tales … have opened a window to the essence of Xi’s statements ,” the president of party mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, gushed in a recent interview.

Beyond the constraints of China’s heavily-censored publishing industry, rather more unconventional runs about Xi are also starting to emerge, including a 23-page work of erotic fiction called Xi’s The One.

The synopsis of the book, which sells on Amazon for PS2. 44, suggests it is unlikely to find a publisher in authoritarian China.

” She’s a lonely, overworked waitress in a downbeat Chicago pizza joint and he’s the President of the People’s Republic of China on a tour of the United States ,” it says.” Their stressful, bearing lives are about to heat up like a pizza …”

Here are some choice an extract from China’s Storyteller-in-Chief:

Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, 2014

” When I fulfill foreign leaders, one question they often ask in amazement is this:’ How can one govern such a large country as China ?’ Indeed, it is not easy to govern a country with 1.3 billion people … In such a big, populous and complicated country as ours, we the leaders must have an in-depth knowledge of the national conditions and learn what the people believe and what they want … We must cultivate an attitude of’ governing a big country is as delicate as frying a small fish ‘.”

Xi Jinping: Know More, Love More, 2015

” To love one’s hometown, one first of all needs to know about it. A profound love must be built upon a profound understanding. One can only know more about one’s hometown, by loving it more.

” Communists must hold clear stances as to what they subsistence and what they resist. Their flags must be clear and their postures forthright, especially when faced with major issues of right and wrong .”

Xi Jinping: Wit and Vision( Selected Excerpts and Commentary ), 2015

” Language has a magical power. In his speeches, President Xi Jinping often employs analogies and storytelling to express profound truths. His colloquial, straightforward speech clarifies ideas that many find puzzling, and his excerpts from China’s traditional culture well summarize his topics and thoroughly expound his propositions. His speeches express wisdom in simple speech that packs a powerful, penetrating punch .”

Xi Jinping’s Seven Years As An Educated Youth, 2017

” Xi Jinping’s Seven Years As An Educated Youth is a series of interviews planned and organised by the party school of the Communist party’s central committee[ with those who knew him in the early 1970 s ].

” Even though the events[ described] took place more than 40 years ago,[ the interviewees ‘] precious memories have by no means faded. Everywhere general secretary Xi Jinping left footprints, we have listened attentively to tales of how he went through thick and thin, along with the people[ and] of how he analyse assiduously …[ These narratives] penetrate people’s souls over and over again .”

Additional reporting by Wang Zhen

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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.

Fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni wears Adichies Dior T-shirt during Paris fashion week, January 2017. Photograph: Edward Berthelot/ Getty Images

The proposition is that feminism has become so mainstream as to be an empty marketing tool, a mere motto on a container or a T-shirt. Without being named, Adichie is implicated in this critique, given that last year she collaborated with Christian Dior on a T-shirt bearing the line We Should All Be Feminists; depending on ones view, this is either a perfect example of pointless sloganeering or a brilliant piece of preaching to the unconverted.

Im already irritated, Adichie says. This idea of feminism as a party to which merely a select few people get to come: this is why so many girls, particularly women of colour, feel alienated from mainstream western academic feminism. Because, dont we want it to be mainstream? For me, feminism is a movement for which the end goal is to make itself no longer needed. I suppose academic feminism is interesting in that it can give a language to things, but Im not terribly interested in debating words. I want people marriages to change for the better. I want females to walk into job interviews and be treated the same way as somebody who has a penis.

Still, one can see a theoretical obscenity about the Dior collaboration: the words of a movement that should be concerned with helping low-income females, used to promote and make money for a wealthy company. On the other hand: what is the damage?

Yes: whats the damage? Adichie says. I would even argue about the theoretically obscene. Theres a kind of self-righteousness to the ultra-left that is hard for me to stomach. Its approach to poverty can sometimes border on condescension. I often think that people who write a lot about poverty need to go and spend more time with poor people. I think about Nigerian women who can hardly afford anything but who love fashion. They have no fund, but they work it.

Adichie mentions a TV soap opera that used to run in Nigeria called The Rich Also Cry, a terrible drama series, she says, that was very popular. But sometimes I think about that title. So, the creative director of Christian Dior is patently a woman of some privilege. But does it then mean that she doesnt have gender-based problems in their own lives? Because she does. Does it mean she doesnt have this magnificent rage about gender injustice? Because she does. Wanting to utilize that slogan was it going to make the world a better place? No. But I think theres a level of consciousness-raising and a level of subversion that I like.

She doesnt believe it was a cynical marketing ploy? No. Sorry. Feminism is not that hot. I can tell you I would sell more volumes in Nigeria if I stopped and said Im no longer a feminist. I would have a stronger following, I would make more money. So when people say, Oh, feminisms a marketing gambit, it makes me laugh.

The bigger issue here is one of scope. Adichies irritation with aspects of what she supposes of as professional feminism is that it runs counter to her ideas as a novelist: that people contain multitudes. She is a brilliant novelist and a serious thinker, and she is also someone who constructs no apology for her own trivial interests. Life doesnt always follow ideology, she says. You might believe in certain things and life gets in and things just become messy. You know? I think thats the space that fiction, and having a bit more of an imaginative approach, builds. And that the feminist speaking circuit doesnt really make room for.

There is much in the new volume about doubled standards, including those governing the images of motherhood and fatherhood. I think we need to stop giving men cookies for doing what they should do, she says, and goes on to explain that her husband, who needs less sleep than her, tends to get up in the night to tend to the baby. On the one hand, I realise that my husband is unusual; on the other, I feel resentful when hes overpraised by my family and friends. Hes like Jesus.

He probably senses shes about to go off the deep end, I indicate, and Adichie smiles to acknowledge how impossible she is. I did all the physical work to produce her! Theres something basically wrong with the way weve constructed what it means to be female in the world.

Photograph: Stephen Voss for the Guardian

This is something she writes about in a lovely passage of the new book about hair. As a child, Adichie and her sisters and every other girl she knew were routinely tortured with a metal comb to subdue their hair, something her brethren were spared. Im glad I wrote that, Adichie says. We had just come back from Lagos and my sister, God blesses her, had already had a talk with me about my daughters hair. She said, You need to do anything about it. With my family, theres an eye-roll and a here-we-go-again with her, and she said to me, Do you want me to send you a decide of combs? And I was like, No, thank you. And I know its going to keep pas. But , no, Im not going to conform in that style. Im not going to have my child go across pain because society expects a certain neatness. It happened to me, its not going to happen to her. And Im ready to have all the battles I need to have.

The original letter on which Dear Ijeawele is based has been shared on Facebook, and while Adichie was in Lagos, a woman whod read it approached her in a store and said, Heres my daughter, look at her hair. She had very loose cornrows that were not neat according to Nigerians. And she said, You inspired that. My daughter is happier, Im happier. And do you know, it was the highlighting of my month.

This is not just a question of image. It is also about time. Women have less day than men, in almost every arena, because their responsibilities to look or act a certain style are more onerous.

It is one of Adichies bugbears that as someone who loves style, she is by default not taken seriously. When Boots approached her to be the face of its No7 makeup range, she said yes, because she thought it might be fun; in the end, she says, it became vaguely alarming. I have no sadness, but you wake up one day and think, what the hell have I done? There were too many of these scenes everywhere. Her phase, however, is that its not that Im a feminist and made a strategic choice to speak about makeup and manner. Its that I was raised by Grace Adichie in a culture in which you care about how you look. Its a part of me I once concealed, because I felt that I had to to be serious. Now, Im only being who I am.

Recently, Adichies identity has been tested under new ways. I wonder if she is less has an impact on President Trump than an American, on the basis that she is less invested in the American story. Quite the contrary, she says. Because theres a part of me that needs a country I can think of as being one that largely works. Which is not a luxury that Nigeria can have. She laughs.

Someone said to me, Now that this is happening in the US, do “youre thinking about” moving back to Nigeria? And I believed , no, because its not any better there. I admire America. I dont think of myself as American Im not. So its not mine. But I admire it, and so theres a sense that this thing I built in my head, its been destroyed.

There is also, she says, something familiar about it all. American republic has never been tested. You might have disagreed ideologically with George W Bush, but he still kind of followed the rules. Here, it feels like Nigeria. It genuinely does. Its that feeling of political uncertainty that Im very familiar with, but not a impression I like. Its ugly. But even worse, because America is so powerful, and so much at the centre of the world, these things have consequences for everyone. Nigeria doesnt have that kind of reaching, so our problems remain our problems.

In January, Adichie and her husband joined the Womens March in DC. It was fleeting, and symbolic, she says, but it “ve given me” the smallest slice of hope. There are all of these people who seem to realise that America has changed by electing an unhinged person. On the other hand, theres a part of me thats very sceptical of too much sentimentality. I hope it translates into people organising and going out to vote.

Long before talking here penetrating the filter bubble, Adichie instinctively subscribed to rightwing blogs and newsletters. She was an early watcher of Fox News, until it became too unhinged and ridiculous. But she has carried on, because Im interested in ideological concerns and how people differ, and how we should build a society. Whats a welfare country? People who have less, are we responsible for them? I think we are. And I think I can make a selfish occurrence, which is apparently what appeals to people on the right. People on the left say we should do it because we should be kind. And people on the right think, Excuse me? But if you say to them, If these people dont get healthcare, they will go to the ER and your tax dollars will pay for it, suddenly they sit up.

Adichie with her husband, Ivara Esege. Photo: DDAA/ ZOB/ Daniel Deme/ WENN

As a result of her reading, rightwing ideology is not something I think is evil, she says. Some. A bit. But, in general, I dont. I have friends who are good, kind people who are on the right. But Donald Trump is an exception. Its not an objection to a conservative, because I dont even think hes a conservative. My objection is an objection to chaos. Each time I turn on the news, Im holding my breath.

Trumps erosion of speech is one of the most frightening things about him, but even progressives, Adichie says, can be sloppy on this front. In response to her new book, a reporter emailed her the question: Why not humanism?( instead of feminism ). To which, she says, I thought, what part of the fucking volume did this person not read?

Its like the people who go around saying All Lives Matter, I say, in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. Right, which I find deeply offensive and very dishonest. Because we have to name something in order to fix it, which is why I insist on the word feminist or feminism.

This, she says, in spite of the fact that many of her friends, particularly black females, resist that word, because the history of feminism has been very white and has assumed girls meant white girls. Political debate in this country still does that. Theyll say, Women voted for … and then, Black people voted for … And I guess: Im black and a woman, so where do I fit in here?

As a result, Many of my friends who are not white will say, Im an intersectional feminist, or Im a womanist. And I have trouble with that word, because it has undertones of femininity as this mystical goddess-mother thing, which stimulates me uncomfortable. So we need a word. And my hope is we use feminism often enough that it starts to lose all the stigma and becomes this inclusive, diverse thing.

This is her goal and her defense, although she still doesnt find why she requires one. Her understanding of feminism is intertwined with her understanding that we all want to be more than one thing. And anyway, she repeats, Can people please stop telling me that feminism is hot? Because its not. Adichie looks excellently vexed. Honestly.

Beware feminism lite: an excerpt from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichies letter-turned-book, Dear Ijeawele

Be a full person. Motherhood is a glorious gift, but do not define yourself solely by it. You dont even have to love your job; you can simply love the confidence and self-fulfilment that come with doing and earning. Please reject the idea that motherhood and work are mutually exclusive. Our mothers worked full-time while we were growing up, and we turned out well at least you did; the jury is still out on me.

In these coming weeks of early motherhood, be kind to yourself. Ask for help. Expect to be helped. There is no such thing as a Superwoman. Parenting is about practise and love.

Give yourself room to fail. A new mom does not necessarily know how to pacify a crying newborn. Read volumes, seem things up on the internet, ask older parents, or just use trial and error. But, above all, take time for yourself. Nurture your own needs.

I have no interest in the debate about females doing it all, because it is a debate that assumes that caregiving and domestic work are singularly female domains, an idea that I strongly reject. Domestic run and caregiving should be gender-neutral, and we should be asking not whether a woman can do it all, but how best to support parents in their dual responsibilities at work and at home.

Photograph: Stephen Voss for the Guardian

Beware the danger of what I call Feminism Lite; the idea of conditional female equality. Being a feminist is like being pregnant. You either are or you are not. You either believe in the full equality of men and women, or you do not.

Teach your daughter to question speech. A friend of mine says she will never call her daughter princess. The word is loaded with hypothesis, of a girls delicacy, of the prince who will come to save her. This friend favor angel and superstar. So decide the things you will not told me to your child. You know that Igbo joke, are applied to pester girls who are being childish What are you doing? Dont you know you are old enough to find a spouse? I used to say that often. But now I choose not to. I say, You are old enough to find a job. Because I do not believe that marriage is something we should teach young girls to aspire to.

Try not to use words like misogyny and patriarchy. We feminists can sometimes be too jargony. Teach her that if you criticise X in women but do not criticise X in humen, you do not have a problem with X, “youve got a problem” with women. For X please insert words like fury, ambition, loudness, stubbornness, coldness, ruthlessness.

Do you remember how we laughed and laughed at an abysmally written piece about me some years ago? The novelist had accused me of being angry, as though being angry were something to be ashamed of. Of course I am angry. I am angry about racism. I am angry about sexism. But I lately came to the realisation that I am angrier about sexism than I am about racism. Because in my rage about sexism, I often feel lonely. Because I love, and live among, many people who easily recognise race injustice but not gender injustice.

Teach your daughter to topic men who can have empathy for women only if they consider them as relational rather than as individual equal humen. Men who, when discussing rape, will say something like, If it were my daughter or wife or sister. Yet such humen do not need to imagine a male victim of crime as two brothers or son in order to feel empathy.

Teach her, too, to question the idea of women as a special species. I once heard an American politician, in his bid to show his support for women, speak of how women should be adored and championed a sentiment that is all too common. Tell her that girls dont need to be championed and venerated; they just need to be treated as equal human beings.

This is a condensed and edited extract from Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, published on Tuesday by Fourth estate at 10. To order a copy for 8.50, go to

This article was amended on 4 March 2017. It originally referred to Lagos as Nigerias capital. This has now been corrected .

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I Love Dick review- a treat for the intellect and the heart

1 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.

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Therapy wars: the revenge of Freud | Oliver Burkeman

1 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 .)


Illustration: Peter Gamlen for the Guardian

But for those working challenging psychoanalysis with alternative approaches to therapy, even more troublesome was the sense that even the most sincere psychoanalyst is always engaged in a guessing-game, always prone to finding proof of his or her hunches, whether its there or not. The basic premise of psychoanalysis, after all, is that our lives are was governed by unconscious forces, which speak to us only indirectly: through symbols in dreamings, accidental slip-ups of the tongue, or through what infuriates us about others, which is a clue to what we cant face in ourselves. But all this stimulates the whole thing unfalsifiable. Protest to your shrink that , no, you dont actually dislike your father, and that merely shows how desperate you must be to avoid acknowledging to yourself that you do.

This problem of self-fulfilling prophecies is a disaster for anyone hoping to figure out, in a scientific route, whats really going on in the mind and by the 1960 s, advances in scientific psychology had reached a point at which patience with psychoanalysis began to run out. Behaviourists such as BF Skinner had already shown that human behaviour could be predictably manipulated, much like that of pigeons or rats, by means of penalty and reward. The burgeoning cognitive revolution in psychology is of the view that goings-on inside the mind could be measured and manipulated too. And since the 1940 s, there had been a pressing need to do so: thousands of soldiers returning from the second world war exhibited emotional disturbances that exclaimed out for rapid, cost-effective treatment , not years of dialogue on the couch.

Before laying the groundwork for CBT, Albert Ellis had in fact originally trained as a psychoanalyst. But after practising for some years in New York in the 1940 s, he found his patients werent getting better and so, with a self-confidence that would come to define his career, he concluded that analysis, rather than his own abilities, must be to blame. Along with other like-minded therapists, he turned instead to the ancient philosophy of Stoicism, teaching clients that it was their beliefs about the world , not events themselves, that distressed them. Getting change over for a promotion might induce unhappiness, but depression came from the irrational propensity to generalise from that single setback to an image of oneself as an all-round failure. As I see it, Ellis told an interviewer decades later, psychoanalysis devotes clients a cop-out. They dont have to change their styles they get to talk about themselves for 10 years, blaming their parents and waiting for magic-bullet insights.

Thanks to the breezy , no-nonsense tone will be approved by CBTs supporters, its easy to miss how revolutionary its claims were. For traditional psychoanalysts and those who practise newer psychodynamic techniques, largely derived from traditional psychoanalysis what happens in therapy is that seemingly irrational symptoms, such as the endless repetition of self-defeating patterns in love or run, are revealed to be at least somewhat rational. Theyre responses that made sense in the context of the patients earliest experience.( If a parent abandoned you, years ago, its not so strange to live in constant dread that your spouse might do so too and thus to act in ways that screw up your matrimony as a result .) CBT flips that on its head. Feelings that might appear rational such as impression depressed about what a disaster your life is stand exposed as the outcomes of irrational thinking. Sure, you lost your job; but it doesnt follow that everything will be awful forever.


Illustration: Peter Gamlen for the Guardian

If this second approach is right, change is clearly far simpler: you need only identify and correct various thought-glitches, rather than decoding the secret reasons for your agony. Symptoms such as sadness or nervousnes arent necessarily meaningful clues to long-buried anxieties; theyre intruders to be banished. In analysis, the relationship between therapist and patient serves as a kind of petri dish, in which the patient re-enacts her habitual ways of pertaining with others, enabling them to be better understood. In CBT, youre just trying to get rid of a problem.

The sweary, freewheeling Ellis was destined to remain an foreigner, but the approach he pioneered soon attained respectability thanks to Aaron Beck, a sober-minded psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania.( Now 94, Beck has probably never called anything horseshit in his life .) In 1961, Beck devised a 21 -point questionnaire, known as the Beck Depression Inventory, to quantify clients suffering and showed that, in about half of all cases, a few months of CBT relieved the worst symptoms. Objections from analysts were dismissed, with some justification, as the complaints of people trying to protect their lucrative turf. They detected themselves compared to 19 th-century medical doctors bungling improvisers, threatened and offended by the notion that their mystic art could be reduced to a sequence of evidence-based steps.

Many more analyzes followed, demonstrating the added benefit of CBT in treating everything from depression to obsessive-compulsive disorder to post-traumatic stress. I went to the early seminars on cognitive therapy to fulfill myself that it was another approach that wouldnt work, David Burns, who went on to popularise CBT in his worldwide bestseller Feeling Good, told me in 2010. But I passed the techniques to my patients and people whod seemed hopeless and stuck for years began to recover.

Theres little doubt that CBT has helped millions, at least to some degree. This has been especially true in the UK since the economist Richard Layard, a vigorous CBT evangelist, became Tony Blairs happiness czar. By 2012, more than a million people had received free therapy as a result of the initiative Layard helped push through, working with the Oxford psychologist David Clark. Even if CBT wasnt especially effective, you might argue, that kind of reach would count for a lot. Yet its hard to shake the sense that something big is missing from its model of the agony mind. After all, we experience our own inner lives, and our relationships with others, as bewilderingly complex. Arguably the entire history of both religion and literature is an attempt to grapple with what it all means; neuroscience daily uncovers new subtleties in the workings of the brain. Could the answer to our woes truly be something as superficial-sounding as identifying automatic supposes or modifying your self-talk or challenging your inner critic? Could therapy genuinely be so straightforward that you could receive it not from a human but from a book, or a computer?

A few years ago, after CBT had started to dominate taxpayer-funded therapy in Britain, a woman Ill call Rachel, from Oxfordshire, tried therapy on the NHS for depression, following the birth of her first child. She was sent first to sit through a group PowerPoint presentation, promising five steps to improve your mood; then she received CBT from a therapist and, in between sessions, via computer. I dont guess anything has ever constructed me feel as lonely and isolated as having a computer program ask me how I felt on a scale of one to five, and after Id clicked the sad emoticon on the screen telling me it was sorry to hear that in a prerecorded voice, Rachel recalled. Completing CBT worksheets under a human therapists guidance wasnt much better. With postnatal depression, she said, youve run from a situation in which youve been working, earning your own money, doing interesting things and suddenly youre at home on your own, mostly covered in sick, with no adult to talk to. What she required, she sees now, was real connect: that fundamental if hard-to-express sense of being held in the mind of another person, even if only for a short period each week.

I may be mentally ill, Rachel said, but I do know that a computer does not feel bad for me.


Jonathan Shedler remembers where he was when he first realised there might be something to the psychoanalytic notion of the mind as a realm far more complex, and peculiar, than most of us imagine. He was an undergraduate, at college in Massachusetts, when a psychology lecturer astounded him by construing a dream Shedler had associated about driving on bridges over ponds, and trying on hats in a store as an expression of the fear of pregnancy. The lecturer was exactly right: Shedler and his girlfriend, whose dream it was, were at that moment waiting to learn if she was pregnant, and urgently hoping she wasnt. But the lecturer knew none of this context; he was apparently merely an expert interpreter of the symbolism of dreams. The impact could not have been greater, Shedler recollected, if his terms had been heralded by celestial cornets. He decided that if there were people in the world who understood such things, I had to be one of them.

Yet academic psychology, the field Shedler next entered, entail having that kind of exuberance for the mysteries of the mind drummed out of you; researchers, he concluded, were committed to quantification and measurement, but not to the inner lives of real people. To become a psychoanalyst takes years of training, and its compulsory to undergo analysis yourself; analyzing the intellect at university, by contrast, necessitates zero real-life experience.( Shedler is now that rarity, a trained therapist and researcher, who bridges both worlds .) You know that thing about how you need 10,000 hours of practise to develop an expertise? he asked. Well, most of the researchers inducing pronouncements[ about which therapies work] dont have 10 hours!

Shedlers subsequent research and writing has played a significant role in undermining the received wisdom that theres no hard evidence for psychoanalysis. But its undeniable that the early psychoanalysts were sniffy about research: they were prone to viewing themselves as embattled practitioners of a subversive art that needed nurturing in specialist institutions which in practice meant forming cliquish private bodies, and rarely interacting with university experimenters. Research into cognitive approaches thus got a big head start and it was the 1990 s before empirical studies of psychoanalytic techniques began hinting that the cognitive consensus might be flawed. In 2004, a meta-analysis concluded that short-term psychoanalytic approaches were at least as good as other routes for many ailments, leaving recipients better off than 92% of all patients prior to therapy. In 2006, a study tracking approximately 1,400 people suffering from depression, nervousnes and related conditions ruled in favour of short-term psychodynamic therapy, too. And a 2008 analyse into borderline personality disorder concluded that merely 13% of psychodynamic patients still had the diagnosis five years after the end of therapy, compared with 87% of the others.


Illustration: Peter Gamlen for the Guardian

These analyzes havent always compared analytic therapies with cognitive ones; the comparison is often with treatment as usual, a phrase that encompasses a multitude of sins. But over and over again, as Shedler has argued, the starkest differences between the two emerge some time after therapy has finished. Ask how people are doing as soon as their therapy ends, and CBT seems persuading. Return months or years later, though, and the benefits have often faded, while the effects of psychoanalytic therapies remain, or have even increased is recommended that they may restructure the personality in a lasting style, rather than simply helping people manage their moods. In the NHS study conducted at the Tavistock clinic last year, chronically depressed patients receiving psychoanalytic therapy stood a 40% better opportunity of going into partial remission, during every six-month period of the research, than those receiving other treatments.

Alongside this growing body of evidence, intellectuals have begun to ask pointed questions about the studies that first fuelled CBTs ascendancy. In a provocative 2004 newspaper, the Atlanta-based psychologist Drew Westen and his colleagues showed how researchers motivated by the desire for an experiment with clearly interpretable outcomes had often excluded up to two-thirds of possibilities participants, typically because they had multiple psychological problems. The practise is understandable: when a patient has more than one problem, its harder to untangle the lines of cause and impact. But it may mean that the people who do get analyzed are extremely atypical. In real life, our psychological problems are intricately embedded in our personalities. The issue you bring to therapy( depression, say) may not be the one that emerges after several conferences( for example, the need to come to words with a sex orientation you fear your family wont accept ). Moreover, some studies have sometimes seemed to unfairly stack the deck, as when CBT has been compared with psychodynamic therapy delivered by graduate students whod received only a few days cursory training in it, from other students.

But the most incendiary charge against cognitive approaches, from the torchbearers of psychoanalysis, is that they might actually make things worse: that finding ways to manage your depressed or anxious guess, for example, may simply postpone the point at which youre driven to take the plunge into self-understanding and lasting change. CBTs implied promise is that theres a relatively simple, step-by-step route to gain mastery over agony. But perhaps theres more to be gained from acknowledging how little control over our lives, our emotions, and other people actions we really have? The promise of mastery is seductive not just for patients but therapists, too. Clients are anxious about is available on therapy, and inexperienced therapists are anxious since they are dont have a clue “what were doing”, writes the US psychologist Louis Cozolino in a new volume, Why Therapy Works. Therefore, it is comforting for both parties to have a task they can focus on.

Not astonishingly, resulting supporters of CBT reject most of these criticisms, arguing that its been caricatured as superficial, and that some decrease in effectiveness is merely to be expected, because its grow so much in popularity. Early analyses employed small samples and pioneering therapists, enthused by the new approach; more recent analyses use bigger samples, and inevitably involve therapists with a wider range of talent levels. People who say CBT is superficial have just missed the phase, said Trudie Chalder, professor of cognitive behavioural psychotherapy at the Kings College Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience in London, who highlights the fact that no single therapy is best for all maladies. Yes, youre targeting peoples beliefs, but youre not only targeting easily accessible beliefs. Its not just Oh, such person or persons looked at me peculiarly, so they must not like me; its faiths like Im an unlovable person, which may derive from early experience. The past is very much taken into account.

Nonetheless, the dispute wont be settled by adjudicating between clashing analyses: it goes deeper than that. Experimenters may reach wildly different conclusions about which therapies have the best outcomes. But what should count as a successful outcome anyway? Examines measure relief of symptoms yet a crucial premise of psychoanalysis is that theres more to a meaningful life than being symptom-free. In principle, you might even aim a course of psychoanalysis sadder though wiser, more conscious of your previously unconscious reactions, and living in a more engaged way and still deem the experience a success. Freud famously declared that his aim was the transformation of neurotic suffering into common unhappiness. Carl Jung said humanity requires difficulties: they are necessary for health. Life is painful. Should we be thinking in terms of a cure for painful feelings at all?


Theres something profoundly appealing about the idea that therapy shouldnt be approached as a matter of science that our individual lives are too distinctive to be submitted to the relentless generalisation by which science must be pursued. That sentiment may help explain the commercial success of The Examined Life, Stephen Groszs 2013 collect of narratives from the analysts couch, which expended weeks on UK bestseller lists and has been translated into more than 30 languages. Its chapters consist not of experimental findings or clinical diagnoses, but of narratives, many of which involve a jolt of insight as the patient suddenly gets a sense of the depths he or she contains. Theres the man who lies compulsively, in a bid for secret intimacy with those he can persuade to join him in deceit, just like his mother hid evidence of his bedwetting; and the woman who eventually realises how effortfully shes been denying the evidence of her husbands infidelity when she notices how neatly someone has stacked the dishwasher.

Each life is unique, and your role, as an analyst, is to find the unique narrative of the patient, Grosz told me. There are so many things that only come out through slip-ups of the tongue, through someone confiding a fantasy, or employing a certain word. The analysts undertaking is to stay watchfully receptive to it all and then, from such ingredients, help people stimulate meaning of their lives.


Illustration: Peter Gamlen for the Guardian

Surprisingly, perhaps, recent support for this seemingly unscientific view has emerged from the most empirical corner of its further consideration of the mind: neuroscience. Many neuroscience experimentations have indicated that the brain processes information much faster than conscious awareness can keep track of it, so that countless mental operations run, in the neuroscientist David Eaglemans phrase, under the hood unseen by the conscious intellect in the driving-seat. For the above reasons, as Louis Cozolino writes in Why Therapy Works, by the time we become consciously aware of its own experience, it has already been processed many times, activated memories, and initiated complex patterns of behaviour.

Depending on how you interpret the evidence, it would seem we can do countless complex things from performing mental arithmetic, to reaching a automobiles brakes to avoid a crash, to making a choice of wedding partner before becoming aware that weve done them. This doesnt mesh well with a basic assumption of CBT that, with develop, we can learn to catch most of our unhelpful mental responses in the act. Rather, it seems to confirm the psychoanalytic intuition that the unconscious is huge, and largely in control; and that we live, unavoidably, through lenses created in the past, which we can only hope to modify partially, slowly and with great effort.

Perhaps the only undeniable truth to emerge from conflicts among therapists is that we still dont have much of a clue how minds run. When it comes to easing mental suffering, its like weve got a hammer, a watch, a nail-gun and a loo brush, and this box that doesnt always work properly, so we just maintain making the box with each of these tools to consider what works, said Jules Evans, policy director for the Centre for the History of Emotions at Queen Mary, University of London.

This may be why many intellectuals have been drew attention to what has become known as the dodo-bird verdict: the idea, supported by some studies, that the specific kind of therapy induces little difference.( The name comes from the Dodos pronouncement in Alice in Wonderland: Everybody has won, and all must have awards .) What seems to matter much more is the presence of a compassionate, dedicated therapist, and a patient committed to change; if one therapy is better than all others for all or even most problems, it has yet to be discovered. David Pollens, in his Upper East Side consulting room, said he had some pity for that verdict, despite his passion for psychoanalysis. There was a wonderful British analyst, Michael Balint, who was very involved in medical train, and he had a question he liked to pose[ to physicians ], Pollens said. It was: What do you think is the most powerful drug you prescribe? And people would try to answer that, and then eventually hed say: the relationship.

Yet even this conclusion that we simply dont know which therapies work best might be seen as a point in favour of Freud and his successors. Psychoanalysis, after all, personifies merely this awed meeknes about how little we can ever comprehend about the workings of our minds.( The one question nobody can ever answer, writes the Jungian analyst James Hollis, is of what are you unconscious ?) Freud the man scaled heights of arrogance. But his legacy is a reminder that we shouldnt inevitably expect life to be all that happy , nor to assume we can ever genuinely know whats going on inside indeed, that were often profoundly emotionally invested in preserving our ignorance of unsettling truths.

What happens in therapy, Pollens said, is that people come in asking for help, and then the very next thing they do is they try to stop you helping them. His smile hinted at these components of sillines in the situation and in the whole therapeutic endeavour, perhaps. How do we help a person when theyve told you, in one way or another, Dont help me? Thats what analytic treatment is about.

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Drama queens: why it’s all about women and power on screen right now

2 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.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Photo: Clay Enos/ AP

All of these stories have inspired vigorous arguments about whether they are as feminist as they think they are, or as some viewers thought they were, or ought to be. In such debates there tends to be an implicit acid test, as if Wonder Womans golden Lasso of Truth might ascertain the measure of a dedicated storys feminism. But feminism is not a monolithic creature. It does not submit to identity exams, because neither do the women it speaks to, and about. Less a motion than a set of notions or topics, feminism might be called an attitude, if that didnt make it sound superficial and flippant, like a lifestyle option. So call it instead a perspective, a point of view, one defined by the recognition that the worlds power structure are unequal along gendered lines, and that such a situation should be challenged. How, and to what extent and with what intent we do so: these are entirely different questions.

Feminism can only be protean: its an attempt to think systematically and critically about the relationship to power of half the human race. Thats never going to be easy to encapsulate, even when the heroine is half-divine, the daughter of a deity and an Amazon queen. In Wonder Woman s opening scenes, Diana lives in a feminist island paradise among the Amazons, who neither miss nor desire men for about 20 minutes, which seems to be as long as Hollywood can manage before a random man arrives and Diana decides she needs to follow him( her reasons are altruistic, but still ). Given that “shes never” even find a human, much less submitted to male authority, its somewhat hard to understand why she accepts Steve Trevors instructions for so much of the cinema, including the need to cover up. In part, this is clearly so the film-makers can have some fun sending up the movie makeover: instead of adoring her new attires, Diana dislikes them, as the film highlightings the absurdity of crinolines, hats and corsets. She prefers her iconic strapless corset and boots, but this option has provoked its own debate: is this internalised misogyny, in which viewers are encouraged to see Diana as choosing to be the fetishised object of male longing, or is it subverting such sexualisation by letting her kick off such constraints of traditional feminine dress and oppose as close to naked as a PG-1 3 rating will permit? Nor is Diana the only powerful woman on screen. Robin Wright, playing her ultra-warrior aunt, steals all the opening scenes, while one of Dianas antagonists, Doctor Poison, is a female mad scientist bent on vengeful genocide. Doctor Poison has also been hailed as a feminist touch( even the super-villains are women !), which might be more persuasive had the cinema not chosen to emphasise that her evil is motivated by her facial disfigurement. Because if a woman isnt a beautiful object of longing, life is meaningless, and merely Armageddon will do.

Elisabeth Moss as Offred in The Handmaids Tale. Photo: MGM/ Hulu

Wonder Woman is a cartoon, building it easier to offer a fairytale feminism that they are able to delight some and fall short for others: it all depends on what your vision of female power looks like. In The Handmaids Tale , by contrast, there is no such thing, while some of the cast controversially disavowed the word feminist in its relationship with it at all. This struck many observers as odd , not to say apologetic, dedicated how explicitly the series challenges patriarchal power and defends the sex and political rights of its female characters. Margaret Atwoods 1985 novel goes so far as to blame, at least in part, second-wave feminists for the totalitarian regime of Gilead, the puritanical, fundamentalist society that deposes the American government: both Offreds mother and her friend Moira are revolutionary separatist feminists, asserting that men are unnecessary except for procreation. The tables are turned on them when Gilead reasserts patriarchy, literally colour-coding women in terms of their reproductive and social status: they are either handmaids( red ), wives( blue ), maids( green) or whores, literalising neo-Puritanical gender categories. Female stereotypes become social iron damsels, instruments of torture and restriction that ensure females can only be defined by one socially enforced aspect of their whollies sexualised identity.

The television series expends less hour blaming bad feminism for this outcome, and more day blaming bad patriarchy, which seems rather more reasonable. But it certainly tackles the question of female complicity in patriarchal systems. More than the fiction, the series illustrates close female relationships( both platonic and sex ), but it also recognises how girls might betray one another to protect themselves. So might any woman, the present suggests, under difficult enough circumstances.

Gileads enforced piety increasingly becomes a pretext for authoritarianism, as symbolised by the regimes mandatory greets: hello and goodbye is hereby replaced by under His eye and blest be the fruit. Both phrases serve as constant reminders of the two new social imperatives: masculine surveillance and compulsory reproduction. The secret police are also called Eyes, reinforcing the surveillance state, while the monthly rape of the handmaids is euphemised, and aggrandised, as the Ceremony. Language is a totalitarian weapon, as all who write about it understand; this is why the women are forbidden from reading and write. All are also renamed as the possessions of their masters Offred, Ofglen, Ofwarren their identities as individual females erased. The female servants arent even dedicated patronymics, but merely dismissed as interchangeable Marthas, while the women in the brothel are Jezebels.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones. Photo: HBO/ 2016 Home Box Office, Inc. All

One of the greatest changes between fiction and series is made to the character of the Commanders wife, Serena Joy. In the series she is young and beautiful, a direct sex contender to Offred; in the fiction, she is an older former televangelist celebrity whose insisting that girls stay at home is belied by her own political activity, as Atwood plays out the consequences of intergenerational feminist battles: the sins of the mothers are visited on the daughters. In the television series, by contrast, Serena Joy is the author of her own destruction, a writer who generates the rules that forbid all women, including herself, from reading( a less plausible decision, arguably ). In the novel, she is a straightforward phony; in the series, she becomes someone more conflicted about her own selections, a passionate disciple at first in the doctrines she generates, of which she becomes a victim. Thus the story becomes less about what feminism should look like, and more an exploration of female complicity and resistance.

Like The Handmaids Tale , and unlike Wonder Woman , Game of Thrones also explores women relationship to institutional power in a variety of ways while acknowledging that whatever this relationship might be, it is always categorically gendered. If Wonder Woman is a celebratory story of warrior queens, and The Handmaids Tale is a cautionary narrative of female enslavement, Game of Thrones offers women who are rulers, slaves and everything in between. It is a world in which women who seem to be pawns have a style of turning out to be queens; but it is also a world that knows queens can always be taken.

Each of the women in Game of Thrones might be said to represent a certain archetypal female experience in its relationship with power. They encompass the spectrum: from the initially conventional femininity of Sansa Stark, submissively learning needlepoint and manipulated by those around her; to her sister Arya, who repudiates this sort of femininity in favour of a sword she ironically names Needle; to the knight Brienne of Tarth, who is mocked for her absence of femininity but lives like a human in a male-dominated world; to the priestess Melisandre, a fanatic who uses sexual power in the name of religious power; to the heroine Daenerys, whose story arc takes her from rape victim to conquering ruler; to the queen regent Cersei, whose evil is contextualised, if not justified, within a story of fury and thwarted ambition. Yara Greyjoy is a daughter trying to be like a human to please her ferociously misogynist father; Margaery Tyrell is a post-feminist pragmatist, utilizing whatever power she can find to achieve her aims, while her grandmother Olenna( played to the hilt by Diana Rigg) is a cross between Catherine de Medici and the Mother superior from The Sound of Music , wimple and all. And as the tale has evolved, even the most submissive girls, like Sansa, are emerging from their violent experiences with a survivors sense of strength and vengeance.

Maisie Williams as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones. Photo: HBO

Countless terms of journalism have debated whether Game of Thrones is feminist or misogynist; that either supposedly mutually exclusive stance can be persuasively argued should suggest something of the presents complexity. The misogynist example presents the series reliance on so-called sexposition( plot revelations made amid gratuitous sex backdrops ), its( perhaps lessening) penchant for depictions of rape and violence against women and its repudiation( in so far) to give any female characters full power. Those who defend the series as feminist argue that the violence against women and the limitations of their power are part of the depicts quasi-realistic exploration of political power in an early modern world. The counter debate points out that if rape is going to be justified on the basis of historical verisimilitude, we should expect to see a lot more rotten teeth and bad hair.

But theres another way to look at the question. George RR Martin has explicitly identified as feminist; the series producers have explicitly not. Certain feminist subplots in the novels have been entirely jettisoned from the series, much to the dismay of some fans. The audience is more or less evenly divided among those who believe the series gender politics are progressive, those who think they are reactionary, and those who dont think about them at all.

Watching Game of Thrones play out the storylines of all its varied, fascinating women, in other words, is like watching the culture do battle with its own notions about girls: overt misogyny, internalised misogyny, at least three waves of feminism and post-feminism are all opposing it out before our eyes. It is by no means clear who, or what, will win. What we see is what the fight over women and power looks like.

Take Cersei Lannister: her actions are often wicked, but she has become one of the most sympathetic and fascinating of Game of Thrones characters, devoting voice to many of its most feminist utterances. In season one, she tells Sansa Stark that when her brother was taught to fight, I was taught to smile. He was heir to Casterly Rock, I was sold like a horse. When Margaery coos that they will be just like sisters, Cersei snaps: If you ever call me sister again, Ill have you strangled in your sleep. When a warrior from another land informs her that in his kingdom, We dont hurt little girls, she responds: Everywhere in the world, they hurt little girls.

Serena Joy( Yvonne Strahovski) and Commander Waterford( Joseph Fiennes) in The Handmaids Tale. Photo: MGM/ Hulu

To objections that the series is not really feminist because there is no female power that is not compromised in some way, one might answer that this is its most realistic facet of all. It can also be said of the men. The story does recognize that power is dark, debasing, necessary and impossible. And it allows girls the same problematic relationship to power as it does humen. There is a saying in Game of Thrones : valar morghulis, which means all men must die. But as Queen Daenerys points out to her handmaiden: Yes, all men must die. But we are not men.

And it is certainly true that the series famed willingness to kill off major characters is overwhelmingly( at the least thus far) directed at men. Merely three central female characters, as opposed to around 20 central male characters, have died to date by my counting. This is a show in which humen demonstrate far more expendable than females. Women are exploited but they survive, and they increasingly drive the plot. This stimulates the storys energies feel basically feminist: it detects all its girls equally interesting, and they all turn out to be forces to be reckoned with. Good, evil, as yet to be morally determined, it doesnt matter: none of them is negligible , not even the whores who are murdered or appear to be exploited early on. They are not all rewarded or liberated or empowered. But they are all significant.

By a similar logic, while there is a tiny bit of hocus-pocus, most of the supernatural power in Game of Thrones is prosthetic, rather than symbolic. Women dont have internal magical power, because they operate in a recognisably realistic political world but they can acquire power externally( from dragons, potions, weapons or deities ). And any power will do. In one of the best moments of the entire six series in so far, Cersei is informed by an adversary that knowledge is power. With a signal, she has her guards put a sword to his throat before correcting him: Power is power. Game of Thrones is not a story about dragons. It is a tale about power.

One can induce the lawsuit that all these tales are ultimately feminist, despite occasional shortcomings or even consistent ones, because all their women are fully realised human being; they all pass the Bechdel test a movie must have two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man with flying colours. In fact, the women in these stories rarely talking here men, except as political or military adversaries, and hardly ever about love. The ones who do tend not to survive very long.

That said, all these stories do still assume that a womans primary emotional drives are toward humen, and perhaps motherhood. Only The Handmaids Tale fully allows for queer female desire, in not one but two major subplots, with sympathetic characters. Wonder Woman starts out in a strictly queer surrounding before ruthlessly stamping out any hint that Diana might have picked up savors from her fabulously butch upbringing. Game of Thrones doesnt actually, or hasnt yet, allowed its women to express sexual desire that isnt normative( unless you count Cerseis definitely non-normative long-term incestuous relationship with her brother ), although Yara Greyjoy might be said to have come out to the audience last year. Queer male desire, by contrast, is taken far more seriously by Game of Thrones : it is a matter of male subjectivity, rather than female objectification, and therefore is sympathetic, characterised, rounded. Queer female longing remains mostly a political gesture, or a passing erotic fiction for the gratification of the viewer, who is presumed to like looking at female nudity much more than male nudity.

In the end, the fact that all these tales inspire debates about how feminist they are is actually the answer to the question , not the question. Feminists dont share the same answers to complicated questions about females, power, patriarchy, matriarchy, sexuality and longing. But it took feminism, and feminists, to insist that we should all be asking the issues to. Challenging power is itself a liberal, anti-authoritarian act, which means that powers answer is much less important than the purposes of the act of posing the question, because thats what speaking truth to power looks like. The feminist topic is how much our culture is prepared to reconcile women and power. And on that topic, the jury is very much out.

Series seven members of Game of Thrones is out now on Sky Atlantic.

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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.

Cockcroft at his home in Canaan, New York. Photograph: Reed Young for the Guardian

Slowly, he tells me the facts of his biography. He is warm, courteous and curious; at one point, when I mention I need money to buy a house, he offers, very seriously, to lend it to me. Sometimes he says he cant remember things. Sometimes he says he doesnt know why he does things. Sometimes he repeats that “hes having” multiple selves, and cant access the one who has the answer to my topic.( I begin to think he does this when he feels threatened; if it were habitual, wouldnt he they do it all the time ?) Then he will give a sorrowful smiling and we retreat: he to his analyse, to write or to answer emails from fans, I to the sofa to read a novel Ann wrote many years ago. Later, we try again.

Cockcroft grew up 30 miles back, in Albany. His grandfather was the chief justice of the supreme court of Vermont; his great-grandfather was the governor of Vermont; so the creator of The Dice Man was born to New England grandees. I ask about his family. My mothers were both college graduates, he says, a curious first observation from a novelist who doesnt care about class. His father Donald was an electrical engineer, his mother Elizabeth went to Wellesley College. She was clever and expected cleverness from her two sons.

As a son, he was shy and compliant, and began to use the dice at 16. He was a procrastinator: So I would make a listing of things to do in a day and the dice would choose which one I did first. Then he began to use the dice to force myself to do things I was too shy to do. If the dice chose it, then somehow that made it possible.

He says he didnt have a single original suppose in his adolescence. He went to his fathers school, again showing how little originality I had, and analyse electrical engineering, like his father. I cant believe how naturally and easily I was conforming to everything, Cockcroft says. His younger brother James, an expert in South American politics, was a rebel; even today, his website describes him as writer, lecturer, revolutionary. But I was a total conformist, he says. I was intellectually dead until I was 20.

He also analyse psychology and English literature. He ran nights in a psychiatric hospital, and considered being a lawyer.( I long to satisfied a dice lawyer .) The dice opted Ann for him. He was driving home from the hospital and considered two nurses. He get out his dice. If it was odd, he told himself, he would offer them a lift. One of them was Ann.

She looked like Rita Hayworth, and he fell in love with her immediately, applying to Columbia University to be close to her in Brooklyn. They married in 1956 and had three sons: Corby, Powers and Christopher, who has paranoid schizophrenia and still lives with them. Cockcroft avoided the draft to Korea because he had varicose veins: I dislike to think what would have happened if I had gone into the military, he says.( The dice soldier .) Instead, he taught English literature at a series of colleges in America and beyond.

With Ann in 1956, minutes after proposing to her. Photograph: courtesy of George Cockcroft

He says he has no idea why he began writing. He read outsiders, and men who railed against belonging: Tolstoy, Kafka, Hemingway. His first endeavor at fiction was about a young boy who is locked up in a psychiatric institution because he thinks he is Jesus Christ. He abandoned it after 80 pages, but one chapter featured a psychiatrist called Dr Luke Rhinehart. He was a minor character, Cockcroft says, but there he was.

The year he began writing The Dice Man, 1965, there was a crisis in the marriage. He and Ann were living in Mexico with James and his family. Ann was pregnant with their youngest son, and developed hepatitis. She was very frightened for herself, for the baby, Cockcroft says. She felt isolated, and felt I was somehow closer to my brother than her. She came back from Mexico very resentful of me, and frightened in a manner that is she had never been before.

He was reading Zen and Sufism, which he describes as assaults on the ego. Somehow writing the book and reading these philosophies enabled me to be detached from any bad places I was in, to not be enmeshed in their own homes. He wrote slowly, 50 pages a year for five years. His previous penning had been laboured and self-conscious, but this was different. As soon as I began writing The Dice Man, he says, I felt I had received my natural voice. I didnt think of it that way at the time, but the book is about what stimulates human beings unhappy and how they can escape.

He admits the penning was psychoanalysis, a way of understand, and processing, his brief estrangement from Ann. The Dice Man involves some of the things I could do if I could free myself from Ann. But the book ran style beyond that. There is, for example, much adulterous sex.

Lukes wife in the book, Lil, funny, sexy, a good mother, is something like Ann. He admits that the children are based on my own children. But he couldnt go as far as Luke. My dicing has always been very limited, he says. I was wise enough to know that I didnt want to risk my matrimony by dedicating alternatives to things that might ruin the marriage. I never devoted an option that would hurt people.

Upstairs, above his and Anns bed, there is a painting of two Georges one good, one bad by Ann. Her paintings fill the house. I wasnt consciously angry, Cockcroft says, of the difficulty in their matrimony. Sad is closer than angry. I never get very unhappy. Every year that goes by, you realise how unimportant everything is. I dont think Ive asked much of life since I wrote The Dice Man. I was ambitious then. Ive mellowed. Pretty soon Ill be a liquid lying on the ground.

Above the couples bed hangs a painting by Ann of two Georges one good, one bad. Photograph: Reed Young for the Guardian

Is Luke your repressed ego, I ask. Because, for all his humour, Luke Rhinehart is a raging man, and George Cockcroft is not. But he wont answer the issues to. Remember, he says, “were not receiving” single you. So that is a question I would not answer. Later, he does go further. Luke is the hard, cold version of George, he says, then adds: What I have come to love about the Luke of the novel is his willingness to be a buffoon, his willingness to laugh at himself.

He depicts me an excerpt from his diary, dated 10 June 1969, written in Mallorca: I must finish the Dice Man fiction. I know that if I open the novel and begin to read it, I, and it, will live, and my desire to work on it and complete it will bloom again. I am the Dice Man in a way I am no one else. It is the idea which my life has created. I am not good for a second one. I am not a professional writer. I am without talent in any way. But the theory of the dice human, the ironic spirit of his life, grows as naturally in my bumpy clay as do boulders here along the rocky coast of Mallorca.

Cockcroft came across the journal three or four months ago and was startled: he doesnt remember help feeling that way. Later, in a eatery by the frozen lagoon, I ask if the description of Luke that opens the novel is him: I am a large man, with big butchers hands, great oak thighs, rock-jawed head and massive, thick-lens glass. Im 6ft 4in and weigh close to 230 lbs; I look like Clark Kent.

Id have to look at it again, Cockcroft says. Physically, its not me. I attained him a much bigger man. Hes overweight.

Luke is overweight? Ann says. I dont remember that.

Thats how I always picture him, he says.

Ann replies: I always picture him like you.


When Cockcroft was a child, there was a cataclysm. His father developed cancer in his 30 s. He decided he wasnt going to set himself and his family through any more ache, he says, and he called up medical doctors and said he was going to shoot himself and “re coming” and handle things, and he shot himself. Its the longest single sentence Cockcroft utters. He was eight or nine at the time. He cant remember exactly. He says his mother greeted him at the door after school and said, Father is dead. His only memory, after that, is, going out to the garage and not weeping and wondering if I should scream. He was not close to his mother. She was a Vermont puritan, and not a naturally warm person. Did you ask her what happened to your father? No, he says, and for a moment I can hear the compliant boy. I entail no.

Do you forgive him? I admire him, he says wonderingly, as if the question is ridiculous. But it was a barbarian act of separation; his father didnt say goodbye.

Cockcroft says he recollects almost nothing of his life before his fathers demise. He shows me fragments of an autobiography he has not finished, because he has not solved the problem of writing a narrative by multiple selves.

Was our childhood so traumatic we cant face it? he writes, in the third person. Our friend, Jim, thinks so. Jim is three years younger than we are and he recollects a cruel parent that used to whip him with a belt. We dont have a single memory of being beaten with a belt. Jim is unrepressed, remembers a cruel parent; we are repressed, remember nothing. Saw nothing, hear nothing, felt nothing. We have no painful memories pre-Dads death-day , nor any happy ones.


In 1969, while teaching in Mallorca, Cockcroft received a publisher for The Dice Man called Mike Franklin, and swiftly wrote the second half of the book. Franklin called it a near masterpiece and got a huge advance for the American edition.

It did badly in America, partly, Cockcroft thinks, because of a covering jacket featuring a naked woman lying on a bed. But it did better in Europe, particularly in England, Sweden, Denmark and now Spain, where it was for a period the most requested library volume in Spanish universities.

No publisher asked for another novel, so he didnt write one. He fell into lazines; he was busy sailing and raising his children. Another instance of my life of aspiration, Cockcroft says, sarcastically. All through my 20 s, I was fighting ambition. My mom had attained me very ambitious to be successful at whatever I did, and I felt that was a sickness. I never wrote for money and I never consciously wrote for reputation. The Dice Man was part of a lifelong process to get me to relax and enjoy things as they are, and not aspire to more than I have.

The film rights to The Dice Man were sold, and he wrote screenplays for a cinema that was never induced. He and Ann travelled for years, often on boats; they smoked marijuana. He sank a catamaran in a storm in the Mediterranean, after Ann had prayed for three nights on deck while he apologised, precipitantly, for drowning their children.( They were picked up by a Scottish freighter 40 miles off the coast of Africa .)

The family settled in Canaan after following a Sufi cult to New York state. The Dice Man grew in notoriety, but Cockcroft didnt. He spent his money, and earned more. He discouraged any questions concerning his real ego, and people rarely asked. They interviewed Luke Rhinehart and that was it, he says now. I wasnt being secretive so much as simply preferring to keep the two identities separate. Rhinehart allowed him to have a private life. Acquaintances in Canaan do not know he is the author of The Dice Man.

Cockcroft with his sons Powers( left) and Chris in 1972. Photograph: courtesy of George Cockcroft

He wrote volumes only when the mood, or the advance, came: White Wind, Black Rider; Whim; Long Voyage Back; The Book Of Est, a guidebook to a popular 70 s cult; The Book Of The Die; and Naked Before The World, a novel alluded to in The Dice Man. Jesus Invades George is a very funny tale of George W Bush being possessed by Jesus Christ. He wrote The Search For The Dice Man, in which Luke aims up in a Japanese monastery, but it is the work of a sleeping novelist: Luke barely appears and, when he does, he is a cipher.

In 2012, an email announcing his death was sent to 25 friends, apparently from Ann: It is our pleasure to inform you that Luke Rhinehart is dead. He very much wanted us to tell you this as soon as possible so you wouldnt be annoyed that he wasnt replying to your emails. But people were upset, and he afterward apologised for his thoughtlessness, blaming Luke. To pretend to die while sneakily lurking here and there in the darkest shadows is the lowest of the low. But we can expect no better from him.

Ask me about Invasion, he says now. He wants another roll; he is enjoying the attention. This latest book is full of his politics, which are the politics of Bernie Sanders; its tone is amused disgust, and it is very funny, if you can handle an alien protagonist who looks like a beachball, and whose beachball friend is called Molire.

I try to find a tactful style to ask him: do you mind that The Dice Man, your first volume, is your best book? But my views doesnt bother him, because he cant concur. Right now, he says, utilizing the multiple pronoun, we have no notion of the relative merits of our novels. At this moment, Invasion is liked very much by the majority of us, more than our previous books. Two years ago, we told people our favourite fiction was Whim. After I finished writing Jesus Invades George, it was our favourite novel. If Invasion fails to sell, he says, he doesnt think it will bother him for more than a single afternoon.

At the end of my remain, I ask Cockcroft again about his father. He tells me he has nightmares about the garage attached to the house in which he grew up, in which he tried to sob after his fathers death. He has an image, he says hesitantly, too swooning to be a memory, of a maid cleaning blood off the walls in the house, at the top of the stairs. I feel morbid, prodding him. He has already told me more than he has told any journalist, and he doesnt believe in cause and impact. He cannot assure a connection between his fathers suicide and the creation of the Dice Man, so I stop.

But a few days later, after I have returned to England, he sends me an email. Last night I had a really remarkable dream, he writes, use the first person. For the first time in months, if not years, I was outside the house where my father killed himself. I was walking over to our neighbours home, where contractors were arriving to do some sort of run that involved both the neighbours property and ours. I said with great confidence and authority in the direction of the contractors( not ensure ), I am George Cockcroft, the owner of this property. I think the subject line, in capital letters, is a joke at my expense. It says, Im CURED!

Invasion by Luke Rhinehart is published by Titan at 8.99.

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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

Norman Vincent Peale: The Power of Positive Thinking ( 1952)
Donald Trump: The Art of the Deal ( 1987)
Malcolm Gladwell: Blink: The Power of Believing Without Thinking ( 2005)

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.

Moby DJing in New York in 1989. Photo: Mobys personal collection

None of this is hinted at in his memoir, however, because none of it was foreshadowed in real life. In real life, before Play, Moby was bumping around New York, getting DJ gigs in now legendary clubs like Mars and Nasa, as well as nasty swingers nights( he says he would play anywhere ). His career, as careers do, took day. In 1992, he had success with one way, Go( particularly in the UK, where we have always been more open to his music than the US) and made a few well-received albums.

Then, in 1995, simply at the moment dance music actually crossed over, he blew whatever small chance he had by bringing out a thrash punk LP.

He is funny about this and his musical work is all present and correct in Porcelain, but it takes second place to the more fascinating everyday happens in their own lives. Hes a dominatrixs sidekick( he calls himself Master Bobby and hollers at a businessman wearing fuchsia lingerie ). He get Lyme cancer, he dates indie girls and strippers; he lives in disused warehouses and crappy flats with weirded-out flatmates who want to set him on fire and buy the petrol to do so.

What is strange is how he chose to compartmentalise their own lives. He ricochetted between out-there clubbers and the suburban devout, between hanging out in debaucheries and having a largely unconsummated relationship with his Christian girlfriend( they would hand out vegan sandwiches to homeless people for thrills ). He was monastic in his home habits, then would go out and socialise madly. He was a vegan, sober , nonsexual God-botherer partying in the blood-soaked Meatpacking District with the sex-and-druggers. In 1995, after being teetotal for eight years, he took up drinking again. Theres a sort of relief in it. He had so many different personae to try to unite.

Moby Reading Festival, 1996. Photograph: Scott Frassetto

Is he still like that?

Hmm. I still recognise that person, stumbling through life without much agency. Theres exuberance and a good work ethic, but ultimately complete cluelessness, being baffled by everything. Its like being a snowball rolling down a mountain. The snowball might have started various kinds of pure, but by the end, its filled with dead squirrels and sticks and boulders and wellies and garbage. Youve got this snowball at the end, but to what magnitude does it relate to or resemble that original snowball?

Moby, as you see, does a good line in therapy talk( Well, were in southern California, the land of veganism and therapy, he says ), but hes also very funny. Salman Rushdie has given a glowing quote for the encompas of Porcelain that references Mobys supposed ancestor Herman Melville( hence Moby, after Melvilles Moby-Dick; his real name is Richard Melville Hall ). He has started writing the next instalment, covering the 10 years post-Play. He says his publishers, so far, dont approve. They suppose his excesses construct him too unsympathetic. Such as? Oh, notoriety, money, degeneracy, debauchery, bottoming out, says Moby. Whats not to like? I know! Thats what I want to read in a book!

Because it focuses on their own lives from 23 to 33 years old, Porcelain doesnt take on Mobys childhood. Still, tellingly, it opens with a scene concerning him and his mother. She is working in a laundromat, unhappy, furious, and he is sitting in the car, waiting for her to finish her shift. He is 10. He tells me he could have written a lot more about his young life there are maybe five memoirs in there and he clearly had a tough time. His father died in a drink-driving accident when Moby was just two. His mothers household was wealthy( Mobys grandfather operated a successful Wall Street company ), but she rejected her background and set off to build her own narrative. Sometimes we would be living in a squat-ish home with three or four other drug-addicted hippies, with bands playing in the basement, he says. Which voices fun, but when youre in fourth grade trying to do homework and there are people smoking pot in the kitchen, or fighting Every so often, they would stay with his grandparents in wealthy Darien, Connecticut, which was nice, but built him feel poor and ashamed.

Moby With his mother, wearing her chemotherapy wig, in New York, 1997. Photograph: Mobys personal collecting

In the second half of the book, his mum dies of cancer, and theres an nasty almost unbelievable incident that happens around her funeral. I remember it so clearly, Moby says. Person had left a digital alarm clock at my house, and it was the most reliable thing in the world, and the alarm was as clear and simple to utilize as a digital clock can be. And so, the night before my mommies funeral, I set the alarm. But this completely dependable clock at some phase was set forward 21 hours, which meant that if it were 3am it somehow get set presented to midnight. The only thing that could have happened is that, at some point during the night, I woke up in a fugue nation and set the clock forward 21 hours, so I would miss her funeral I must have defined it forward 21 hours, because something in my subconscious said that was the only legitimate and expedient route to miss the funeral.

I ask him how he feels about that now, and his eyes mist up a tiny bit. He is sad: not for himself, but for his family. She was my mom, but more importantly in some ways she was my aunts sister. And my grandmothers daughter. I feel guilty. But for myself, I dont know.

Not knowing how you feel about things is a protective instinct. Moby is a lovely companion, in real life and on the page, but he can seem detached from his feelings. When his mum told him she had cancer, she also told him that he has a half-brother. I ask him about this, assuming he would have got in touch. But no.

If it were a full friend, then that would be interesting, but its a half-brother, he says.( It !). In terms of my genetic sequence, I have almost as much in common with you and most of the people in this eatery as I would with a half-brother. And thats that.

What Porcelain suggests is that Mobys greatest love back then wasnt his family, or a person, or even music, but a city. At heart, Porcelain is a love letter to old New York: that grubby, crumbling, dangerous place. Lately, Moby was describing him to some young friends, and they couldnt believe what he was describing; honouring the city of that time was a major motivating in his writing. New York totally changed in those 10 years. In 1989, it was old New York cheap, murder-y, dysfunctional, flames and by the end of the 90 s, it was Jay Z and bottle service and condos.

Moby In his first promo shoot in 1988. Photo: Joseph Kugielsky

It took Moby a long time to fall out of love with New York, but he did. He gave up drinking and his love objective. I was walking up Orchard Street, and “its one” of those shitty days, 36 degrees Fahrenheit, sleeting, grey snowfall, and I realised there is sometimes an elective quality to suffering. New York suited his drinking; he classifies himself as an old-timey alcoholic, I mean, theres just no doubt, you know? He would try going out for got a couple of drinks and find himself at 8am, with strangers in my house, bags of drugs, Id had about 15 drinkings, having sex with a complete stranger. Which is great, but that was my best attempt to drink in moderation. Also, I supposed I was going on these great escapades, and the truth is I was going from one bar to another on Ludlow Street.

So he got sober and moved to LA. For a while, he lived in Marlon Brandos old home, the fabulous Wolfs Lair, an actual castle, but it soon felt too big. Now hes in a three-bedroom place: his musical equipment is in one bedroom, his exercising stuff in another, and he sleeps in the third. Scarcely Jay Z, but he seems happy.

In the past few years, Moby has reassessed their own lives. He wants to carry on making music he has an album came to see you this year but he doesnt want to tour. Hes happy for people to pay for his music, but he doesnt mind dedicating it away and, to this end, has set up a website so that student filmmakers can use his albums as soundtracks for free. Hes stopped caring what other people think of him( not much social media, simply occasionally posting on Instagram, largely cute animals or nature scenes ). And hes decided that animal rights are his lifes work.

Thats my day undertaking animal rights, he says. Inducing music and writing volumes and doing other things is what I love, and its fun, but I dont see it as work. You know, a lot of activism is single-issue activism. Like say, someone campaigns about turning land into a park. Theres the land, you turn it into a park, it benefits the community thats good. But its limited. But the thing with animal agriculture, everything is covered by it. Theres the animal side of it: most people who are not sociopaths can agree that animal suffering is not a good thing. But then theres the climate change facet, the rainforest deforestation, famine the reason theres famine is because food that could be fed to humans is fed to animals instead then heart disease, diabetes, cancer, erectile dysfunction Animal activism is my lifes purpose. If someone came to me and said if I could die, and my demise would somehow serve the purpose of saving animals, Id do it in a heartbeat.

Then of course, theres the restaurant, which he determines a constant trial. Everything has to be perfect. Im an emotional perfectionist I simply want things to feel as good as they maybe can for the people who are experiencing them.

He did have another vegan restaurant, in New York, called TeaNY, which he opened in 2002, with his then girlfriend. This was a disaster, as they split up soon after, and, though theyre still on good terms, he doesnt seem to know if TeaNY is still going. Relationships dont appear to be Mobys forte: he hooks up with a couple of women in the book who seem great, but he cant make it last. Was he simply a sexuality puppy? I dont think I was driven by sexuality. The style I dated was motived by the desire to be validated in people eyes. And clearly the desire to have sex as well, but it was like trying validation without attachment or obligation.

Moby Moby calls himself a developmentally disabled space foreigner or robot. Photograph: Chris Buck for the Guardian

He also thinks his difficulties with his mum had an effect. If youre constantly ashamed when youre growing up, when you become an adult youre constantly ashamed. And when you get close to people you presume they will only like you as long as they see you in your best sun. There is the profound desire for closeness and the profound anxiety of the other person. You start getting close to someone, they do something that might not be perfect, and it triggers a terror answer and you run away By you, I mean me, of course.

Anyway, hes been in a relationship for eight months now, his first in 10 years. It seems to be going OK, though he cant genuinely tell. He calls himself a developmentally disabled space foreigner or robot and he keeps having to ask his girlfriend things: Like, is it OK if I go to bed after you do? Hes also pretty set on not having children. He says, if the person or persons Im dating got pregnant, sure Id blithely be involved and help out as much as I possibly can, but its not something I long to do, which is about as detached as you can get without running away. Hes going to adopt a couple of dogs after he comes back from his book tour, he thinks. He seems able to feel great feeling for human beings and animals in general, but detects it harder one-on-one.

We talk a little bit about his Christianity; towards the end of the book, he starts questioning it, and he says now that he still understands the desire for spirituality, simply not institutionalised belief systems or ideological rigidity.

I dont think that God cares what jersey you wear, he says. Its not like Man United and Leeds is that the right UK sports reference?

Leeds arent in the Premiership any more.

OK, Arsenal? Man United and Arsenal: that tribal rivalry is really fun in athletic, but I dont think it should be part of divinity.

We are having a laugh now; I feel as though Im talking to a friend. Moby is quite the most low-key multimillionaire I have ever met. He is modest. He looks the way he always did: unflashy with his shirt over a T-shirt, creative casual, unrich. He hasnt even had his teeth done, which is almost prosecutable in LA. We talk a bit about fund and he says he thinks materialism doesnt run, meaning it doesnt actually make anyone properly happy. He should know, of course.

Moby On stage at Le Znith in Paris in 2015. Photograph: Getty Images

Moby seems to be enjoying his life , now hes not spending a big part of it drunk. I love reading and travelling to interesting parts of the world, and having time to think and write and construct music and do activism. Life is short, and we have a limited amount of day and energy, and its just so much easier trying to be your honest self.

I take the opportunity to ask him about a long-standing gossip. Supposedly, years ago, Moby and his friends would play a prank at parties. One of them would unzip his flies and hang his willy out of his trousers, then the others would challenge him to go up to someone famous and knob touch them. I ask him if this ever happened, or if it was made up.

Its both, he says, and intermissions. Hmm, theres a funny side to this story. I might change it because I dont know if I want it to follow me around. I had some friends from college who would do that. They would get very drunk, pull their willy out and merely brush it up against people. Because it was funny. So what I will say is that a friend of mine once did that to Donald Trump. I chuckle. It was a eatery on Park Avenue around 20 th Street, some fundraising event, when Trump was just a New York real-estate developer.

You seem to remember it well. Did that person get extra kudos for Trump?

You can extrapolate as to who that person might be, and thats as much as I can say, says Moby, a man who cant resist a funny anecdote, whos happy to tell the truth, who has lived a full and full-on life but who is old enough now to know that he doesnt want all the consequences that come wrapped in the adventures. Fair enough. As long as he maintains writing all those narratives down, were good.

Porcelain by Moby is published by Faber& Faber at 14.99. To order a transcript for 11.99, going to see or call 0330 333 6846.

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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