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Childhood trauma and its consequences
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2007 5:16 pm 
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That the author is secretly smuggling out and reworking, often lying about and numbing, their abusive emotional childhood is something Alice Miller tends to imply when dealing with works of art, a mode of thinking we as her readers easily slip into, isn't it? That Kafka's work is basically explainable as artistic dramatization of a child's insecurity about his parents true agenda, that the vampiric women of Baudelaire's poems are in fact his emotinally unavailable and seductive mother... This is still the only opening to Baudelaire's work I can stand, the only way in which I can read his work with interest.

In this way, artistic work after Alice Miller demands a new openness and consciousness in the producer. We can't only chew and chew the unworked-through emotions from our childhood and find creative ways of repackaging them, then call it Art. It's a new game now. All bets are off. (Or is this just the Pol Pot impulse of the artist seeking love through getting others to buy into his grandiose fantasies? Like Pol Pot, trying to eradicate everything that came before. "You see, Shakespeare was a weak writer since he wrote before Miller and deMause. Let's shoot him in the neck and kneecaps to leave room for the work of Me, Me, ME!")

Which brings us to the subject of this post: César Tort's criticism of Dennis R.'s novel The Curse of the Third Rate Artist. Discussing this opens the larger subject of the differences in world view and even temperament between the two writers.

First I must clarify that I think César is a very promising and interesting writer who in his work is attempting to take on very large themes which are important to me also. As mentioned briefly above, I believe artists working after Alice Miller have a new responisbility to be conscious. To this, I will add the meta-perspective on history developed by Lloyd deMause which says that the whole of human history, in particular its destructive aspects, is based on childhood abuse. "The history of childhood is a nightmare from which we have only recently begun to awaken..." begins his most important work. Miller says as much, but not as systematically and not as clearly as to the development that has, despite everything, taken place. Put in this perspective, the emotional abuses and the stressful life situation that Martin Maag, the narrator of Dennis' novel, was put through was just as destructive as it was, but less destructive and less producing of the kind of howling-at-the-moon stressful psychosis and magical thinking that the childrearing of the European Middle Ages produced.

The criticism of your novel which César wrote in the context of polemics around the subject of Satanic Abuse elsewhere in this forum [ viewtopic.php?f=1&t=163&p=1145#p1145 ] must be read in this context. Dennis R.'s novel does not have the same meta-perspective as César Tort's has, something which Mr Tort from his perspective must see as weaknesses.

Since I, myself, am interested in the approach to writing and the expansion of consciousness of which his writing is the physical trace, created for communication - that César Tort is developing, I share in part his criticism.

Let me, to make writing this post quicker and easier, quote the relevant part from a review letter I wrote recently to Dennis R. after having read his novel The Curse of the Third Rate Artist.

Quote:
Hi Dennis!

I have recieved and read your novel. I liked it - I could identify with the situation of the protagonist, and his hermit-y way of dealing with the world, as well as the hope he puts into "love". The narrator was like a petri dish wherein the thinking of Alice Miller started to grow.
When you yourself are at the beginning of orienting yourself according to certain modes and maps of thinking, it helps to look at your predecessors and see where that road has taken them. I'm happy to learn that someone who for a while had no other choice but to cloister himself to protect what is most precious in him, has been able successfully to eke out an existence.

There is, however, an unfinished feel to the novel. Maybe that's because of the choice of perspective, and something you have conscously chosen. I, however, would like more perspective. In my experience, the passionate kind of love affair which the narrator had with Natassja, filled with hope and expectations of finally being able to expose the True Self and correspondingly filled with heart-wrenching disappointments - afterwards they feel like dreams, or like having been drunk.
Yes, I staggered that way when I was drunk, yes, what I did made sense while drunk, but I was in another chemical state then.

The futility of it all is not made obvious in the novel. There is no analysis. [In his reply to this letter, Dennis expressed the opinion that his protagonist was being "very arrogant and egocentric." When writing this letter, I thought these were qualities of the writer rather than the narrator of the novel. - Andreas Wirsén] The novel is raw material which I, this reader, uses to interpret and read between the lines. This reader would like, now and then, a little snap on the nose to discourage his own interpretations or be rewarded with a new spin and perspective on them. Instead, this reader is watching what unfolds in the narrative like a Greek god believing he knows better the motivations of the characters, could talk to them and teach them a thing or two.

Sometimes, the narrator's assessment of characters isn't obvious from the material that's put forth. Milo is said to be "implausible" but I have interacted with people like him and occasionally taken on characteristics of him myself.

When a person in the travel group gets dismissed for even mentioning "transactional analysis", I am not so sure every reader knows what this is, nor that they share the protagonists instinctive aversion to the term. The narrator is acting a bit like a hip music critic, assuming that making a disgusted face as a certain song will make his followers know what's cool.

After all this is said, I love the clarity of writing when it comes to defending an unorthodox way of life dedicated to protecting what is most valuable and sensitive in us. The courage to be sensitive is what I will remember from your novel.

Thank you,

Andreas


Allow me to get personal for a while. For what I intend, and for the kind of writing I myself aim to produce, a perspective the world needs, I think César is a pioneer developing a new sport. His successes are mine, and even his failures will be valuable lessons.
The way he dares to be expressively angry, is inspiring to me, though for my own part I am unsure of the outcome. Perhaps by temperament(which can't be helped), perhaps by lack of courage(which, if true, must be conquered) I can not be that clear about my anger. On the other hand not anger, but sensitivity, seems to be the guiding star of Dennis R.'s novel. For me, the jury is still out and César's, as well as Dennis' future developments as a human being and an artist will give me the information I need as to whether this is the road I want to pursue.

César's five-book work Hojas Susurantes expands from angry letter to mother, through anti-psychiatric tractate to brutally honest(so I'm told, have not taken it on yet) autobiography, over to family history, to the chronicle of the bloody past of his nation into an assessment of the human race and where we are now, which is an expansion in a new direction of deMausian thought - the quick eradication of those who abuse and hurt children thus stopping humanity from evolving into the best we can be. How César brings this off in his last book will be very exciting indeed to take part off - that much I know. Whether or not and to what degree I will agree is another of those questions where the jury are still out.
On the negative part, he might be steering dangerously close to a new motivation for genocide, a new ideological twist on the old Nazi game.

Daniel Mackler, in his writing, seems to imply that there is a lack of what he calls "enlightenment" in César Tort's exposing of his emotional life and his family's. That this is unhealthy exhibitionism, and an unfortunate development of a tortured soul, rather that the pearl the clam produces because a grain of sand is torturing, cutting and carving at, its vulnerable pink flesh. To stop the hurt.

I lean toward César's side in this conflict. I, myself, have ambitions as a major writer and find that after assimilating the thinking of Alice Miller works of art that are not intensely personal and honest to be unrewarding. Is Mackler suggesting that we keep our stories to ourselves and sit around healed in a lonely buddhistic state, when instead we could let our stories go out and make changes in the consciousnesses of the real world. As I said, I lean toward Tort's interpretation, but as always - the jury is still out. And I believe even Mackler can't avoid looking at Tort's work, like he has before with the psychological case studies or autobiographies the motivation for writing which he finds emotionally doubtful - can't avoid looking at them as at a beautiful car crash, provided as entertainment for the Buddha from others' flesh and blood. The Buddha floats around in the suffering of the world with a distanced face.

Everything I have written above must be read in the perspective that I found reading the writings of Daniel Macklar, César Tort and Dennis R. as a revelation and breathing with the life of a new integrated consciousness, pulsating with a true emotionality, which I have before found in the work of Alice Miller and Lloyd deMause and to which, once I'd tasted it, nothing else compares. This is the reason I care strongly enough about them to read and reflect on them, as well as writing this text.

Andreas


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2007 12:51 am 
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Hello Andreas, and nice to see you here on the forum. You've provided a great perspective on the new generation of outspoken writers :) . I never denied that Cesar has written excellent stuff. I've read his first manuscript, which was basically an evaluation on psychiatry and I could see he was very influenced by Szasz. Nevertheless, it was brilliantly written. However, Cesar emphasized that he has changed it quite much since he wrote it in 2002 (I believe). I started writing material for my novel in 1991 and finished the last pages in 2000. If I would re-write the whole novel or write a new novel, no doubt it would be quite different. I didn't want to change the authenticity of the pages of 16 years ago, which is easy to do, but kept them as a piece of historical events grasping a period of 5 years in the lives of the 3 main characters. As a writer with many ideas, it's tempting to bring in too much of it in a story. Cesar spread his in 5 books.

Before I had made the decision to write a novel on that period, I had written an experimental novel that was full of anger. It was basically a collection of essays that presented my view on things, a bit like Daniel does on his website, but I knew too little on style and literature back then, to make it appealing to a publisher. One publisher had read it and agreed with my views, but couldn't publish it, and introduced me to a paper in Holland, which started to ignite my writing. It also contained a letter to my parents. Then came The Curse of the Third-rate Artist, which I decided to shape like a novel because the threshold would be lower for people to read about controversial things. And the truth is that people in power do not want to publish this sort of material, even though most publishers who had read the manuscript liked it. It was almost published by 2 publishers but got canceled higher up in the hierarchy. So I wonder how Cesar's books will go. And how he personally will feel when the big fame and the big revolution will not happen. He's drumming his books like the most important ones in history, and it's good that he's confident about it, but if it's hope on 'being seen' and 'being heard', then the downfall can be pretty harsh. This is also the reason why writing is for me not the most important thing in life. And opposite of Cesar and perhaps Daniel, I'm not afraid to mix in entertainment. But there's also enjoyment for me in writing and I'll continue doing it. But it takes a lot of time, time that doesn't get financially compensated. That's a big issue in my life and I may have to wait until I retire in 25 years, when I can dedicate more time.

I'm thinking of putting the novel up for sale on this website because maybe other people can get inspired by it or entertained the least.

Thanks for your input and I appreciate the kind words.

Dennis


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