All Very Interesting

From NYRB:

Specifically, Bion challenged Beckett—whose devotion to the Cartesians shows how much he had invested in the notion of a private, inviolable, nonphysical mental realm—to reevaluate the priority he gave to pure thought. Bion’s Grid, which accords phantasy processes their full due in mental activity, is in effect an analytic deconstruction of the Cartesian model of thinking. In the psychic menagerie of Bion and Klein, Beckett may also have found hints for the protohuman organisms, the worms and bodiless heads in pots, that populate his various underworlds.

Bion seems to have empathized with the need felt by creative personalities of Beckett’s type to regress to prerational darkness and chaos as a preliminary to an act of creation. Bion’s major theoretical work, Attention and Interpretation (1970), describes a mode of presence of analyst to patient, stripped of all authority and directedness, that is much the same (minus the jokes) as that adopted by the mature Beckett toward the phantom beings who speak through him. Bion writes:

To attain the state of mind essential for the practice of psycho-analysis I avoid any exercise of memory; I make no notes…. If I find that I am without any clue to what the patient is doing and am tempted to feel that this secret lies hidden in something I have forgotten, I resist any impulse to remember….

A similar procedure is followed with regard to desires: I avoid entertaining desires and attempt to dismiss them from my mind….

By rendering oneself “artificially blind” [a phrase that Bion quotes from Freud] through the exclusion of memory and desire, one achieves…the piercing shaft of darkness [that] can be directed on the dark features of the analytic situation.


One Response to “All Very Interesting”

  1. Beckie Lickie Says:

    I look forward to more research on what was called the pumping shaft of night. Sounds like it worked pretty good in the docs sessions, RIGHT?

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