Freud, low schlurp threshholds and the Election

I was planning to review In the Freud Archives by Janet Malcolm today but it will have to wait. Not quite in the mood after a typically rushed Monday and with general moodiness about. Some bullet points instead:

• South Africans will be voting in our fourth post-1990 general election on Wednesday. I am hoping that the ANC doesn’t get a two-thirds majority and that their support drops to below 60% for the first time since 1994. It’s rather depressing knowing that 60% of the electorate have a totally different political outlook to me, but encouraging perhaps that 40% are unhappy with the idea of Jacob Zuma as president. (I could add that I voted ANC in 1994 but that since then I’ve been rather disappointed with the lack of progress on a number of issues including crime, corruption, healthcare, Zimbabwe and others. I’m voting for the opposition.)

• On the reading front it felt almost surreal to begin reading The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot in election week. With so much buzz around Jacob Zuma and the ANC vs the rest, it was also refreshing though to step into George Eliot’s 19th century England where attention to detail is everything. I was not really expecting to get pulled into the story so quickly but I’m admiring Eliot’s subtle humour, her keenly-observed dialogue, her long descriptions and her gently meandering plot. I also like the way that she deftly blends the individual and the social with subtle reflections on the position of women. I’m interested to see how the story of Maggie and Tom develops but I’m already frustrated that the bright Maggie apparently won’t be getting the advantages of her older (and duller) brother.

• I really enjoyed In the Freud Archives by Janet Malcolm this weekend. Malcolm writes so well and so thoroughly that even if I wasn’t interested in the history of psychology I would have been fascinated with the inner goings-on of the Freud inner circle. I’ll hopefully review this later this week but in the meantime here’s a quote:

“To be an analyst and to be certain – they don’t go together. You have to have doubts. You have to be capable of certainty, too, but it has to be hedged with doubt.” — Leonard Shengold

• My dear and slightly demented dog had me losing my temper this weekend with her obsessive licking. Unfortunately we share a room and she got it into her brain to lick her paw obsessively (with insistent schlurpy sounds) at 3am on Sunday morning for about three hours. I know I shouldn’t have smacked her nose and shouted at her to “Just Stop It!” before grabbing her collar and marching her downstairs but in mitigation I was tired and I’m really not at my best at 3am on a Sunday morning. P was not impressed and I also felt bad for not having more patience.

• The irony of the situation was that I was feeling pretty good before that. I’d been to the gym and I’d found good books to read and P and I were having a relaxing weekend. Perhaps Joschka felt left out or just anxious or something. Maybe she’s worried about the approach of Winter and her arthritis was playing up. I don’t know, but the schlurping felt like Chinese water torture. I clearly have a low schlurp-threshhold. (How does one work on that?)


12 Responses to Freud, low schlurp threshholds and the Election

  1. Natalian says:

    I think 3 hours of schlurping is more than my threshold could take! Agreed, it is time for change. South African’s need to make a logical vote based on the parties ability to govern our country, which we have not seen in the past few years, and not a vote based on emotion. Looking forward to reading your review on Malcolm’s “In the Freud Archives”.

  2. Earplugs solve lots of nighttime problems, I find. 🙂

  3. Pete says:

    Natalian – So glad you agree re the schlurping. And as for the Election, I’d like to see votes which are based on reason and emotion. I’m also looking forward to JZ actually presiding (which is apparently what presidents do) rather than singing and dancing!

    David – Good advice. Thanks.

  4. bloglily says:

    I second the earplugs! Sorry about the schlurping, although happy to have read such a fine word today. It perked me up.

  5. Dolce says:

    Oish….still schlurping?

  6. litlove says:

    When my husband keeps me awake snoring, I hold his nose until he stops. If I had the nerve (and several hours had passed) I might well smack him on it and send him downstairs. 😉 Very glad to hear you enjoyed the Malcolm – I do love the way she writes. And I will have to read Eliot again. I hold back from the 19th century, but for no good reason other than book length.

  7. Sarah says:

    It will be interesting to see how the ANC go, from what I’ve read and seen I don’t think I’d vote for Jacob Zuma either.

    I confess I haven’t been won over by George Eliot yet, I should re-read one of her novels and see if that changes. I think she’s a bit to earnest for me.

  8. Dorothy W. says:

    I think I need to read Janet Malcolm’s complete works, as I think she’s fabulous! I’m not necessarily interested in reading about Freud, but I’ll read her book on him anyway because I know she’s interesting no matter what the subject.

  9. Pete says:

    Lily – Will definitely give the earplugs a try. And happy to oblige with any interesting words 😉

    Dolce – Yes, worse than ever. I’m really tempted to try her on some prozac (since it’s good for OCD) 😉

    Litlove – I just want to add that I didn’t banish the dog downstairs but just took her out so that she could do something and get out of the obsessive routine. Seemed to work pretty well (and reminded her of the cold!) As for Eliot, I’m also worried about the length. I suppose I can’t blame her (since editing was much trickier in those days) but it does mean that reading can become a bit tedious.

    Sarah – Latest news is that Msholozi (that’s Zuma’s nickname) has inspired 65% of the electorate – which is pretty impressive for the ANC in the circumstances. The opposition will take my province though so happy about that. And I have to agree about Eliot. The Mill on the Floss started so well but I don’t have the patience to read the whole thing at the moment. And that earnestness does grate after a while.

    Dorothy – Would also love to read the complete works of Janet Malcolm. There’s such interesting material here on the relationship between imagination and reality, and I’m wondering how this might have influenced her later work (particularly the biographies). This is the first of her books that I’ve seen available in SA but will keep looking.

  10. I love the name of your blog. Excellent stuff. I started Floss but stopped, because, I don’t remember. Something to do with opportunity to read a different book. I had the same feelings. A smart girl in those days was ridiculed and intentionally held down, derided as not knowing her place. It’s hard to read that sometimes. But I love Elliot.

    Maybe your dog has a hot spot? Those are tough.

  11. boxofbooks says:

    I adore Eliot, but she’s such a commitment. Have you read “Silas Marner”? I think she probably thought of it as a novella – it’s about a quarter of the size of “Mill” – but it’s still big enough for an incredible amount of tragedy and redemption.

    In the US most schoolkids are required to read it in high school some time. Everyone in my class hated it except me; and I have loved it ever since. Even “Middlemarch”, which I know is miles better technically, isn’t as satisfying as “Marner”. So, my advice is, use “Mill on the Floss” as a doorstopper and find a nice unabridged illustrated copy of “Marner” to read on those nights when your dog is schlurping and you can’t sleep.

  12. Pete says:

    phd in yogurtry – Thanks, and great to meet another (interesting) psychology blogger. Maybe you’re right about the hot spot. Am trying to be more empathic (and seriously considering those ear plugs).

    Ella – Silas Marner sounds perfect for me then. I don’t have the time right now to meander through a looong novel such as Floss unless it’s really gripping. My parents have a recording of Floss though so will save it for a trip (or to listen to at Betty’s Bay). Thanks for the Eliot tip.

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