This and that

• Only 13 Mondays before the end of the year. That’s a scary thought. Apparently the Christmas rush (or the build-up to the Christmas rush) starts on Thursday. I was interested to read about Super Thursday in the book trade, which happens this Thursday the 1st of October. That’s the day the UK publishers release about 800 titles in time for Christmas. No prizes for guessing which book is likely to be one of the major sellers this year. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (good review here).

• I’m busy with my Cape Town reading project. The aim is to read or re-read 10 Cape Town novels before the end of October. I’ll post on this in due course. Most of the novels I’m reading seem to be written by women. I wonder if that dynamic is more pronounced here in SA than in Europe – that it’s women who do the bulk of the novel writing and reading?

• I’ve also started re-reading The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck. This was first published in 1978 but is still relevant and topical. Peck talks a lot about suffering as being necessary for personal growth and draws a lot on Buddhism. The opening line if I can remember it correctly is “Life is Suffering”.

• I’m also having to work, which can be annoying. It’s not the patients that I mind so much as the talks that I’m called on to give. This week I need to brief a group of people on “How to tell when someone has a psychological problem”. Ok that wasn’t the exact title but that’s what it boils down to. I’m not sure this is the kind of audience who will appreciate being told that everyone should go for (or could benefit from) therapy. And I also don’t want to do therapy with everyone here. I’m not allowed to give the diagnostic criteria from the DSM-IV so I’ll have to make this a more general “signs and symptoms” talk. Ho hum.

• I’m feeling guilty about the dog. We’ve been staying in the new house for a month now and I still haven’t managed to get an internal fence so that the dog can come and live with us. The parents are being quite patient and long-suffering about looking after her but I can also see by Joschka’s expression when I come to visit that she’s wondering when I’m coming to claim her.

• On Saturday we watched The Life of David Gale (starring Kevin Spacey and Kate Winslet). I thought it was brilliant (if a little far-fetched).

• Don’t mention the cricket. (We lost again – this time to England).

Have a good week.


11 Responses to This and that

  1. doctordi says:

    I reeled back in horror at your first point, Pete – 13 Mondays?! That’s it?! Oh my god!!

  2. litlove says:

    I could do with the talk on how to recognise psychological illness. I mean, I think I could give it a good go, but it would be worth my while to make a better identification among the students. I’m really sorry I can’t attend! I haven’t read The Road Less Travelled, so I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say about it.

  3. Bee says:

    I was just having a cup of tea with my gardener and he mentioned that about Christmas. We were discussing putting the bulbs in — so planning ahead is sometimes necessary and reaps its own rewards? Actually, I usually start shopping around now so that isn’t all such a hideously stressful rush. I know that I won’t be buying Dan Brown’s latest, though.

    I’d LOVE to know more about your Cape Town reading list.

    When I was a senior in high school, I took a humanities course and we read The Road Less Travelled. I’m sure it would be fascinating to read again.

  4. Courtney says:

    I am refusing – refusing – to think about Christmas. Each year I try and approach it with as much simplicity and grace but when nobody else is with you on this it is sort of difficult.
    “Life is Suffering” – I think that’s very true – broken up with periods of the extraordinary.

  5. 13 Mondays, eh? Something ominous about that.

    I second the motion that “Road Less Traveled” is timeless and well worth the read. I remember getting to the end of it, thinking, “bring on the suffering! bring on the pain! I’m ready for it! Rrrrrrroar!”

    Oh, and David Gale. Excellent movie. It goes down on my list of “you just don’t know how it’s going to end.” No formulaic plot, this one. And EXCELLENT acting!

    On all fronts! It was filmed in my city, by the way! And a few other Texas locations. You were viewing my stomping grounds and didn’t know it. There’s the cafe scene that is supposed to be near the prison, but it was a place called Vic’s. My husband saw the film crew there. He used to get a morning cuppa Joe there and catch up on local news and gossip. It’s now torn down to make room for a highway extension that will never get underway, it seems. Argh.

  6. Pete says:

    Di – Scary hey? Three months sounds a lot more manageable.

    Litlove – Would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Maybe I can email you my (rather humble) powerpoint when I’m done. Such a complex thing to decide what’s normal and abnormal for a start. And who has the problem – the person or the people around the person? One helpful theme for me is “to love and to work”. Those who are ‘mentally healthy’ are able to be productive and to have relationships. But of course that’s no guarantee of mental health in itself. Another distinction is between distress and impairment. If someone is in distress, it’s easy to formulate a problem. But if others notice a fall-off in performance then it’s a lot more difficult. I’m thinking of your students here. A fall-off from 90% to 80% might be terribly distressing but actually be a good thing if it means that the person is getting more balance in their lives.

    Bee – With you there on not buying the Dan Brown. (Apparently there are 65 million Da Vinci Codes in print – staggering.) Happy Christmas shopping!

    Courtney – I got it wrong. The start is “Life is Difficult” but it amounts to the same thing. I’m trying to embrace the difficulty of it, and to have fun along the way. Not always easy 😉

    phd in Yogurty – I did actually think of my blogging friends from Austin when I was watching the commentary afterwards. And I love hearing details such as the one about your husband and Vic’s (although not the part about it being torn down). I can name three blogging friends from Texas – yourself, Sandy and Bee. The university looked interesting too.

  7. Dorothy W. says:

    I had to read the Peck book in college, and it had a powerful impact on me. Maybe it’s time to read it again??

  8. seachanges says:

    Christmas??? We’re off on a week’s late summer holiday break next week…. I joked about coming back on a midnight flight (on Sunday) and said ‘oh well, who cares, by the time we’ve slept it off it’s Christmas’… my husband scowled, I don’t think he thought it was funny at all!
    And no, Dan Brown is not on my list of presents to buy….

  9. Oh that does sound like far too little time!

    How did your talk go?

    I have some snarky things to say on that topic, but as I blog and write publicly under my own name, I have to refrain.

  10. adevotedreader says:

    I’ll be interested to hear about the Cape Town reading.

    After the Ashes I can sympathise about losing to the POMs, Pietersen and co must be insufferable after their recent successes!

  11. Pete says:

    Dorothy – I’ll post on it soon so then you can see if you still want to re-read it. I find it much more interesting knowing about his troubled life!

    seachanges – Hope you’re having a lovely mini-break. Will be interested to see what is on your book list.

    Lilian – The talk was OK thanks. Very mixed group in terms of language, ability and experience and so it was a difficult crowd to get any kind of sustained discussion going. Somebody would comment and at the same time another two people would make a wisecrack and the rest of the group would stop paying attention. It was like being a teacher again. But they seemed to appreciate it anyway. I’m sure I share similar concerns around the whole concept of a “psychological problem” so it would be interesting to read your views.

    Devoted – I never thought I would be a fan of Punter (since the rivalry between Aus and SA is so tense) but I thought he played brilliantly yesterday. Nice to see the Aussies doing well again. (Haven’t checked but am assuming they went on to win the semi-final last night.)

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