One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Coetzee & Kurtz: "The Good Story"

The full title: The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and Psychotherapy. Not really looking for answers -- just interesting discussion (to interact with here or in my head) and perhaps a little good writing.

Nabokov's The Eye (another text I've overlooked all these years) is coming next.


The text of The Good Story is basically a back-and-forth between Coetzee and Kurtz. I just finished King, Queen, Knave (certainly good enough to deserve the label: NABOKOVIAN -- and certainly deserving of a reread some day), and have just started The Good Story (I had the e-version pre-ordered).

First excerpt (from a link in the daisy chain by Kurtz):

     So the truth which psychotherapy is based upon, or at least my version of psychotherapy, is always dynamic, provisional and inter-subjective. It is contained within the terms of a relationship, which aims to reflect upon internal experience to help the patient to live as fully as possible in the world. It is also based, I think, on a belief that we can only know and understand ourselves fully through others -- through the way we experience others and ourselves in relation to others, and the way others experience us.
     This is what I read your book Summertime to be about.

Second excerpt (from the end of JMC's response to the Kurtz link above):

     Where one would go from here I am not sure. On the one hand I am alarmed by the prospect of a world in which people's notion of liberty includes the liberty to reconstruct their personal histories endlessly without fear of sanction (fear of the reality principle). On the other hand, if an individual who is deeply miserable can be cheered up by being encouraged to revise the story of their life, giving it a positive spin, who cold possibly object?
     In the first case the truth seems to me to matter, finally. We can't all simply be who we like to think we are. In the second case the truth seems to me to matter less. What is wrong with a harmless lie if it makes us feel better? (Example of such a lie: After we die we wake up in another, better world.)
     Help me to get beyond this point. 

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