Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for the ‘Cultural Activities’ Category

“The Question of G-d”

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on January 11, 2013

This book, by Dr. Nicholi, is the basis for Mark St. Germain’s play “Freud’s Last Session,” in which, as per previous post, I will be one of the “Talkback” speakers. In preparation for my début, I have given myself homework to read this book and watch the PBS series of the same title. I have also purchased the script of the play (available for $8.00 on Amazon), that I plan to read after I have done my background exploration.

As I begin this book, I am struck by the following paragraph:

      “None of us can tolerate the notion that our worldview may be based on a false premise and, thus, our whole life headed in the wrong direction. Because of the far-reaching    implications for our lives, we tend to dismiss and contradict arguments for the worldview we reject. I hope each reader will critically assess the arguments of both Freud and Lewis and follow Sir Francis Bacon’s advice to  ‘Read not to contradict….but to weigh and consider.’ ”

Dr. Nicholi concludes this part of the prologue by saying:  “It is my hope that Freud and Lewis can jointly guide us through just such an examination.”

I will continue to post as I read this book, but my first fear is that Dr. Nicholi has made Freud’s view on religion more central to Freud’s contribution than his theories related to the process of mining the unconscious. If lay people walk away from this play thinking that Freud was set to make people atheists than they will miss the point that Freud’s theory on religion fit into a much broader theory of the human mind. One does not have to accept Freud’s ideas about religion to gain from his ideas about self-sabotage and the primacy of one’s parental relationships. Likewise, I suspect that C. S. Lewis has brought us far more than his views on religion. His writings are so prolific that it would be sad to think of him only in these terms.

Maybe this will be my opening statement. I will have less than five minutes to introduce the “Talkback”. I will probably spend hours thinking about those five minutes. Time well spent, meaningfully spent, I should say, given the gravity of this topic.

See also…http:,0,4591570.story

Posted in Book Reveiw, Cultural Activities, Culture Vulture, Freud, My Events, Teaching Psychoanalysis | 7 Comments »

Edmund White: Great Characters

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on February 1, 2012

Edmund White, a writer, professor of Princeton, read at the Hammer Museum last evening  from his new book “Jack Holmes & His Friends”  I have never heard of him, but I had faith that the Hammer programs do not disappoint. I was partly right. His reading introduced us to two characters, named Jack and Will. Jack was single, looking for stability, and Will was married, looking for excitement. Their relationship was both witty and passionate. It was fun to hear about two men, in the way that we usually think of two women. By the time the evening was over,  I felt like Jack and Will became two good friends of mine. The prose was gripping and hilarious, but not poetic. Mr. White is a cultural critic, a commentator on gender and social class.

   He was charming and engaging. He spoke of his psychoanalysis as a “mystical” experience that “one needs to be highly educated to enjoy that kind of masochism.” In my mind, a writer who talks about his psychoanalysis, with whatever valence, is suggesting that his therapeutic experience has contributed to his understanding of human nature and thus to his creation of fictional characters. I appreciated his openness about his experience with my colleagues.  Will I read his book? Maybe. Did I enjoy his company? Absolutely.

Posted in Book Reveiw, Cultural Activities | Leave a Comment »

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