Wednesday, January 1, 1997

Q&A Adam Phillips: A Post-Freudian Commonwealth of Quotes

Originally appeared in the Boston Book Review
(Date Approximate)

   The banal is a cover story. . .
   Psychoanalysis, like religion and medicine, turns panic into meaning. . .
   If we banned the word love it would be interesting to see what we found ourselves saying (and doing) to each other. . .
   A phobia, like a psychoanalytic theory, is a story about where the wild things are. . .

HB: There's such a stripping down of Freudianism in "Terrors and Experts," the reader can wonder, what's left? What makes your work Freudian at all?

AP: I'm certainly a believer in, take seriously, transference, dream work, repression, all the defenses, certainly the centrality of sexual desire, so no, I would think of my work as very Freudian. But that doesn't imply obeisance to Freud. My interest in Freud is to have something I can use to make something of my own with.

Q&A Phillip Lopate: Dodging Beckett

Originally appeared in the Boston Book Review.
(Date approximate).

   One Saturday morning when I was about ten years old, we were all hounding him [his father] because he wouldn't take us anywhere; and this time I joined in the assault. Suddenly he lashed out at me with rabid fury: "You! You stay out of it, you're a cold fish." . . .
    "Cold fish" is an awful judgment to hang on a ten-year-old kid. But give him his due, he could have had a prescient insight: I often think there is something cold and "fishy" about me. Or perhaps he was really saying, "You're like me, detached, unemotional." An inverted compliment.
   So I became a writer.
  "Portrait of My Body"

HB: Let me start with the very last piece in "Portrait of My Body." You've just become a father and describe the experience as "so shocking and strange; on the other hand, so typical, so stupefyingly ordinary." That seems to me an emblem for the personal essay as you practice it.

PL: I care about daily life. The surrealists were always trying to find the miraculous in the ordinary. I'm not looking for the miraculous but for the puzzling, the intriguing, the spin on daily life. What is more common than birth? All of us have been born. Yet there is something violent about it.