Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My Favorite Quotations from the book "We've had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy and the World's Getting Worse" by James Hillman and Michael Ventura

Ventura: "We have these idealizations that make us feel crazy, even though we don't see any of these ideals in life. I feel crazy that I can't be in one relationship all my life, even though I look around and where do I see anybody in one relationship all their lives."
 Hillman: "I know people who've been married fifty years and more."
 Ventura: "So do I, and one partner's an alcoholic, or one's played around a lot or been away a lot, they haven't made love in decades (literally), or one is a closet gay. These aren't abstract examples, these are people I know. Most fifty year wedding anniversaries would look very different if you knew what everybody's covering up. Yet we keep measuring ourselves against these ideals."

"Anytime you're gonna grow, you're gonna lose something. You're losing what you're hanging onto to keep safe. You're losing habits you're comfortable with, you're losing familiarity."

"Memory is a form of fiction, and we can't help that. So we are very much the creation of the stories we tell ourselves. And we don't know we're telling stories."

"Rilke said about therapy, "I don't want the demons taken away because they're going to take away my angels too." Wounds and scars are the stuff of character."

"That's why one needs to read the biographies of artists, because biographers show what they did with their traumas; they show what can be done-not what they did-but what can be done by the imagination with hatred, with resentment, with bitterness, with feelings of being useless and inferior and worthless."

"Yes, if you're artist you know that stuff is your ore-you know that, and that's why so many artists steer clear of therapy. They don't want that ore processed in the wrong way."

"You know, there's a feeling about a good day-it's slow, and very much like being with a lover. Having a good moment at breafast, tasting something-it has to do with beauty, this matter of love. And I think all the "work" at personal relationships fucks that up. That "work" is not aesthetic and sensuous, which is really what love, for me, is about. Aesthetic and sensuous, and a kind of joy. Love doesn't result from working at something. So the therapeutic approach to love, of clearing up the relationship, may clear up communication disorders, expression inhibitions, insensitive habits; may even improve sex, but I don't think it releases love; I don't think love can be worked at."

"That's what love is about-aesthetic and sensuous. And when that aspect isn't functioning, the other person because a little bit of a camel, carrying so much weight through the desert of the relationship-your baggage, the other person's baggage. No wonder camels spit."

"Dizzy Gillespie said, 'All the music is out there in the first place, all of it. From the beginning of time, the music was there. All you have to do is try to get a little piece of it. I don't care how great you are, you only get a little piece of it.'"

"Or suppose a person conceives of her childhood illness (that kept her and out of touch during crucial socializing years) to have been early practice at the work she does now, like writing in solitude or inventing electric devices or becoming a therapist. She had to be isolated for those years in order to follow her seed."

"How rare is it to speak well about ourselves. Write well we can do. Poems, short stories of childhood, biographical excursions, even descriptions of intense emotions-these all are the very stuff of writing. But the soul seems reluctant to speak eloquently of itself. When I try to tell you directly what I feel and what's going on inside, personally, there comes a jumble of circumlocutions, coagulated phrases, interrupted qualifiactions, "Undisciplined squads of emotion!" as T.S. Eliot said.

"As Eric Hoffer said, 'You can never get enough of what you don't really want.'"

"I need to be forgiven so bad that I'll do this so you can forgive me for it, and I'll keep hitting you so you can keep on forgiving me, because I need forgiveness over and over-"