Archive of Week Nine Forum on Beauty--
What Do Theater and Psychoanalysis Have to Teach Us?

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Is Psychoanalysis Helpful?
Name: Annabella (
Date: 03/17/2005 21:08
Link to this Comment: 13611

Upon reading ³Psychoanalytic Terms and Concepts² I am left with the feeling that it is all very interesting, but ineffective at achieving happiness on the part of the client. And if that is the goal of psychoanalysis, then psychoanalysis is valueless except for its entertainment value. If the goal of psychoanalysis is to help the client become a functioning member of society regardless of their ³joi de vivre² then it can be of value, for many people have enhanced their capacity to participate in society through this treatment. But happy people are extremely effective at not only functioning in society, but contributing in a positive way to society.

Having subjected myself to a few years of psychoanalysis, I am very familiar with its effects on the patient. And I know that while in that process I began to feel that I must be totally psychotic, for my analyst and I found numerous reasons that justified the behaviors that got me on the couch in the first place. Feeling justified in having those feelings, it was easy for me to lapse into them with increasing frequency, and feel very intelligent as I explained to any friends who would listen just why I felt that way. But it helped me find neither peace nor happiness in my life. In fact it had the opposite effect. I began to feel that I was a hopeless case. I felt that the situations in my childhood could not be altered, and therefore the problems they caused in my adult life would be with me forever.

Not until I met someone who studied solutions to unhappiness issues did I begin to feel relief. And the solutions lie in a whole different realm than that of psychoanalysis. Through the study of the source of joy and profound peace I began to feel them in my life, and thereby became able to offer them in society in inexplicable and indefinable ways.

I have often heard that what we concentrate on grows in our lives. And my experience speaks to the truth of this adage. When I focused my time, energy, thoughts, (and money) on the problems, they became very big in my life. When I concentrated on joy and peace, they became very big in my life.

I am not saying that anything that I read in the handout was inaccurate. It is probably totally accurate. My feeling is that it has been painstakingly researched. I just find it of little healing value for the client and therefore for society. I would like to see more time and energy dedicated to the study of joy and profound peace, and more articles on those studies distributed to our young adults.

One reason I took this class was in order to focus more of my time on what I find beautiful, and I have not been disappointed. Though little has changed in my life since last semester, I have noticed much more beauty this semester. And I have heard from a few of my classmates that since taking this class, they are seeing more beauty all around them as well. So without analyzing anything other than beauty we are helping each other live more beautiful lives.

And isnıt that the primary goal of psychoanalysis?

...sorry for the length.
Name: Brittany ()
Date: 03/17/2005 23:33
Link to this Comment: 13615

Happy St. Patrick's Day! And three cheers for a double excuse to quote from my favorite poet:
"O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?"

A running thread I found in Susan Levine's article was that of psychoanalytic beauty as a *process* as opposed to a finished product. She writes, "the process of making meaning as the aesthetic object rather than simply the meaning itself... movement in the direction of truth, rather than truth itself (which may be unknowable) that constitutes the beauty I find in the psychoanalytic process."

I found this concept absolutely fascinating. I recall some of our other readings (Barnes? that's a shot in the dark, though) highlighting the fact that conventional art derives its beauty from the meaning imposed on it alternately a) by the artist, and b) by the viewer, not some inherent, universal quality in itself. It seemed that the "real" beauty eventually had to settle itself into a fixed location---the mind of the person contemplating and/or creating it. What Levine's article suggests is that the location of the aesthetic experience falls somewhere between the artistic object and the viewer. Beauty isn't affixed to one or the other; it's neither a quality of (for example) a painting or a quality of the eye viewing it; it's the interchange between the two (even though one is mute[?]) in creating the meaning which ultimately (in the case of art, anyway) must "settle" in the viewer's mind.

This brings up two questions for me. Firstly, if beauty is communication---something by nature fleeting and indefinite---what *is* that final "impression" of a painting, or a psychoanalysis session, that settles into the mind of the viewer/analyst? If the beauty is truly in "movement in the direction of truth," what happens when you reach that truth? What happens when the dancer stops dancing?
Say we admit that it's the process of psychoanalysis that's really beautiful. Does this mean that after the work stops, the beauty stops as well? Or is the memory of such a movement a legitimate record of its beauty, preserving it in the same way an LP preserves a great song, or a book of poetry a great poem? Furthermore, would that memory/record then truly be capturing the *process* (the proposed "beautiful bit") or the *result* of the process---the meaning/truth at which the session eventually arrived (and, by Levine's definition, the "not quite as beautiful bit"?)

Secondly, and somewhat squirrel-ier: if beauty is communication, then are aesthetic experiences which involve a true interchange between two conscious individuals (like psychoanalysis) more "legitimate" than those which involve a single individual and a painting? To whip out a cheesy metaphor, let's say that beauty-as-process is a tennis match, no net. The real moment of beauty is when the ball is in the air. Now: which type of game has more meaning/beauty, one in which two players bat the ball back and forth (psychoanalysis), or one where a single player whaps the ball against a wall (something static, like a painting or poem)?

Or, to make this post even longer, is it a false assumption that things like paintings/poems can't participate in a "conversation"? From what(very very little) I understood of what (very very little) I've read of Derrida, I'm being biased, and texts *can* participate in conversation as readily as psychoanalysts (because texts are extensions of the artist's mind, so reading them is like conversing with the artist). So "communication" (and hence beauty) is the stuff that takes place in this space between the reader and the printed page: tennis-wise, it's the ball's *position* in the air, regardless of who's tossing it, that constitutes interchange. Which would make a psychoanalytic session and me camping out in front of the Barnes's big Monet the same thing. And mean I'm sort of "conversing" with Monet when I do so. Weird.

Reminder to post....
Name: Anne Dalke (
Date: 03/18/2005 18:37
Link to this Comment: 13633

In preparation for our second visitor next week, Susan Levine, who will join us on Thursday 3/24, please read her essay, "Beauty Treatment: The Aesthetics of the Psychoanalytic Process" (which you'll find in the course packet), along w/ the handout of "Psychoananalytic Terms and Concepts" which was distributed in class (extras are available for pick-up in the box outside my office).

Please post your reflections on Susan's essay, along w/ any questions you have for her, in this forum by 5 P.M. on TUESDAY 3/22, so Susan will have some time to mull over her responses to your responses...

psychoanaylsis thoughts
Name: Rachel Usala (
Date: 03/19/2005 23:15
Link to this Comment: 13649

I have never read anything about psychoanalysis before, and did not fully understand everything I read, but these are my thoughts.
Is the beauty of psychoanaylsis the "tension" point where the order of the anaylst clashes with the chaos of the analysand? This has been a common theme throughout the semester, and I think it applies well here. Does this clash of chaos and order produce creativity in reasoning which is considered beautiful?
It seems to me that the beauty of psychoanaylsis is very much like Peter Beckman's message about why physics is beautiful. The scientist does everything in his power to find a model that fits. The proposed model is not necessarily "correct" in the sense of absolute truth, but rather useful. It is predictive. Is this the same thread that makes psychoanalysis beautiful? Is it a way of modeling the patients behavior so it is useful to the patient and even predictive of future behavior? I don't know. I've never been a patient.
Another thought. Is psychoanaylsis beautiful because it generalizes? It has been argued in class that a mathematical formula is beautiful because it condenses information into a universally understood language. Is this why psychoanaylsis is beautiful? It generalizes and condenses behavior into a "formula?"
Finally, who must the pyschoanaylsis help in order to be beautiful. Must the sessions but fulfilling for the anaylst or helpful to the patient in order to be beautiful? Would "the process" still be beautiful if unproductive?
People in class found the myth about the chariot pulling the sun beautiful even though it was not scientifically predictive. Yet the scientist finds the more generalized, predictive model more beautiful. Where does psychoanaylsis fall in this spectrum?

Name: Amy (
Date: 03/20/2005 10:31
Link to this Comment: 13653

I saw many of the themes of the idea of beauty that we have previously spoken about in class present in Levine's article. As she writes " I came to define the pleasure as aesthetic because it seemed to have to do with form, complexity, elegance..."(p.6)Like in science, Levine's idea of the beauty in pyschoanalysis has so much to do with finding a clarity or simplicity in a sea of complex mush. I found it fascinating that again we are returning to the idea of compacting the complex into the the beauty of the math equation. Additionally, Levine discusses the idea of the process rather than the end result as the beauty in the analyzing. That was interesting because in life experiences that we find beautiful - the relationships that most everyone discussed in their papers- there is no end result, its our continuing connections with one another that are beautiful- there can be no finishing point. On the other hand, I wonder if some of the other aspects of life it was the end result that we found most beautiful...For example the rainbow can be seen as an end result of the period of time after rain fall etc. or we can choose to see it as a process that is continual/ cyclical but for which a visual result is only seen sometimes. I wonder if we appreciate the process more will we see the beauty more? One other aspect that really stuck with me from Levine's article was the idea of needing the bad or ugly hours of pyschoanalysis - needing the tension to have the release of tension. The idea of the impurities are being useful to understand our relation to the whole allows us to accept and find the beauty within the ugly. Then I got to thinking does this idea relate to our discussions of the beautiful in the horrific, but I haven't come to any conclusion from there.

Seeing in a different way?
Name: ()
Date: 03/20/2005 21:20
Link to this Comment: 13695

seeing in a different way?
Name: nancy (
Date: 03/20/2005 21:40
Link to this Comment: 13697

I don't know if it was a mixture of my sense of what is academic or just my own stubbornness, but I have been sure throughout this course, that the way I saw the world was not being affected. I told Anne in our conference that I "didn't know what I was supposed to be thinking about" and even though she hit me over the head with a stack of papers, I still wasn't sure. I posted before about how I don't see what place emotional matters have in an academic setting. I don't know what the importance is of talking about how someone feels when it is so individualized and specific. I felt alienated from this aspect of the course because sharing those types of thoughts out loud to strangers is foreign to me. It is no mark of my intelligence or my ability to comprehend information. Even with our beautiful texts, we weren't formally instructed to analyze anything to do with the books and that was uncomfortable.

I think this discomfort and admustment to a kind of learning I don't know I've ever encountered before left me feeling like I wasn't learning anything at all. But I had my first "beautiful experience" yesterday, and it was even one I felt pretty comfortable with. I was leaving one of the dining halls and I saw a flyer posted to the door that asked "Is your government going here?". The flyer as the creator of the poster probably intended, was supposed to be a visual of the phrase 'down the toilet'. To illustrate this, the creator used a reproduction I recognized as a Marcel Duchamp's 1914 found-art piece. The work, entitled 'Fountain' is indeed a ceramic urinal with the words 'R Mutt' scrawled on the side, but I found myself annoyed. "This is not a toilet, this is art!" I thought. But why is Duchamp's art any more beautiful than any other ceramic urinal? How do some things, like the nebulous idea of art come loaded with presuppositions of beauty? Does anything we put in a museum instantly become art and is art always beautiful? If you take the art out of the museum, leave the ready-made as the toilet it once was, you are not changing any of the essence of the piece you are just taking away the affirmation of its beauty. This makes me wonder if all beauty is constructed and applied to things that would otherwise be unbeautiful.

Susan Levine's "Beauty Treatment"
Name: Alanna Albano (
Date: 03/20/2005 21:47
Link to this Comment: 13698

Wow! Quite an interesting paper, on a difficult topic (I've never really studied psychoanalytic process before, so it was a LOT of new concepts to take in all at once). Susan describes how she herself finds the beauty in the psychoanalytic process; she finds it in the actual process! The analytic process seems to be, does that imply that the beauty is continual? Is beauty constant to the analyst throughout the up and down process of the analysis, or is it only present during the "up moments?" Does beauty share any place in the "down moments" as well?

I like how Susan made the point of saying how some of the beauty in psychoanalysis comes from the attempt to relieve the suffering of a patient, as well as the attempt "to create beauty where it may have been lacking." I understand the relief of suffering related to beauty, but the idea of "beauty found or already existing" being related to "beauty not there" is especially intriguing to me. Can beauty be found in anything we don't immediately perceive as beautiful, if we really try to hunt and search for it? Can beauty be found in something that causes us continual discomfort or pain in some way? If yes, will beauty ALWAYS be found in that situation or circumstance -- in other words, is the beauty always there, but it's up to us whether or not we choose to see the beauty? (This is in reference to the story about the patient named Eliza, as well as other types of situations that fit this category).

the kitten
Name: nancy (
Date: 03/20/2005 22:12
Link to this Comment: 13699

Also been thinking about Flora's choice of a beautiful text. I think hers was probably the most thought provoking of any of our choices because it is purposefully questioning the notion that beauty always has to be good. I think we would like to believe that everything beautiful is inherently morally just and good, but it's just not the case. What I mean by this is I can imagine most people thinking the innocent and very organic love a child feels for an animal is a beautiful thing. Throughout the two short pages of the story Flora gave to us, we see this beautiful thing-- love-- create something awful. The essence of what causes the torture and death of the kitten doesn't change, it is still motivated by love (and free from many of the socially constructed norms that adults operate under) yet the love causes something unbeautiful to happen. I think this suggests that beauty and ugliness or pain or immorality can be coexisting.

Don't put me in a box
Name: Liz Paterek (
Date: 03/21/2005 10:22
Link to this Comment: 13743

The whole time I read the paper I felt like someone was trying to convince me that there was an element of truth to the psychoanalysis. Perhaps noone else felt that way. All I could think of was that what psychoanalysis is, perhaps more clearly than any other science, is building a story to explain why people act the way they act. However, I felt like she way trying to convince me that this story was correct or lead to some beautiful revelation or something like that. All I could think of was how wrong I felt this to be. I think when we try to box what we or why we do it, we try so hard to fit it into some prescribed pattern or notion, we ignore evidence that suggests something contrary to our theory until the theory collapses. I find the human mind beautiful, however, I find psychoanalysis a sometimes necessary perversion. Yes, arguably there are clear cases of OCD, depression, etc; however, not everything fits so easily into a box and even in those cases there is gross misdiagnosis. In any event, I'm feeling frustrated with these notions of trying to understand my mind. What's the point, why bother? Why should I want to attempt to understand everything I do? Am I trying to change something within myself? I don't want to do that, I like me as bitter and cynical and jaded as I am, I do not wish to change it. If you think its beautiful to try to create boxes then go ahead and try to box me in, but I can almost guarentee you that you'll be wrong. Perhaps sometimes I enjoy that keyword that aids me in knowing myself a little better but too many words become gross oversimlifications. I enjoy living in my own complex little world, its an indescribible feeling that I can make you feel but only by making you see it. I've gotten on a tangent. I know I should be analyzing what she had to say about the beauty but I think that descriptive adjectives are beautiful because they do not limit you or oversimplify they merely describe one piece of the complex self, thery can be contradictory to other pieces, and imply nothing or everything. Too often, speaking to pyschiatrists, or reading the works of Frued make me want to smash my fist into the wall and scream about how wrong they are. I don't find understanding ugly, I find limitation ugly, my mind should be free and you have no right to take that away or to expect me to take it away.

Distance of Beauty
Name: Muska (
Date: 03/21/2005 11:34
Link to this Comment: 13748

"There is beauty in the violence of a volcano's eruption as long as one observes it from a position of safety; being able to keep the "as-if" quality present even during the intensity of the moment, when it is all too real to the patient, allows the analyst this safety of distance."

I found this statement striking because it establishes a new twist to the idea of aesthetic pleasure and beauty. Distance, and the observer's ability to distinguish his/her position in relation to the position of the object which is being classified as beautiful, is an important component to the aesthetic experience. Therefore, the beauty in the psycholanalytic process is not necessarily the ability to transcend one's own mind and indulge into the mind of another, but rather in the ability to retreat back into your own mind after journeying into another person's psyche.

I wonder if this notion of "distance" also ties into the idea of "suspending disbelief." Levine states that "We immerse ourselvs in fiction or drama by pretending that it is real, but at the same time preserving the understanding that this is not really happening."

I have been very interested in the notion of deception in the definition of beauty, and it appears as if what is beautiful in the psycholanalytical process still reveals a level of deception. The deception is in the notion of "distance."

Although there is a distance between the analyst and the patient, the process is set up in such a way that both the analyst and the patient must pretend as if there is no if the analyst is completely within the mind of the patient. However, the analyst has the ability to retreat back into his/her own mind which therefore implies a necessary distance between the two.

so, it's all art after all
Name: Flo (
Date: 03/21/2005 13:16
Link to this Comment: 13757

Reading Levine's article, I was amused by the similarity of her description of beauty through psychoanalysis and many of the descriptions of beauty we have discussed throughout this course. Levine wrote: "In the analytic process, just as in music, painting, architecture, literature, and other fine arts, the beauty we find is in large part based on our understanding of how this object relates to other similar objects." (pg 2)

This interpretation of the fine arts sounds very similar to the general consensus of what we said "scientists" found beutiful about the world. Does all beauty then boil down to these relations between things? It seemed that Levine felt that finding the coherent narrative, a collection of relations between time, place and action, is a main source of the beauty of her discipline. I feel that that description can be widely applied to all intellectual pursuits: isn't a good film criticsm and a good scientific theory just a coherent narrative of unrelated object, after all?

I still agree with Peter Beckman, that everyone is just trying to tell a story. I think each person finds beauty in his/her own type of story. I personally find the idea of psychoanalysis very beautiful because it really can help so many people. But, like Levine says, there are many factors that cause successful psychoanalysis to be very complex. When, despite this complexity, the factors combine to help someone and even give pleasure or understanding to the analyst, I find it very beautiful.

"the poor tortured drowned kitten"
Name: Flora (
Date: 03/21/2005 14:09
Link to this Comment: 13763

Thanks, Nancy! I was sorta afraid people thought I was this crazy kitten killer.

I find that beauty and ugliness or pain certainly do coexist, and sometimes almost rely on each other. When I chose Kassandra as an example of a beautiful text and decided to focus on the kitten passage especially, it was because I find this aspect of beauty most interesting and we hadn't touched on it much in class. Of course, I wasn't expecting everyone else to agree with me and was fully prepared for people to hate it. But I was surprised by some of the reactions to the piece. Yes, what was portrayed in the scene was "horrible", but I would say that there are equally horrible things in many of the texts that were presented. Parts of Maya Angelou's life were anything but rosy, Garcia Marquez tells of some nasty human relations, Fitzgerald has a character get shot, and the children in Angela's Ashes and the Bluest Eye often encounter situations that made me cringe.

So what was it about Karapanou's work that made some people see it as horrible instead of beautiful, even though it contained some of the same horrible content as other beautiful texts? I'm not trying to be defensive, I'm just interested.

I think one important aspect of beauty is context. I talked to a friend who also loved the book and she had forgotten all about the kitten scene. She thought the book as a whole was beautiful, and the individual kitten piece was necessary to complete that whole. So, just like I need the knowledge of physical principle to appreciate the beauty of a tennis ball's flight, do I also need the knowledge of the rest of the book to appreciate a passage?

Is it that we are socialized to find animal cruelty "wrong" and thus, don't allow ourselves to view the piece objectively? I wouldn't describe child abuse or rape as beautiful, but what is it about these subjects that allows novels about them to be put in categories of beauty, while this scene was, as one person put it, "gross"?

Is it just because the other stories are based in real life? I would not enjoy Kassandra nearly as much if I thought these stories were true. It's the fact that Karapanou is using a literary medium to explore taboo subjects that I find interesting. If this were a real girl, I would grab the kitten away from her before she could even start.

Is it because the other stories are seen as "inspirational"? A triumph over the ugliness of the world? Part of what I like about Kassandra is that her life is not black and white. Sometimes she likes the bad and sometimes she likes the good, but mostly she's too young to tell what's what.

I don't really have any answers. All I know is I still find books with what could be considered horrible content beautiful, as do, I think, many members of the class. I find beauty in the way the content is portrayed. If anyone wants to borrow my copy of Kassandra to see for themselves (it's really short), feel free to email me.

Name: Marissa (
Date: 03/21/2005 15:36
Link to this Comment: 13780

I found the article on psychoanalysis very interesting. This topic isn't one I had ever thought about as being beautiful but through my reading I could really see how the communication with and "fixing of" a patient could be incredibly beautiful.
The two case studies really made me think. I felt that the authors beauty was found in her affection for Dorothy as opposed to her indifference towards Eliza. I can see that this most likely comes from the greater progress Dorothy is making, but it seems that there is some sort of separation between the author and Eliza perhaps not permitting a close communicative relationship.
I was also very struck by the phrase "the aesthetic quality is in the experiencing and the meaning rather than in the object itself." (9). Dewey, anyone? Since psychoanalysis IS an experience and not, for instance, a painting, I can see where it must be the experiencing, the process that the patient and doctor undergo that would be what is beautiful.
I can't wait to see the presentation and learn more about this type of beauty!

Levine & Kirchwey
Name: Krystal Madkins (
Date: 03/21/2005 16:28
Link to this Comment: 13793

I thought the Levine article was interesting in the way that it tied in so many of the various theories on beauty that we have already learned in class. For example, she brings up how analysis is aesthetically pleasing due in some part to the meaning making, love, and communication. I found that this was interesting after so many people in class have stated things that they find Œbeautifulı which falls into these categories. The importance that understanding how an object relates to other things in finding beauty was also brought up again. I thought it was interesting how Levine discussed how both science and art are beautiful in their own ways although there is often debate over which is more so. The relations between art, science, and beauty came to mind again when later in her article Levine is comparing psychoanalysis to art in the way that it addresses Œthe degree of unity of a workŠthe degree of complexity of a workŠandŠthe intensity of the work² (8). After reading this part I was thinking ŒHey! She forgot to mention science too!ı because in my opinion science also addresses some of these things in judging what is beautiful. Levine also spends time talking about the importance of narrative which also made me think of some of the earlier articles we read on science, beauty, and the role that narrative, or a good story, plays.

I thought that Kirchweyıs poem was also brought up some themes that were discussed in class. For instance, the part ³Beauty, a transcendent virtue, does not thereby push other virtues outŠ² reminded me of the article on the beauty of equations. Just because an equation is beautiful does not necessarily mean that it is the truth or best equation to use. The part of the poem that struck me the most was the ³Though we have learned to mistrust perfection, we must not lose it in the old collage of borrowed forms² part. This made me think about how imperfections are sometimes found beautiful. For example, gems and jewels are brilliant colors and beautiful because of their imperfections just as human faces or bodies are beautiful because of imperfections. This line of the poem also made me thinking about one of my favorite parts from the movie ³Flirting². The protagonist is admiring the beauty of a girl that he has fallen in love with and he says something to the effect that she was so beautiful and perfect that it was almost difficult for her to seem real. He then says that he takes comfort from looking at the bruises on her ankles from the tight elastic of her socks which reminds him that she is indeed real; this also seems to increase her beauty in some ways to him.

The Beauty is in the Pain
Name: Annabella (
Date: 03/21/2005 19:51
Link to this Comment: 13814

Levine's report on the aesthetic beauty of psychoanalysis was interesting and I found myself glad that she and so many others find beauty in the process. I like it when I hear that beauty is experienced. And what a benefit that her analysands can find relief from suffering through the execution of a beautiful process. For these reasons I like knowing that psychoanalysis is ongoing, and will continue for years to come.
But I stand by what I said in my last posting, that if it is results that we are after, the days of psychoanalysis are numbered.
Psychoanalysis usually is a process spanning a year or more for each analysand, sometimes in excess of 10 years, with varying degrees of success at relief of suffering. Fortunately for those who don't want to spend that long finding relief, there are much more effective methods of understanding ourselves which afford in mere hours the relief of suffering equal to that afforded by years of psychoanalysis.
Does that mean that psychoanalysis will be replaced someday with these more effective methods? Not totally. Some people are process oriented to such a degree that they would rather take years than hours to achieve results. And there are secondary benefits to spending years on a psychoanalyst's couch. For one thing, you get a lot of credit for dealing with such difficult issues that require so much time, energy and money in order to achieve relief. Additionally, you get a relationship with an understanding person who will let you talk endlessly, never mind that you have to pay them to do that. It is still comforting to know they are there for you.
And there is a lot of entertainment value in trying to sort out all the intricate details involved with psychotherapy, not to mention a wonderful sense of acheivement when you think you have finally unravelled a puzzling knot from the past.
No, psychotherapy will be with us for a long time to come. But fortunately for those of us who are not interested in pitching our tent in the valley of the shadow of our problems, we no longer have to depend on psychotherapy to unravel them.
Maybe now psychotherapy will be chosen as one's path to relief because of the aesthetic beauty of the process rather than endured as the slow, painful, expensive path it was when it was all we had.

Maybe I'm just different...
Name: Meera Jain (
Date: 03/21/2005 20:56
Link to this Comment: 13827

So discussing psychoanalysis and reading about Susan Levine made me agree with her when she said, "the process of analysis-we find things beautiful if they can relate to our life." When Levine talked about psychoanalysis and how a analyst sits on a couch facing away from the analysand, I thought how psychoanalysis can be like a real life event too, like sitting and talking on the phone with a friend. So what makes the psychoanalyis situation different than any other "counseling" session with friends and pint of Ben and Jerry's? Is it because of the state of awareness? In the beginning Levine says, "it is essential for the analyst to be as AWARE as possible of what his or her stake in the process may be" Does the state of awareness make the process of psychoanalyis beautiful? because you have to be aware you are helping someone to find that beautiful.
But then again, I feel that alot of times the people who go and see psychoanalysts are not being aware and lose touch and when being aware you tend to see more beautiful things and have beautiful experiences. The awareness state can help you figure out how you got that point and what needs to be done, and with that help from the psychoanalyst both parties are more likely to benefit and therefore are in a "beautiful state".

I really believe that things can only be beautiful and you can only experience beautiful things by being in a state of awareness and being in the present. We miss beautiful things because we are caught up in so many different things, and Susan took a step back to examine how her presentness affects the patients in a positive or negative way.

Name: Meera Jain (
Date: 03/21/2005 21:12
Link to this Comment: 13829

I forgot to add my questions for Susan Levine:
1) Let's say the analysand and the psychoanalyst don't make any real progress to finding out the problems, would the experience even if it was momentary not be beautiful?
2) As a psychoanalyst are there moments of hatred and pity that you reflect on later to be beautiful becuase it opened the doors for love and new growth?
3) There must be times when you are sitting and listening to a patient with an open mind, but somehow a thought passes through your head and influences your non judging character and might affect the beauty of the session. How do you get back to that beautiful moment without ruining the dynamics of the session?

response to susan levine's essay
Name: eebs (
Date: 03/21/2005 23:21
Link to this Comment: 13841

although i understand the beauty that a psychoanalyst may experience while helping the patient understand herself/her past, i dont understand how a beauty from "connecting" with a "patient" could be achieved when there are distinct divisions between them. my understanding of susan levine's experience with Dorothy is that there was some connection between the two of them that helped both of them 'grow' and 'learn' in a sense. however, i doubt that a psychoanalysis could resemble the care and experiences "resembling parenthood, of loving, holding, admiring, and letting go" (p11). i think that the relationship between the patient and the psychoanalyst could never be more than temporary.. i understand the patient may feel closer to the psychoanalyst, but in reality, it seems that the ear that the psychoanalyst provides is what the patient desires most. so in that sense, a relationship could not really exist; the psychoanalyst is only giving what the patient/customer wants. i guess what im saying is that i dont understand how the connection is felt when the two people are at total opposite sides.

but i do feel the role of the psychoanalyst, or any doctor for that matter, to be beautiful because of their ability and talent to "relieve suffering". that seems like the one gift that is truly beautiful and gracious. though levine claims that tastebuds are different, im sure there are some things that can be shared between patient and psychoanalyst.. perhaps that is where the connection comes to play...

Name: Katy (
Date: 03/21/2005 23:54
Link to this Comment: 13844

As a psychology major, I am intrigued by Levine's ability to find aesthetics in the process of psychoanalysis. I myself have been in psychodynamic therapy in the past, and although this is not quite the same as full-blown psychoanalysis, there are definitely similarities. For me,what is beautiful about such processes is, first and foremost, their capacity for helping a patient begin the journey of recovery and rediscovery of happiness. Nothing is quite as beautiful as happiness, so anything that could lead to it must have some inherent beauty. There is something indescribably empowering about being able to finally realize, with the help of a therapist but mostly on one's own, and identify what is bringing one down; being able to pinpoint a symptom and giving it a name is half of what's involved in finally recovering from the damn thing. This sort of self-awareness and subsequent empowerment are highly aesthetic states of mind. After all, is there not something beautiful--however broadly defined--about taking charge of one's own life and discovering happiness once again?

Name: Alice Kaufman (
Date: 03/22/2005 12:20
Link to this Comment: 13865

Wow, everyone else was so prompt and thoughtful in their responses. My comments are based on the textbook reading, and not the essay, as I haven't finished the latter. I felt that I was being given an arguement (or more rudely, 'fed a line') that psychoanalysis is real and valid. But that arguement is probably being projected by me, because I don't already believe everything in psychoanalysis. I realize that psychoanalysis has helped people, but the disparities in power between analyst and patient, however necessary analysis feel they are, make me really uncomfortable. I prefer more interactive forms of psychotherapy. From the handout of definitions, it just seemed that it would be so easy to take advantage of a patient's fears/problems. (Periods of sensory deprivation, i.e., the analyst not replying? How can a patient tell when this is appropriate, or if the analyst just isn't involved?) I'm probably being oversensitive because of my hatred of Freud. His scientific methods were terrible, and his theories contain logical fallacies and flat out unsubstantiated claims. I'm therefore wary of a discipline that is derived from Freud, and hasn't branched away from his methods. Some terms and theories are helpful in psychology, and some may be true, but... what about biological and neurological causes?

Beauty From All Sides
Name: Liz Newbury (enewbury at
Date: 03/22/2005 12:41
Link to this Comment: 13868

You ever get that feeling where you're lost in the middle of an ocean, and trying to fashion up a lifeboat out of toothpicks? Well, that's me right now, drowning in a sea of beauty and trying to build a lifeboat out of the little snippets of understanding I have gleaned from the presentation of the theater, the poem, and psychoanalysis. They're all muddy in my mind at the moment, but I'll give it my best shot.

"One of the goals in an analysis is for the patient to be able to develop a more or less coherent narrative of how she came to be the way she is."

This phrase stood out to me because it seemed, and I could be wrong, that Susan derived a lot of aesthetic pleasure when she could coax her clients into distancing themselves for a simple chronological or 'realistic' account of their day, and actually probe deeper into the reasons behind their actions, how their past intertwined with the present, and so forth. It was almost the journey as well as the outcome that was beautiful to her. I almost can envision the psychologist being a parent (of a sort) to their client, trying to help them learn to help themselves. I could be entirely wrong on this account, however.

But I think I agree with what Annabelle said, and that to make a patient focus their problems could be detrimental to their mental health. Is this universally true? Or is it these people who do not benefit simply got scared at the beginning of the journey, and could not continue it through to where the beauty lies? I guess what I'm trying to say is that psychoanalysis sounds like a painful process. Is the beauty in confronting your inner demons and winning?

Personally I'm a bit of an escapist, and I would much rather watch TV as opposed to wallow in trying to reason out my problems. Like Annabelle, I'd much rather spend my time trying to focus on the things that make me happy. I'm not saying I never confront my demons -- you can't run away forever. But when I know it's not a good time for me to obsess over them, I feel much better when I put my focus on something that isn't as large an issue. And the question that leaps to my mind now, and ties this back to class, is this: is life more beautiful when you understand (such as through psychoanalysis) why you find something beautiful, or are things more beautiful when they are simply experienced?

Relating this back to Mark Lord's presentation, I would have to say that there were a great many points he made that I agreed with, and many I didn't. For instance, he brought up the point that we are dragged, as children, to a play and told that 'This. This you -will- find beautiful.' It's a universal act, the old teaching the young cultural norms, and I think that this act of teaching aesthetic qualities to the young does not simply bind the younger generations to a definition of beauty. I think it sets the bar, saying 'This is what we find beautiful today. This is the history of beauty. Now what will you make of beauty?' With this challenge in place, it provides us with a stepping stone. To know where we come from, to know the history, we can, as Mark Lord has done, push the envelope for what beauty is.

"If I have seen [a little] further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Isaac Newton

Breaking Boudaries
Name: Catherine Davidson (
Date: 03/22/2005 13:45
Link to this Comment: 13873

I found Susan Lavine's persepective on defining beauty fun! The process of psychoanalysis, and I can relate the experiences she describes with her patients to way I feel when I observe some of Matisse's paintings that I, for the most part...find extraordinarly beautiful. Matisse often times provides a definite, but rough outline to his subjects, but only enough so the observer can identify what the subject is. He then colors the paintings often times with unnatural, vibrant hues, and the subjects in his paintings sometimes sit in odd positions and locations. When Lavine works with a patient she has a definite process that involves many steps (that Lavine calls session) that she wants to work with to come up with a desired outcome. When she does not feel like this process is achieving a desirable end she feels unsuccessful. Susan writes that a beautiful process to her involves achieving an end and within this beautiful process there is a tension in the relationship between the analyst and patient, similar to that experience between mother-child, husband-wife, etc. Lavine describes a process with a patient she finds frustrating and i find it interesting that she shares these experiences of limitation. The author then describes struggles within herself to try and find another way, that may break the conventional process she is used to using in order to help this patient. And that this "destructive" tension is necessary to achieve a positive outcome.

I see this same process in interpreting Matisse's work. It is up to the observer to adapt to the tension of the unnatural form of his paintings, and work through this tension to understand what is there. It is not like a work of Renoir or Monet where life is laid down perfectly before you. Interpreting Matisse and achieving a positive process in psychoanalysis involves conflict, creativity, acceptance and understanding of each aspect involved in the creation of the painting process and possibly movement away from the pre-defined boundaries.

I find the presence in some sort of tension in the process of achieving appreciation through understanding or familiarity equates for many, to a feeling of aesthetic pleasure, whether in science, or art/theather, humanities, etc. The process of tearing down, and rebuilding, a sort of transition, the struggle with an idea, its rejection, and the use of this rejection to formulate another idea that completes a certain satisfaction, fills an emptiness.

Beauty is in the Eye of the Analyst
Name: Lauren Sweeney (
Date: 03/22/2005 14:25
Link to this Comment: 13875

I honestly don't see any difference in considering the aesthetics of psychoanalysis compared with the aesthetics of any practice, and am suprised by the responses that my classmates have posted upon this topic. For our purposes, (and fundamentally,) what is the difference between psychoanalysis and any other form of healing? Is not the creation of a different mode of thinking and seeing a beautiful process in any sense? This changing of perceptions and the difference between individuals visions are exactly what we have been talking about thoughout the course of this class. Just because this sense of "altering perceptions" (in terms of the patient's changing views of his/herself on the path to recovery) is in a controlled and very self-aware sense shouldn't be so striking to us. The experience of beauty, for me, is as Mark Lord said, "very cerebral" and it seems to me that a discussion of how perceptions of beauty are constructed would be severely lacking if it did not pay attention to psychoanalysis and the study of the development of the human mind as a whole.

Sexual Biases in Psychoanalysis?
Name: Katy (
Date: 03/22/2005 14:48
Link to this Comment: 13876

Psychoanalysis is one of the oldest forms of psychotherapy in the Western world (even though it's only been really practiced for a little over a century). Much of the thrust of psychoanalysis in the past has been heavily shaded by patriarchal, male points of view. Implicit in the famous cases of Freud and Breuer (i.e. "Anna O.," "Dora," etc.)are the ideas of traditional gender roles. I know that forms of psychoanalysis have been updated over the years, with such practices as psychodynamic therapy (which I have participated in). Psychoanalysis itself still seems to me to be heavily enmeshed with the early views prevalent in the practice. With this (true or false) association in my head of psychoanalysis, I can't help but wonder if the beauty that can be found in the process and results of psychoanalysis don't in some way or another have to do with traditional gender roles and ideas. I am curius how Levine might address this idea.

Susan Levine's essay
Name: Mo Rhim ()
Date: 03/22/2005 15:31
Link to this Comment: 13879

There were several things that stood out to me while reading the essay. First, that beauty in psychoanalysis is understood and experienced as a process. Second, the relationship between the patient and the analyst can enhance both people's experience of beauty and in some cases (Eliza) one person's approach or method can strongly affect the other person's experience. This is to say that in psychoanalysis, having an aesthetic experience is not one that is done independently. Lastly, I was struck by the coupling of opposites that seem to construct the argument.

Levine constantly referred to psychoanalysis as a process and that it was this complete process rather than the finished product, a successful session or even a healthy patient that gave satisfaction and gratification to both parties (though she did concentrate on the analyst's experience moreso than the patient). Her discussion about the process also leads into my next point. Levine shows that in the process of psychoanalysis, there are two people involved and directly linked and affecting the other's sense of beauty or gratification from the process. Levine uses the example of Eliza and how her slow progress frustrated and diminished the beautiful or aesthetic part of her experience as an analyst. I thought that it was interesting how much emphasis she seems to place on the experience of the analyst when I normally view psychoanalysis as a process to please the patient. I have rarely thought about what should/would please the analyst because I figured it was their job/duty rather than a source of personal pleasure or gratification. I was surprised to see the impact that two different patients in their own progress could make on the analyst's own progress. IT seems as though in the process of analyzing the patient, there is also a lot of self-analysis done by the analyst.

Lastly, I was most interested in the pairings of what I felt were opposites. With Eliza, Levine expresses a sense of frustration with Eliza's inability to detach herself from reality which she believes makes it "virtually impervious to interpretation." However, she believes that what kept Eliza from progressing if her refusal to make the analyst into a "significant object." It seemed as though Levine wanted her to suspend reality, or the cold facts, so as to be open to interpretation, yet the only way to do so would have been to make Levine a significant object in that reality, or in the discourse or dialogue going on in her mind, in her reality. Beres also mentions how like in art, in psychoanalysis there is a need for a suspension of disbelief. "We immerse outselves in fiction or drama by pretending that it is real, but at the same time preserving the understanding that this is not really happening." Also, Levine says that she derives pleasure from the affective and the intellectual. The two seem to me to be two opposite sides: the affective is the more creative and appreciative of the creativity involved whereas the intellectual side derives "from the way of a theory or set of theories."

I was also fascinated by the idea of "making meaning" and how people can interpret things to create a completely different experience out of the same string of events.

I also liked Beres's statement about the analyst needed to have "lived through a creative experience in his own analysis" in order to participate more actively in the process.

Beautiful yet Troubling
Name: Tanya Corder (
Date: 03/22/2005 16:09
Link to this Comment: 13880

I really enjoyed the article because I felt that the arguments were clearly explained and held a lot of truth. I have always felt there to be beauty in human-to-human interaction (verbal, physical, sharing of ideas, etc), taking pride in your usefulness, and discovering solutions to anything whether it be a math problem or a psychological problem in a patient. I like the way she approached her arguments by describing analysis analogous to writing, painting or any other artistic expression. It made the arguments a lot easier to follow and I could see the aesthetic characteristics in all of the analysis aspects she described. What I found most interesting was probably the beauty she found in episodes where she was ³the target of a patientıs rage.² She explains that ³Experiences of satisfaction are definedŠ. by the unit of tension and release of tension. When what has misfired can be rightedŠ²(9).

What I found a little questionable was the effectiveness of psychoanalysis itself. After reading the episode with Dorothy, I felt like if that what goes on in analysis session, a lot of people can be analysts too. The profession seems that one does not need a fancy degree to do that. It happens everyday when friends or family members seek advice from one another or share their personal frustrations or problems with each other. I feel that these episodes are a lot more beautiful because both parties share and the meetings can get a lot more personal. There is more of a bond within the interaction. When itıs a shrink-to-patient situation, only the patient shares his thoughts, while the shrink seems objective and apathetic. Iım not sure if that is part of the rules of the profession. And I know that the shrinks care (otherwise they wouldnıt be helping) but I feel like itıs harder for people to release information about themselves unless you can connect with the other person. I mean when another person does not open up to me, I donıt feel particularly inclined to share any inner thoughts either. I feel this doctor-to-patient interaction limits the bonding and therefore the beauty. Also, I find the conclusions that shrinks come up with are a lot of the time common sense that I would be able to tell someone in the same situation. I was hoping she could explain more about how her background education ties into the effectiveness of the profession and how it ties helps her come to conclusions about her patients.

Name: Alice S (
Date: 03/22/2005 16:34
Link to this Comment: 13881

I am not really sure what I think about the comparison of the two patients. I think someone said earlier that this process could be almost dangerous; I agree. What happens when this process goes all wrong? Can there still be beauty in it? I think if we take Eliza as an example, and she is probably a mild example, than we see that it is not 'healthy' for either the patient or the analyst. I suppose it does depend on the connection the two share.

I also think it is strange to try and interpret everything that happens in your life, and it seems like this takes the beauty out of living, even if the process itself is still beautiful to the analyst. I am torn as to which side of the fence i am sitting on; I think psychoanalysis can be probably the most beautiful experience in the world, but I am not sure I believe it.

Teachers and psychoanalysts
Name: Mal (
Date: 03/22/2005 16:54
Link to this Comment: 13883

It was hard for me to get into the piece right away because I could not imagine how the psychoanalytic process could be beautiful. But as I read it, I was able to see how someone would find the process beautiful. I like the metaphors used, that analysis is like a piece of music or a play, that it is incomplete until you are done with it. She watches her patient grow and change over time. It is that, I believe, that she find beautiful about the process. I was able to understand this when I put it in context of my own life. I am an Education minor and I plan to become a Elementary School teacher. The reason I got into teaching was when I preformed community service at my old elementary school. I got to work one on one with all of the kids in kindergarten. They would come into a room with a sheet of paper that had a story on it. Then, they would read the story to me, with me helping them out if they needed it. I found the exercise both beautiful and gratifying. In a sense, I think teaching for me, is what being a psychoanalysts is for her. We both foster environments that hopefully allow the other person, be it student or patient, to learn and grow. I like teaching in part also narcissistically. It is awesome to have a bunch of children who love you and want your full attention all the time. But the real reason I want to teach, and I think this is true for a lot of teachers, is to see that ³ah ha² moment, when the child realizes that they have learned something.

Beauty in Narrative
Name: Rebecca Donatelli (
Date: 03/22/2005 17:11
Link to this Comment: 13884

"One of the goals in an analysis is for the patient to be able to develop a more or less coherent narrative of how he or she came to be the way she is."
I found the reading on physchoanalysis very interesting especially the section quoted above from the part of the article about "The Aesthetics of Making Meaning: Interpretation." What caught me about this section was the way it connected with Hoffman's essay about narrative. In both articles there seemed to be a theme of finding beauty in making sense out of something more complicated. Hoffman's theory is that we can find beauty in complex things by forming a series of simple steps that will explain the more complex. From what I understood analysts suggest to their analysandes ideas that help the reconstuct their narrative. The narrative that the analysande reconstructs would then hopefully enable them to work through their problems. These ideas that come together are the simpler steps in the overall very complex narrative.

Name: Alix Dermer (
Date: 03/22/2005 20:10
Link to this Comment: 13888

I found the reading on Suzan Levine's essay somewhat difficult. I began by reading the glossary first and i found that to be rather dense and abstract. Perhaps some of my frustration was because of my skepticism about psychoanalysis in general, but i found both the glossary and the essay itself rather hard to get through.
The essay just reinforced my feelings about most of the topics that we have focused on in the class thus far. I am constantly left wondering if i am really getting anything out of this class and if i am really learning anything at all. I went into this class never having been concerned about why i find the things i do beautiful and despite the fact that i have been forced to face the question over and over again, i still do not really care to know or seek the answer.
I therefore went into the task of reading Levine's essay with a great deal of skepticism. While I very much find it interesting and inspiring that someone can find beauty in one's occupation like Susan Levine has, I do not neccessarily know if i care to read an essay on it. At one point in her essay, Levine refers to a teacher she had in high school, who warned her about the difficulties of writing what he called, "an appreciation paper." Levine then goes on to say that she did not heed is warning then and she received a C on that paper. She then says that "it is with some trepidation that [she] set(s) out to do this in regard to psychoanalysis, to try to explicate why it seems to [her] to be such a satisfying and ultimately beautiful process." At this point in the essay, i was left to wonder why she continued to do it anyway.
I understand that i may be in the minority of people that do not appreciate the essay, and perhaps it is much more successful in the eyes of most of its readers, but i still believe that she may have been better off not having writen the essay at all.

Helpfulness of Psychoanalysis
Name: Megan Monahan (
Date: 03/22/2005 21:12
Link to this Comment: 13889

Since we seem to have decided that truth and understanding are beautiful I can see where the connection to psychoanalysis would be inevitable due to its supposed ability to lend greater understanding of the human mind and emotions but I have a hard time putting much faith in psychoanalysis. Levine even says in the very first paragraphs that "psychoanalysts love doing psychoanalysis for reasons above and beyond its helpfulness to patients." In my mind the most important goal of any therapy should be to help the patient. This makes it sound like it is merely for the psychoanalysts to study their patients like anaimals in a zoo.

It seems that so much of the success of psychoanalysis depends on the psychoanalyst that it is most important to remove oneself from the process. By finding so much joy in the analysis process it seems to be making it all about the psychoanalyst which I would personally not find in any way helpful in a therapy setting. It should be a time to focus only on the patient. The essay compares the idea of "creating a coherent narrative" with the way "one attempts to to evalute works of art objectively." I was unsettled by this because it makes it seem like the patient is an oddity to be studied and not a person. This seemed cold and lacking compassion which is mostly how I feel about psychoanalysis in general based on my limited understanding of it.

Name: Anne Dalke (
Date: 03/22/2005 23:12
Link to this Comment: 13900

I'm really amazed at the richness and the range of your reactions to Susan's essay, and very much looking forward to listening in as she discusses it with us all on Thursday.

But first, I want to say a couple of things about Mark's talk today, which I so very much enjoyed. The four "propositions" I came away (agreeing) with were

I'm very much interested in your responses to these claims, and will be particularly interested to see what effect Duchamp's take on art museams will have on the papers, due this Friday @ 5, in which you are reading paintings from the Barnes (Anne quoting Mark quoting Duchamp: "Museums are buildings where we put art that need not be looked @ any more, pictures we already know how to look @, whose power is already used up. The last place to look for new! able-to-change you! art is in an art museum.")

The question I was asking, as we broke up, was to return to the opposition Mark constructed at the beginning of his talk, between the "a-aesthetic cerebral" he was trying to portray when he first began working in theater, and the "appreciation of sensual reality" which continually called to him, and to which he eventually gave in. By the end of his talk, when he was describing ways to enliven worn reality by thinking (noticing and re-using a cliche AS cliche, for instance) I saw Mark putting the cerebral (=reflectiveness) to work in the service of making beauty. So it wasn't that sensuous reality replaced the cerebral, as he first suggested, but rather that, eventually, the loopiness of their interactive relationship was put into play.

Thank you, Mark, both for the work you do and for taking the time to come and tell us about it.

The Chemistry of Art and Beauty
Name: Anne Dalke (
Date: 03/23/2005 09:51
Link to this Comment: 13914

Me again; can't resist. Selene Platt, who is (among many other things) the secretary for the Center for Science in Society, has been piloting a new feature on Serendip called "Science Matters."

The current page on the chemistry of art and beauty, plus the one upcoming on synesthesia and synchronicity, might give you inspiration for the papers you are writing this week about your experiences "Reading a Picture."

That first page, "The Chemistry of Art and and Beauty," includes links to Sharon's course on "The Stuff of Art," as well as ours here about Beauty, along with a student's essay, written for Neurobiology and Behavior three years ago, about Color Vision and Color Theory.


oops: correction
Name: Anne Dalke (
Date: 03/23/2005 09:55
Link to this Comment: 13915

Made an error in that link. You'll actually find "The Chemistry of Art and Beauty" here.

Love in Jobs
Name: Amanda G. (
Date: 03/23/2005 17:03
Link to this Comment: 13937

A number of essays we have read have argued that people perform their jobs not only as jobs, but for themselves. Levine wrote, "There are thus unavoidable narcissistic pleasures (and unpleasures) for the analyst, and it is obviously essential for the analyst to be as aware as possible of what his or her stake in the process may be." I feel that this is necessary for all occupations. An anthropologist for example, must be aware that s/he must be objective and yet it is hard. And yet, it is still wonderful that people find beauty in their work. Levine argues that there is beauty in analysis. She begins by quoting Keats, "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,--that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know." By beginning with such a strong quote, Levine's argument makes sense. Beauty is in all areas including art and science. Levine states that psychoanalysis inhabits both art and science.
It was very interesting to read Levine's essay because I am experiencing a lot of similiarities right now while writing my senior thesis. (I know that I have referred to this a lot but it's important to me at the moment). Each time I have a successful interview, I feel very involved and get excited because my evidence backs up my hypothesis. But, when I had an interviewée who was closed and did not give me a lot of information, I became quite frustrated. I loved the excitement and passion I felt from having successfully drawn out information. And I'm currently enjoying the beauty of pouring over my interviews and literature and finding things that match and don't. While it is necessary to be objective, it is just as necessary to be interested in your work.

Name: Anne Dalke (
Date: 03/24/2005 18:24
Link to this Comment: 13991

Thanks so much to Susan for her visit today. I enjoyed it very much, and learned a lot (even having read the paper several times--and heard it presented--before). I was very moved by her description of her interactions with her patients, and her ability to help them--as well as by the obvious delight she took both in our invitation to her to return to speak @ Bryn Mawr, and in your responses to her work.

The spot where I'd enjoy/profit from more conversation has to do with her use of fractals as the image for what happens when she and her patients "mix it up." When Susan first delivered her paper on "Beauty Treatment" in the Beauty Symposium last winter, she said that "a sentence is worth a session"--as an example of how a small thing can represent/sum up a much larger one. But it's just this notion of a fractal being "invariant across dimensions" which makes it not-quite-satisfying to me as an image for the freedom-from-past-scripts which psychoanalysis can bring about.

Like Liz, I don't like boxes (Sharon once painted my dislike, and named it "Vulnerability"):

--and so I am very much disinclined to embrace a process of simple repetition. I don't find it beautiful, but rather entrapping--and boring. I'm far more inclined to the notion of "emergence" (which is grounded in the presumption that simple interactions on one level can generate new forms of order on the next). This seems to me a much more interesting quality than "simple" magnification: contraction/expansion (into something different)/contraction/re-expansion (into something yet different....)--which would look more like this kind of growth, perhaps:

Important Request
Name: Susan Levine (
Date: 03/24/2005 13:43
Link to this Comment: 13981

Dear All,
I realized after I left today that I should have made the this important request.
Although this forum certainlty feels prvate, it is in fact a site the public can visit. So please be careful not to refer in any way to the clinical material we discussed in class.
I enjoyed meeting with you and thank you again for your very thoughtful questions and postings.

Name: Anne Dalke (
Date: 03/24/2005 18:24
Link to this Comment: 13991

Thanks so much to Susan for her visit today. I enjoyed it very much, and learned a lot (even having read the paper several times--and heard it presented--before). I was very moved by her description of her interactions with her patients, and her ability to help them--as well as by the obvious delight she took both in our invitation to her to return to speak @ Bryn Mawr, and in your responses to her work.

The spot where I'd enjoy/profit from more conversation has to do with her use of fractals as the image for what happens when she and her patients "mix it up." When Susan first delivered her paper on "Beauty Treatment" in the Beauty Symposium last winter, she said that "a sentence is worth a session"--as an example of how a small thing can represent/sum up a much larger one. But it's just this notion of a fractal being "invariant across dimensions" which makes it not-quite-satisfying to me as an image for the freedom-from-past-scripts which psychoanalysis can bring about.

Like Liz, I don't like boxes (Sharon once painted my dislike, and named it "Vulnerability"):

--and so I am very much disinclined to embrace a process of simple repetition. I don't find it beautiful, but rather entrapping--and boring. I'm far more inclined to the notion of "emergence" (which is grounded in the presumption that simple interactions on one level can generate new forms of order on the next). This seems to me a much more interesting quality than "simple" magnification: contraction/expansion (into something different)/contraction/re-expansion (into something yet different....)--which would look more like this kind of growth, perhaps:

Name: Susan Levine (
Date: 03/25/2005 08:40
Link to this Comment: 14001

Dear Anne,
It is interesting that the image you selected to portray emergence (what appears to be a schematic represnetation of a tree and its roots) is fractal. Some fractal images give more of a boxed in feeling than others. I do not (yet, I hope) know enought about naturally occurring fractals to explain the variation that occurs within them. I think we have an aesthetic difference. You are struck by the boxed in feel and I by the ways in which they are infinite insofar as they extend without ending toward nothingness and evrythingness.
However, there is an important point about being boxed in that boxes me in! Fractals are an important and accurate metaphor for mental functioning in that the unconsious -- yours, mine, everybody's -- DOES set limits and box us in. It does so whether we are aware of it or not and whether we have been analyzed or not. The limits of the box may be expanded but there always is some sort of box that our mind sets. We may not like it, but I believe that this is simply true and part of what it means to be human. We are able to think outside the box, but we also are boxed in by ourselves. Perhaps Paul would have sonme interesting comments to make in regard to whether this is consistent with his understanding of the brain. I also wonder whether Lacan's 1936 paper on the mirror stage (in case students might want to have a look, it's in Ecrits: A Selection, Norton, 1977, pp 1-7)might be read as speaking to this.
Analysis takes so long becasue it is hard to add new numbers to a the equation of a fractal that is long-standing. There are fractal generations that one can play with, and small changes in the numbers lead to almost imperceptible changes in the image.
Enough for now!

Weird posting
Name: Susan Levine (
Date: 03/25/2005 08:41
Link to this Comment: 14002

I have no idea why my posting formatted itself in that way!

centering (on the edge?)
Name: Anne Dalke (
Date: 03/25/2005 11:59
Link to this Comment: 14007

Funny example, actually, of being boxed in by someone else. I'd put an HTML instruction in my last posting to center the image, and then forgot to give the instruction to "close center." Am doing so now--let's see if it works!

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