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am 6. Juli 2000
Do not be misled by the use of the word "flirtation" in this collection's title. It's a metaphor for flexibility and psychic and intellectual playfulness. In his Preface, the author asserts, "Flirtation keeps things in play, and by doing so lets us get to know them in different ways." Phillips, a British child analyst and respected literary critic, has assembled a series of readable, erudite, and sometimes thrilling essays on his customary favorite topics. They are fresh and insightful - as usual from him. He is interested in literature, contemporary and traditional psychoanalytic theory, attachment, depression, the uses and wonders of language, Lacanian musings and principles, and much more. The bibliography itself could form the backbone of a lengthy course of study. The collection is divided into several parts: "The Uses of the Past," "Psychoanalysis Revisited," and "Writing Outside," which includes literary essays on Philip Roth, Isaac Rosenberg, nineteenth century writer John Clare, and Hapsburg Empire-era Austrian Karl Kraus. But it his the essays on, or "flirting" with, a wide variety of psychoanalytic themes which are at the heart of this interesting, intelligent, and useful collection. "Freud and the Uses of Forgetting," "On Love," and "The Telling of Selves" reveal Phillips' ability to range widely - yet with focus, inherent compassion and kindness, and clarity - in the telling of his themes.
An essay on depression, in which he talks with great respect about the work of Lacanian analyst Julie Kristeva, is particularly interesting. Erich Fromm, Freud and his biographer, Jones, are also subjects of essays.
This is a terrific book, full of humane and productive thinking, and ought to be read and reread by anyone with an interest in the uses of psychoanalysis, and the very modern, creative, and original mind of Adam Phillips. Highly recommended.
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