R D Laing

Sloughed Off | How I Grew a New Skin Such a Magical Thing


In response to Daily Post | New Skin

As the little green Suzuki Alto entered the 2 600 foot  Outeniqua Mountain Pass in all its majesty, fecundity and wonder, a magical thing happened. Looking down at my arms, my right one in a spasm of carpel tunnel frigidity, my skin began to slough off, much like the dry skin peeling of a snake. My sight extended to a cartoon like vision of myself, a half crazed red-head, driving a tiny car bulging with stuff, a white rabbit in one of my magical extra hands and a bird-cage in the other. Somehow, entering this pass was like being squeezed from a womb through a birth canal, where I came out the other end with not only new skin, but a renewed awe, hope and enthusiasm for what was potentially to come. I was brand new! This indeed was a R. D. Laing landscape, a circuitous and twisted place, the primal journey of coming into being. A true renewal and metamorphosis, and I thought in the words attributed to Francois Rabelais:


Image from Wikimedia Commons
See Janus Head for more on Laing See also Laing’s Language of Experience


Seat Guru – and Then There Were Three

Seat Guru – and Then There Were Three

You get to plan a dinner party for 4-8 of your favorite writers/artists/musicians/other notable figures, whether dead or alive. Who do you seat next to whom in order to inspire the most fun evening?


The first person would be Dorothy Parker – her acerbic wit and lack of stupidness around romantic love and relationships, would make for a sometimes painful but nonetheless challenging debater. Here is a quote:

“A lady … with all the poise of the Sphinx though but little of her mystery.”

“You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.” Parker’s answer when asked to use the word horticulture during a game of Can-You-Give-Me-A-Sentence?, as quoted in You Might as well Live by John Keats (1970).

Parker published her first volume of poetry, Enough Rope, in 1926. The collection sold 47,000 copies and garnered impressive reviews. The Nation described her verse as “caked with a salty humor, rough with splinters of disillusion, and tarred with a bright black authenticity”.


Then I would have R. D. Laing the famed anti-psychiatrist. He and Dorothy will have a wail of a time, drinking and engaging in verbal battles with one another. He attractive, she attractive, an explosive chemistry.

“If the human race survives, future men will, I suspect, look back on our enlightened epoch as a veritable age of Darkness. They will presumably be able to savor the irony of the situation with more amusement than we can extract from it. The laugh’s on us. They will see that what we call ‘schizophrenia’ was one of the forms in which, often through quite ordinary people, the light began to break through the cracks in our all-too-closed minds.”

R.D. Laing, The Politics of Experience, p. 107.




Then, I would have ee cummings. He would be here for his ability to be controversial, (at times). This would be one party for stirring things up and for his way with words:


Buffalo Bill’s
who used to
ride a watersmooth-silver
and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat

he was a handsome man
and what i want to know is
how do you like your blueeyed boy
Mister Death

From “Buffalo Bill’s” (1920). Unfortunately the unique presentation of his words does not translate to this page.


And in some of my most loved words, perhaps cummings may unfurl the passion within Parker and trump Laing, from somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond:
"...your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose..."
I would have three. The uneven number between them, means that they would vie with one another for Mrs Parker’s attention. I would simply be the mediator when things got heated…
Here are some knots from R. D. Laing:

“The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.” 

“Rule A: Don’t. Rule A1: Rule A doesn’t exist. Rule A2: Do not discuss the existence or non-existence of Rules A, A1 or A2.

Read more at Brainy Quotes

Images Creative Commons Share Alike.


The Normal | The Fallacy of Normalcy | No Wish to be Normal

Hole in the Heavens

365 days of writing prompts: June 9 The normal. Is being “normal” — whatever that means to you — a good thing, or a bad thing? Neither?

The term fallacy is ambiguous. From a philosophical point of view, it can mean: a kind of error in an argument; a kind of error in reasoning (including arguments, definitions, explanations, and so forth); a false belief; or the cause of any of the previous errors, including what are normally referred to as “rhetorical techniques.” Researchers disagree about how to define the very term “fallacy.” Focusing just on fallacies in the sense of fallacies of argumentation, some researchers define a fallacy as an argument that is deductively invalid or that has very little inductive strength. If one thinks of normal as something fallacious, then normal could mean the race to the bottom, or a mediocrity, or something that does not exist at all, because it is based on a fallacious argument. Erich Fromm refers to the pathology of normalcy. In The Sane Society Fromm says:

“It is naively assumed that the fact that the majority of people share certain ideas or feelings proves the validity of these ideas and feelings. Nothing is further from the truth. Consensual validation as such has no bearing whatsoever on reason or mental health. Just as there is a folie à deux (delusional ideas between two persons). there is a folie à millionsThe fact that millions of people share the same vices does not make these vices virtues, the fact that they share so many errors does not make the errors to be truths, and the fact that millions of people share the same mental pathology does not make these people sane.” (p. 14).

One of my favourite writers, Ronald David Laing, says the following from an existential point of view:

We are all murderers and prostitutes — no matter to what culture, society, class, nation, we belong, no matter how normal, moral, or mature we take ourselves to be. Humanity is estranged from its authentic possibilities. This basic vision prevents us from taking any unequivocal view of the sanity of common sense, or of the madness of the so-called madman. … Our alientation goes to the roots. The realisation of this is the essential springboard for any serious reflection on any aspect of present inter-human life.” (p. 2 of the Introduction to The Politics of Experience, 1967).

These kinds of statements can seem shocking. So, if we are estranged as a society from our authentic possibilities, at the root alienated, then it is true for me to say that I have no wish to be normal. If our normalcy cannot be considered sane, or authentic, then I have no wish to be a participant in the creation of a hole in the heavens, or other such pursits. In my view, normalcy is a fallacy, it is a false belief, an error in argument. Normal has a kind of stasis about it, when in fact things are in flux, constantly changing. What do you think? What does “normal” mean for you. Is it a pathology? Is so called “normalcy” absurd?