Dipping in

 Posted by at 1:36 pm  Atelier  Comments Off
Mar 312010

Here is a text for us to dip into over the Easter break – ‘Reading, Walking, Mourning’. The full text is available online (ie it is open source)


How did I find it?


Berg-Werk (or call it Pit-work if you prefer) …which I used to describe to myself as being like digging, but I am now more inclined to think of it as being like dipping.


Here is an example of Berg-Werk – see if you agree about the feeling:

  1. Read the current London Review of Books, 25/03/10, P 48: there is a 1/4 page Ad placed by the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities advertising their Summer School 2010: ‘Critical Theory and the Political’
  2. Browse the web link and then go randomly to other Birkbeck Institute pages, and spot that mme S-B* is listed as a fellow
  3. Search ‘Summers-Bremner’ on Google Scholar: J Narrative Theory reference and link to the full text is item 9

 * My attention was drawn to mme Summers-Bremner because it also says on the Birkbeck Institute website that she is current working on a book entitled a History of Wandering.


Dipping in online to the ‘Reading, Walking, Mourning’ text, I came to the following line (P 307) “…it is a because they walk a path between, not only past and present, but (also) mourning… and melancholia….”


The German writer Hans Magnus Enzenberger comes at this from a different angle, both in his poetry and prose – for instance, see his essay on Poetry and Politics (Critical Essays. 1982, Continuum, New York, P 15-34). Enzenberger would call it radical…



Myopic Dreams

 Posted by at 7:51 am  Atelier  Comments Off
Mar 262010

As Uncle Wally is fond of reminding us, all our actions and non-actions have their consequences, and if you push him he’ll give you to understand in extremely blunt terms, there is no such thing as uncomplicated anything, let alone “screwing”. When you come to think about it what better berg-werk is there! We plough the fields and scatter. We long for consequences. We long not to be left alone, penniless and forlorn.


‘Good,’ he says, ‘very good’, satisfaction adding light to his heavy features. Mind you, I can hardly see him in my myopic dream. I know he’s here somewhere, guiding, prodding, and maybe it’s that I imagine his satisfaction. At moments like this I have to feel myself into a blurred world – into and through – there’s food, I know that much, but most of it’s gone and a car I’m in is accelerating madly out of a roundabout which seems crazy to me because the next roundabout is only a hundred meters ahead.


And do you know the pasta is rarely perfect; perfection is merely an accident in the spectrum of overcooked and undercooked. As she never tires of telling me, she’s got better things to think about, if you want perfect pasta, cook it yourself. The glint in those black eyes of hers dulls as she sees through the misty myopia of the present into a future that I’ve no intention of checking whether or not includes me.


After all, I say to myself, there’s work to be done.

Digging further South

 Posted by at 1:29 pm  Atelier  Comments Off
Mar 232010

‘Curtain Up’ at the Berg-Theatre, Solingen

(Cosi fan Tutti – March 2010)


As for this berg-werk, there is always the possibility of uncovering certain genuine fragments, or that is what we are continually being told by Uncle Wally, these days almost our constant companion, or so it seems, like one those haunting dreams, which is impossible to shake off after waking.


Not that we would want to see him go, No, of course not, only. What, Only, no, it is nothing really.


And so there is the possibility of us revealing. And she –  Let us give her real name, Marina Columbina. And the city she comes from, Naples. And certain other facts please, She talks incessantly which sometimes is irritating, cooks perfect pasta as one might expect, and enjoys  ‘uncomplicated screwing’ on a regular basis.


That is indeed what my friend has told me, and, yes, perhaps it is the perfect relationship, he says, as it were, under interrogation. Only their visits home once a year at Easter, in order to see Marina’s family of course, about whom one is encouraged not to ask questions, he says, I would rather not know, and all together devoutly attend the festivals of their cathedral church in Naples.


One needs to be supple, I say, as we settle back in our red plush ‘small opera’ chairs to enjoy the show which is about to begin. Uncle Wally is quick to agree of course:

“Here Alfonso de Liguori was born, the saint who made the practice of the Catholic Church supple enough to accommodate the trade of the swindler and the whore, in order to control it with more or less rigorous penances in the confessional, for which he wrote a three-volume compendium. Confession alone, not the police, is a match for the self-administration of the criminal world, the camorra.”

(Naples. SW, Vol 2:1, P 414)

The Hidden Nature of the Pit Work

 Posted by at 10:15 am  Atelier  Comments Off
Mar 192010

Last night an unsatisfactory
discussion on Cézanne and then I was cold on the walk to the station – down the
hill – it was as though I had cut short my afternoon, rushed to the station to
catch the train simply to have half an hour or so prior to the meeting reading The
Savage Detectives
accompanied by a glass of
beer. Not an unpleasant experience, I should add.

It seemed a reversal had taken
place since the previous week – a reversed polarity – without me noticing;
right had become wrong, wrong right. The strange berg-werk of the distant past
shoving rudely into my present reality, rococo dreams of a heaven that we no
longer know how to believe in, but then I was puzzled, even outraged by the
betrayal of all those claims and pronouncements that I had understood to be

At least it was warm in the
waiting room and I sat and let the exhaustion drain into the concrete until the
train pushed through an opening in the darkness and emerged next to the
platform a couple of minutes early.

I need you to arrive on time not
early and certainly not late. Of course she wasn’t there to hear me.

The ice has melted and suddenly
primroses adorn the banks amidst the seeming dead remains, the worn out
detritus of our colder than usual winter. Spring pushes in out of the darkness
– unbelievably – a presage of the heaven we don’t know how to believe in
because we’re much too grown up. Why don’t you and I book a flight south.


 Posted by at 12:18 pm  Atelier  Comments Off
Mar 162010

Berg-Werk, The Star of India, London (10th March 2010)


‘Thus the life of a collector manifests a dialectical tension between the poles of disorder and order.’  (SW 2:2, p 487).


As Uncle Wally would put it; the figure who was skating on thin ice, and her breath which was not so much melting as leaking through the surface.


Sometimes the idea of a smooth, crystalline solid gives the wrong impression, and there is a more or less haphazard appearance, having placed the following objects together:


- Berg-Werk (meaning ‘Pit-work’, but it would be a mistake to link this with the German word for a mineworker (Grubenarbeiter), the reference would probably have more to do with Alban Berg, the composer).


- The Rococo design (rocaille, stone, and coquilles, shells) of the Indian restaurant ‘s painted ceiling, triangulated by enfolding diagonals, under which they were sitting in their private dining room.


- The ‘Small Opera’ (Kleine Forme) excerpts from mainly 18th century classical music being played over their candlelit dinner, at which they were also drinking Alsace wine.


- The slim-fitting 'Mold Gold Cape', which he remembered (Object 19, A History of the World in 100 Objects (BBC Radio 4)), and the part of the transcript which he had written down in order to read again, “When you look at this object, in one way you react with amazement about how beautiful and intriguing it is. And then you also react to it in terms of wondering about who it was made for, what does it mean that that kind of unique, special objects were created”.


Yes, it is true, you need to have the lightest of steps.

Yogis Seek Levitation (

 Posted by at 11:19 am  Atelier  Comments Off
Mar 122010

It might be that freedom/repression misses the point. At
least it occurs to me that it doesn’t quite get to the guts of the matter. Let
us put it on one side for the moment, in a siding where we can pick it up later
if necessary or desired; let us rather look at the tension of unconscious and
conscious, and in particular that fertile field between the two. A violent
cross-roads – no traffic lights, certainly no roundabout – of everything from
pantechnicons to bicycles (and cows, I guess, browsing and grazing but with the
occasional excitement of stampedes).

Umm the coffee’s really good; there’s still the glow of the
energetic bike ride, plus the contented peacefulness of walking up the hill to
this café.

A fertility that‘s in the madness of it all; our paranoia
and chaos covered by the merest skim of fragile ice through which we can see
the terrifying monsters waiting for us to drop in. It’s a joke – I mean this
ice wouldn’t support a mouse. Of course, this is why yogis seek levitation; you
need to have the lightest of steps.

The fertility is that of dreams and sexuality, those spaces
where the ice is non-existent. We know everything and nothing. When I look
across the room at her there’s that old fertile field and nothing is known. Take
me, take me, in total freedom and leave nothing behind . . . except, maybe,
some accidental clues for those Savage Detectives following in their own time and madness –  ‘.
. . even though life had changed us so much that we’d have had trouble
recognising each other on the street.’ (Page 334).

“…Before it descends back into Cows”

 Posted by at 11:47 am  Atelier  Comments Off
Mar 092010

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, BBC Radio 3 broadcast, (8th January 2010)


The primary tension for me was (and is) between freedom and repression. I missed WR Mysteries of the Organism, but in the sexual realm it was during the late 1970’s that I saw Ai No Corida at the cinema in Notting Hill (the 1976 Japanese film based on a true story from 1930’s Japan). In fact I got to see it twice before the film was banned, the second time with two women. I remember we were not turned on.


But shocked we certainly were, the shock of meeting an example of ‘utmost concreteness’ (to use Uncle Wally’s phrase) with the sex on screen being very much for real, along with a way of being in a film which was not on the face of it pornographic -  ‘to be is to communicate’ like Mikhail Mikhailovitch Bakhtin said – only contradictory. It was beautiful but it wasn’t sexy, and so on, and so on. Only contradictions. It just did not make any sense.


After that my tension around freedom and repression remained in a confused state for the next two decades (remember the Falklands War, remember the fall of Communism, and the invasion of Kuwait and the first Iraq War), and beyond that. But in recent times I have begun to follow the tension through. Now there is also pretension, attention, and contention. I have begun to argue back.


A week ago I wrote about ‘where immense life is possible’ being for Valentin Silvestrov the ‘area of the Coda’, in other words repetitions, doublings back, and discontinuities. And capriciousness. For instance, during that BBC Radio 3 broadcast in January I was listening to Kirill Karabits describe the music of Silvestrov’s Serenade for Strings, like the figure and ground of a powerful personal memory which emerges from and descends back into chaos, except with his strong Ukrainian accent ‘chaos’ was not the word I heard him say.

Mar 072010

I think it might have been 1971 when I invited a woman friend to come with me to the cinema to see Dusan Makavejev's WR Mysteries of the Organism. 

And then I have to go back three or four years to 1967 when I first heard of Wilhelm Reich in a review (and celebration) of his written works by R D Laing in the journal New Society. She decided not to accompany me to the Academy Cinema in Oxford Street so I went alone to see the movie. When I watched the clip (above) I was surprised to feel how moved I was, how it took me back to that time and the hopes that were inspired. I remember the smile on my face that emerged as I watched the film (in the seventies) and which continued to inhabit my face for some time afterwards as I wondered back to the tube station.

What is possible?

One afternoon (it could have been 1974) I was with a couple of women friends in Hyde Park when they invited me to join them for a threesome. I turned them down: it was rather sudden and I was due back home to my then wife. I think now how they must have thought about it, discussed it and planned it and I have regrets that I didn’t take them up on their offer – unfortunately it wasn’t repeated.

What was (and is) the tension between fidelity and love and pleasure and happiness; Reich had his opinions about these things. He saw the possibility of new ways of being which certainly inspired me a further couple of years on to do a Reichian (or neo-Reichian) psychotherapy training. Not only that but one of those two women who invited me to an afternoon of pleasure went on to become a sex therapist. Perhaps she still is though she must be in her seventies; somewhere in Canada, I guess. Sadly I lost touch. And I lost touch with those Reichian ideas in my thinking and practice as a psychotherapist, instead I found a home in a psychodynamic approach.