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Jeanette Wright has done a most interesting, difficult and helpful thing. THE ART OF ATTENTION is a work which does not fit neatly into any particular genre of literature. It is, but is not solely, memoir. It is, but is not solely, instruction. It is, but is not solely, artistic critique. It is, but is not solely, a very good "How To" book. It is, but is not solely, an introduction to and interpretation of one of America's most gifted and neglected philosopher/psychologists, Silvan Tomkins.
Ms. Wright is 23 pages into the Chronicles before attempting to express the theory upon which her understanding is based; the affect/script theory of Silvan S. Tomkins. True to life as it is lived she immerses the reader in her own experience, her remembered anguish at the childhood loss of her mother and that anguish re-experienced. Long hidden inarticulate memories flowed down her arm and through her fingers on to a page and now addressed her in those drawn images as cryptic revelations.
Those inarticulate and somewhat misinformed memories have guided so much of her behavior. Her childhood appraisal of her mother's death and the way in which her emotional life was thereby conditioned provoked so much unnecessary anguish. What those drawn images revealed finally led Jeanette to write letters to her mother. One of them begins, "Dear Mother, I thought I killed you. No one said I didn't." And in another she writes, "This core belief that I was unlovable because my mother died was a major and continuing source of shame for me." Now as an adult those powerful hidden images could be looked at, examined, expanded and reappraised and the power of what they symbolized transformed.Read more ›
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