I very time I meet Dr Meltzer, in person or in writing, come E away with lots to be grateful for. This morning I have his lovely expression “miracle-perceptive”, which captures exactly the essence of what I want to talk about. I start with an apparent impasse, and then try to describe a way of avoiding it. The impasse is this: if someone talks to me of, for instance, Christian, Islamic, or Jewish spirituality I find no problem in knowing what they mean; since in each case there is a defined object of worship, and spirituality is about developing a relationship with that object. (Why anyone should believe in such an object is another question.) If the notion of spirituality is taken outside such a context, I begin to have problems. There are certain concepts: awe, reverence, holiness, miracles, wonder, mortality, and death, which are essential in exploring certain aspects of our world; and if that’s what spirituality means, fine. But I think that quite a lot of people want to take things further than that, to claim that somehow, however nebulously, there must be some sort of world mind, outside ourselves, because nothing can be made sense of otherwise. And I have to say that I see such a claim as an omnipotent, wish-fulfilling phantasy, whose function is to avoid the pain of having to acknowledge I just don’t know what to say here. Scientists such as Richard Dawkins or Steve Jones have been eloquent in expounding how marvellous the structure of the world is; how fascinating, for instance, is the mathematics that we need to describe, and then further to explore, the minutiae of the universe. Psychoanalysis is equally awe-inspiring in making it possible to describe aspects of the psyche. (I think especially of Klein’s elaboration of the depressive position and of Dr Meltzer’s work on the aesthetic perspective.) What more can one want? Of course, there are times when we don’t know how to proceed (yet). But to deal with the frustration of inadequate descriptive tools by throwing up a pseudo-explanation seems to me to be a perverse sort of dishonesty. Certainly those who think they can justify their appeal to some thinking power beyond ourselves will disagree; and I want to find a way not be drawn into a sterile ping-pong match sort of argument. So let me find another starting place.
News itself is new today. The manner in which most Americans obtain their information has been transformed by the Internet. It is fast-paced, with accelerated delivery systems creating a news cycle measured in minutes or even seconds, rather than by days. It is atomized, with a virtual cacophony of voices speaking with wildly varying levels of information and authority. It is mobile, reaching people in the most unlikely places at every moment of the day on their laptops and cell phones. It is opinion driven, with analysis, slant, and bias occupying ever more bandwidth. And it is radically democratized, allowing a student tapping away in her bedroom the same potential audience as a decorated journalist at a prominent professional news organization.
This readily available news and instant gratification for what is happening in the world is quite different as journalism has been struggling with the changing media scene and engagement of audiences with global news and issues.
Bion, ever the imaginative explorer of both ends of the spectrum of conceptions with the use of his technique of the reversible perspective, began to ponder even more deeply the ultimate headwaters of the river of life, the origin of the individual psyche beyond and before the caesura of birth, supported by Freud’s (1926d) statement: “There is much more continuity between intra-uterine life and earliest infancy than the impressive caesura of the act of birth allows us to believe” (p. 138). Bion first presented his imaginative speculations on fetal mental life in Caesura (1977a), where he not only introduced the possibility of fetal mental life but also emphasized the many facets and functions of the caesura. He asks: “Is there any part of the human mind which still betrays signs of an ‘embryological’ intuition, either visual or auditory?” (p. 44).
After speculating at length about the possibility of there being such a thing as fetal mental life and hinging his speculation largely on the early fetal formation of the optic and auditory pits (the forerunners of sight and sound, respectively), Bion observes:
had their first child three years later. Ava Frances Manning was born in March 2011.
But life on the football field soon turned sour. The Giants had made the playoffs for four straight seasons. Then the team missed the playoffs in 2009 and 2010. Manning showed flashes of greatness. But fans were frustrated when he led the league with 25 interceptions in 2010.
Things did not look much better when the Giants started
7–7 in 2011. It appeared they would again fall short of the playoffs. But Manning was working hard to be a better leader.
And he helped the Giants win their final two games and make the playoffs.
The Green Bay Packers were heavily favored to win the
Super Bowl. Their only loss was late in the season with little on
Manning told reporters before the 2011 season that he believed he was an elite quarterback. The reactions were mixed. Fans argued about whether he truly was one of the best. But Giants fans were excited to hear Manning’s confidence. They were even more excited when he backed up his words in Super Bowl XLVI.