Monday, 27 February 2017


 * * * * * PREAMBLE * * * * *

There is a new film Mad To Be Normal about to come out in April, 2017. It has the Scottish actor David Tennant as the main (male) character. This week it has been  premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival.

The film is about the Glasgow psychiatrist R D Laing.  In my day he was a controversial figure and this film addresses this plus the work he did trying to get a different approach to mental illness.

His book The Divided Self was much talked about in the 60s; I had even read it!

The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness, Penguin Modern Classics, 1960.

Amazon: "This watershed work aimed to make madness comprehensible, and in doing so revolutionized the way we perceive mental illness."

* * * * * * INFLUENCE OF O'SHAUGHNESSY  * * * * * *

Our friend, Bill D. dropped in for coffee today.  Iain was out; we got talking.  

Bill was very friendly with 'Ronnie' in their student days (1940s) up to about 1963.  He recalls that he had an incisive mind and one of the things they shared was a love of poetry.  Ronnie introduced Bill to the following poem which Bill (aged 89 years) could recite all the way through:

ODE (from MUSIC AND MOONLIGHT Collection of Poems)
by Arthur O'Shaughnessy *

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams;
World losers and world forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s great cities.
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

Laing liked the sentiment of this poem particularly (like so many people) the notion of 'movers and shakers'.  Bill and I concluded this must have been a strong driving force in how and why he went about his life.

Bill also mentioned that Ronnie was a bit hard to take at times (and, of course, only knew him as a young man before he became a 'celebrity').  

He recounted a chat he had at a Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow lecture some years ago with Dr Arthur Shenkin  (President at the time), He put it to him "What did you make of RDL?"  After a prolonged pause, apparently, Dr Shenkin replied "He should never have been a psychiatrist; he should have been a philosopher."

My 'Rorschach Rainbow'

* Born in London, Arthur O’Shaughnessy worked in the Zoology Department of the British Museum. By age 30, he had published three collections of poetry, including Music and Moonlight, which contained his inspiring poem “Ode.”  [Poetry Foundation]

 * * * * * *    'THE MUSIC MAKERS'  * * * * * *

 aka Us playing at the 'Railway Inn', Bowling

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