Monday, November 20, 2006

FREUD ON THE IRISH...and the failures of November


It started off as just a doodle, inspired by my friend, tinker, who led me to this exercise in Sacred Doodling. But once I'd completed my doodle, I started wondering what Freud might say it revealed about me. Then I remembered my favorite quote from the founder of psychoanalysis. Speaking of the Irish, he said:

"This is one race for whom psychoanalysis is of no use whatsoever."

Though I'm a born yank, by race I'm one of Freud's incurables. Whether he meant to infer that the Irish were too crazy , too complex, or too smart to be successfully analyzed, I'm not sure--though, of course, I have my opinion.

Or maybe it's just that the Irish are too imaginative to ever get their stories straight. Get someone like me on the couch, and I may spin tales for years--some as true and clear as a spring lake, others shall we say "embellished" by metaphorical fancy and my own love of the dramatic. Who can cure someone like that?

Anyway, from now on, my artmaking will be markedly improved because--(drumroll, please!) my copy of The Artist's Manual has arrived at last! Now that I have a little in-house instruction, I'm going back to the post where several of you kindly suggested some art supplies a novice like me might enjoy.

artist's manual

From now on, the computer paper, the black magic marker, and the glue stick will no longer be my weapons of choice!

I also have a few November confessions to make:

1. I've failed utterly at NaNoWriMo. Though my absurdly optimistic nature would normally tell me that yes (!) I could still make it from the 3,436 words I wrote to the holy grail of 50,000, every now and then even we cockeyed visitors from fantasy land must face reality. And reality is this: I've only got ten days left, including Thanksgiving, a two day trip to New Hampshire, and my cousin's wedding day--all days when I won't be writing. And given that I've never written more than 2,500 words in a day, the hard mathematical facts are against me. Has anyone got a white flag handy?

2. I've also failed at NaNoBloMo--the campaign to post every day. In fact, I've failed so miserably that I can't even get the acronym right. However, I love cheering from the sidelines as several of my blog friends have kept posting through colds and sick cats, bad relationships and bad weather. I'm in awe of you!

3. And what about Make Art Every Day? Well, as you can see, around here, it's been more like "make something that vaguely resembles art some days."

4. Even my own November posting schedule, in which I enthusiastically announced that I would impose structure on my unruly blog was what George Bush would call a rout.

Sometimes I adhered to the schedule; other times life and laziness (my two guiding principles) intervened, and I didn't.

But wait! There's another way to look at it:

1. It wasn't time for me to write a new novel right now. It was time to return to the first draft of one I'd already written and begin the serious process of flogging it into shape--which I did and with a joyful vengence. Thus, my nano failure was a writing success.

2. I didn't post every day. But then again, I didn't have something to say every day, so consider yourself spared.

3. No, I didn't make art every day, but I made it more than I have in years. I did it with family. I did it with friends. And now with my new Artist's Manual, I plan to continue the fun long after the last of the leftover Thanksgiving turkey has been consumed and the last brown leaf has fallen. It's an unqualified triumph!

4. I tried something new with the blog, and some of it worked! I love writing about Ten Things every Tuesday, and the existential question on Wednesday. I also love going out and hunting down a new blog discovery of the week. (Surfing with a purpose! What could be more divine?)

Sharing the best links I can find has been great, too, but I think I'd rather post them as I come upon them. Collecting and putting them up all at once seemed a bit like, well, work, and committed lazy person that I am, I don't come to the blog to work.

So how's that for a fabulous self-justification? I fail at absolutely every single goal I set myself for the month, then I declare it some kind of crazy success. Maybe Dr. Freud was right, after all...


Anonymous said...

I know that quote well. Also Freud said, "Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me." I just love that. I love your upbeat perspective as well.

JP (mom) said...

Freud or no Freud ... your successes are your own ... and, there's nothing wrong with putting a silver lining (or different spin) on all of the November pressures. NaNoWhateverO ;-)

cheers and much peace, JP

Patry Francis said...

colleen: I think I like your Freud quote even better!

deborah: Love the term nanowhateverO. I think I'll sign up for that one next November!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I love your optimism, enthusiasm and willingness to go with the flow, to follow the creative urges as they come and not by any arbitrary rules! You are an inspiration, Patry.

Laini Taylor said...

Patry, I gave up on NaNoWriMo after the first week. I think I got to about 9500 words, and I hated every single one of those words. That kind of speedy writing just doesn't work for me, not in long stretches. I AM writing, though, my OWN way (that reminds me of how my little sister who was a born bullhead always insisted on doing everything her OWN way!). Good luck with the art making! Hope you're having fun!

Left-handed Trees... said...

I am also one of Freud's incurables...(Did I mention that my family came to America to open up the business here which had already sustained them for generations? That would be the Irish pub I grew up in...) So, I loved your quote, needless to say. I'm not declaring myself a NaNoWriMo failure yet--20,000+ words...b/c I am writing every day and that is a miracle to me!

rdl said...

He's wrong,You're right! - you're great!

gerry rosser said...

A cynic might say that Freud's quote means nothing more than that well-known intellectuals can be just as prone to ridiculous generalizations/stereotypes as anyone else. Of course, that's just a passing thought since I, of course, am not a cynic (I am not a cynic, I am not a cynic, I am not . . .)

Shannon Hopkins said...

Yep, I declare November a great success for you on multiple levels! "Slainte" to the truth in embellishment...

Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

I don't think the word failure even remotely can be applied to you, to what you do, or should appear in nearby sentences relating to you.


Anonymous said...

Patry, I'm so glad you turned this around and saw the bright side of all of your supposed "failures" --- I was getting my pep talk ready as I read the first part of your post.

It's better sometimes to go with the flow and do something that feels more authentic in the moment. You're still doing so much work!

Patry Francis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Patry Francis said...

marja-leena: I see many signs that "flow" has taken over in your work, too. When that happens, what choice have we but to go with it?

laini: I think the good thing about attempting things like nano is that even if they don't work, they point you to your own say. Love the new photo. (Did I tell you that already or just think it in my head?)

left-handed: No, I didn't know that about you. I have Irish pub roots, too; my ancestors operated one in Co. Limerick. Maybe that's why psychoanalysis doesn't work on us: We'd rather go down to the pub and talk it over with friends over a Guinness than hang out with the rather glum looking Dr. Freud. Congrats on all the writing you've gotten done!

r: We always preferred Jung anyway, right? I mean, what was all that nonsense about penis envy?

gerry: It does sound a bit like it might have been ethnic stereotyping, but I choose to take it as a compliment.

tarakuanyin: I'm glad I tried Nano even though I've never completed one yet...and I'm thrilled to see the explosion of words that have been tabulated all over the I just have to find out what slainte means.

susan: And thank YOU for taking the time to read them! I love your blog, too--but you know that.

jordan: Thank you for saying such a kind thing, but I fail at something or other just about every day. It's okay though; in fact, it seems to be the only way I ever learn.

kg: Thanks for the pep talk you started to imagine. I swear I felt the benefits of it!

The Curmudgeon said...

Maybe it's because I'm also a Yank with Irish DNA -- but I really liked this post. Great rationalizations -- uh, explanations.

Keep spinning the tales here, Patry, whenever inspiration permits.

Patry Francis said...

curmudgeon: I thought you might enjoy this one...Maybe the ability to rationalize also comes in the genes? Probably not, but I've got to blame someone.

paris parfait said...

Great post! I like the Irish and their magical abilities to spin a yarn. As for deadlines in November, sounds like way too many things going on to worry about group goals. You've already written a book and will no doubt write another when you're ready. You don't need someone else's time frame to be creative - it seems you do that every day, whether other people know it or not. As for the blogging every day, I didn't participate in the official bit, but I do force myself to post everyday. It helps me get in the frame of mind to write the stuff I should be writing, i.e. finishing the book, articles, etc. I am inspired by the idea of your Artist's Manual. Perhaps I need one - it's been so many years since I seriously tackled any sort of art projects. And I'm encouraged by all these creative women out there to give it a shot, just for fun.

And by the way, who would want to cure "someone like that?" Sounds like the perfect definition of a born writer. And that's to be celebrated, not "cured." :)

Anonymous said...

Ahh, I love this post. You really are alive, Patry. And isn't that what it's all about?

Tish Cohen

Darlene said...

I must be Irish too...a storyteller for sure! :D

xox darlene

Zhoen said...

December is for editing.

I'm part Irish, part French, all tired.

Shannon Hopkins said...

Slainte means "cheers" in Irish. (Didn't want you to spend time looking up words when you could be writing.) Oh, it's pronounced something like slawncha, and means something like "good health to you," on a more literal translation, but I was using it in the sense of "cheers."

Patry Francis said...

tara: My art projects are pure fun. Do join me! And thanks for all your other insights. I admire your daily blogging, and I'm curious: do you do it before your other writing as a kind of warm-up or after, as a reward?

tish: What a lovely comment! Thank you, dear.

darlene: I love your stories no matter what ethnic DNA you carry!

zhoen: I've enjoyed watching your daily word count climb so much that it's almost as good as doing it myself. (How's THAT for a rationalization?)

tarakuanyin: In that case, Slainte to you and to all!

Anonymous said...

What a lovely surprise, Patry, coming here and finding your thank you for the linkage (and I, in turn, have to thank Ninnie, for finding it for me, too) - isn't it wonderful how we can keep passing things on, like the torch in the Olympics?

Having a healthy dollop of Irish in my genetic bottle of Heinz 57, I love the Freudian quote here, as well. It explains a lot in my case, I think.

As for the NaNoWriMo, I'm still plodding on for now. I'm so happy your book finally arrived, and most of all, that you're continuing on making art!

You have the secret of success hidden within this post, I think, Patry. Thank you for passing it on.

Sky said...

what i know is that success is simply a perspective, and this post clearly illustrates my point. your posts are not only insteresting but they are inspirational. i never leave here without feeling better - even when i am in an emotionally challenging place like georgia where i now sit at 5:54 a.m - heart heavy. and now to the business of giving thanks....i will put discovering your blog on my list...happy thanksgiving!

Sky said...


*interesting* :)

NoVA Dad said...

I love the quote; it was a new one for me. I think that if the situation had ever arisen where I would have been on Freud's couch, he would have more than likely just sat quietly in his chair, shaking his head.

As far as blogging, I've been well behind, too (about a week at this point). Hopefully I'll have some time over the holiday to come up with something brilliant to put out in the blogosphere (or, if not brilliant, at least mildly interesting;-)

- Matt

Patry Francis said...

tinker: Love your image of the Athletic torch! Thanks for passing on the art of the doodle to me. Good luck with your nano!

sky: Thinking of you in Georgia, and sorry to hear that your heart is heavy. I'll be sending prayers your way. xo

matt: It's a busy time of year. I guess the best we can do is not to put too much pressure on ourselves.

Kerstin said...

Well, that was lovely. Seriously, your enthusiasm even in "failure" is quite contageous. I so often don't even start anything because if there is a slight chance that I might not finish it I prefer to not do it at all. It's the good old "all-or-nothing" strategy when really all that matters is "anything-tried-is-everything-gained", or something like that. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Patry!

Leah said...

lady, you have been wildly sucessful with aem in my book! i love that you took the challenge in stride, pushed your boundaries and tried new things. hoorah!

Anonymous said...

So was I right? Is leafing through the book making you want to do things?

Patry Francis said...

kerstin: I've always admired and wanted to be more of a finish-what-you-start type. In fact, I'm still trying. But I've aso learned there's no point in beating myself up when I veer from the course.

kat: Thank you for giving me the inspiration to try! It has truly opened up a new world--

sara: Wait till I get my new art supplies! There will be no stopping me! Thanks for suggesting the book; it is wonderful--

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with Freud on this one. If you are a people who have spent 700 years ish learning to subvert the conqueror, I think that passive resistance, and passive aggression are so well learned that psychoanalysis would be difficult. The problem with a people skilled in pr and pa, is that there is a need to be defended, and not open. Of course the Catholic Jansenist tendancy that arrived in Ireland in the 18th ish century probably also has a lot to do with Freud's observation.

And why do I say this? I am Irish, and have experienced psychoanalysis.

Unknown said...

where & when did Freud quote about the Irish?

Anonymous said...

I am Irish, not just by blood but by upbringing. The Irish are easy to gain a resentment. They are an unforgiving stock that never see how their OWN actions may have aided in the resentments that they hold. Bottom line, they lack humility. People who can not feel humility can not be helped. They can only see the wong that has been done them, never the other way around. Add booze and catholosism, you got imperviousness.

Patry Francis said...

anon: Blanket indictments of an entire people bespeak narrow mindedness and ill-will. My mother, who is Irish to the bone, is the most forgiving and humble person I've ever known. On her behalf and on behalf of millions of other Irish people who don't fit your racist stereotype, I find your remarks offensive.

I'm not at all surprised you chose to comment anonymously.

Anonymous said...

The truth is, there is a complexity to being Irish that I think Freud must have come in contact with. (The above poster's generalizations about the impervious people are really the exact opposite of Freud's somewhat truthful comment). Irish society, on an island, with the odd situation of a dominant yet repressed religion, and the last part of Europe to have an intact clan culture, is simply different, and produces a national character that lived contradiction, subversion and competing and different sensibilities and awareness, a complexity that could never be embraced or understood by Freud's view of a simple, linear, and universal psychology.

Anonymous said...

I came across this web page by complete accident and was impressed by some of the comments.

As a young man, born and raised in the conflicted area of West Belfast (North of Ireland), and after reading these comments i felt the urge to say to you people that the only way you can make clear and accurate judgement/conclusions surrounding Freud's remark on the Irish phyche is live and experience real life here within our social/ political structures.

Generation upon generation of irishmen have been faced by foreign foe, from the Norman invasions to Irelands occupation by Britain, and one thing has remained the same to those who fight: 2 options: prepare to be killed, or prepare to be taken prisoner.

i highly reccommend you people obtain a copy of a film recently released called 'hunger' wriiten by enda walsh and steve mc queen.

go raibh maith agat a chairde.

Daire B,
West Belfast,
North of Ireland

lunardaddy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lunardaddy said...

im sorry im typing the first downwer i loved most of your piece but i need to get something of my chest first of all you said it yourself, your a born yank, that means your american, i dont care if your mother father all your brothers sisters aunties and uncles where born in ireland, YOU arent irish, you arent one of his incurables your a boring yank, LEFT-HANDED TREES YOU TOO!! st paddys day is celebrated more in england, america and austrailia than ireland!! because of all the phoneys trying to jump on the paddywagon because they think its funny to have the 'drunk fun lovin' irish gene. and as for Daire B you live in Northern Ireland not the North of Ireland you biggot pig and that movie 'hunger' glorifies the feckin terrorists get the fuck out of Northern Ireland and move down south, you lot are the fucking problem!!

East Belfast

Anonymous said...

the reader "infers", not the writer; the writer "implies". it's an important distinction.

Anonymous said...

We are talking about a shrink who was at his carer peak in in the 1880's and 90's. Do I think psychiatry has improved much since then? NO! For Christ Sake we were housing cerebral palsy and downs syndrome humans in animal like conditions well into the 1970's until Geraldo Reviera saved the world by infiltrating Willow Brook. Actually it was a cool thing he did and it helped a cause which still is in need of much support. Anyway, the Irish are just the Irish. Born strong, born to entertain, fight, drink, love, you name it we do it. When ya tell us ya can't, well ya better look out. A picture speakes a thousand words. An Irish ass whooping??? 2000...

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