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Monday, 11 March 2019

Review: From Cradle to Global Citizen: finding our way in turbulent times by Lorraine Rose

Women in my Pilates class often discuss their life as new mothers. Today my instructor was describing how her normally easy-going son had started to battle with her and was having tantrums. She turned to me and asked what might be going on? The best I could offer between curl ups was encouragement to ‘be with’ him, to think what might be going on in his mind and what feelings he might be struggling with. I wished I could whip out photocopied pages from From Cradle to Global Citizen: finding our way in turbulent times.  

Lorraine Rose
Lorraine Rose’s latest book offers us insights from the world of infant mental health research, infant observation and ‘affective’ neuroscience to understand what is going on for the development of the child. She describes how As we grow our brains convert experiences into the way we relate to others, the feelings we have about ourselves and our implicit expectations of the future. We are taken into the world of being a baby and the process of being psychologically born and the consequences for the developing brain when things go wrong in early attachment. This will fascinate anyone working with, engaged in minding or being in a primary care relationship with babies, infants and children. Rose adds a plea for us also to think about the heart as well as the mind. 

Today’s parents are anxious to get it right. With the grandmother Google as their guide they joke about whether certain actions or inactions will send their child to therapy? As an experienced psychotherapist Lorraine describes her therapeutic work with several child and adult clients for whom early experiences have not gone well and the moving process of repair, of understanding the landscape of the unconscious, of returning to the painful yet profound experience of being a baby, of contacting one’s earliest anxieties and terrors. She writes of using the breath to bring into consciousness our pre-verbal injuries, to access those disowned parts of our selves held in the body ‘so we can reclaim our liveliness and bring to life those aspects of ourselves that have been dormant.’ This work is painstaking and slow, an important message in a world that favours quick fix, short-term cognitive therapy with measurable outcomes.

We all want to know to what extent the experiences of our childhood are responsible for our adult unhappiness. A compelling chapter is Lorraine’s examination of the primitive processes that lie at the heart of adult feelings of emptiness, aloneness, unfairness, injustice, feeling a fraud or stupid, self-loathing and wanting to die. She makes a strong case for spending the time reflecting on what has gone wrong in our early development.  She describes how reconnecting to these feelings in a therapeutic relationship with another’s mind to bear and think with us, has the potential to free us from the hold these events. Without this ‘we cannot take our place in the world as a grown-up who is able to relate and be a responsible citizen.’ 

What is very fresh is that Lorraine takes us beyond the child to the challenges of development for the later years, something the psychoanalytic world must now turn to face. This is a time of our greatest experience of separation – facing death. Here again we rework our earliest experiences as well as the issues that Lorraine takes up in the third part of her book- the way we are or are not participating in making the world a better place.

At times the scope of the book seems too vast, confronting us with what has gone wrong with individuals, families and society as a whole. However the strength of this broad-brush stroke is to see the infant and child in the family, the invisible forces that bear down on us from the intergenerational story and the story of the wider society. By deepening our understanding of our personal unconscious as well as the cultural unconscious we engage in repair for the individual but also connect the individual with the world. 

Lorraine’s writing is reflective, original and urgent. She dares to make the link between learning to love and our social nature as human beings with how we engage with the world. She is hopeful and demonstrates how the wellbeing of the individual is interconnected with the health of the world. ‘ What we have now learnt is that the earliest years shape our relationships in the future....To be alive is to honour our social nature and our interdependence as our greatest asset.’ Our first beginnings are more significant than we may have first thought, not just for the individual but also for community, society and planetary health.

From Cradle to Global Citizen: finding our way in turbulent times models an interdisciplinary approach to Lorraine Rose’s argument. As a result it is essential reading for all educations, psychologists and those in the helping professions and those trying to understand contemporary society, corporate culture, those developing public policy and working for global social and political change.

Jungian Analyst in private practice in Sydney, Australia

Editor's Comment: Following its sell-out launch at Gleebooks in Sydney on 28 February, Lorraine's book is available for purchase in its physical edition from the IP Store and all good book stores. It's also available in eBook editions.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Are you being served by your library?

Libraries have passed the two degree threshold that spells global catastrophe. This, despite ducted air conditioning systems. This, despite their projected image as a democratic refuge for worthy books and whatever contemporary lifeforms text find themselves in.

Try this test. Go to your local library headquarters. At the front desk, ask for the Collections Manager. Be prepared to explain what a “collections manager” is. In the unlikely event one is available, ask her to name a book – any book – she’s read recently to decide whether or not to order it in.

You might be surprised by the glazed look in her eyes.

Yes, I know. Libraries are under threat. Budgets are shrinking. Staff resources are dwindling. Librarians are trained to tame Big Data, develop profiles, analyse borrowing trends, sniff the airwaves to detect celebrity authors.

Enter a Superhero to save the day: the “library supplier”. Treating books as commodities, these companies allow librarians to outsource their primary reasons for being – to discover and curate content. Publishers plead their case with the suppliers in a pecking order from multinational to independent. 

Guess who gets the crumbs?

Are you being well served by your library? Are they helping you discover the very best in content by employing staff who actually read the books that are offered to them? Are they actively promoting new talent in your country? Would they recognise a Joyce, an Atwood, a Patrick White if it came to them from a publisher they hadn’t heard of?

Are they fearful of poetry, “literary” novels and experimental books eating up their budgets?

Here’s a case in point. Our publishing house, Interactive Publications Pty Ltd has been in business for 21 years. In that time, we’ve published more than 350 titles, many of them emerging authors who have gone to establish solid relationships with larger publishers. We’re located in Brisbane, Australia and focus mostly on Australian and New Zealand authors.

Prior to Big Data and the Call of Accountability, the Brisbane Libraries, which comprise over 30 branches, ordered most of our titles, many of them in substantial quantities. As inter-library loans took hold, the library system ordered fewer of our titles. We accepted this because our titles were still available, even if readers had to wait a bit longer to access them.

But as BCC Libraries, like many other library systems here and overseas, delegated their responsibility to curate content and to favour home-grown books to suppliers who treat books as commodities to be moved rather than read, our orders dwindled even further. Because  we felt this 3rd party supplier did us no favours, we began sending books on approval directly to BCC Library Headquarters.

We hit rock bottom recently when an Acting Collections Head determined that NONE of the new 20 titles we sent on approval met their “current requirements”. When I questioned this, her superior sought to justify the ways of God to the naive publisher by referring me to a bland policy manual. I doubt that the Acting person had read any of the books. I KNOW her superior hadn’t because they had already been returned.

There is a quiet revolution happening in our libraries. Libraries are becoming more and more like chain bookshops where you can predict what brands will be available, and discovery is increasingly a thing of the past. Libraries’ role as a curator of content has been outsourced to enterprises whose interests are more commercial than aesthetic. Curating and discovery will still happen, but in the unreliable ecosystem of internet blogs and paid for review sites. Librarians are prime targets for replacement by robots who dispense rather than analyse and evaluate, although recent strides in AI cognition may yet save libraries from becoming ATM dispensers.

And global temperatures are still rising.

Do you have any library stories to share?

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Lauren Daniels Make a Splash @ Thirroul Women Writers Festival

Lauren Daniels recently attended the Thirroul Women Writers Festival to talk about her book Serpent's Wake: a tale for the bitten
Bridget McKern, another author at the festival, was so moved by Lauren's novel that she wrote a review that we thought you might like to see. 
This is the way Lauren Elise Daniel’s book Serpents Wake infiltrated my consciousness. I would describe it as a book that reaches the depths of human suffering, sacrifice and compassion but at the same time has a fairytale quality that keeps the reader in a mystical but safe relationship with the story just like being a child having stories read at my mother’s knee.  
You know when you read a good book - you can’t put it down easily and it dwells in your waking and dreaming moments. It somehow reaches a deeper level of psychic consciousness and you feel as if you have been there before.  The cover took me in with its Celtic swirls and strange mediaeval feel. The style is interesting as not one character has a proper name ... but it works by suggestion, action and character as the story unfolds. We gradually come to know the Girl, the Captain, the Poet, the parents and villagers; the crew of the ship, all by association with the storyline.
Serpents Wake is a mythic fairy story balanced with archetypes of enough conviction of reality to really reach down into trauma experiences and the tough but sweetest learnings of love. There is a veritable company of archetypal characters besides the Girl / Heroine / Wounded Healer who is swallowed by the great serpent. To name a few: 

 The Poet, the Wolf; the Hunter; the Serpent; the Beast (human and animal); the Mother; the Father; the Doctor; (3 doctors) the Doctor’s Wife (who is an indigenous healer); the Cook; the Wounded Hero / Captain....
 I would recommend this book for heroic girls and boys (who may not yet know they are hero/heroines who have been ‘bitten’ by life circumstances beyond their control); parents of lost children; students of life; trauma counsellors and psychologists refugees, asylum seekers and aliens. 
The book is full of poetic imagery and imagination. The language has a gothic and mediaeval taste and some passages simply took my breath away with beauty.The one I wanted to keep for ever came in the love scene at the end (p. 299)‘In the bed of arms and legs, sleep softened them and made them edgeless.’I read it to my husband of fifty years and he agreed!

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

E.A. Gleeson Explores Values, Beauty & Mortality

Small Acts of Purpose is a new poetry book by E.A. Gleeson, a funeral celebrant with an exotic Irish background. Her poems touch on key issues from everyday life in a personal, accessible and sometimes humorous style, as you’ll see from her interview with Assistant Editor Wai Ying Wong.  

WYW: What led you to write Small Acts of Purpose?

EAG: I cannot not write poems, I almost always have a poem "on the go" so this is a compilation of the work from the last four years. it seems to take me about four years to put a collection together.

WYW: Since you have published two poetry books before, what differences were there in composing this new volume?
EAG: In this new volume, I think I am much more attuned to the magic and power of land/waterscapes. It's a more interesting collection, less about me ;) more about others and how we interact with each other and the natural world.
WYW: Your book comprises several parts, most notably the one about Northern Ireland. How do you see the other parts working with the Belfast one?
EAG: Each of the four parts engages with the way we relate to our world whether it's an urban environment or an emotional landscape. But the Belfast section is also distinctive. I LOVE Belfast and I wanted to acknowledge its beauty as well as its troubled history.
WYB: What messages are you trying to convey with Small Acts of Purpose?
EAG: The ideas I am exploring vary:

  •  reflecting on the choices made by inspiring people
  • attending to places of power and beauty
  •  examining things we value 
  •  accepting notions of change and mortality
WYW: We can see you are playful in the structure of certain poems with spacing between lines and words. Why did you choose to adopt this format?
EAG: I try to use the rhythm, line structure and word choice to add to the concepts of a poem. With the early Belfast poems, I was trying to add visual weight to the poetry. Similarly with the last poem in the book, "Peonies". I wrote that as a love poem, but I feel it's a blessing poem and the layout emphasises the action of petals and the underlying concept of the collection, transience.
WYW: What are the key themes and values expressed in your poems? How does your Irish heritage influence your writing?
EAG: Brendan Ryan says these are ‘poems of witness and empathy’. Speaking for the voices is something I want to do with my writing. Mike Ladd described the collection as inquisitive, philosophical with a sly sense of humour.  I think that is so apt pertaining to me as a person and a poet. 

My Irish heritage is a fundamental part of who I am so I think that comes through some of the poems quite specifically but it is also a cultural thing. Many of the poets who have had greatest influence on me are Irish.

WYW: How does your experience as a funeral celebrant affect your perspectives on life?

EAG: My funeral work keeps me 'in the real'. A lot of us will not get three score years and ten. It is also a constant reminder of the power of words and the value of honouring lives that have been lived.

WYW: Which is your favourite poem in this book, and why?
EAG: That's like asking which is my favourite child – 'I love them all the most'.
But if I had to pick one poem, I'd say “Radio Ulster”. That poem came like a gift just as described, But then I worked so hard to get the rhythm and rhyme to add to the energy. Rosie is a composite fictional character but she's as real to me as the people in my family.

If you allowed me a second choice, it would be “Short Life, Long Death” because it is ironically realistic and the crowds love it!
Small Acts of Purpose