And so you have something to go on with!

This is from the meeting of Thursday 12 June 1986. I present it in two parts. Although the second part followed directly from the first, what I found of value in the first was just the last part of Mr Adie’s reply, whereas with the second, the whole question and answer is fascinating.

Part One

“Life can be a confrontation. Other people do exist. They have a right to be there. You have little idea what they are thinking about, or what their lives are. You understand practically nothing of that. They are almost strangers. All the intervening space and people around is, for us, the unknown, and, too often, the unthought.”

“One question seems to be very necessary. That is, am I interested in my life at this moment? Have I any interest in it? What is my interest if my father comes up? Have I any interest, or do I disappear into this puppet dance? Do I consider, or do I get cross? Where is my interest in this aspect of my life?”

“Is it just that I am very tired? I can be very tired but surely life is still interesting, even if it’s uncomfortable. If some small spider happens to appear, supposing I am an ardent botanist, and studying in insects, I can be half-dead with fatigue but if I see this spider with a fly in its web. Suddenly, I can be so interested in its mandibles and how it moves, that I wake right up.”

“But what else is going on? Am I interested in the psychic forces in the room? Or in our relationship? What is this relationship which we are beginning to have? It is a great mystery. Do I have any inkling at all of what it is in reality?”

“Then it gives me more force, more food and more impressions come. If I can have ideas within me, then those impressions which I receive make contact with these ideas. Some impressions will feed the ideas, and others will knock them out. If I just go into a dream, that is no good, but if I am present to an idea, that is different.”

Part Two

This is simply the transcript of a question and answer with a young lady. I will call her Betty.

“Mr Adie, when I try in the presence of others, I have a formatory comment saying I should be this or should be that, and it causes tension.”

“This is a generality isn’t it?” asked Mr Adie.


“Try and speak of a particular example, Betty. You see, you may have come to a conclusion that is quite wrong. But if you can speak of a specific example then we can use it.”

“For example, if -”

“No. Not if. If something happened, something actually took place that you can remember, then speak of that. Otherwise, you are interpreting something. And then our talk is theoretical. Let us say goodbye to theoretical talk here now. We can’t profit from it.”

“When I am with other people, like my family, I am not present.”

“If you are not present at all, then you can’t bring an example. How can you bring an example if you are not present? When something exciting happens, you will notice it. Or if you have made a plan and it didn’t come to anything, bring that, because that is a fact. We want facts, not opinions, or theories, or boss-eyed memories. Bring examples.”

Then, addressing the group as a whole, before turning to one, Mr Adie said: “Other people have said nothing. What about you, have you done any work?”

The person must have indicated that they had, but nothing comes through on the tape.

“Then why don’t you bring something?” asked Mr Adie. “You are not entitled to just sit and listen. If you have worked you will have something to bring?”

After a pause, Mr Adie returned to Betty. “We can’t have generalities in the group. We want to know of some occasion when you actually tried, and what actually happened.”

“One morning this week.”

“Which morning?”

“Monday morning?”

“What happened?”

“I had planned to be present the first half hour, while I was making breakfast,” said Betty. “I thought that I was present and collected, but it was a dream. Yet, I had made a resolve in my preparation in the morning.”

“What were you trying?” asked Mr Adie. “What was the basis of your work to be?”

“Well, just to be present.”

“That is not enough. You need a plan to work this way or that way. You cannot remember yourself for half an hour. You could make up your mind to do this with the right hand, or that with the left hand, or to walk a little slower or a little faster. But to remember yourself for half an hour is so big that it is not a practical plan. And now you see, because you came near to an actual experiment, you did have something to bring and so you have something to go on with.”

Joseph Azize, 2 August 2017

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