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The Facts of Life: An Essay in Feelings, Facts and Fantasy

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The book is made of bits of journals, bits of lectures, memories, meditations--some impenetrably abstract & logically involuted, some embarrassingly speculative & poetic--among which one may wander at will. But in content it's new, evidence that Laing's moved on, deeper into himself, deeper into the mystery of life. It's a meditation without answers, philosophical, persona The book is made of bits of journals, bits of lectures, memories, meditations--some impenetrably abstract & logically involuted, some embarrassingly speculative & poetic--among which one may wander at will. But in content it's new, evidence that Laing's moved on, deeper into himself, deeper into the mystery of life. It's a meditation without answers, philosophical, personal & biological, on the question, "Who am I?" Perhaps the most striking part of it is the personal. Laing's no longer talking only about patients or people in trouble, but about himself. His own quite bleak & repressed early history is told with a bald plainness that suggests both sadness & harsh humor. He moves from the conundrum conventionally called "the facts of life"--our origin in sexual reproduction--into more bizarre territory: the possibility (documented by incidents in therapy) that we remember, are haunted by, & reenact our conception, implantation, fetal life & birth, the loss of the cord & placenta that were part of us. He relates odd things that have happened to his mind, & odd encounters with others, that hint at the vast mysteries lying iceberg-like beyond consciousness. The whole is informed by an implicit compassion that turns explicit in an attack on "heartless" science unaware of its own unconscious sadistic motives. Despite its flights & obscurities, this is a real contribution to the literature of wonder--rich, disorderly, suggestive, inconclusive & humane.


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The book is made of bits of journals, bits of lectures, memories, meditations--some impenetrably abstract & logically involuted, some embarrassingly speculative & poetic--among which one may wander at will. But in content it's new, evidence that Laing's moved on, deeper into himself, deeper into the mystery of life. It's a meditation without answers, philosophical, persona The book is made of bits of journals, bits of lectures, memories, meditations--some impenetrably abstract & logically involuted, some embarrassingly speculative & poetic--among which one may wander at will. But in content it's new, evidence that Laing's moved on, deeper into himself, deeper into the mystery of life. It's a meditation without answers, philosophical, personal & biological, on the question, "Who am I?" Perhaps the most striking part of it is the personal. Laing's no longer talking only about patients or people in trouble, but about himself. His own quite bleak & repressed early history is told with a bald plainness that suggests both sadness & harsh humor. He moves from the conundrum conventionally called "the facts of life"--our origin in sexual reproduction--into more bizarre territory: the possibility (documented by incidents in therapy) that we remember, are haunted by, & reenact our conception, implantation, fetal life & birth, the loss of the cord & placenta that were part of us. He relates odd things that have happened to his mind, & odd encounters with others, that hint at the vast mysteries lying iceberg-like beyond consciousness. The whole is informed by an implicit compassion that turns explicit in an attack on "heartless" science unaware of its own unconscious sadistic motives. Despite its flights & obscurities, this is a real contribution to the literature of wonder--rich, disorderly, suggestive, inconclusive & humane.

30 review for The Facts of Life: An Essay in Feelings, Facts and Fantasy

  1. 4 out of 5

    soulAdmitted

    "Se tu morissi adesso, e venissi riconcepito stasera quale donna sceglieresti entro cui trascorrere i primi nove mesi della tua prossima vita?" Forse è superfluo dire che a Laing non importava nulla della risposta, puntuale, a questa domanda. Tra le sue preferite, immagino. Decisiva. (Forse è anche superfluo dire che ciò che gli importava era la distillazione di tutte le emozioni - pensabili - a disposizione, a partire da questa domanda). "Se tu morissi adesso, e venissi riconcepito stasera quale donna sceglieresti entro cui trascorrere i primi nove mesi della tua prossima vita?" Forse è superfluo dire che a Laing non importava nulla della risposta, puntuale, a questa domanda. Tra le sue preferite, immagino. Decisiva. (Forse è anche superfluo dire che ciò che gli importava era la distillazione di tutte le emozioni - pensabili - a disposizione, a partire da questa domanda).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Paterson

    Unbelievably strange book so I'm not going to attempt to rate it. Some very unusual theories about mythology being a reflection of our lives in the womb and then a bunch of stuff I didn't even remotely understand. Oddly, I still enjoyed quite a lot of this book, even where it was vaguely incoherent. It feels like an intimate look at a person exploring the strangest corners of their own imagination. Laing just lets his mind go wild with ideas, images, theories, and investigations. Around the World Unbelievably strange book so I'm not going to attempt to rate it. Some very unusual theories about mythology being a reflection of our lives in the womb and then a bunch of stuff I didn't even remotely understand. Oddly, I still enjoyed quite a lot of this book, even where it was vaguely incoherent. It feels like an intimate look at a person exploring the strangest corners of their own imagination. Laing just lets his mind go wild with ideas, images, theories, and investigations. Around the World: Scotland

  3. 4 out of 5

    Benedict Reid

    I read this book because I love Laing's "knots" and knew that "The facts of life" is perhaps the closest in terms of style to "knots" of Laing's other work. It is true that Laing plays with the structure and form in an almost poetical way. But unlike "Knots" he attempts to give his own opinion about the situation in many cases. I simply couldn't agree with much of his theory of the physical act of conception (!! no, really, from the point of view of the single cell) and birth as being the core I read this book because I love Laing's "knots" and knew that "The facts of life" is perhaps the closest in terms of style to "knots" of Laing's other work. It is true that Laing plays with the structure and form in an almost poetical way. But unlike "Knots" he attempts to give his own opinion about the situation in many cases. I simply couldn't agree with much of his theory of the physical act of conception (!! no, really, from the point of view of the single cell) and birth as being the core reason for adult's unhappiness. But I couldn't argue with him over the importance of social connection, his stories of mental hospitals in the late 60s/early 70s are terrifying, where people were supposed to get better by being locked away in small rooms and given traquilizers. Definitely an interesting read. I'm not quite sure it's a good read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

    Strange but good.

  5. 5 out of 5

    John

  6. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

  7. 4 out of 5

    David Maayan

  8. 4 out of 5

    Howard Phillips

  9. 4 out of 5

    KP

  10. 4 out of 5

    Exile

  11. 4 out of 5

    Karim

  12. 5 out of 5

    Robbie Brown

  13. 4 out of 5

    Srdjan Vujacic

  14. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  15. 5 out of 5

    James

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alice

  17. 5 out of 5

    John Spiers

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  19. 4 out of 5

    Greta

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kaushik Dev Burman

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mark Davess

  22. 4 out of 5

    Candice Richardson

  23. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  24. 5 out of 5

    Paul Nagle

  25. 5 out of 5

    Peter Gutierrez

  26. 4 out of 5

    Martin Cullen

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bjorn Mikael

  28. 4 out of 5

    Prateek Anand

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rowan Leigh

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bauchui

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