June 26th, 2008


Whew ...

This was The Wife's birthday week ... now, I say "week" because she really likes to stretch it out anyway, but with her actual birthday coming on a Wednesday, she'd pretty much claimed two weekends worth plus!

As regular readers know, we're stretched extremely thin at this point, and I gave up going to my 30th college reunion to have some "flex" for her birthday. The main "gift" she wanted was a "sweat equity" sort of thing, digging out the front bathtub which had been "converted to storage" back when the building replaced all the windows a few years back ... she wanted "her" bathtub back ... so I spent good chunks of the past couple of weeks sorting, moving, and even throwing out stuff (3 whole old computer systems, minus their hard drives). I took off half a day on Tuesday to do some last minute shopping (so there'd be stuff from The Girls and the various pets), got flowers and a cake, and then we took her out last night (we're also going out on Saturday).

We ended up going to The Kerryman, an "Irish pub" that she'd wanted to check out for quite a while. Since the weather was nice, we waited for an outside table, and were in the seating area shown in this picture, along the Erie St. side of the building. At one point, before we got seated, I ducked inside, and had "a moment". Standing there, in the main downstairs bar room, it suddenly flooded back to my brain that I was, in a time-displaced form, standing in O'Banion's!

Now, this wasn't a "sudden revelation", I'd known that this was where O'Banion's had been, but this was the first time I'd stood in that room in a quarter century. If you follow that link, you'll see a pic of how it looked "back in the day" ... when it was pretty much the center of the emerging Chicago punk scene. Now, I will admit, O'Banions was not one of my "regular spots" (I tended to hang out more at Neo up at Clark & Fullerton and Exit back when it was on Wells St.), but I got dragged down there by friends every month or so, and was familiar with the scene.

It's always amazing to have one of those "time rushes" when a whole long-neglected mental file gets opened and you find that where you are is where you were, but in completely different contexts!

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Eh ...

What a strange book ... Personal Mythology: The Psychology of Your Evolving Self by David Feinstein and Stanley Krippner (both psychology Ph.D.'s) seems to be trying to be several things, and I'm guessing that it doesn't really succeed in any.

This is one that I've had sitting around in the "to be read" boxes for many years ... I probably bought it due to Stanley Krippner (he'd partnered with my teacher Alberto Villoldo decades ago on a book about shamanic healing) being involved. I likely never got around to reading it before now because it seemed to not fit into any "themes" that I was reading ... and this certainly became clear upon getting into it!

I have to admit, however, that I did not use the book ... it is structured around various exercises and "rituals", and none of these had much appeal to me, so I simply read through it ... so it is possible that were I to have immersed myself in it, it might have been more coherent. However, I generally loathe "newagey" lets-get-in-touch-with-our-feelings counseling pablum, and much of this rattles around in that zone, so I had a lot of resistance going to much of the "work" in here!

The book is sub-subtitled "Using Ritual, Dreams, and Imagination to Discover Your Inner Story", and seems to be targeted for a "general" audience, i.e. one that hadn't done a lot of this sort of stuff in other contexts previously. Sadly, there might have been an interesting psychological book in here if they had just stuck to the concept of a "personal mythology" ... which appears to be Feinstein's specialty. Unfortunately, the book tries to be a psych book, a "workshop" manual, a half-assed hypnosis guide, and a grossly watered-down framework of shamanic journeys, all mish-mashed together!

One of the inherent problems with a book like this is that the material tends to be "the weakest dose". For instance, rather than present transformational hypnotic suggestions (each section has an induction that they indicate should either be recorded by the user or having somebody else read it to them), they are namby-pamby ... sure, it means the authors aren't likely to get sued by somebody for using them, but what good do they do? Many of the exercises have clear shamanic roots, but the extent that this is integrated into the book is just having somebody find "their inner shaman" ... passing the buck, as it were, rather than being their inner shaman! Also, the example stories tend towards the "lame" ... one of the subjects they reported on was a professional writer whose "mythology" was obviously largely the production of her craft, while others' varied from the pointless to the petulant.

Again, the psychological bits and pieces here are certainly interesting, but they are so tainted by the kum-ba-yah twaddle of "let's make up some stories so we'll feel better about ourselves" exercises, that it's difficult to address them in a context where they might be useful!

However, if you've never approached shamanism, hypnosis, meditation, occultism, spirituality, etc., etc., etc., this might be the book for you ... it certainly seems to be intended for that level of experience, or for folks who need the excuse of "psychology" (in this case, of "personal mythology") to dare to take the up the reins of their inner self. This turkey's out-of-print, but if you feel your life would not be complete without a copy, they are available from the Amazon new/used vendors for just under a couple of bucks for a "good" copy and just under five bucks for a "very good" copy. Needless to say, I'm not recommending it!

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