Positive Dissociation?

Deckard

The Living Force
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Your Ophelia ( which indeed speaks to me too ) reminded me of the best movie version of Hamlet I have ever seen, with Mel Gibson, Helen Bonham Carter and Glen Close.
If you are fascinated with Ophelia's madness you got to see this version, I think Bonham-Carter totally nailed it. In fact that's the only thing I remember from this movie - my emotional response to Ophelia.

This is very interesting sinchronicity as just few days ago I had interesting discussion with very young lady who already has masters degree , ( her thesis was on Mad Women in English literature ) after I ve spotted this book on her desk.
http://www.amazon.com/Female-Malady-Madness-English-1830-1980/dp/0860688690/ref=pd_sim_b_5

This bit certainly got my attention and I think I am going to read it:
Showalter, well known for her feminist studies of literature, here turns her attention to the history of psychiatry. Approaches to treatment have ranged from kindly paternalism to repressive discipline to psychosurgery to drugs. They have this in common: The treatments are devised by men and inflicted, predominantly, on women. She finds one exception, and a fascinating parallel, in the shell-shocked soldiers of World War I. Men in war, experiencing powerlessness, responded with hysterialike women. The doctors' response was to treat them like women. Showalter presents a moving, troubling history and a strong, surely controversial, argument drawing on literature and art as well as on case histories. Only feminist psychiatric theory and practice, she concludes, offer hope for change.

Phew I hope I didnt stray too much off topic.
 

herondancer

The Living Force
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[quote author=Galahad]

But maybe there is a fundamental problem with the whole notion of art separated from life.

If I think back to our ancestors, I doubt there was 'visual art' separated from the actual building of dwellings or decorations of religious spaces. Maybe the whole notion of a visual art separated from the rest of the world is wrong. The art comes out in the way windows, roofs, walls, furniture, clothing and other objects of every day life are decorated.[/quote]

Hi Galahad,

I think you are on to something here. I am thinking of the Arts and Crafts movement at the turn of the 19th century. The idea was that human beings should be surrounded with objects that have been hand-made. That those objects whether practical or decorative, carried a feeling or vibration if you will, that a mass produced object would never have. It is something to think about, that we now live in a world of lifeless objects, in every sense of the word. I sometimes wonder if the whole quilting / scrapbooking craze is a response to that feeling, only it's been diverted into a creative backwater.

In so many cultures, there is this idea of every object being an expression of the person who created it, and that object would embody the best of that person's skill. I am thinking especially of germanic and slavic cultures. Even everyday Ukrainian clothing was covered in beautiful embroidery and lowliest kitchen utensil was still carved with some sort of motif. The themes grew out of the mythology and everyday life of the people. Native American beadwork is breath-takingly beautiful and full of symbols that had personal and tribal meaning.

Creating these object would have been on way for dissociative activity to go on. I know that creating and sewing costumes is one for me. Sometimes even just doing alterations is fine. You bring knowledge and focus to the problem, and have a satifying result at the end.

[quote author=Galahad]
It seems to me that a theatre that is part of the social and religious life of a community -- in that it expresses the values of that community -- could be a strong social cement, if it were a theatre that was presenting the problems and issues facing the community, exploring possible solutions and their ramifications. It could be a very powerful tool in education.

But it also strikes me that there is a profound difference between making music, or performing a play, or doing a painting and being a consumer. We are moulded into consumers in this sick world of ours. One can listen to music with the score in one's lap, and that can be an active listening, but most of the time music is on as a backdrop to something else or it is a momentary escape. We can watch a DVD and stop it to discuss the action as it unfolds. We can fly through a book as quickly as possible or take it in small pieces, stopping and thinking about what we are reading.

I know that when I am writing, or singing and playing guitar, or doing computer programming, there are timeless moments. So it seems to me there is a dissociation that is unhealthy that is an escape, but there is a 'dissociation' in the sense that we lose time, but it is because we are caught up in a moment of Creation.[/quote]

And that's the difference. A positive dissociative experience seem to me to be almost like a mini-shaman's journey. You bring back something of value at the end.

Herondancer
 

annp

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Have just finally caught up with reading this thread - am so glad Laura started this because I have felt somewhat guilty at times for wanting to take time out to sew or paint. I still have books on the recommended reading list to finish and/or reread, as well as trying to keep up with the SOTT and posts on the forum.

I love painting and sewing. - I often feel energized and more spirited when I do take the time for those activities. I used to do embroidery, but have not done so in a long time. I recently bought a new sewing machine that also does embroidery, but have found that I don't use that function - it just does not seem as enjoyable and fulfilling as doing it by hand.

I sometimes enjoy reading fantasy - one of my all-time favorites is The Mists of Avalon. The book just drew me in completely, and I think what was most interesting is that it caused me to rethink about my perceptions of history and how I had taken everything written in textbooks as fact. Even though it was fiction, it made me wonder…of course this was 20 years before I found SHOTW.

Also enjoy reading mythology and fairy/ folk tales. The site at Orkneyjar (http://www.orkneyjar.com/folklore/index.html) has pages devoted to the mythology and folk tales of the area. I spent some time reading those and remembered that I have a book of Irish Fairy Stories. I began to reread some of them yesterday. The book has wonderful illustrations by Arthur Rackham. Which is another source of delight - old children's stories with their lovely illustrations. Sometimes, if I just need a respite and a reason to smile, I will go to the children's section of the local bookstore to browse, the illustrations are so charming. They often cause me to feel a bit wistful , though.
 

Adaryn

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Here is the analysis I was looking for, for the painting "Circe", by Waterhouse. Thanks to Laura for posting it on one of her blogs, and thanks Nienna for finding it ;)

John William Waterhouse "Circe Offering the Cup to Odysseus" (Can't Give What You Don't Have ~A):

I am taking the story upon which this painting is based out of context because I love personal interpretation. So, we will leave Circe to herself. The first impression I get and overlying the theme is power. This figure is a strong woman. She is seated upon a throne, the perspective being from below, so that we are looking up at her. The outreaching of her arms can been interpreted as a gesture of holding up and holding onto the world, and beyond that displaying a sense of control of those things related, including human beings. Sorceress! She has taken things under her own control. She is not led by anyone, and she cannot be manipulated. She is calling the shots and she is the one who offers the cup. It is hers. What lies in it? An elixir to one, and poison to others. She sits in front of a mirror which reflects her world. The reflected world is behind her, and the real world lies in front of her. She may turn to reflect, and then face the truth head on. Waterhouse has the most amazing (!!) talent to bring pure, intense mood and tone to his paintings. Aside from his technical mastery of classical technique, his work has the ability to stun the viewer with raw emotion.



...Look at her face! The pride, the self-assuredness, the knowing. She does know all. No one can touch her. She lets only those she wants come close to her. Gone are the days of manipulation, of being manipulated. I see the transparency of her dress not as an enticement, but as a re-claiming of her own form. A celebration of her ownership of her self. It as if she is saying, "Yes, I am female sexuality, but I own it. Take your lust and leave me be. I own my sexuality and I will give it to the one I find worthy." The transparency of her dress can also be seen as a reflection of the transparency of her intentions, which are bold and unapologetic. She is a queen of her own world. The ruler. (Hmmm...Maybe this wasn't so much an art critique as it was a psychological analysis of another woman, in her moment in time. After all, it is in art that we see a reflection of the self.) Rise up my woman, and rule your world.
 

obyvatel

The Living Force
Thanks for such an emotive and thought-provoking thread and all those nice pictures. I feel that art is a reflection of the emotional state of the society. With the beginning of the 20th century, the very fabric of existence of society has been under great tension. Modern physics has busted the solid or concrete view of the world (uncertainty principle); faith and religious inspiration have been diminished (God is dead - Nietzsche); Freud's psychoanalysis perhaps reduced most emotions to a level of lust and sexuality; devastating wars, the utter mechanicalness of modern civilization (Gurdjieff) -- all these perhaps contribute to the existential despair that a sensitive human being like an artist would feel quite acutely. This revolutionary change in the concept of reality from older times can perhaps be correlated to the abstract, surrealistic art forms that have appeared - leading to a search for meaning in abstract forms instead of themes of the past. I may be off base but I think that the disturbing effect evoked in some artistic expressions (pictures, novels, cinema) reflects the condition of the artistic soul crying in despair and searching for some meaning in this chaotic world. Many movies I see or novels which I used to read (an example being Robert Ludlum thrillers which I read extensively as a teenager - they introduced me to the concept of a military-industrial-political nexus which runs the world affairs as a shadow government - books written in the 70's and 80's) do/did seem to mirror some aspects of the current reality.
Positive disassociation is needed to escape temporarily from the grim reality we inhabit. In that sense, we perhaps need to find art forms that transcend "what is" and speak of "what could be" along with fulfilling that perhaps very basic human reason to look at art - its aesthetic quality . Personally I prefer watching fantasy oriented movies/shows with more stress on relationships and emotional content as opposed to technical gimmickry. I liked Star Trek Voyager series, Chronicles Of Narnia, Harry Potter (books), Lord Of the Rings to name a few. I completely resonated with what Approaching Infinity wrote so eloquently in his post regarding the complexity of emotions as well.

Lúthien said:
About dissociation: all my life I "stole energy from somebody else's fantasy", ie pathological dissociation, living in a fantasy world and not being in touch with the real, ie not sorting out my own life creatively. It's difficult to get rid of this strong tendency, for example when I'm strongly affected by a movie, I tend to live with it / still "be in it" for days.
.........................
Here's a list of movies and books which I think might relate to Positive dissociation: real life stories that we can identify with because it could/have happen/ed to us. I often think of them, because of the accuracy of the portrayals, of the psychology of the characters, which are complex and true to life, osit.
Hi Luthien,
I too have always had this strong tendency to be strongly affected by a movie or novel. Is the stealing energy from somebody else's fantasy really pathological dissociation? Or do you mean the living in the fantasy world over an extended period of time is an example of pathological disassociation ? It seems that positive disassociation is a temporary escape to rejuvenate (with some learning, inspiration etc). I also feel the "what could be" imaginative/inspirational component is important in this respect. If we are looking for accurate portrayals of reality - SOTT could serve that need - osit.
Actually, I have had ambivalent feelings about this tendency (temporarily escape into imagination motivated by movies/books) of mine ever since reading Gurdjieff's description of the bad effects of daydreaming. This has been a way for me to recharge myself for as long as I can remember - so I could not get rid of it overnight - but have been struggling with it since reading ISOTM. Laura's reply to Breton's post was a relief since it clarified the issue - it also had the effect of taking a weight of my chest as I felt this "imagination" is needed yet lacked the courage, knowledge and language to bring it up in this forum earlier in a coherent form. In this respect I feel I share AI's view

Approaching Infinity said:
When you come to identify with a character in a novel or movie, you are in essence learning a lesson vicariously. The identification leads you through an emotional progression. If a character grows, a part of you grows.

On a different note,
Hi Bohort,
Is the artist you were referring to Mario Duguay instead of Martin Duguay?
 

Gandalf

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obyvatel said:
On a different note,
Hi Bohort,
Is the artist you were referring to Mario Duguay instead of Martin Duguay?
:-[ You are right, it is Mario Duguay.

Thanks you.
 

Approaching Infinity

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Green_Manalishi said:
Approaching Infinity said:
Personally, I don't like to watch TV shows or movies to dissociate, at least not in the sense of "escaping" or just having a good time. In fact, I prefer movies that are difficult, emotionally, but that lead me through a process of catharsis.
Yes, i also feel like that. For it seems like a waste of time to just escape or have a good time, it has to be something more than that. Approaching Infinity what do you mean with emotionally difficult, a movie that portrays emotions that make you wonder about something or a movie that you really have to focus to understand the emotions that are being showed, or something else?
What I meant by difficult, emotionally, is the experience of watching a character suffer. The movies that make me cry, for example, are ones like The Pianist, Magnolia, Oliver Twist, The New World, Lives of Others, Waltz with Bashir. Many people I talk with don't like watching movies where the characters suffer. They simply want to watch movies to be entertained. I've never understood that. I like movies that make me suffer, because the characters suffer, and I think I learn something about compassion and empathy. When you see a movie or read a book about a character that really shows the life experiences that contribute to the way they act, and how they are treated by others, it helps you grow in understanding of people in real life. I think the purpose of literature and drama is to do just that. Lobaczewski quotes the saying, "To understand all is to forgive all," and I think films can help in that.
 

Green_Manalishi

Jedi Master
Approaching Infinity said:
Many people I talk with don't like watching movies where the characters suffer. They simply want to watch movies to be entertained. I've never understood that.
Yes, my own experience shows me that also. For example a movie where a principal character dies, people will dismiss it as a bad movie or just don't want to see it, they want to avoid uncomfortable emotions perhaps, or the objective reality that they exist and we have to deal with them.
But returning to the topic, i just would like to ask, for the sake of discussion, if positive dissociation exists, what then are we dissociating from when it happens. Are we just leaving our mundane problems behind for a few hours and kind of spacing out and recharging our "batteries" somehow. Or are we associating ourselves with some higher part of our own? Because we all talked about that particular film/music/painting that evoked such strong emotions/catharsis in us, our making any kind of art that makes us feel more connected with our emotions, kind of amplifying them, making them more discernible so we can pass them to a material medium (piece of paper, photographic film, etc...), made us feel our emotional centres more active. Trying to acquire a good working emotional centre and even perhaps a higher emotional centre isn't a integration of some sorts.
Not trying to give any kind of final answer or anything, or probably not even answering anything because what i was trying to do was just to throw more questions into the pot.
 

Gandalf

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Approaching Infinity said:
Many people I talk with don't like watching movies where the characters suffer. They simply want to watch movies to be entertained. I've never understood that.
Maybe and it is a hypothesis, that these people do not want to watch that kind of movies because in a sort of way it is too closed to the reality. If you read the news most of the times there is always something to make us cry.

So they want to dissociate in watching a movie that could present a better reality, a better world.

fwiw
 
G

Gertrudes

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Green_Manalishi said:
But returning to the topic, i just would like to ask, for the sake of discussion, if positive dissociation exists, what then are we dissociating from when it happens. Are we just leaving our mundane problems behind for a few hours and kind of spacing out and recharging our "batteries" somehow. Or are we associating ourselves with some higher part of our own? Because we all talked about that particular film/music/painting that evoked such strong emotions/catharsis in us, our making any kind of art that makes us feel more connected with our emotions, kind of amplifying them, making them more discernible so we can pass them to a material medium (piece of paper, photographic film, etc...), made us feel our emotional centres more active. Trying to acquire a good working emotional centre and even perhaps a higher emotional centre isn't a integration of some sorts.
Not trying to give any kind of final answer or anything, or probably not even answering anything because what i was trying to do was just to throw more questions into the pot.
Thank you for raising that question Green_Manalishi, I don't have an answer but I can share a few experiences. At the moment, I think that positive dissociation does exist. Both as a tool for re charging batteries and as a tool for learning and progressing, similar to sleeping. We need a certain amount of time for daily sleep to re charge batteries, even if we try to cheat and sleep less we'll end up feeling lousy and unable to think; and sleep can also be a learning tool, particularly if you consider dreams.

In my experience, positive dissociation is not only helpful but needed. In dissociation to re charge batteries to begin with, I find that some of the most unexpected periods of a clear mental state happened to me after doing something that engaged all my physical being such as dancing, when thinking wasn't involved, just the sheer joy of doing it. Also after a cathartic laughter. Sometimes, a comedy does wonders for me. The act of giving in to something funny functions almost as the needed moment for my whole self to be fueled. Almost as if while I am distracted watching something pleasurable, all the information gained during the day or week is being assimilated and digested. Watching Monty Python is an example, I will often finish watching a movie and a problem I have been rambling on will miraculously have diminished to Extra Small size with a solution at sight.

Positive dissociation from which you actually learn from are IMHO another way of dissociating. Here more of myself is involved, in that I am employing more of my thinking or emotional process, sometimes not during but after what ever I was engaged in. Live music, a book or movie with content where as Approaching Infinity mentioned:
Approaching Infinity said:
When you come to identify with a character in a novel or movie, you are in essence learning a lesson vicariously. The identification leads you through an emotional progression. If a character grows, a part of you grows.
In this type of dissociation I will find that I have gained from someone else's insight, from someone else's life glasses not only as a process of self identification but as a method of expanding my awareness to something I have not yet experienced.
 

knowledge_of_self

The Living Force
Bohort (Namaste) said:
Approaching Infinity said:
Many people I talk with don't like watching movies where the characters suffer. They simply want to watch movies to be entertained. I've never understood that.
Maybe and it is a hypothesis, that these people do not want to watch that kind of movies because in a sort of way it is too closed to the reality. If you read the news most of the times there is always something to make us cry.

So they want to dissociate in watching a movie that could present a better reality, a better world.

fwiw
I agree with Bohort, but I also understand what you're saying AI. For me personally it is a matter of mood. If I feel like I can handle a sad movie, I watch it. But sometimes, lets say when it's that time of the month or I know that I'm overly sensitive, I try and stay away from extremely emotional movies/cartoons. In those times, I watch more comedy entertainment, so I can 'escape' into laughter. Though I have heard.. laughter can be a medicine ;)

For one thing, I have noted that during the recent years I have noticed very little emotional/thinking types of animes. Most of them are just for pure escape and teach you nothing, of course there are always exceptions that I find a delighting change which I welcome.

One anime in particular that I will never forget in how emotional it made me feel was Grave of the Fireflies. I cried for a few days after watching this when I was younger. Below is a synopsis from imdb, which contains spoiler.

imdb said:
Grave of the Fireflies
Setsuko and Seita are brother and sister living in wartime Japan. After their mother is killed in an air raid they find a temporary home with relatives. Having quarreled with their aunt they leave the city and make their home in an abandoned shelter. While their father's destiny who was a soldier is unknown the two must depend on each other to somehow keep a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs. When everything is in short supply, they gradually succumb to hunger and their only entertainment is the light of the fireflies.
I think it's good to have a balance in what you watch in terms of emotional movies/anime. I think it's good to have a laugh once in a while, but it's also good to watch emotional movies so that you can get in touch with your emotions and to put yourself in the character's shoes and fee empathy for their suffering.

Just my thoughts on the subject...
 

Adaryn

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Smaragde said:
Adaryn said:
About dissociation: all my life I "stole energy from somebody else's fantasy", ie pathological dissociation, living in a fantasy world and not being in touch with the real, ie not sorting out my own life creatively. It's difficult to get rid of this strong tendency, for example when I'm strongly affected by a movie, I tend to live with it / still "be in it" for days. Same for music. I'm not even talking necessarily or only about supernatural/ black and white dramas like Matrix or Lord of the Rings (which ARE among my favourites though) but art that emotionally affects me or stirs my imagination or impresses me (like Preraphaelite art, for example). The problem with me is that I don't use it for bringing creativity in my own life. I'm more passive. Though, thinking about it, it might not be so. I mean, there are some movies/books that made me think and reflect and brought up a lot of emotions, and that sure can be considered as positive.
How you describe yourself in your post Adaryn, describes me to a T. i don't know however if this is about "steeling someone else's fantasy". For my part, and i think might be true for you too, i use books/music/movies/stories/art, as a way to, yes, take something that somebody else created out there, but in order to assimilate it/make use for it for my own purposes. For example, when i enter a movie/book/story, i do it in order to find something in it that i am in need of it: a lesson, new knowledge, new perspectives, different examples, hope, catharsis, role models, a reason to cry my eyes out or laugh out loud and release emotional tension. And i am too fully in it: i am part of the plot, perhaps one character or many, part of the painting, the music travels through me.
Well yes, that also describes me to a T. When I was a child I remember once, feeling so desperate and helpless that I called a fictional character for help (some anime character I identified as a role model). I guess I didn't see anyone to call for help in "real life", didn't see anyone who was able to understand me, comfort me, and explain me what was going on with me, and why I was feeling so sad and so much inner turmoil (I was about 12 or 13, so looking back, those feelings were pretty normal)

Obyvatel said:
I too have always had this strong tendency to be strongly affected by a movie or novel. Is the stealing energy from somebody else's fantasy really pathological dissociation? Or do you mean the living in the fantasy world over an extended period of time is an example of pathological disassociation ?
Yes that is what I meant and what I "did" for a great part of my life. But despite this, I still think there was some positive dissociation in it, some learning. AI's comment makes me wonder about it:

AI said:
When you come to identify with a character in a novel or movie, you are in essence learning a lesson vicariously. The identification leads you through an emotional progression. If a character grows, a part of you grows.
Smaragde said:
And i wonder to what extend "what" one watches/reads/listen/sees makes a difference, compared to "who" is watching/reading/listening/seeing, and "why"
I'd think What one watches/reads etc is as important as Who is watching/reads. Who you are and what you see comes to mind, as well as receivership capability. What one is able to 'extract' from a movie/book etc, and what one makes of this new knowledge/emotion/catharsis.

- and again, Clint Eastwood's "The bridges of Madison County", because if i need to cry and can't, this movie and "Love story" do it always!
I love the Bridges of MC :) Eastwood is such a fine director, I love the psychological depth of his characters and his subtle stories. I'd like to add "White hunter, black heart".

- Candy Candy, my favorite childhood Japanese animation series, and my childhood friend even if 2D :cry: about the life and struggles and victories of an orphan girl. It was never aired in the US, but was widely popular in Europe and Latin America in the late 70s and early 80s. Growing up in Cyprus of the late 70s early 80s, we had the "choice" of only one state tv channel, that was on air from 4 pm to midnight, so books were my only option, usually fairy tales and then novels, mostly romantic with happy endings. Since life sucked, i wanted my dissociations to have happy endings... I still do :-[ Whatever everyone around me finds cheese, i like it.
Candy was also one of my favourites! There's that whole manga culture, where they have a special category designed for "coming-of age girls". It's called "shojo mangas":
"The term Shojo refers to manga marketed to a female audience roughly between the ages of 10 and 18. The name romanizes the Japanese (shojo),
literally: "young girl". Shojo manga covers many subjects in a variety of narrative and graphic styles, from historical drama to science fiction often
with a strong focus on human and romantic relationships and emotions.[1] Strictly speaking, shojo manga does not comprise a style or a genre per se,
but rather indicates a target demographic."

I used to love anime adaptations of such mangas, like Candy Candy, Lady Georgie, Princess Sarah (which prompted me to read the novel "A Little Princess").

Some other movies/books which (I think) could trigger Positive dissociation:

A good (French) one regarding family dynamics. In fact, France loves to make such movies (sometimes too much as some tend to go around in circles, in a purely French "navel gazing" fashion).

-- Family Resemblances (Un air de Famille in French):
"An average French family ostensibly celebrates a birthday in a restaurant. In one evening and during one meal, family history, tensions, collective and separate grudges, delights, and memories both clash and coalesce."

2 US movies, which for me as spot on regarding relationships, family, etc., focusing on the point of view of children / teenagers:

-- The Breakfast Club
A classic and a must-see!
"The plot follows five students at fictional Shermer High School in the widely used John Hughes setting of Shermer, Illinois[1], as they report for Saturday detention on March 24, 1984. While not complete strangers, the five teenagers are all from a different clique or social group."

-- Stand by Me

Another (rather) good one:

-- The Accidental Tourist:
"An emotionally distant writer of travel guides must carry on with his life after his son is killed and his marriage crumbles."

Books:
-- Zola's set the Rougon-Macquart (more than 20 books - his masterpiece... if one's not afraid of VERY long descriptive passages)
"Set in France's Second Empire, the series traces the "environmental" influences of violence, alcohol, and prostitution which became more prevalent during the second wave of the industrial revolution. The series examines two branches of a single family: the respectable (that is, legitimate) Rougons and the disreputable (illegitimate) Macquarts, for five generations." I haven't read them all, but my favourite is "Nana".

-- Flaubert's Madame Bovary. IMO, the principal character provides a very good example of pathological dissociation; she was brought up in a convent, far from the real world, and was fed with romantic, soppy novels which made her live in a fantasy, ideal world. She couldn't deal with her life as it was too boring, and sought to escape in extra marital affairs and living beyond her means.
"Madame Bovary is Gustave Flaubert's first published novel and considered his masterpiece. The story focuses on a doctor's wife, Emma Bovary, who has adulterous affairs and lives beyond her means in order to escape the banalities and emptiness of provincial life. Though the basic plot is rather simple, even archetypal, the novel's true art lies in its details and hidden patterns. Flaubert was notoriously a perfectionist about his writing and claimed always to be searching for le mot juste ("the right word")."
 

Erna

The Living Force
[quote author=Psyche]
I've read novels when I was in school, and even if there were sad endings, I've always found reading them useful. It made me feel alive so to speak and it will get me going and thinking and feeling. So I gravitated towards the romance/novel section of a library and bought several books.
[/quote]

[quote author=Psyche]
I don't know if it is a cycle or what, but over 2 weeks ago, I felt the need to read again novels. Hopefully, this discussion will help me to make the best choices :)
[/quote]

Novels are also very essential for my 'constitution' ;). I also stopped reading for years in my early twenties, and then started again in my late twenties. It takes you so far away, and you learn so much. It also increased my English vocabulary immensely.

I often follow the recommendations of a radio book club show I listen to every Thursday. Books that win the Man Booker Prize never disappoint. Also the Boeke Prize - a South African award. The books that get nominated but don't win, are also good.

The 100 books to read before you die lists also sound like a good source. While these are all seemingly classics, it would be nice to find a source with new writers bursting on the scene. Can't tell you how many great debut novels I've read.

Other books on my 'must read' list:

Breath - Tim Winton
The Fountainhead - Ayn Rand
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson (Millennium Trilogy)
The Girl Who Played with Fire - Stieg Larsson (Millennium Trilogy)
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest - Stieg Larsson (Millennium Trilogy)
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle - David Wroblewski
East of Eden - John Steinbeck
The Catcher In The Rye - J.D. Salinger
The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
American Psycho - Bret Easton Ellis
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams (I know. I know. Not having read this is apparently a gap in ones education)
The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco
Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut
On the Road - Jack Kerouac
Atonement - Ian McEwan
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay - Michael Chabon
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts (Memoir)
Spud - John van de Ruit (Funny)
Spud: The Madness Continues - John van de Ruit (Funny)
Spud: Learning to Fly - John van de Ruit (Funny)
Bongo Bongo Bongo, I don’t wanna leave the Congo - Veronica Cecil
Rabbit, Run - John Updike

Books I can personally vouch for:

A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry (cried for days)
When a Crocodile Eats the Sun - Peter Godwin (Memoir)
Life of Pi - Yann Martel
The Clan of the Cave Bear - Jean M. Auel
The Valley of Horses - Jean M. Auel (story continues)
The Mammoth Hunters - Jean M. Auel (story continues)
The Plains of Passage - Jean M. Auel (story continues)
The Shelters of Stone - Jean M. Auel (story continues)
Fall On Your Knees - Ann-Marie MacDonald
Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger (love story of love stories)

Going to the theatre is also a great way to 'escape'. I love comedy - we often go watch these low budget shows with 3-4 actors max and some huge comical misunderstanding (just dialogue and great acting, with limited props). Love stand-up comedy (political satire). Although I haven't done it for quite some time, watching someone playing the sax in a smoky bar is also time well spent.

Best theatre production I've seen was African Footprint. I believe they're performing in Europe at the moment. If you can see them, do it. You'll get goose bumps. They come dancing down the isles and all those drums make the ground shake.
 

manitoban

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Approaching Infinity said:
What I meant by difficult, emotionally, is the experience of watching a character suffer. The movies that make me cry, for example, are ones like The Pianist, Magnolia, Oliver Twist, The New World, Lives of Others, Waltz with Bashir. Many people I talk with don't like watching movies where the characters suffer. They simply want to watch movies to be entertained. I've never understood that. I like movies that make me suffer, because the characters suffer, and I think I learn something about compassion and empathy. When you see a movie or read a book about a character that really shows the life experiences that contribute to the way they act, and how they are treated by others, it helps you grow in understanding of people in real life. I think the purpose of literature and drama is to do just that. Lobaczewski quotes the saying, "To understand all is to forgive all," and I think films can help in that.
This has really made me think AI - I had thought (at least since I read Laura's work) that when we feel fear, pain etc when watching a certain type of movie, that we are somehow feeding the 4D STS with these negative emotions. But if I am understanding you right, it would be different if the movie generated emotions that led to growth and understanding. In other words, a movie that makes you think deeply and suffer, but in a way that you learn, then it would be a positive use of these emotions. Almost like the FRV of what you are viewing makes a big difference in terms of how it affects you. Not sure if this makes sense or not, but fwiw.
 

Approaching Infinity

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manitoban said:
Approaching Infinity said:
What I meant by difficult, emotionally, is the experience of watching a character suffer. The movies that make me cry, for example, are ones like The Pianist, Magnolia, Oliver Twist, The New World, Lives of Others, Waltz with Bashir. Many people I talk with don't like watching movies where the characters suffer. They simply want to watch movies to be entertained. I've never understood that. I like movies that make me suffer, because the characters suffer, and I think I learn something about compassion and empathy. When you see a movie or read a book about a character that really shows the life experiences that contribute to the way they act, and how they are treated by others, it helps you grow in understanding of people in real life. I think the purpose of literature and drama is to do just that. Lobaczewski quotes the saying, "To understand all is to forgive all," and I think films can help in that.
This has really made me think AI - I had thought (at least since I read Laura's work) that when we feel fear, pain etc when watching a certain type of movie, that we are somehow feeding the 4D STS with these negative emotions. But if I am understanding you right, it would be different if the movie generated emotions that led to growth and understanding. In other words, a movie that makes you think deeply and suffer, but in a way that you learn, then it would be a positive use of these emotions. Almost like the FRV of what you are viewing makes a big difference in terms of how it affects you. Not sure if this makes sense or not, but fwiw.
I think it makes sense. If you're watching a horror movie that just makes you scared for the sake of making you scared, I think that emotion feeds 4D STS. However, if you are watching a movie about a character in a realistic situation where they experience fear (e.g. a movie about a Nazi raid on a house hiding Jews), there is an element of empathy (an understanding of the fear normal people feel when oppressed by very real enemies) and of learning: learning the things that happen to make such situations a reality, and the things that can be done (or not) to create a world in which these things do not happen. It's similar to watching the news. Watching the news is difficult, because you learn of others' suffering and the hopeless situations on earth. But this is necessary knowledge, and it's only when we are aware of it that we can grow from it. It's a fine distinction, and it's difficult to find the words to express it, but I think it's definitely there.
 
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