Adam Phillips: On Pleasure & Frustration

The video below is the video that I’ve watched more than any other video on YouTube.  I admire Adam Phillips ability to express himself via both the spoken and written word.  It seems to me that he is usually saying very interesting things that make me consider things in a different light.


For those of you who might be interested, here’s a link to an interview with Adam Phillips via The Paris Review.  Here are some good bits from it…

The interviewer had described what he thinks Phillip’s style of writing is.  Phillips replied…


I’m sure what you’re saying is true—it sounds true. My experience of doing it is I just write it. One’s style is like one’s smell—because you can’t smell it, you need other people to tell you about it.

Later talking about the importance of having good conversations…


Because in your mind, you’re mad. But in conversation you have the chance of not being. Your mind by itself is full of unmediated anxieties and conflicts. In conversation things can be metabolized and digested through somebody else—I say something to you and you can give it back to me in different forms—whereas you’ll notice that your own mind is very often extremely repetitive. It is very difficult to surprise oneself in one’s own mind. The vocabulary of one’s self-criticism is so impoverished and clichéd. We are at our most stupid in our self-hatred.

There are lots of great things in the interview.  If you give it a read I hope you enjoy it as much as I did…. or that you enjoy it more than I did, that would be nice as well.


The Poetry of Stephen Dunn

There is lots of bad poetry, and I think that can make people forget that there is also good poetry.  The poetry of Stephen Dunn is great poetry.  Take for instance the following words, and the impact they have:


She said to her friend: I want

all the fire one can have

without being consumed by it.


To be without some of the things

you want, a wise man said,

is an indispensable part of happiness.

I was going to comment on these words, but after reflecting on that idea I’ve decided to just let them speak to you in whatever way they speak to you, free of my own subjective experience of making them mean something to me.

I will say that I hope you read more of Stephen Dunn’s poems.

Both of the quoted lines above come from the prom The Snowmass Cycle.  The rest of that poem can be read here.  I originally read it in New and Selected Poems 1974-1994.  Links to buy said book: (CA) (US) (UK).