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Reading...

Left the British Library early today and off the short distance down the road to Judd Books where I picked up 'A Radical Reader - The Struggle for Change in England 1381 - 1914' ed. Christopher Hampton, 'The Economic History of England 1760-1860' by Arthur Redford and 'Victorian Years (1841-1895) Halevy's History of the English People in the Nineteenth Century Vol. 4'. You see, still firmly in the nineteenth century yet learning more about current times as a result, especially after reading a paper by J.R.T. Hughes entitled 'The Commercial Crisis of 1857' which, if the dates were changed, could quite easily be reproduced in this month's Prospect as a contemporary analysis!

I was also very much taken this week by a piece written by psychotherapist writer Adam Phillips in this week's London Review of Books - In Praise of Difficult Children. I have, I think, a couple of Phillips' books somewhere but have so far not gotten round to, but I was struck by just how epigrammatic and aphoristic Phillips' style is - a less harsh Nietzsche, although Phillips, it seems, has attracted many critics who claim he's a great prentender, and yet many devotees who have responded positively to his take on psychotherapy as being an uncomfortable encounter and not, as many people would think of the sacred space of the therapist's office, some womb-like holding space that will make you feel better about everything!

The point is conflict, not stultifying comfort, or something.

But whilst I was very conscious of his jagged writing style - many sentences need to be read as stand-alone units of meaning without proceeding smoothly onto the next - it spoke to that adolescent part of myself that I spent many years trying to rein in and control and whenever she came out would show me up, but have since learnt to admire and allow her space. Phillips writes of the 'truant' mind - not in that the person's mind is absent, but that there is this urge to 'escape' as though from a 'cult' that is society itself. All very interesting and someone whose works I'm now going to have to delve into.

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