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Phillips, S.H. (2013). Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Man: Psychoanalysis and Masculinity. By Donald Moss London/New York: Routledge, 2012. 150 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 82(3):748-759.
(2013). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 82(3):748-759
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Man: Psychoanalysis and Masculinity. By Donald Moss London/New York: Routledge, 2012. 150 pp.
Review by: Sidney H. Phillips
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendos,
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The blackbird whistling
Or just after.
—Wallace Stevens, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”
This brilliant, audacious book never refers to the eponymous Stevens poem from which its title comes. It is not necessary to know the poem to read the book, but if you know it, you keep finding it everywhere. Here is one example of how the poem quietly, unobtrusively frames the book. Moss opens with this description:
On a billboard dominating a busy New York intersection reclines a gorgeous young man, naked except for his Calvin Klein briefs. Inside the briefs lurks an erection. Next to him leans a beautiful woman, her crotch barely covered by wide-mesh panties. The man has the face of a feasting lion: a mix of intense pleasure and latent ferocity. One of his hands grasps the elastic band of his briefs. He seems about to pull them off. [p. xvii]
Far from reacting with the “wide-ranging, finely tuned appreciation” (p. xvii) of an experienced psychoanalyst, Moss is knocked off center by the ad, day after day, as he drives past it on his way to work. He is variously “furious, provoked, competitive, disgusted, critical, engaged, thoughtful, abject, infantile, aged, superior, indifferent, captured, compliant,” and his reactions shift slightly each morning (p. xvii).
Each day the image produces a volatile, incompatible jumble of emotions and impulses.
[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]