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Grundy, D. (1993). Parricide Postponed—A Discussion of Some Writing Problems. Contemp. Psychoanal., 29:693-710.

(1993). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 29:693-710

Parricide Postponed—A Discussion of Some Writing Problems

Dominick Grundy, Ph.D.

At the very heart of the scholar's or artist's thought, even the one most absorbed in his search, who seems most confined to his own sphere and face to face with what is most self and most impersonal, there is present some strange anticipation of the external reactions to be provoked by the work now in the making: it is difficult for a man to be alone. … Thus, while it is at work, the mind is constantly going and coming from Self to Other; what its innermost being produces is modified by a peculiar awareness of the judgment of others (Valéry, 1952p. 95).

VALÉRY, A MAJOR FRENCH POET, suggests how much "a peculiar awareness of the judgment of others" influences the mind concentrated in creative thought and production. While "face to face with what is most self, " the mind creates someone out there who listens, and who moves closer or further away. The process of "constantly going and coming" is presumably affected by the way others' judgments are present to the writer's mind. There is possibility of disharmony here, as suggested by Valéry's later comment about interaction between will and mind: "We have no means of getting exactly what we wish from ourselves, " and to some extent, we depend on others for what we want from ourselves. Valéry sees the difficulty of being alone as one of the paradoxical conditions of creative work, but he is not saying it would be better, if it were possible, to do such work in a vacuum. "The Parthenon is only a small quarry of marble" (p. 98) unless we have been taught by society how to look at it. Creativity is a way of standing alone and being with others. At the opposite end of the continuum that, in theory, starts with a self-other unit, creativity is a way, if Valéry is right, to find others again.


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