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Pickering, J. (2008). Grotstein, James. A Beam of Intense Darkness: Wilfred Bion's Legacy to Psychoanalysis. London: Karnac Books, 2007. Pp. 382. Pbk. £29.99.. J. Anal. Psychol., 53(3):447-448.

(2008). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 53(3):447-448

Grotstein, James. A Beam of Intense Darkness: Wilfred Bion's Legacy to Psychoanalysis. London: Karnac Books, 2007. Pp. 382. Pbk. £29.99.

Review by:
Judith Pickering, ANZJSA

Edited by:
Linda Carter and Marcus West

A curious thing occurs whenever I go back to Bion's writings to check a concept he ostensibly articulated. The concept has disappeared. The words Bion uses create conjunctions that, in the spaces between, give rise to a process of conceptualization in the reader's mind. Like a Zen koan, the words gesture towards realization of a given concept, but do not spell it out. Bion said ‘I try to give you a chance to fill the gap left by me’ (cited on p. 11).

Grotstein's A Beam of Intense Darkness presents a diary of Grotstein's ‘filling in the gaps’ left by Bion. Grotstein's aim is to ‘create a synopsis, synthesis and extension’ of Bion's ideas in a ‘reader-friendly’ manner. He explicates such Bionic ideas as the ‘language of achievement’, reverie, truth, ‘L,’ ‘H’ and ‘K’ linkages, ‘container/contained’, Bion's ideas on dreaming, ‘thoughts without a thinker’, ‘the Grid’, ‘reversible perspective’, ‘shifting vertices’, ‘binocular vision’ and ultimate reality, designated as O.

Grotstein speaks of how engaging with Bion's ideasis to ‘dream them’ and takes Bion's advice to use his ideas as launching pads to ponder where the ideas point towards. The ultimate destination, around which ideas are like pilgrims circumambulating, is O. O refers to absolute truth, a numinous domain of reality beyond all concepts, and which passes beyond all understanding.

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