(2020). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 40(2):87-89
I have been captivated by Nina Coltart’s () “Slouching Towards Bethlehem … Or the Unthinkable in ” since my first encounter. Intrigued by her use of the slouching beast metaphor from Yeats’s poem “The Second Coming,” which I love, I found myself pulled in and comforted by her voice. Coltart’s presence on the page is authentic, engaging, conversational. Her voice reflects humility, humor, and respect for what she does not know. And yet Yeats’s images are ominous. Given the late Coltart’s stature as a psychoanalyst and consultant, imagine my relief as a newly minted clinician in midlife when I read, “It is of the essence of our impossible profession that in a very singular way we do not know what we are doing” (Coltart, , p. 2), because I often felt that way.
Luckily, my not knowing would never come close to the sense of catastrophe Yeats () evokes in his famous poem, which Coltart quotes in full.
The Second Coming
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
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