Review by Dr Pravin Thevathasan
To what extent can we have confidence in the theories of Freud? Holbrook writes that "common sense alone prompts one to question Freud's theories in some respects-such as his strange blindness to the mother's role." An interesting observation in view of Freud's bizarre notions about the Oedipus Complex. The use of the word "blindness" in this context is presumably a classic Freudian slip!
Unlike Freud, Ian Suttie argued in favour of the views expressed by Bowlby, Melanie Klein, Winnicott and Fairbairn of the child's need for love in the beginning in order to form an identity and the basis of his whole reality-sense. Without love and intimacy, he will struggle to appreciate art.
From his study of psychoanalysis, Holbrook concludes that authentic culture has to do with the artist being able to show through his symbolism the achievement won along his arduous quest to preserve his existence: " What is achieved is reparation, the modifying of hate and the consequent achievement of a sense of structure and context in the identity." Creativity is our primary means of confronting the problem of existence and of asking what it is to be human. Holbrook asks: does contemporary culture help us in our goal to find meaning in life? To a large extent, he answers in the negative.
There is so much that is true in Holbrook's writing. And yet, at least in his writing, there
appears to be little place for God. In one of his books, he laments the "death of God" and man's inability
to find an alternative meaning to the problem of existence. For us to find a true solution to this problem, says
Holbrook, we need to confront our own despair, our "deepest fear being that we will cease to exist either
because there is too little stuff in us or because we are too full of hate." Our contemporary culture, says
Holbrook, promotes this hate. The hatred of woman and the fear of entering into a vulnerable and intimate relationship
with another person are expressions of this culture of hate. The hatred of femininity and the hatred of being human
go together for Holbrook.
Copyright ©; Dr Pravin Thevathasan 2016