My imagination makes me human
and makes me a fool;
it gives me all the world
and exiles me from it.
--Ursula K. Le Guin
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and This Time

Journal Entries
Journal Entries

October 2001


The urge to write has been numbed since Sept 11. And reading fiction is out of the question--the sustained attention that a plot demands has been as sabotaged as sleep. But I am doggedly digging into psychology--finishedThe Atman Project by transpersonal psychologist Ken Wilber and The Denial of Death, 1974 Pulitzer Prize winner of Ernest Becker.

Becker has an interesting section on transference [p.155] which explains something of fanaticism which, in turn, explains, in part, Bin Laden's al Qaeda. Becker attributes the urge to higher heroism to man's narcissistic nature--if man cannot fulfill his own desire for omnipotence, he transfers that power to another. I say 'in part' regarding al Qaeda because Bin Laden's followers obviously don't fall into even the meanest aspect of traditional narcissistic personality, i.e., that practically everyone is expendable except ourselves--the Taliban believe martyred death leads to eternal life. Friends tell me that a better psychological explanation of the fanatic lies in Eric Hoffer's The True Believer, so maybe that book is next.

I've banished the television with its network oneupmanship and emotionally- fraught images and rely solely on NPR for news. And perhaps I'm being unfair; a friend told me recently that she's been impressed with the integrity of NBC News. But I find more humanity in NPR, less hubris. I'm sure there's something of transference in my esteem of Scott Simon; I'm grateful for his comforting voice on Sept. 11 and his thoughtful journalism every Saturday morning on Weekend Edition. Simon gave a talk on 9/25 reflecting on the terrorist attacks of 9/11; if you like Simon, you can listen to his essay on NPR's archives .

More later...