Friday, 17 April 2009

not master in my own house

Georg Groddeck
I've been too busy finishing up my clinical psychology doctoral dissertation to indulge in dreaming up blog posts. But I did think I'd note a disconcerting experience that has come up in the writing process; I wonder how many others have had it too?

My current (extra-academic) work has me having to take my writing work around with me, to different places, on different computers, to tackle it in odd moments. Unsurprisingly I have just occasionally got into a muddle with drafts, accidentally adding material to an old draft, so that I now have to go back and compile a further new draft.

What I also find when looking back at both is that I have often made very similar alterations or additions - even in the use of particular turns of phrase or idiosyncratic adjectives or metaphors - in the two documents.

Considered in isolation neither of these phenomena (ending up with two drafts, and making additions using the same phrases) are really very surprising. Taken together, though, they are (to me at least) really quite startling. When working on the second document I have no recollection of having already made the alterations in question. Nevertheless I go ahead and make exactly the same alterations.

The resulting feeling is that it is not me who is writing my own work. (A better way of putting it would be to note that I seem to have an overly restricted self-representation - of who 'me' is. Whilst I naturally think of the self as unified through and in its self-narrative, I may do better to think of it as unified in its distinctive character and continuous sensibility.) In Georg Groddeck's terminology (but not following Freud's redeployment of it), it is not the ego but the id that writes.