I

calling my own name —
John — this simplest of all acts
— this spontaneous
ordering of the world — this
narcissism — this ego

In my dream I was calling my own name and expecting it to have an effect, on a bunch of people down in the well of a balconied courtyard (probably based on having visited the house of Cervantes’ birth in Madrid, which was just like that). It hit me, awake, that calling one’s own name is an act of narcissism. Yesterday I attended a talk about Sikh spirituality which I enjoyed greatly, and there was talk of ego as something bad, albeit something bad with a good aspect. When Jeanette Winterson’s book Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal came out a few years ago I seized eagerly on her mention of a psychoanalyst named Neville Symington whose books had been part of her ‘redemption journey’ (my term not hers). But then I drew a blank when I tried reading him. From Wikipedia I got the idea that Symington’s ‘thing’ is narcissism. This did chime with some elements in my own journey way back in the seventies. But for me narcissism was something positive, while Symington believes it to be the cause of all our problems, apparently. For me, the narcissism of the ego is probably what enables it to hold itself together in the face of all the other disintegrating tendencies of madness. At least, that seemed to be the lesson of a particular dream of mine, in the seventies, which was very helpful at a time when my life and ego were well-nigh fully disintegrated. My dream of calling my own name last night brought all these issues back for me.

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