What have I been reading? The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
No spoilers. I loved this book. Every bit of it. It is a story which looks at mental illness in a very compassionate , inventive, interesting way. You get to see it from the point of view of everyone. It isn’t just about the psychiatrist treating mental illness. It is not clinical. It looks at relationships and how they emerge and develop and how mental illness impacts the person concerned and the people with whom they are involved. It becomes a puzzle and mystery story which makes for compelling reading because of the fine character development and then the attention to detail. Observations and hypotheses are made so that you become interactive in looking at the world of mental illness. I became involved in the story because there was a naturalness and reality about it but I also enjoyed how the book explored art, artists and the impact of art on people’s lives. It was a good book to be reading in winter. One I could just get lost in.
For me, Carrie Fisher will always be the one who would front up with the tough stuff in life and normalise it. She always had the knack of being able to talk about difficult things but just say them so everyone would realise they are a part of life and living and need to be dealt with. She was a princess but not of the sugar plum, prissy sort. This interview covers a lot of ground in a short time and reveals how adept Carrie Fisher is in dealing with body image issues, female actor issues, growing up , being a working woman and …just talking about it. Just patting her dog and talking about it. She has had an impact on how women see themselves and she has enabled those conversations which have helped modern women redefine who they are and what they can do. She will be remembered for her social justice gems because she was so direct and straight forward in her approach.
There is a fine line between dealing with and managing a control freak and being the victim of emotional abuse. Victim being the operative word. If you feel like a victim , you probably are and you need to get the help to deal with that frame of mind and set of behaviours. Easier said than done depending on the nature of the controlling behaviour. We all like to be in control. We want our coffee the way we want it. We want to be able to relax in the way we relax. We want to make phone calls the way we make them and do our washing the way we do it. We need to bring control freak back into common parlance so that we recognise unhealthy controlling behaviour in ourselves and then unhealthy controlling behaviour in others. It is really difficult when they play a key role in your life. uncommonhelp gives some really practical advice as to how to deal with control freaks. The best bit is that it is all doable so even if you find it hard to stand up for yourself you have a chance of being able to master these suggestions. Dr Judith Orloff analyses the situation better so that you can get some clarity. That’s important. Often you feel very confused. There is usually a reason that people become controllers. We shouldn’t minimise the behaviour by calling them micro managers or helicopter parents. wikihow explains really well the difference between someone who has strong views and boundaries and one who is a controller. Sorting it out for yourself is how you manage it. If you are not able to do that , it is important to use trusted, successful people to get help and information.
Why shouldn’t here be a song about Slough as there are songs about New York, Paris, Chicago? There are films about the Snowy River, Paris, Seattle. Why not Slough? Why don’t North American Indians call themselves pelican names when they are happy with Sitting Bull, Hawkeye, Lone Wolf? Why can’t people have mental legs as they do a mental head? Why do we think one person is weird and another one is okay? Why shouldn’t we have songs about anything we like? The French make songs about cucumbers, run away dogs, picnics, voyeurs, cigarettes. I didn’t know what I was going to get when I went to see David Brent. I just knew I liked Ricky Gervais and what he stood for. I know he is a complex thinker and can fight effectively for animal rights. I know I liked The Office .The film is set in and around Slough, Berkshire where Ricky Gervais was born. The humour is British and I had some really good laughs throughout the film. It’s a complex film, though, and not to be given a post modern reading. You listen to the song lyrics, you know the actor is being a character you know who is then reflecting on that character. The film questions how we define normality and how we define mental illness. It clearly examines how mental illness is not a disease, it’s not an illness as such, but a person with hopes, thoughts, dreams, relationships and more than anything, feelings. A person is not this bit or that bit but a collection of traits, experiences and thoughts and is a whole . It’s a Gestalt reading of human behaviour. We are not our fatness or thinness or our job or the clothes we put on. We are all sorts of things and some of those things are transient, some of them are determined as acceptable by the norms of society. He questions political correctness, body image, language usage, content of popular culture, work place expectations. It is a film which puts everything under a lens but not in an arduous way. It’s thought provoking and it makes you wonder. If you are familiar with people with mental illness there is a lot which you can relate to. You could even be asking yourself well, maybe it’s not right to call someone that when all they are is a square peg in a round hole. Who are we to put down and judge? Where did we get the parameters from to judge them? You don’t ask yourself that, though. You look at the film and realise people are people and they are all on the road of life trying to get somewhere and trying to do their best at getting there. I really enjoyed this film and I am glad I went to see it. It will be one of my favourite films. I need to think about it some more!