Lea Salonga - "Nothing"
Lea Salonga is one of the most gifted singers on Broadway. Her performance as both Eponine and Fantine in Les Miserables set the standard for all subsequent actresses for the role. In this clip, a concert from Broadway, she sings one of my favourites from A Chorus Line, Nothing. It is a song of empowerment and believing in oneself. Lea sets up the number, the context for it, and dedicates it to all those who have ever said, "I can't, I shouldn't, I am better off not trying, this one is for you!" Enjoy!
In praise of the goal-less path
The medieval mystic Meister Eckhart famously said that the pure, divine life lives "without a why". That is to say that life springs from the depths of its own source. Life itself, according to Eckhart, "lives out of its own ground and springs from its own source, and so lives without asking why it is itself living". This is, of course, very zen like coming from a Dominican friar from a very different spiritual traditional. The challenge is how to take this apophatic philosophical approach and transfer it in a psychodynamic context.
The vast majority of psychotherapeutic methods have embedded within their structure some kind of goal directed paradigm; this is particularly true for existential styled method. There is value to this. I came across this article that was counter-intuitive to those methods. The author, Leo Babauta, argues for the value of achieving without goals. He conducted a self experiment and found that instead of acting from goals, live out of principles and values. Among his insights:
Carl Rogers and Gloria
The video below is an older video but has been seen by thousands of counseling students. The film demonstrates the psycho-therapeutic method of three major therapists including Carl Rogers, the founder of what is often referred to as humanistic or person-centered therapy. Gloria is a real client and Carl Rogers demonstrates his method. Notwithstanding the artificiality of the context (e.g. lights and cameras), the session is authentic and interesting to view. Rogers, himself, offers a reflection following the session. Some of the segments sparked vigorous discussion in a class that this was presented in. Some students felt that some boundaries might have been crossed but this is debatable in the overall context of the Rogerian method.
I have not included the opening segment where Rogers explains the basis of his method and his underlying standpoint. This is important as the session below underscores Rogers' main thesis that the search for congruence, that is, the inner reality of the person (their values, beliefs) needs to correspond to their outer actions and behaviours is one of the motivating factors for people when they come to therapy. It also means that what one is experiencing inside is present in one's awareness and comes out in one's communication. When this occurs, a person can be said to be living an authentic existence. Additionally, Rogers states that in the therapeutic relationship, there needs to be total transparency such that the client sees, intuits or feels that therapist is showing genuine positive regard for the client. When the therapist is real, in this fashion, their own feelings will bubble up but not be expressed in a way that interferes with the client centered process. Rogers feels that praising and prizing of the individual as unique person is essential. This dynamic is sometimes referred to as a non-possessive love. The other dynamic at play is that the therapist must be able to move around in the inner world of the client such that the therapist is not only able to understand the outer world but the inner world, hidden meanings and allusions that the client is attempting to describe. This is much more than empathy as it requires attention and attenuation on the other as they experience themselves. Furthermore, for Rogers, this attenuation needs to be accompanied by love, caring and acceptance.
If the above occurs and is present, the client will explore their feelings and attitudes more deeply. The client will discover other areas of themselves. Being prized by the therapist may mean that the client prizes themselves more. There will be a change in the manner of their expression. The client will be able to sense and express what is going on in the moment. Finally from a locus outside of themselves, the client will move to a locus inside of themselves in terms of being able to come to decisions around their life.
All of this may sound fuzzy and abstract. However, seeing it play out in the half hour vignette below demonstrates the method with remarkable clarity. Rogers did not know anything about Gloria before seeing her. I had to put together four segments from You Tube and used Wondershare as a free trial, hence the watermark. There may be some slight repeats as a result. But overall the flow of the session is maintained. Fascinating to see the method play out. His reframing and feedback is first rate. His demonstration of positive regard is authentic. While he is totally present in the moment, he never rescues, yet she does not feel alone. There are many instances where Gloria states explicitly that what she want from him is a direct answer. Rogers handles this with remarkable artfulness. Great use of pauses and silence. Fascinating.
The phrase below has been making its way around the internet and fast becoming a social media meme. I have not been able to locate the source although it appears that it originated in Arabic but does not belong to the Quran or any major Arabic poet such as Rumi. At any rate, it is a good source of reflection.
The Origins of human cruelty
David Mamet is one of the most gifted writers working in the film industry today. Glengarry Glen Ross, Heist, House of Games, and finally The Spanish Prisoner all reflect his distinctive use of dialogue. Characters frequently overlap and misunderstand each other. He focuses on the world of con artists and film noir themes. In the scenes below, from The Spanish Prisoner, the Steve Martin character explains the origins of human cruelty. The next segment, underneath, from Glengarry Glen Ross, is a perfect illustration of what has been referred to as "Mamet speak".
The title of this blog is an allusion to the famous work of Blaise Pascal. This blog represents the variety of my interests and thoughts on any given day and are strung together, like Pascal's Pensees, in no particular order. I work in the field of mental health, education, and human rights. I write and am a human rights advocate. I enjoy poetry, jazz, spirituality, politics and a potpourri of other interests that you will see reflected in this blog.