Giovanni at Bat, Bean, Beam has been kind enough to link to an old post of mine on ‘therapeutic history’ as part of a terrific new post. His general interest is memory. Here he works through the cybernetics movement of the 50s and 60s, starting with Norbert Wiener’s classic Human Use of Human Beings (1950) and getting right to an extended riff on Maxwell Maltz’s Psycho-Cybernetics (1960), a popular self-help book about how to do plastic surgery on your own thoughts and feelings, in part by recutting your memories to create a more positive self-image.
I love Giovanni’s sense of the absurd, and without coming to a clean, neat point he walks around the topic taking in the sights, recruiting Borges and Calvino to observe with him the confident technical rationality of a completely plastic human nature and the oozing ghosts that haunt it. Well worth reading, and indirectly illuminating for some of the things we’ve been talking about around here recently.