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LIVE from the NYPL: GOING SANE: Adam Phillips and George Prochnik A Conversation


November 22, 2005

Writings on madness fill entire libraries, but until now nobody has thought to engage exclusively with the idea of sanity. What is sanity? A seemingly bland and nebulous state? The opposite of insanity? Madness is always present in our lives--in the chaos of our infancy, the rebellion of our adolescence, the insanity and irrational nature of our sexual appetites, the money madness that takes hold of us as the desire for wealth replaces our sexual desires. Sanity confounds us: according to Adam Phillips, it lacks the false allure of madness. Hamlet is glamorous, while the eminently sane Polonius comes off as a fool. Can the historical imbalance between sanity and insanity be redressed?


About Adam Phillips:

Adam Phillips is a psychoanalyst and the author of On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored: Psychoanalytic Essays on the Unexamined Life; On Flirtation: Psychoanalytic Essays on the Uncommitted Life; Darwin's Worms; and Houdini's Box. He is the General Editor of the new Penguin Modern Classics translations of Freud. According to Daphne Merkin, "He is, as ever, an original and lucid spirit, a buzzing intellectual gadfly in the ointment of our easy answers."

About George Prochnik:

George Prochnik's forthcoming book, Music of the Quills examines the friendship between Sigmund Freud and pioneering Boston psychologist James Jackson Putnam (the author's great-grandfather)and how that relationship and dialogue shaped the acceptance and practice of psychoanalysis in America. In the 1990s Prochnik taught English and American literature at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where he wrote on the history of psychoanalytic criticism.