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In praise of mindfulness


Dear Frau,
I was at a dinner party the other night and all the talk was of Mindfulness. Let me correct that: everyone seemed to know what it was (but me), but declined to explain what it was. When I tried to pin them down, they just tilted their heads and gazed curiously at me. I looked down to see if I had unknowingly vomited down my shirtfront.
I tried phoning the institute for Mindfulness the other day to see what they had to say for themselves. I got put on hold for some time and was cajoled by a voice that urged me to focus on the present moment and to just think about thinking of phoning the institute while the institute thought about the thought of answering the telephone. And when I became irritated, they said, ìIsn’t interesting that you have become irritatedî and then a long silence. I must confess, this stimulated quite a lot of rage in me and I started screaming and pounding the phone. But they were gone. Just a whiff of panpipe music remained.
What on earth is going on? Am I going to have to abandon the unconscious and the method of interpretation for this piece of ephemera?
In two minds,
Dr Blither



Dear Dr. Blither

Many years ago, my dear friend Berty Russell wrote a treatise called ìIn Praise of Idlenessî. It was a small, thin book, so eager was he to spend as little time on it as possible. In his first paragraph he writes: ìI think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuousÖî In the same vein, I feel a movement to write something about mindfulness. Ahem.

Since I was sprung from the floorboards I have been unable to ignore the fact that there is a conspiracy to do away with the unconscious. Now let me remind you that Zig and I discovered the unconscious all by ourselves and brought it to the world shining and new with our little copyright sticker on the underside. The unconscious reigned supreme for most of the next century surviving the cold war, pop psychology of the 60’s and 70’s and outscreamed the primal scream.

And now all that mashugas* is back again, bringing with it the cult of passivity and the promise of a conflict free life. Without the seething unconscious and its spawn of conflict and mayhem, we will be a society without the chance of revolution and protest. Listen to me bubbelehs: we depend on the return of the repressed. And when it returns, it must scream for justice. Without this we would be only an army of automatons ready to obey the ruling classes with a simple curious tilt of the head as we ponder upon our thoughts and reactions to being oppressed and sent off to invade another country. Discomfort and conflict keep us alive and breathing. Besides, it’s good for business.

Bubs, don’t be curious, be outraged. Descend into psychic pain. Feel out of control - welcome passion and confusion. And from time to time, for heaven’s sake, lose your minds. Don’t live in the bloodless present – regret the past and distrust the future. You may even judge, blame and hurl a tantrum. But remember, always be unpredictable.

Join me on Saturday morning for a march on the Centre. I promise you, they will offer no resistance.


Yours in the material world,



I have included a snapshot of me and Tim Leary at a mindlessness weekend back in the 70’s.


*Load of old feathers

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