Saturday, June 04, 2011

On the Arts of Escape

A few more lines from Adam Phillips' Houdini's Box: On the Arts of Escape. Psychological probing, cultural comment, spiritual challenge:
  • People become demonic when they believe that havoc is a necessity.
  • In this culture, if academics think you're a bit naive and non-academics think you're rather pretentious, then you're probably onto something.
  • No-one can be indifferent to being ignored. ... My mother was always encouraging me to be more independent but really she wanted me to leave her alone.
  • What he called up in me was a kind of quasi-religious personality, someone who could rant with conviction, but someone who was left afterwards strangely unpersuaded by himself. Not exactly regretting what was said, but unsure of the point of saying it. ... Encouraged - unwittingly by him - to be a caricature of my virtues, they seemed like vices.
  • "Yes, because I never did a thing like this before ... I wouldn't have wanted to for the obvious reasons but I know I'm sick of something ... of the way I behave ... it's so childish to say this, to say it like this, and even though I know what you're going to say and you're probably right and probably wrong but I'm like a fugitive now, a vagrant ... I can't settle to anything ... I'm always being interrupted but there's nothing to interrupt because I'm not really doing anything ..."
  • Real magic is the illusion that there is such a thing as real magic.
  • The absence of desire and real death, of which the death of desire is a foreshadowing, are the two great hauntings.
  • It was Houdini's unique but exemplary artfulness, to make himself the magician the public could trust. They knew he was brilliant at deceiving people. That's why they could trust him.