Eratosphere Forums - Metrical Poetry, Free Verse, Fiction, Art, Critique, Discussions Able Muse - a review of poetry, prose and art

Forum Left Top

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 08-20-2017, 02:21 PM
R. S. Gwynn's Avatar
R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Beaumont, TX
Posts: 3,723
Default Juster on Lowell

http://www.claremont.org/crb/basicpa...eid=01f1b13d41
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 08-20-2017, 02:40 PM
Aaron Novick's Avatar
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 792
Default

http://www.ablemuse.com/erato/showthread.php?t=28429
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 08-22-2017, 09:36 PM
Andrew Mandelbaum's Avatar
Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Portland Maine
Posts: 3,049
Default

I thought the review was a hatchet job. Juster insinuates that she is unprofessional in her use of the term manic depression when anyone familar with her work on the disorder and its connection to the arts knows that her objection to the term bipolar is a reasoned objection that she has held through many papers and works. The author is intimately familiar with the struggles of the so-called disease as she herself lives with it. The statement in the review minimizing the hardship of such disorders betrays a serious lack of understanding of the level of courage it takes many of these folks to face each day. I have people close in to me who lose there very persons under these breaks, their courage is undeniable and admirable even if they sometimes lose the battle and the violence wins out. Regardless of whether the author of the book failed at certain points to make her case or failed artistically, Juster's dismissive scoff at the struggles of people who face these losses of person is disappointing and the review is full of cheap shots. This is a world I know intimately if not specifically involving Lowell's case, and the review does a disservice to the people that face so many uphill climbs, not least of which is being defined by the moments they are submerged in the wounds. Whether you agree with Redfield on the nature of the connection between so-called manic depression and the arts or not, she deserves more respect for her work in the field and in her own walk with the condition than a review like this. I don't have a dog in the Lowell fight. Not a fan or a foe but am very much a spectator of the everyday courage in folks with these sort of "disorders", a courage that is as breath-taking in its resiliency as it is heartbreaking in its constant defeats.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 08-22-2017, 10:36 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 1,157
Default

To Andrew's point:

There's an old gospel song, "I'm Glad About It", by Inez Andrews and the Andrewettes, which begins "When I woke up this morning, / I was clothed in my right mind."
It's a powerful thing, to be clothed in your right mind.

Cheers,
John
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 08-22-2017, 10:57 PM
R. S. Gwynn's Avatar
R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Beaumont, TX
Posts: 3,723
Default

I've read most of the Lowell biographies, but not this one yet. Andrew and John, have you read the book?
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 08-23-2017, 01:23 AM
John Whitworth's Avatar
John Whitworth John Whitworth is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 12,589
Default

Andrew, what is the meaning of your phrase 'so-called disease'? Do you mean it is not a disease? That it is normal?. That Lowell was not ill. If he was sane then his behaviour was simply monstrous, his violence unforgivable.

When I first came across Lowell (the Faber Selected Poems), the consensus seemed to be that he was a great American poet. He was obviously a very accomplished one capable of arresting phrases. I was not aware then of what I will still call his mental illness.

Is he really as good as Frost or Stevens? What is the Spherean take on this? I cannot think so.

As for this book, Mike Juster shows definitively that it is a glugger, not worth my or anyone else's time. Or so I think.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 08-23-2017, 01:42 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 1,157
Default

Good evening Sam,

No, I haven't. But I read Jamison's earlier book (which was IMO flawed, as my initial comment in the other thread indicated, but is on my shelves); and I did read Juster's review, which stated if I understood correctly among other claims that the only problem in Lowell's privileged existence was his mental illness. Similarly, the only problem in Steven Hawking's privileged existence is his ALS. I did work for several years at a mental health clinic, and I have some grasp of the hidden challenges - they escape people - that mental illness routinely imposes. Those challenges did not seem visible in Juster's review, and my previous post in this thread aims to redress that balance. Particularly if folks read the review and skip the book, as I did. Misrepresentation comes easy in describing people. I hope to have avoided it here.

Cheers,
John

Update: to John's point, most severe mental illnesses, such as manic depression/bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, reflect a measurable chemical imbalance in the brain. They are verifiable or at least diagnosable (and to some extent treatable). But absent Lowell's brain, we just have the diagnosis of his providers. This is my own main objection to Jamison's method: she diagnoses Byron, as I recall, in her other book.
John, I like your critical diagnosis: that Lowell is capable of arresting phrases. I think he is as well.
Update: it may be worth adding that homosexuality was listed in the (American) diagnostic manual of mental illnesses until about 1973.

Last edited by John Isbell; 08-23-2017 at 05:27 AM. Reason: word American added
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 08-23-2017, 07:12 AM
Andrew Mandelbaum's Avatar
Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Portland Maine
Posts: 3,049
Default

Both chemical changes and structural changes can take place in the brain from psychological trauma so the idea of a measurable issue indicating some sort of innate abnormality is the "hardware" is, IMO, not as helpful as the behaviourist mindset would like to assert. I don't think the disease model is as helpful in the soul/brain understanding, John W., as it is in other areas of human health like rabies or tetnus. I think the word normal is especially misleading. In areas of mental health that are more impacted by "hardware" or genetic set-up humanity is a spectrum from typical to less so.
Neither of these reservations questions the experience of a loss of volition. I have seen the true self so totally submerged under a wounded part that it would be ridiculous to assert responsibilty of the kind I think you are getting at.

Not yet Sam. I am on it. I am immersed in the subject and have read other stuff by her. Would you ask that of readers of the review who also hadn't read the book but were instantly happy to exchange the review's (in my opinion clearly flawed) criteria for their own? The review's axe shavings are so poorly swept up that it became a piece of work in its own right. Just the unpacked snipe about parenting contra to the feelings of Harriet herself was enough to question the whole for me. But thanks for wondering.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 08-23-2017, 10:10 AM
John Riley John Riley is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 3,303
Default

I know about bipolar although I've read little about it. Jamison knows it from both sides. The book, as I understand it, I haven't read it yet but will, is grounded in a double thesis that Lowell was a good/great poet and his bipolar was both a challenge and contributor to his work. That is an interesting thesis and certainly one worth pursuing.

The problem with the Juster review is that it's grounded in a virulent conviction that Lowell was a lousy poet and a horrible person. The impression I came away with is that he thinks that no biography that doesn't share these biases is a bad book. It's blindness to the suffering caused by Lowell's bipolar, which was severe, is medieval. I'd like to know why the reviewer made the decision to do this. Is it because Lowell committed the sin of writing his best poems, and they are some of the best American poems of the 20th century, without relying on meter?

Fortunately, the review is published in a journal that won't attract many readers inclined to read the biography in the first place. Little damage is done.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 08-23-2017, 12:11 PM
Michael Cantor Michael Cantor is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Plum Island, MA
Posts: 10,406
Default

There are two threads on the Eratosphere discussing the same book by Mike Juster. There is this one, in Accomplished Members, which is essentially favorable; and there is this one, in General Talk, which is mostly unfavorable.

What intrigues me is that out of the dozen or so individuals who have responded, the only one who has actually read the book is Mike Juster.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Forum Right Top
Forum Left Bottom Forum Right Bottom
 
Right Left
Member Login
Forgot password?
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Statistics:
Forum Members: 7,840
Total Threads: 18,737
Total Posts: 242,055
There are 150 users
currently browsing forums.
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Sponsor:
Donate & Support Able Muse / Eratosphere
Forum LeftForum Right
Right Right
Right Bottom Left Right Bottom Right

Hosted by ApplauZ Online