Knots by R. D. Laing

Jack likes my blog
Therefore I like Jack
Jill doesn’t like my blog
Therefore I don’t like Jill

Jack likes Jill
Jill doesn’t like my blog
They have a fight
Jack doesn’t like Jill

I love Jack for not liking Jill
Jill hates me for making Jack not like her
I hate Jill for hating me
Jack loves me

With me so far? I don’t think so, but if you are, you must read R. D. Laing’s book, “Knots”. I read the book during my adolescent years, and didn’t think it would appeal to most people. I was hypnotized and trapped by it. Then I discovered that the book was a great success when it sold 75,000 copies in US in a few weeks, when published in 1970. But that was a different era…

R. D. Laing was a controversial psychiatrist – an excerpt from his Wikipedia entry:

“Laing was, moreover, a critic of psychiatric diagnosis, he argued that diagnosis of a mental disorder contradicted accepted medical procedure: diagnosis was made on the basis of behavior or conduct, and examination and ancillary tests that traditionally precede diagnosis of viable pathologies occurred after the diagnosis of mental disorder. Hence, psychiatry was founded on a false epistemology: illness diagnosed by conduct but treated biologically.”

A real excerpt from the book:

Once upon a time, when Jack was little,
he wanted to be with his mummy all the time
and was frightened she would go away

later, when he was a little bigger,
he wanted to be away from his mummy
and was frightened that
she wanted him to be with her all the time

when he grew up he fell in love with Jill
and he wanted to be with her all the time
and was frightened she would go away

when he was a little older,
he did not want to be with Jill all the time
he was frightened
that she wanted to be with him all the time, and
that she was frightened
that he did not want to be with her all the time

Jack frightens Jill he will leave her
because he is frightened she will leave him.

If you’re really, I mean really, interested in reading more of this stuff, there are excerpts of the book to be found here.


3 thoughts on “Knots by R. D. Laing

  1. Read “Knots” in college in the 1970’s and got around to buying a copy around 2004. It’s still a great collection. There was a short film made in the early 70’s with R.D. explaining how “people have a habit of tying each other up in knots” and some actors did readings of some of the poems. Great stuff.

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