In This Issue
Selected Facts
Newsletter of the Northwestern Psychoanalytic
Society and Institute

Spring 2016

Maxine Nelson
Welcome to the final issue of Selected Facts: Newsletter of the Northwestern Psychoanalytic Society. Having been involved with the newsletter since its inception in 2012, it saddens me to see it go, but I remain hopeful that someone will step forward in the future to either revive it in this format or to create an alternative version. 

In addition to a letter from NPSI President Caron Harrang, this issue includes letters from Director of Training Dana Blue and Candidate President David Parnes. As usual, we offer accounts of some of our analyst, candidate and community members under NPSI Members and Candidates in Action and Community Members in Action, respectively. In addition, we have included an essay by Community Member Bob Fahrer titled "DECONSECRATING WAR."
In International and Regional News we note that registration is open for EBOR 2016. In addition, we are pleased to announce a book party for From Reverie to Interpretation: Transforming Thought into the Action of Psychoanalysis, edited by EBOR 2014 co-organizers Dana Blue and Caron Harrang. A special report submitted by David Jachim describes his experience of the 2016 CIPS/NAPsaC Clinical Conference.
The newsletter would not exist without the dedicated work of the Selected Facts staff. I extend my gratitude to Anna Delacroix, David Parnes, Eric Huffman and Hollee Sweet for their hard work. My warmest thanks to everyone who has contributed to the success of the newsletter over the years. Adieu! 
Maxine Nelson, LICSW FIPA
Managing Editor
NPSI Board of Directors
President: Caron Harrang
Secretary/Treasurer: Maxine Nelson
Director of Training: Dana Blue
Director: David Jachim
Director: Adriana Prengler
Administrator/Recording Secretary: Hollee Sweet (non-voting)
Candidate Representative: Julie Hendrickson (non-voting)
Northwestern Psychoanalytic Society and Institute is a non-profit corporation dedicated to educational and scientific activities based in Seattle, Washington. The primary mission of the organization is to provide the highest quality psychoanalytic education and training for individuals seeking to become psychoanalysts and psychoanalytically informed psychotherapists. The organization also supports the ongoing professional growth and development of our psychoanalyst, candidate, and community members. In so doing, the organization aims to contribute to the current regional, national, and international psychoanalytic understanding of mental life and to the emotional health, creativity, and well-being of those treated through the practice of psychoanalysis.
Letter from the President
Caron Harrang

In my consulting room on the side table next to my chair there resides a beautiful black marble sculpture featuring the face of a woman titled Phoenix Rising. The stone has a naturally occurring thin white line that runs diagonally down the woman's face from her hairline through her forehead and right eye to her cheekbone below. The face is serene save this "flaw" that evokes, for me, a sense of pathos and also of forte. In classical mythology the Phoenix was a bird that lived for five or six centuries in the Arabian Desert, after which time it burnt itself on a funeral pyre and then rose from the ashes with renewed youth to live through another cycle.

Phoenix Rising by Sabah Al-Dhaher

I like having this particular piece of art by my side as I work, both because it was a gift given to me by my candidate colleagues and members of NPSI when I graduated as a psychoanalyst and because it reminds me of the ongoing cycle in mental life of the back and forth paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions. Every thought that forms and gives coherence in the mind must in some way crumble and fall as part of making room for the next iteration of mental life. This is as it should be. Still, letting go of what has taken time and effort to build, in order to make room for growth - be it a thought, an artistic creation, a scientific theory or any other kind of achievement - is often painful. Perhaps I should say that relinquishing what is known or familiar is always painful. Thus, it is with sadness that I write my last President's letter for Selected Facts: Newsletter of the Northwestern Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. Maxine Nelson is stepping down as Managing Editor after several years of able stewardship to attend to other projects on the Board of Directors and in the Institute. Although we still have a dedicated staff willing to continue working on the newsletter, we've been unsuccessful (as yet) in finding a successor to take over the job of managing the organization's electronic news bulletin. 

It is too soon to know if Selected Facts will rise from the ashes under the leadership of an as yet unnamed senior candidate, full member, or community member. Perhaps it has run its course and served a useful purpose in establishing our presence as psychoanalytic society and training institute specializing in British object relations to nearly 800 readers throughout North America, Latin America, and Europe. Certainly other aspects of the organization are flourishing and we will now have a chance to find out if not having a newsletter is felt as a loss. In any case, it is necessary to accept this change and remain open to what may evolve in the months to come. 

When I say that other aspects of the organization are flourishing I am talking about the growth in our community membership and in the creativity shown by the organizing committee who are working hard to prepare for our eleventh biennial Evolving British Object Relations conference (see details below). Additionally, the collected papers from EBOR 2014 are now available in a book titled From Reverie to Interpretation: Transforming Thought into the Action of Psychoanalysis (Karnac, 2016). A book party is planned for this fall that we hope many of our local readers will be able to attend. The book is also available on the Karnac website (see here ).

The NPSI Institute is also continuing to offer outstanding psychoanalytic training to a small cohort of analysts-in-training and expanding our psychotherapy training as noted in Director of Training Dana Blue's letter below. Also noted, the Institute now requires that all training and supervising analysts become board certified in psychoanalysis. The pathway for certification was greatly enhanced by the creation of a board certification program developed this past year by the Confederation of Independent Psychoanalytic Societies (CIPS). Previously board certification had only been offered to qualifying psychoanalysts who are not members of the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) through programs designated for different mental health professions (social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists) with vastly different qualifying procedures. CIPS responded to this inequity by creating a certification program open to all members regardless of professional discipline. This is a great achievement for CIPS and one that we are grateful for at NPSI. Board certification also signals the public of the high standard of our psychoanalytic training and the caliber of our faculty. 

Since the last issue of the newsletter we've had over a dozen mental health professionals join as community members seeking affiliation and looking for opportunities to participate in our scientific meetings, workshops, conferences, study groups, psychotherapy training, and psychoanalytic training. We welcome each of you and look forward to how your intellectual curiosity and questions about psychoanalysis will enrich our discussions at continuing education events and on the NPSI community listserv. I also want to invite anyone who has an interest in joining a committee, volunteering to help with registration at a scientific meeting, or learning more about our governance structure (Board of Directors and Advisory Council) to contact me personally. I'm happy to talk with anyone who wants to get more involved and contribute to us and, in the process, deepen your own sense of connection with like-minded colleagues in our British object relations oriented psychoanalytic community. Please contact me at

Caron Harrang, LICSW FIPA
President, NPSI
Letter from the Director of Training  

In beginning today's letter from the Director of Training, I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge the excellent work of Maxine Nelson, Managing Editor, and the rest of the Selected Facts staff. Thank you all for your efforts. The newsletter has been a fine contribution to our community, and I will miss reading it and learning about all the goings-on going on.
The news from the Institute is that we are all working diligently toward various and concerted ends. The Admissions Committee, chaired by Maxine Nelson, is making effort toward building a new candidate class, and as we near the application date, we look forward to reviewing applications for training. 

Speaking of training, due to requests from the students in our Fundamentals of Psychoanalysis Certificate Program, we have decided to extend the group for a second year.  On May 21, the faculty for Fundamentals of Psychoanalysis met to plan for the second year, which will run October 2016-June 2017. The format will continue as it has, with each monthly unit of didactic seminars plus a clinical seminar led by rotating faculty. The syllabus is currently under construction, and new members will be welcomed into the class in October. If you'd like to join, or want more information, contact Adriana Prengler, Maxine Anderson or Dana Blue for details.
The Candidate group has been productively engaged in developing the NPSI Referral Service, a program that makes psychoanalysis available to people with limited income. Information about the service is on the NPSI website (see here ). Look for an informational flyer with particulars in your email in the near future.
The Training Analysts have recently voted to require that all TAs at NPSI be board certified. This is both a commitment to assuring the highest standards of practice and a step in extension of our accreditation via the Accreditation Council for Psychoanalytic Education (ACPEinc). For a compelling description of the development of a common pathway for certification for all qualified psychoanalysts, see the President's Letter above. I join Caron in commending and thanking the Confederation of Independent Psychoanalytic Societies (CIPS) for developing an equitable and attainable program to make board certification available to trained psychoanalysts from varied licensing disciplines.

Speaking of accreditation, Dana Blue, Caron Harrang and Maxine Nelson are working on a report to our accrediting body, ACPEinc. This report will demonstrate the efforts we have taken in our first year as an accredited program to strengthen the areas indicated in the ACPE report resulting from our first site visit in April 2015. Our intention is to gain an extension of accreditation for the next several years.
The Curriculum and Progression committees are engaged in their varied and vital tasks of overseeing coursework and tracking the progression of NPSI candidates through the training program in psychoanalysis.

As a working group, the Education Committee is drafting a policies and procedures manual that captures the systems that regulate the function of the EC and Institute matters. As a companion to the Candidate Handbook produced by the Progression Committee, this document will bring together the details of how the Institute works. Look for it on the shelf in the library in coming months.
I celebrate the good work of faculty, candidates, and committee members as we bring the academic year to a close and wish you all a rejuvenating summer holiday.

Director of Training
Letter from the Candidate President  

David Parnes
It's a beautiful, sunny day, unusually hot for early June. Earlier, driving home, I was struck by how the mountain ranges seemed closer, their contours crisp in detail. Now I'm in my basement, escaping the heat, as I work on this last Candidate President letter of the year. It's the end of the school year and I'm looking forward, with excitement, to the summer. The candidates are planning our end-of-year party, a chance to let loose a bit and to celebrate another completed year of training. The candidate group deserves a collective pat on the back. We have, individually and as a whole, worked hard and accomplished much. Individually, each has done the ongoing work of seeing patients, writing reports, attending classes, presenting cases, and all of the other, unsung work that is part of the candidate experience. And we have come together as a working group: in our clinical seminar which, for the first time in many years, has brought together all of the candidates in one seminar; and in a concerted effort to promote our flexible fee referral service on the NPSI website. 

I've been reading Stefano Bolognini's paper, "The Complex Nature of Psychoanalytic Empathy: A Theoretical and Clinical Exploration" (2009), a lovely and generous paper that pursues Dr Bolognini's long-held interest in the subject of empathy. In it, Bolognini describes how, as a candidate, he was "struck by a kind of intra-session experience that was rather rare, absolutely unpredictable, as far as I could see, but nevertheless remarkable. What characterized the experience were effective emotional contact and a propitious representational clarity during which the patient's conscious experience was shared and deeply felt, though patient and analyst retained their separateness and personal individuation." He goes on to clarify that he is "not referring to heaven-knows-what heightened powers of introspection" but "merely reporting a state of overall good functioning, which unfortunately takes place all too rarely." He compares the experience to that of the rare day in which the air is unusually clear and one can see for miles. I'm sure Seattleites can identify with this metaphor, having experienced the sudden, striking appearance of Mt Rainier, obscured for weeks by the clouds and rain. 

I so appreciated Bolognini's description of the analytic work as "an uphill grind made up of obscure and fragmentary associations, long silences, and unbridgeable gaps," with infrequent moments of shared clarity, unpredictable and impossible to summon by force of will. I found this wonderfully honest appraisal of the analytic task a soothing balm to the painful doubt I experience as a candidate. Although I have found useful Bion's description of "negative capability," a concept I see as closely related to Bolognini's ideas about empathy, I felt Bolognini's unvarnished description of his experience as a real comfort.
We in Seattle experience a lot of cloudy, drizzly, hazy days. We have a special appreciation for the warm and cloudless day, knowing that a stretch of rainy days is probably soon to follow. And it's easier to tolerate the long stretches of gloom, knowing it's a shared experience, unlike that cartoon character with the little rain cloud that follows him around. So, thank you, Dr. Bolognini (and thanks to Caron Harrang, for sharing his article with the candidates). I feel I can tolerate the cloudy days a bit easier and savor those moments of shared clarity a bit more fully. This evening, when it's cooled down some, I'll probably go for a walk and enjoy the weather.

David Parnes, LICSW
Candidate President
Regional and International News

Eleventh International Evolving British Object Relations Conference
Sponsored by Northwestern Psychoanalytic Society and Institute

The Feeling Mind and Lived Experience
October 28-30, 2016
Seattle, Washington (USA)

Before summer gets here and thoughts fly to other adventures, don't miss out on limited availability to EBOR 2016.
Not only do we look forward to Maxine Anderson and Mark Solms' exquisite plenary presentations, but the individual papers are now coming in and the offerings are quite diverse and inspirational this year.
Plus our Friday evening event "DLALA: A Night with the Playful Mind" is shaping up to be something unique and unforgettable.
Click here  to register online, or here  to register by mail. Registration is filling up quickly. Please don't miss this exciting conference. Register early and save!

Reflections on the 2016 CIPS/NApsaC Clinical Conference
Every two years, the Confederation of Independent Psychoanalytic Societies (CIPS) and the North American Psychoanalytic Confederation (NApsaC) co-sponsor a conference that offers a rich blend of intellectual, clinical and social events over the course of two and a half days. This year's conference, titled "Empathy, Creativity and Shared Transitional Space," was held in Marina Del Rey, outside Los Angeles, on May 13-15, 2016. The following report comes from one of our NPSI member analysts.

Lost in Los Angeles
  by David Jachim, PhD FIPA 

"Let's get lost...."
                 - Chet Baker, West Coast jazz trumpeter/vocalist

Last month I had the good fortune to participate in and serve as a group facilitator at the CIPS/NAPsaC Biennial Clinical Conference in Los Angeles, titled "Empathy, Creativity and Shared Emotional Space." The conference model consisted of small group clinical meetings (eight hours of group meetings over two and a half days), bookended by panels chaired by Stephano Bolognini, IPA President and Alexandra Billinghurst, IPA Vice President.
I can attest that this conference lived up to every aspect of its given title. The conference theme was set from the start with Bolognini's elucidation of "psychoanalytic empathy," a momentary nexus between analyst and patient where both identification and separateness ironically meet and resonate for both participants. With this launching, the small groups began their meetings in which each group member presented a clinical case.
My group, which included Alessandra Billinghurst, was immediately plunged into an intimate clinical milieu, absent of hierarchy, individual titles, levels of experience, and theoretical jargon and void of persecutory forces. The experience with these devoted colleagues was a rich emotional "trip" (group) within a physical trip (LA). We often found ourselves lost in a creative transitional space in which deep connection in our mutual analytic work was movingly accompanied by the respect of our separate institutional languages. Coming out of this intense swirl, I found myself experiencing a refreshing openness to all of my patients and a deepened commitment to listen and to come as close as I can to what they are experiencing.
The next conference (theme to be announced) will be held in New York City in 2018. If I were a travel agent I would highly recommend taking this trip. There you might "get lost" like I did in LA. As Chet would say, "You'll dig it!"
NPSI News 
Save the Date
Saturday, September 10, 2016
Book Party for From Reverie to Interpretation: Transforming Thought into the Action of Psychoanalysis

Escape Within  by Sabah Al-Dhaher
Please mark your calendars for Saturday, September 10, 2016 (5:00-7:00 pm) when NPSI is proud to sponsor a book party in honor of the publication From Reverie to Interpretation: Transforming Thought into the Action of Psychoanalysis (Karnac, 2016) edited by Dana Blue and Caron Harrang. The party will be hosted in the home and office of David Jachim. This publication marks the first time the collected papers from any EBOR conference have been published and available to a wider audience. Additional details will be sent via an email flyer over the summer. There is no charge for this event. For questions, contact NPSI Administrator Hollee Sweet at  or   (206) 930-2886. 
NPSI Members and Candidates in Action
Dave Parnes, Reporter
Three pre-conference seminars took place at NPSI on three Wednesday evenings in preparation for the Evolving British Object Relations Conference to be held October 28-30, 2016. The first EBOR pre-conference seminar was held on March 16 when Maxine Anderson, MD FIPA facilitated a discussion of Mark Solms' paper, "'The Unconscious' in Psychoanalysis and Neuroscience: An Integrated Approach to the Cognitive Unconscious." About his paper Mark had written: "Using Freud's 1915 essay on 'The Unconscious' as my starting point, I will attempt in this chapter to update Freud's classical metapsychology in the light of recent developments in cognitive and affective neuroscience. In doing so, I will try to integrate Freud's concept of repression with contemporary notions of the cognitive-unrepressed-unconscious."

The second EBOR pre-conference seminar, held on April 20 with Maxine Anderson, MD FIPA and facilitated by Rikki Ricard, MA FIPA, explored a chapter from Maxine's forth coming book, The Wisdom of Lived Experience: Views from Psychoanalysis, Neuroscience, Philosophy and Metaphysics.  Maxine writes: "This book explores various aspects of the nature of reality and more specifically that of lived experience. In recent years I have become aware that my efforts to learn from theory and from noted colleagues have often meant closing down my experiencing mind and focusing upon the intellectual and the theoretical, rather than upon the more three-dimensional lived experience with my patients and within myself ... . Wilfred Bion, an author whom I admire and only slightly idealize, encourages us to learn from our own experience, while allowing any thoughts derived from the reading of his and others' works to become part of our own understanding of the nature of human experience.... So early in my explorations when I came upon Iain McGilchrist's book, The Master and His Emissary , especially his depiction of left and right brain interplay and how the left brain, so needed for language and abstract thought, can obscure the right brain's openness to the softer implicit aspects of lived experience, I felt I had a companion in terms of the dilemma I had encountered in my endeavors toward deeper learning about human nature and perhaps about Nature itself. The question that posed itself almost naturally was 'what are the elements in the process of coming alive that are essential for incorporating the intellectual and the intuitive toward the multi-dimensional qualities of lived experience?' My book, as its subtitle suggests, traces the multi-faceted sojourn toward a deepening appreciation of the wisdom and the power of Lived Experience."

The third EBOR pre-conference seminar took place on May 18 with Tony Hacker, PhD guiding participants through chapter five of Iain McGilchrist's book, The Master and His Emissary. In preparation for the event, Tony had written: "In this EBOR 2016 pre-conference seminar, we examine how the primacy of affect, which occurs before thinking, shapes our brain, governs our therapeutic work and, if we nurture it, brings balance to our world. The reading focuses on the right brain's contribution to reality. But in keeping with McGilchrist's overarching theme in The Master and His Emissary, the aim of our discussion will be on the processes of reintegration of right and left hemispheres."

The fourth and final EBOR pre-conference seminar will be held on September 21 when Barb Sewell, MA FIPA will show and lead a discussion of a DVD from Mark Solms' series titled A Beginners Guide to the Brain.

On May 14, Mirta Berman Oelsner, PsyA FIPA presented "Supervision, Sidevision and Undervision" at COR, the Center for Object Relations. Describing this presentation, Mirta stated: "Four eyes see more than two. In addition, a therapy hour with a patient is three-dimensional and to be grasped needs to be viewed from different vertices. No single therapist, regardless of her experience, can do the task alone. I entitled my presentation 'Supervision, Sidevision and Undervision' to emphasize that the function of the supervisor-undervisor-sidevisor is to observe the clinical hour presented by the therapist in order to help enlarge the perspective that the therapist already brings."

On June 2, Robert Oelsner, MD FIPA presented "Melanie Klein and Child Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy," the first event hosted by the Child Therapy Committee, a new branch of the Northwest Alliance for Psychoanalytic Study. In this seminar, Dr. Oelsner observed the unique place that child psychoanalytic psychotherapy holds within the field of psychoanalytic psychotherapy generally. His presentation emphasized Klein's idea that psychoanalysis with children can greatly impact a developing child's entire life, even exerting a corrective influence on pathology that could manifest in criminal tendencies in adulthood. Case material was presented, alongside Melanie Klein's paper, to exemplify his points.

Caron Harrang, LICSW FIPA  will be attending the International Bion Conference in Milan, Italy (September 30-October 2) and participating with a group of American colleagues in a two-part panel titled "Reading Bion's Meanings in a Group Context: An Inter-Regional Dialogue on Bion's Italian Seminars." Their presentation, occurring on two consecutive days and including panelists Joe Aguayo, Susan Finkelstein, Caron Harrang, Marie Murphy and Agnes Regeczkey, with Luca di Donna as moderator, will take selections of Bion's (1977) Italian Seminars and project the text via PowerPoint in both English and Italian. In Part I, the panel will present an unrehearsed discussion of selected sections from Italian Seminars. The discussion will be audio recorded and summarized in writing by Joe Aguayo, highlighting the group's process and various interpretations of the material that emerge. In Part II, the following day, Dr. Aguayo will begin by reading his summary of the group's understanding of the text, after which the panel will open a dialogue with the audience about their responses to the previous day's material and their understanding of the selected text. The overarching aim of the presentation is to examine how colleagues from throughout the world receive an American reading of Bion's texts and, in so doing, facilitate greater understanding of shared and differing psychoanalytic perspectives.


Community Members in Action
Eric Huffman, Reporter

Jeffrey Karl Ochsner, PhD , a professor in the Department of Architecture at the University of Washington, has an article appearing in the Summer 2016 issue of American Imago 72 (3). "Meditations on the Empty Chair: The Form of Mourning and Reverie" addresses the use of the motif of the empty chair in memorials that address group trauma and mourning, including examples in Christchurch, Oklahoma City, and Krakow. The article will also be posted on Project Muse at .


The article below by Robert Fahrer, PhD is timely not only for its content but because it was originally written 15 years ago and is still, perhaps sadly, timeless. The original article dealt in part with the "Long War" from 1914 to 1990. We are now confronted with another war, perhaps beginning as that war ended. The current battlefield is the Middle East. If we focus on the historical and economic causes, we miss the internal world of the combatants. We miss the internal objects, wishes and fears and ideals that make the warriors and the warring possible. We miss a true understanding of "the precise process used to create the enemy as nonhuman." Historians stop helplessly before this inner world. If, however, we focus only on this internal world, we miss the real world forces that drive interests for profits, land or resources, and the world can dissolve into some chaotic sorrow over "human nature." We would miss what Robert refers to as "'market state' transnational consumerism and the machinery of mercantilism." Psychoanalytically inclined writers typically avert their eyes from this macro struggle. Bob's article helps us have a dual focus and contributes to a discussion that must be continued. The real world is the inner meeting the outer and the dialectic of both being changed. We can refocus more easily when we are guided by articles such as this that are so wonderfully written and inviting.

by Robert Fahrer, PhD

Cover image, The Psychoanalysis of War

"If it were not for war, society would be apt to leave men defenseless before the emergence of the Terrifier as a purely internal foe."
The Psychoanalysis of War, 1975
Dr. Franco Fornari, MD

"I...believe that psychoanalysis is crucial for a truly democratic culture to thrive."

Jonathan Lear, PhD
New Republic, December 25, 1995

Nearly fifteen years have passed since this author wrote the essay that follows. Novelist Cormac McCarthy therein pressed his reality concerning the bleak, dark shadow of war for all time. A bright light was shone on the constant, frenetic need, almost a blinding hunger, to find or create scapegoats upon whom the depressed and psychotic can cleanse themselves.
This update, attached to the original 2004 writing, The Banality of Tribal Warfare in the Postmodern Era (CORRelations, 2004, pp. 20-22) below, is a chance to pause, reflect, and reassess the meaning and presence of war in our time.
Today we can clearly grasp what was impossible to see even five years ago: solid evidence of more severely stressed social, economic and political systems around the world. Those conditions, says Bion, potentially lead to the increase of basic assumption groups, which can behave in comprehensively destructive ways that, if observed in individuals, would be classified as psychotic. (Segal, 1997, p 149)  The psychotic, chaotic and warring trends across the globe will continue their highly destructive levels in the years ahead.
Hanna Segal observed that the 1990-91 Gulf War was intended to erase the US's constantly running stream of subliminal depression and guilt about its dominant role in the thirteen-year Vietnam War that ended in 1973 and produced carnage among the Vietnamese while stretching already gaping holes in the US's own humiliation and failure. She contributed this observation: "The Gulf forgotten as though it is ancient history. There is a universal denial of what we have done and what the consequences are. The countless victims, the devastation of the whole area, and the continuing human and ecological disaster are ignored. The guilt remains unacknowledged and the dangers of such a stance remain with us." (Ibid, pp. 166-67)
Segal's assessment has proved prophetic well beyond the Gulf War and extends fully to this present day. 

The world's only superpower plunged into wild, blind lashing out after damage was done to it on September 11, 2001. This event at the century's beginning has been followed by a continuance of further wars, genocides, and other atrocities which have produced backlashes in the form of the Islamic State and scorched-earth actions resulting in an estimated 60 million people uprooted globally today. It is perhaps the largest refugee and scapegoated human mass ever, and future warriors may well be drawn from this outsized body. Segal's great concern about growth of nuclear arms would only increase were she alive today because of the hydra-like rogue states possessing or working toward deliverable nuclear devices that could bring about annihilation. These are powerful, dark presences in our minds producing a constant stream of fear, anxiety, and extreme denial.
The Gothenburg, Sweden-based death metal band 'At The Gates' released the album "At War With Reality" in 2014. The thinking of its musicians place them in the same psychological space as Shakespeare's Hamlet, Napoleon I, Hitler, Stalin, the Taliban, and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Leader Tomas Lindberg described the constant struggle to find new realities, saying: "(This) concept deals more for the war with reality. The war is against one model for explaining reality...that you need to always reconquer reality." (Perkel, 2015)
Lindberg was one of the composers of the album's song "The Head of the Hydra," the title of which is pertinent here:

"Deceptive - the images burn
Fragments of silent lives
Hunger of the dreaming dead
Imagination, the death of man...
In blasphemy
The words from our bodies torn
Death in all its bewildering forms
The tomb is the passage
As the light flickers before me
The head of the hydra
The charlatan denounced
We disappear
The words from our bodies torn
In all its bewildering forms"

"Reconquering reality" and living in a world of several realities simultaneously may well refer to the title of the song above. In Greek mythology the many-headed serpent-monster and multifarious evil, Hydra, was slain by Hercules. Instead of eradicating the monster, however, each head was replaced by two other heads. End-of-times-oriented and ideologically extreme born-again Christians are now walking the same path with Boko Haram and the Islamic State. Cormac McCarthy could have incorporated the lyrics and harshest of sounds produced by this cultural band into the darkest of his novels, Blood Meridian. (McCarthy, 1985)
How are we to live in a world of constantly shifting, multiple realities in this early part of the 21st century while considering our own disappearance and possible annihilation?

In the essay below, the last decade of the 20th century was framed as the 'festival of peace.' However, a review of more recent events now requires a revision of that frame. The last twenty-five years of that century, marking the end of the Vietnam War and the beginning of the Middle East wars might instead be thought of as the Great Pause. We appear to have begun the 21st century digging deeper, larger graves to accept the dead and wounded of our present wars.
Click here to read the full essay.
Selected Facts staff:
Maxine Nelson
Managing Editor
Anna Delacroix
Copy Editor
David Parnes
Eric Huffmann