For a while, I had no idea what my new article should be about. It has to be part of my new project, so I’m kind of limited in terms of the possible primary sources. There was this novel that I read a couple of months ago that I really loved. I loved it to the point where I wouldn’t let it out of my hands wherever I went. Even if I wasn’t going to read it, I wanted to keep it close.

Still, even though I liked it so much, I wasn’t going to write about it. I had no interesting ideas about this novel. Everything seemed very self-explanatory.

And then today I was listening to a colleague’s sabbatical presentation on abortion in the Weimar Republic and I suddenly had a lightbulb moment. The novel opened itself to me, and I realized that it contained a wealth of material for me to write about. The funny thing is that the novel has nothing in it about either abortion or the Weimar Republic but for some mysterious reason hearing that sabbatical presentation really pushed me to develop ideas on the novel.

I almost hadn’t gone to this presentation because I was very tired and still had many things ahead of me but I was curious about it so I went. This just goes to show that intellectual curiosity does pay off.

Cheap Therapy

As a teacher, I love answering questions even when they are not addressed to me. A blogger asks:

However, I’ve given it a lot of consideration over the past few days. Knowing CAT is a “cheap” therapy is a concern; does that make me a snob?

No, it doesn’t make you a snob. It makes you a very intelligent person who has great insight into the nature of psychological help.

Psychotherapy that costs nothing produces very little, if any, positive results. People tend to resist any profound changes in their psychological make up. The psyche perceives change as threatening, even of it is a change for the better. One of the ways to diminish this resistance is to make it unprofitable for a person to keep resisting. When during a session you can feel your own hard-earned money dripping away in a steady stream while you keep silent, avoid answering questions and engage in a variety of avoidance techniques, resisting therapy becomes harder.


The thermometer is showing 68F today. It’s December 3, people. WTF?

The worst part is that the air conditioning is off on campus and it’s impossible to teach. The students are visibly distressed, some find it hard to breathe, and I’m sweating like a stuck pig. Today is the day for student evaluations in 3 of my courses, and I want the students to take their time filling them out. But that won’t happen because all they want to do is leave the stuffy classroom. And I can’t say I blame them.

I also have the oral presentations by my independent researchers to attend today, and I had prepared a killer outfit, the centerpiece of which were my red boots. Of course, the outfit had to be shelved because nobody can wear boots in this weather.

In the meanwhile, some lucky bastards in Montreal have already had snow.

Reader Appreciation Series: Stringer Bell

After a long and patient search, I think I finally located the very first comment Stringer Bell left on my blog. I think it was here but if I’m wrong, Stringer Bell will correct me. If I’m right about this, he has been reading the blog for pretty much as long as it existed. I feel very happy that I haven’t started to bore him yet.

Stringer Bell is a long-time reader whom I absolutely adore. I hope he doesn’t decide to abandon the blog because that would be very sad for me. He is incredibly brilliant, and after leaving comments for years, he still manages to surprise me with his insights. Stringer Bell is passionate, opinionated, and has a great sense of humor. He is an intellectual with a wide range of interests who seems to know everything that deserves to be known.

Stringer Bell is also a very kind and thoughtful person but this is something that will remain between him and me. 🙂


A therapist I know treats people who are addicted to shopping. The advice he gives them is to put their credit cards into a big bucket and freeze them. Then the chunk of ice that contains the cards is stored in the freezer. Whenever patients are tempted to make a spontaneous purchase, they are forced to invest a lot of time and effort into unfreezing the cards. While they do that, the urgent desire to make a purchase might subside.

This technique worked very well until a patient of his told him the following story. She experienced a profound desire to shop, took the chunk of ice with the cards from the freezer, ran into the garage, grabbed a wrench, ran back into the house, and demolished the piece of ice. Just smashed it to smithereens.

The patient was a small, skinny woman, yet her desire to shop was so powerful that she destroyed a huge piece of ice within a minute.

Psychoanalysis, in the meanwhile, can help one address the root causes of shopaholism (alcoholism, workaholism, etc.) instead of dealing only with the symptoms.