Horney on Neuroses: Diary, 2/17 to 2/21/22

Bookshelf overload; unfamiliar composers; Karen Horney book; Thoreau and Nietzsche; current reading; Hammett method; indecisive writer; Leonard Cohen; Cloverfield Paradox.

Karen Horney (1885-1952)

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved


I’ve pulled out about a hundred books to get rid of.  I probably don’t need to keep the half-dozen volumes of Dickens that I have—whenever I try him these days, I give up pretty quickly.  I need a box or two to put some of them in.  And my shelves are still overloaded.

Posted to my blog, but neglected to give it a title other than “Diary” with the dates.  Doesn’t seem to have mattered, since I got a handful of hits, as usual.  Turns out that I had two copies of one book by Stanislas Dehaene, and I also had two copies of The World of Thoreau (selections and photographs).  I’m getting rid of things I thought I’d keep forever (without reading), like Writings from Ancient Egypt and The World of Odysseus.  Actually, I read some of the Egypt; it was a total bore.

Vertigo has been troubling today and yesterday.  So I took a pill.


Went to sleep an hour early last night, woke often but kept going back to sleep, got up around 6:00, and spent over an hour napping in the living room.  I feel like going back to bed even now.

So I have about a hundred books and a hundred DVDs in two piles in the bedroom.  These are things to get rid of.  After making the initial pile yesterday, I went through the books again, pulling out whatever I thought would most interest Pablo.  I haven’t done that with the DVDs.  I keep looking at the CDs, but can never find anything that I don’t want to keep.  I don’t know—Tchaikovsky’s Manfred?  I’ve listened to it maybe three times, trying to make up my mind about it, but it always goes back on the shelf.  There are a very few others like that, mostly from unfamiliar (to me) composers, like Tcherepnin, Foote, Liadov…I have my eye on some recent purchases, too, like the operas of Britten and a package of Delius and other Brits.  I got those from Hamilton because they were very cheap, but I haven’t even tried the Britten yet.  There’s a limit to how much quiet, negligible music I need on CD (meaning the Delius package).


Your Creative Writing Masterclass—a book I briefly contemplated buying for $4.99 in order to get free shipping from Thriftbooks.  But then I had the thought, instead of reading this 309-page book, suppose I spent that amount of time just working?  I don’t need more such books.  I’ve read more than a hundred!  In other words, more than one a year, my whole life.

Spent about ninety minutes dictating three and a half pages of quotes from Karen Horney:  Our Inner Conflicts: A Constructive Theory of Neurosis.  My book review:  “Readable, wise, even useful despite its age.”  In fact, I think it’s better than that, and I found it quite persuasive.  I have no way of telling yet whether her theory is correct, or even accepted by the establishment.  In addition to its usefulness in my own quest (for what?  don’t ask), the lists of characteristic behaviors might be useful to me as a fiction writer, thus saving me from the horrible work of trying to think things up, i.e., being creative.  I’m contemplating buying a copy at $5.89, but…maybe I’d better not.

Hemlock Club meeting yesterday was good but somewhat truncated (about three hours).  Afterwards, I urged Pablo to come by and take away the books I’d pulled out for him, which he did (TC drove us, as usual when he attends).  For a year or more I’ve been resistant to giving Pablo any books, since his shelf overload is far worse than mine; but neither could I just get rid of them by putting them by the dumpster for whoever might pick them up.  I still have the “small mountain” of stuff to pass along to whoever; I promised to keep it for another week.  It’s probably about fifty books and more than that number of DVDs.

How much money is represented there?  How many hours of self-indulgent time-killing?  A useless speculation—I will do what I will do, and examining the work of others is not a waste of time.

I’ve resumed reading Friedrich Nietzsche:  The Will to Power.  It seems rather unnecessary, but…  I read the Thoreau chapter in American Autobiographies and liked it more than I expected.  The author is G. Thomas Couser.  It had been on the small mountain, but I rescued it at the last moment.  I loaned the LOA volume of four Thoreau books to Nog; he hasn’t mentioned it since, so I presume that he’s not reading it.  I had an urge a few days ago to get back into Walden, but fortunately that urge passed.  I’m already reading too many books…the Penguin History of the World has gotten pushed to the back of the line.  Last night in bed I was reading the Nietzsche, Highsmith’s Diaries, and even Marcus Aurelius (a slow slog but not useless).  I have another Horney from the library (New Ways in Psychoanalysis, a criticism of Freud) and I think three others.  It often happens that when I request books, by the time I get them I can’t remember why I was interested…


What I’ve been calling “the Lamour method,” thinking it was from Louis Lamour, I’ve now learned it’s actually from Dashiell Hammett.  I’m not prepared to do four hours at a stretch, but maybe I can do two in the morning, before breakfast most days, and maybe another two after my midday nap.  Watching a DVD on Leonard Cohen has inspired me to get more serious (what, again?) about “my work”; which, indeed, I tend to play at, worry about, or ignore, more than I do.  He also said something that I’ve said often enough:  you don’t have forever.

So…I’ve been indecisive for some months or years about “my next project.”  The thing to do is probably to just take one and run with it, and if it doesn’t work out, don’t give up easily, but, when there’s nothing else, eventually try another one, or the other one, etc.  It’s not that I don’t like the projects I’ve been thinking about; it’s more that I don’t know what to do with them:  rewrite, add scenes, tweak characters or plot, and so on.  I’m thinking of novels here, of which I have five or six on back burners (and stone cold).

I see myself here:  “More often, due to apathy, conformity, or opportunism, the people we envy are incapable of truly facing a conflict or of truly trying to resolve it on the basis of their own convictions, and consequently have merely drifted or been swayed by immediate advantage.”  I don’t know how “enviable” I am, but I am surprisingly content given my inner conflicts, perhaps because I don’t seriously face them (though surely I’ve done that often enough?)  Well, it was just a thought, and something to pad out the diary—I’m not serious here, and that’s the very issue I raise.  The quote is from Karen Horney.  I’m editing the text that I dictated, you see…

The text continues after a bit, “A spurious tranquility rooted in inner dullness is anything but enviable. It is bound to make us weak and an easy prey to any kind of influence.”  Well, I’m not that, at least, meaning an easy prey.  I also don’t think that “inner dullness” is something I need to worry about, or have:  I read too many various books for that to apply.

Watched The Cloverfield Paradox (2018), a frustrating experience.  It looks good on the screen, that is, the space station, and it’s not unpromising since it’s a kind of dystopic vision of our future, though I’m not sure that the situation makes much sense.  Anyway, the subplots get in the way, again and again, provoking much eye rolling and teeth gnashing.  Some stupid science doesn’t help:  I don’t believe the rotating rings design of the space station, which amounts to the Disneyland “teacups” ride that made me barf when I was younger than ten.  A good way to get inconsistent artificial gravity.  Anyway, while there were some creepy-good things, I can’t recommend it overall.  Rates 21% from critics, 42% from audiences, at Rotten Tomatoes.  A big, fat, well-earned “splat.”

Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
All Rights Reserved

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