Topics that Obsess Me

Topics that Obsess Me

I am not sure why I am so fascinated with this list of subjects, but I am, and I find that I buy any book that appears on them.  I have, it turns out (surprise!) written about a lot of these in one of my 26 books (yikes! – genug gepisht as my friend Alan Keiler says).  I am posting it in the hopes that some of you who read it will be inspired to send me a similar list of your own.  I am encouraged that so many topics belong to this year!

More or less in chronological order of the first evidence of interest.

A* means I have written about this topic in one of my books

*1941 to present:  Vegetarianism (I was born one)

1943-present:  Pretty much all animals (took two years to realize)

*1948:  Dogs (I think this is when I got my first one)

1949:  Hamsters (Hundreds over my childhood)

*1950:  Cats:  hardly ever been without one

1960:  Racism (sexism)

*1961:  False gurus (alas)

*1961:  Cults

1962:  Hannah Arendt (Why I find Eichmann in Jerusalem painful to read)

1963:  The Death of the Buddha in the Pali texts

1964:  The Council of Lhasa

1964 to present:  Modern American novels:  Philip Roth, Saul Bellow (getting to know the enemy); Richard Russo (writes like an angel)

1964:  Yiddish (I suddenly realized, too late, I should have learnt it to speak to my grandmother)

1964:  Fake French intellectuals (Foucault (?), Derrida, Lacan, Deleuze, Paul de Man, Althusser)

1965:  Tagore’s operas in Bengali (in Calcutta I listened to them over and over)

1965:  The Bauls

1966:  Holocaust research (Primo Levi in particular, my favorite writer on this)

1966:  Holocaust denial

1967:  Psychology of foreign language learning

“Sainthood” (the right wing politics of – e.g. Opus Dei)

*1968:  Abhinvagupta

*1968:  Anandavardhana

*1968:  Sanskrit poetics

1970:  *Repression

1971:  Denial

*1972:  “The Aetiology of Hysteria”

1972:  Counterphobia

1973:  *Dreams

1975:  Bullfighting (against)

*1975:  Animal rights (I think this is when I first became aware; reading Singer)

*1978:  Sexual abuse (Freud, Seduction hypothesis, so-called false memory)

*1979:  Anti-psychiatry:  Drugs, ECT, Lobotomies, their history, why I dislike them, etc.

1979:  The Ramayana

1980:  Genocide

1980:  *Repression of memories

1981:  *Sandor Ferenczi

1982:  Psychiatry during the Third Reich

1982:  Feminism

1986:  Therapy:  Against

1987:  The Mind of the Vivisector (thanks to Eliot Katz)

*1988:  Elephants

1990:  Mircea Eliade:  anti-Semitism of

1990:  Heidegger:  How did he get away with it?

1993:  *Anthropomorphism (usefulness of)

1994:  UFO Abductions:  why people believe them and why some study them

1995:  Terezin

1995*Healthy living (since meeting Leila)

*1995:  Animal emotions

1997:  Euthanasia (History of in Germany; Holland – is it true it can be used for mental illness in children??  Horrid thought)

1997:  Karadzic and Mladic and Srebrenica

*1998:  Kaspar Hauser

*1999:  Darwin

1999:  History of the Deaf

1999:  Auto da fé

1999:  Witchcraft

*2000:  Wolf-children

2000:  Novels I love to hate and why (e.g., The Bone People, because it excuses abuse)

2000:  Progressive politics

2000:  *National character:  is there such a thing?

2000:  Italy during the Second World War

2001:  Slavery:  history of

2001:  John Money (why he thrived)

2002:  Camps for Japanese Americans in the Second World War

2003:  Dementia (my mom, Diana)

2004:  *Chickens

2004:  *Pigs

2004:  *Rats

*Insects (bees and ants – what about their emotions?)

*2005:  Factory farming (evils of)

*2005:  Cage-free eggs (phantom access like phantom limb pain)

*2006 to present:  Veganism

2006:  Holocaust fraudulent memoirs (Misha da Fonseca; Wilkomirski, Herman Rosenblatt – but also fraudulent memoirs in general, e.g. James Frey, JT Leroy and others).

*2007:  Sentimentality:  Value of

2007:  Attitudes toward Down Syndrome (Arthur Miller, Erik Erikson hiding it)

2007: Asperger Syndrome:  can an entire culture have it?

2008:  Rwanda

2008:  Biology (?) of aggression

2008:  *Bonobos

2008:  Sufi songs (Cannot get enough of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan)

2009:  The Gulag

2009:  Enculturation (socialization, conformism)

2009:  Origins of agriculture

2009:  Absurd animal metaphors, e.g., Man is wolf to man.

2009:  *Pain in lobsters

2009:  *Pain in fish

2009:  Conspiracy theories (uselessness of)

2010:  The us/them distinction

2010:  Pseudospeciation

2010:  Apex Predators

2010:  Origins of War

2010:  The Spanish Civil War

2010:  Raoul Wallenberg (why he died)

2010:  Orcas

About jeffreymasson

My new book BEASTS is out this March from Bloomsbury or the eBook
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4 Responses to Topics that Obsess Me

  1. Jasper says:

    Anthony Burgess, himself a polyglot & onetime professional foreign language teacher to the U.S. military &/or State Dept, wrote a book on language acquisition, maybe more than one. They were practically geared books. I’ve always wanted to find time to explore them.

    Anyway, in case you don’t know of them, thought you might find the reference useful.

    Also, I’d be most interested in any post you have on Arendt’s Eichmann book. I pick it up every few years. Don’t know why it fascinates me, though I speculate from time to time….

  2. Quite surprised that you have never taken up anticircumcision. It would fit.

  3. Katy says:

    You inspired me to make a list. It’s actually quite helpful. Mine has several points of intersection with yours. I’d like to send it but maybe not best to post all six pages here?

  4. Katy says:

    I decided to post my list for what it’s worth.
    Obsessions (and interests) *indicates continuous interest
    before 1951 making up poems, trying to write, mechanical inventions. my dog* and cats, games and solving puzzles*
    1952 children of other lands: everything Dutch. *Dr. Doolittle: talking with animals. piano.
    1953 cats, kittens, ducks. *photography. The Wizard of Oz books (all of them)
    1954 phonograph records: South African Veldt. Louisa May Alcott books. bicycling. dolls.
    1955 ballet. dolls. neighborhood gang/outdoors. putting on plays. reading stories about children in different lands. German language. Nancy Drew series (sleuthing, solving mysteries*).
    1956 ballet, children in different lands. the life of Jesus. lots of reading.
    1957. murder mysteries: who done it? Perry Mason, Clue. donkeys. dogs.* Dickens. Climate and Weather*. Playwriting.*
    1958 World War II (impact on children). Girl Scouts (badges). Swimming. Baseball (Dodgers).
    1959-60 Joan of Arc. The Bronte Family. The Soong Family. Mao. Communism. Taoism. Team sports. history of religion (Protestant denominations). Kurt Weill (popular musicals)*. Tennis. sewing. Foreign languages (Hebrew, Russian). Israel/Holocaust. foreign films*
    1961-63 historical novels. French. foreign films. world history.* Fugger newsletters. civil liberties/Supreme Court/law. UN. Camus. James Joyce.
    1964 foreign films. *religion and philosophy: Simone de Beauvoir. modern art.
    1964-68 modern art. opera. Ayn Rand (looking at objectively). history of India. history of borderlands/East Europe*. European history: Weimar period * Kurt Weill. German literature. Dada. Foreign films. Film history. tennis. photography/art. Mexico.
    1968-74 radical politics, antiwar. pop music. Zen. sex (all kinds). neurobiology. abnormal psychology. psychoanalysis. antipsychiatry. famous mistreated mental patients (Anna O). libraries. medicine. science. science fiction. ecology. ZPG/sustainability. (all in this period continue of interest except scifi*)
    1974-77 nutrition (Adele Davis, raw milk). healthy living (antismoking, yoga) . animal communication (chimpanzees, dolphins, wolves), feminism/lesbianism. tennis. organic farming. needlework. orthomolecular psychiatry. Watergate. CIA. Greek mythology. other mythologies. natural childbirth. anticircumcision. baby massage.
    1978-1983 healthy childrearing. self-esteem. self-help. third world politics: Chile, Nicaragua. Nueva cancion: Victor Jara. left journalism (FAIR, Alexander Coburn, FM radio). IranContra ethnic music. Green Party. Ecology. fiction writing. Katherine Mansfield: New Zealand. Chumash Indians. foreign films
    1983-1988 Bloomsbury group: esp. Carrington. anarchism: mutual aid. yoga. bioenergetics. breathing. walking. PTSD. Alice Miller. Assault on Truth (Eckstein etc.). ESL. vegetarianism.
    1988-1995 Against Therapy (Masson). dysfunctional families. central America. libraries (anarchism, bureaucracy). Kennedy assassination. Czech literature: esp. Ivan Klima. problems with communism. singing. *Kohutian self-psychology: realistic ethics (anti-Nazis), big picture, narcissism, personality disorder. Weimar.
    1995-2005 choral singing. opera. classical music. journalism. bonobos. realistic ethics: buddhism. hiking. photography. climate change.
    2005-2011 autism spectrum: ADHD, Aspergers, mutism. organic fruit and vegetable growing. wildlife: birds. rural life. foreign films. climate change. social science. realistic ethics: Vavilov. German mythology/Grimm/psychologpathology:* forced conversion of Germans. classical music, choral singing. foreign films: esp. Techine.
    Zen. problems with Zen. *political economy. crash of 1929. Warburg family. Weimar. screenwriting. dogs. photography. trauma bonds.
    current: problems with all Buddhism, esp. Tibetan Buddhism (Trungpa, Naropa: crazy wisdom oxymoron): gurus, cults and cultic studies (ICSA paper). self-psychology updated: Bacal, Ferenczi (trauma). problems with psychoanalysis: Otto Gross (Jung/Spielrein/Freud). My Father’s Guru. foreign films. economic breakdown. climate change. realistic ethics: Kramer and Alstad. history of family and nation. Dogs.

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