Iris Murdoch

002-parodiability-iris-murdoch

 

I recently read an article about Iris Murdoch in the London Review of Books by Colin Burrow. I found it most thoughtful.

 

iris-murdoch-young

Today, many in the profession of medicine associate Iris Murdoch not for her writings but for her development of dementia. I have to be honest this troubles me. I am not alone to be troubled. This is what the Edinburgh author Candia McWilliams said in her memoir, ‘What to look for in Winter’:

candia-mcwilliam-on-iris-murdoch

 

iris-murdoch-building-stirling-dementia

When reading the London Book review of Iris Murdoch my thoughts returned to a work by Raymond Tallis, ‘The Kingdom of Infinite Space: A Fantastical voyage around your Head”. In this book Tallis describes a paradox: that consciousness manages to be both embodied and disembodied.  This is a book that fills the head with wonder and demonstrates silliness in Cartesian divides.

Dr Felix Post was a psychiatrist who was interested in an area of study known as ‘Pathography’. This is the search for psychiatric disorders in individuals after their death.

pathography-felix-post-2

I share the same career as Dr Post once practised. A career where Dr Post was a pioneer. However I do not share the determinism that he had to define people, or re-define people, after their death through a singular vantage.

I have worried enough about this approach –pathography– to make a short film about it:

 

severed-head2

a-severed-head

place-for-the-arts

 

All this is necessary backdrop to Colin Burrow’s balanced article on Iris Murdoch. What follows are some of the passages that struck me [dare I say it] as both an embodied and disembodied head:

 

001-parodiability-iris-murdoch

003-parodiability-iris-murdoch

 

004-parodiability-iris-murdoch

 

005-parodiability-iris-murdoch

 

006-parodiability-iris-murdoch

 

007-parodiability-iris-murdoch

 

007b-parodiability-iris-murdoch

 

008-parodiability-iris-murdoch

 

 

009-parodiability-iris-murdoch

 

010-parodiability-iris-murdoch

iris-murdoch-older

a-severed-head-iris-murdoch

 

011-parodiability-iris-murdoch

 

012-parodiability-iris-murdoch

 

 

013-parodiability-iris-murdoch

 

 

014-parodiability-iris-murdoch

 

021-parodiability-iris-murdoch

 

the-sea-the-sea-iris-murdoch

 

015-parodiability-iris-murdoch

016-parodiability-iris-murdoch

017-parodiability-iris-murdoch

018-parodiability-iris-murdoch

019-parodiability-iris-murdoch

022-parodiability-iris-murdoch

025-parodiability-iris-murdoch

 

Footnote: There is absolutely no doubt that Iris Murdoch developed
a severe dementia syndrome and that this was based upon biological 
changes in her ageing brain.

The questions that this Hole Ousia post asks are several:

(1) Would you want to be remembered for an illness first, 
or first as the brilliant person that you were?

(2) Can we define ourselves entirely through brain functions alone?

(3) What are your views on "Pathography"?