feedback loop

January 6th, 2011 | Uncategorized

I’ve been doing a lot of research on the psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott for the book I’m working on. At one point I searched online for any possible video footage there might be of him, and didn’t find anything. Recently I checked again, and saw that a short video I posted about my cat came up in the search.

Screen shot 2011-01-06 at 12.22.23 PM

Then I noticed the first link, to an audio clip of Winnicott. I followed it, but had a great deal of trouble trying to get the .wmv file to play on my mac. (Thank you to our kind blog monitor Mentor for finding the hidden links that enabled me to finally hear it.)

I don’t know where or when the recording was made, but it was probably some time in the mid-sixties. It’s weird that there’s not more audio available of Winnicott because he did many BBC broadcasts about child psychology in the 40s and 50s but of course it was much more difficult to record stuff then. And possibly because they were talks about mothers and babies and not war or the economy, no one considered them worth preserving.

Anyhow, after years of reading about him and reading his work, it was very exciting to hear his voice.

43 Responses to “feedback loop”

  1. Kate L says:

    It’s always exciting to search for something on the internet with your computational device, and find it! And, to find out that your cat can be viewed by a global audience.

  2. Kate L says:

    … sadly, though, not all world-famous cats are as upstanding and honorable as Dr. Winnecott. I’m reminded of what comedian Steve Martin found out about his cat sneaking off with his checks and cashing them at a local bank to buy thousands of dollars worth of cat toys. His cat was never brought to justice, because he escaped to Catalina Island. On a catamaran.

  3. Ian says:

    How awful, I didn’t realise Dr Winnicott was British.

    AB, have you tried the British Library website?

    If anything’s archived, they’ll know about it. You’re an author and your books will be in the Library.

    There’s always the BBC archives, but IF you get permission to go and listen to his interviews, you’re generally not allowed to borrow them.

  4. Ginjoint says:

    Those are great ideas, Ian – especially because they completely justify Alison getting her publisher to cover a trip to Britain. Hey, it’s research for the book, right? Or is that not how things work in the real publishing world?

  5. Ian says:

    Surprisingly GJ, I hadn’t thought of that! I wonder if the advance would cover a trip to the Tintin museum in Belgium? Book far enough in advance and it’s not expensive to hop over the channel. 😀

  6. The Other Holly says:

    Love the new glasses!

  7. ready2agitate says:

    My kittie loves that double under chin stroke too, of course… (but I can’t purr like Alison!).

  8. Kate L says:

    Personally, I love A.B.’s hair! I wish my short hair would look like that! 🙂

    Hey, everybody, Dr. Rachel Maddow is guest-hosting The Rachel Maddow Show this week! I think that my late mother would have liked Dr. Maddow, but I just know what she would have said… “That Rachel Maddow is such a nice young woman, but would it kill her to wear a dress?”.

  9. Ian says:

    I don’t ever remember hearing my mother’s opinion of lesbians. Such things were “not to be discussed” (along with a huge number of other things).

  10. Kate L says:

    When I was a child here in Smallville in the early 1960’s, my parents hired a strong young woman with short hair to teach me how to swim. I thought that she was great, and so did my parents. I also recall my mother saying to my father one evening that she couldn’t understand “why such a nice young woman isn’t married”. Now that I’m older, I think that maybe the woman she shared an apartment with was her significant other. A surprising number of strong women with short hair were people I identified with as a child, even though I was clueless as to their private lives.

  11. Kate L says:

    Oh, and I think that white patch in A.B.’s hair is really cute! 🙂

    Also… I was wrong about Steve Martin’s cat escaping to Catalina Island. He was going to Katmandu, that’s really where he was going to…

  12. Fester Bestertester says:

    Kate L #2+11:

    Perhaps this will help justify the apparent “misbehavior” of Steve Martin’s cat…

  13. Fester Bestertester says:

    …or even this.

  14. Anonymous says:

    You could use the tactic I did with my dissertation. Write a nice note to the people who have written biographies on Winnicott (Rodman, Adam), and ask if they are aware of any audio archives. People like hearing from those who have read their work and are often very helpful with such things.

    Or, you could write to Cornell University Libraries, in the Oskar Diethelm Library, and ask the archivist who works with the Donald W. Winnicott papers if s/he is aware of anything of interest.

    I got a lot of help from authors and archivists–not so much from Google.

  15. Jaliya says:

    Alison, if Winnicott’s work has grabbed you, take a look at the writings of Michael Eigen — a psychoanalyst whose main mentor was Winnicott (If I’ve read right) … I believe Eigen’s books are published by Karnac … and that he’s based in NYC. Here’s a link to an interview with Michael Eigen:

  16. hairball_of_hope says:


    Are you sure that you were dealing with an audio file? WMV is a Windoze video file format (WMA is a Windoze audio file format). Here’s a link to a resource for Windoze to Mac OSX video players and converters (keep in mind he’s trying to sell his own Mac conversion software, but the links to free stuff are all on the up-and-up):

    He recommends Mplayer and VLC. I use both in Linux, and they work well.

    You should keep in mind that Mac OSX is really BSD Unix under the Apple glitz, and if there’s an open source program in Linux or Unix for doing something, there’s probably a port for OSX (e.g. Mplayer and VLC).

    Not to leave the Windoze crowd out here… if you need to do video conversions (aka transcoding), a great free implementation with a GUI using the open source ffmpeg is WINFF (Google it, otherwise this post will end up in >2 URL limbo; it is at winff[dot]org). I have the portable version of WINFF loaded on a USB flash drive, so I can use it on Windoze boxes at work to convert video from my Flip video camera and iPod to whatever I happen to need at the moment (usually something to be embedded in a PowerPoint, sometimes MPEG-4 for use in mastering a DVD).

    [As seen in AB’s post she was able to listen to file so, yes, these were audio files.

    For the geeks who are interested: The problem was simply that the javascript on the page was broken so that the links to the files didn’t work. However, the underlying directory containing the media files was accessible to the web so it was easy enough to grab the individual files directly. –Mentor]

  17. Alex K says:

    AB’s father: “I’m not good like you.” Per Winnicott: The false self the true self the gay self the closeted self. “You won’t love me if you know me.”

    Cats, without the superstructure of the superego, have it easier. THEY JUST DON’T CARE.

  18. Anonymous, thanks for the tip about the Oskar Diethelm library. I actually just paid a visit there at the end of December, and the archivist was very helpful. They only had correpondence and some unpublished articles, but it was all very helpful.

  19. Calico says:

    Alison, you may want to research the wonderful and plentiful archives of the CBC / Radio Canada online-they have tons of stuff from the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s. You can also send them an online enquiry.
    Considering that Canada is still part of HRH’s worldwide stash, you may hit pay dirt. Good luck!

  20. Acilius says:

    It’s remarkable how unfriendly the Web is to audio. Sometimes I wonder if Tim Berners-Lee and those dudes were aligned with some ultra-radical Deaf Culture group.

  21. Kate L says:

    I’ve been following the tragic news this morning of the assassination attempt on Democratic Congresswoman Giffords of Arizona at a town hall-style meeting by a man reportedly using an automatic weapon. She was hit, the gunman is in custody, and there are reports of fatalities among the bystanders attending the congresswoman’s public event. Over the past two years, when I saw television coverage of the verbal violence at public events directed against democratic members of congress regarding health care reform, I wondered how long it would take for the criminally-inclined to resort to actual physical violence. The news coming out of Arizona this morning puts me back in my third-grade class on Novermber 22, 1963, when our teacher first informed us that President Kennedy had been shot, and then that he was dead. I also recall the April day in 1968 when Martin Luter King was shot to death, and how I went to bed before Robert Kennedy’s victory speech the night of the 1968 California presidential primary, knowing that he was now the likely democratic presidential nominee that November. I woke up the next day to the news that he had been shot in the head and was in a Los Angeles hospital. If younger readers of this blog have ever wondered what it felt like to be alive in the 1960’s. I’m sorry to say that this is what a lot of it was like.

  22. hairball_of_hope says:


    Thanks. The file in question was a .WMA audio file, not a .WMV video file. Now that I’ve looked at the underlying directory (obviously more bad web coding/design beyond the broken Javascript and hideous frames!) there are also RealMedia (.RM) versions of the files, which AB might have been able to play on the Mac natively vs. the Windoze .WMA or .WMV.

    For those of you who are interested, the files are located here:

    (… goes back to her geeky existence …)

  23. makky says:

    I’m sitting here Kate, and I want to write something but can’t really find the words. It must sound like yada yada to younger people but this asassination attempt activates those tramas deep within those of us alive during the 60s. I was in a lefty retail shop this afternoon when the clerk behind the counter informed me of the shooting. I just couldn’t concentrate on the catalogue order I was trying to do for several minutes because my mind went back… I was 5 in 1963.

  24. Kat says:

    Among those killed was a 9 year-old. Gross.

    So angry.

  25. ready2agitate says:

    wimper. 🙁

  26. Pam I. says:

    Just read in the Guardian here: “Giffords had been named as a political campaign target for conservatives in last November’s mid-term elections by former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin because of her strong support for Obama’s reforms. Palin had published a “target map” on her website using images of gun sights to identify 20 House Democrats, including Giffords, for backing the new healthcare law.”
    Ten thousand years of civilisation….

  27. Ian says:

    The BBC reported that they at least had the gunman in custody. This will help with the ‘why’.

    And Pam I, if that was in Britain the tabloids would have a field day with that map.

  28. ready2agitate says:

    NYT has an insightful analysis today, which includes a link to Palin’s infamous map (taken down within moments of the shooting).

    I hope, as the article states, this is a clarion call to the toxic hyperbole of US politics, but I fear the latter (a gruesome harbinger of things to come).

  29. Ginjoint says:

    This is absolutely sickening.

    Just the fact that Palin’s people took the map down so quickly shows they knew effin’ well what they were doing all along.

    I can’t even process this any more tonight…

  30. Kat says:

    Not only did Palin’s people take down the map, but apparently they’re hard at work keeping her Facebook clear of anything that would be critical…..of her. Horribly offensive comments about the value of a 9 year old child, apparently, get to stay up:

  31. Ginjoint says:

    Kat, I’m shaking after reading that link. Palin is an evil, evil POS. I hope Rachel Maddow does see that post. I…O.K., I need to stop now, because I’ll just lapse into foul language.

  32. Kat says:

    Yep, Ginjoint, I’m right there with you.
    The blog’s written by someone in the UK, though, so maybe several of us ought to see if we can email it to the Rachel Maddow show, in case its readership is low enough or mostly limited to people in England?

  33. hairball_of_hope says:

    From the “What Else Is New?” Dept comes word that the Phelps whack-a-doodles will be protesting at the funerals of the six people slain in Arizona, and in particular, at the funeral of 9-year-old Christina Green.,0,3092922.story

    Even FoxNews headlined this as “Westboro Baptist Church to Use Tucson Massacre to Promote Agenda of Hate.”

    According to the Arizona Republic, the AZ state legislature is working on a “funeral protection zone” bill that is patterned after one in Ohio (no link, lest this post end up in >2 URL limbo). It establishes a 300 foot protection zone one hour before/one hour after a funeral.

    I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t think these bills will pass SCOTUS constitutional scrutiny, and of course, it will be the whacko Phelpses who challenge them.

    (… goes back to wishing for some serious boomerang karma to hit the Phelpses …)

  34. Acilius says:

    I kept waiting for someone to point out that the shooter in Tucson seems to have concentrated his fire on women and girls. So I mentioned something about it myself:

  35. Mentor says:

    [If I may butt in here, I’ll offer THIS as well. –Mentor]

  36. hairball_of_hope says:

    From the “Any Publicity Is Good Publicity” Dept, comes word that Glock 9mm pistols are flying off the shelves in Arizona gun shops.

    Quoting from the article:

    After a Glock-wielding gunman killed six people at a Tucson shopping center on Jan. 8, Greg Wolff, the owner of two Arizona gun shops, told his manager to get ready for a stampede of new customers.

    Wolff was right. Instead of hurting sales, the massacre had the $499 semi-automatic pistols — popular with police, sport shooters and gangsters — flying out the doors of his Glockmeister stores in Mesa and Phoenix.

    “We’re at double our volume over what we usually do,” Wolff said two days after the shooting spree that also left 14 wounded, including Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who remains in critical condition.

    [… snip …]

    Light and easy to use, a Glock 9 mm was also wielded by the Virginia Tech killer, Seung-Hui Cho, in a spree that left 32 people dead. The gun is among the most popular sidearms for U.S. police departments. A negative for law enforcement is that the rifling of the barrel makes it almost impossible to match a bullet to an individual weapon with ballistic tests, Kobilinsky said.

    “It’s one of the greatest guns made in the history of the world,” said Wolff, whose two stores sell Glock-made weapons almost exclusively.

    [… snip …]

    Brady Campaign spokeswoman Caroline Brewer said that some states require local law enforcement agencies to approve gun permits, a system that would have given authorities a chance to further assess Loughner, whose behavior acquaintances have described as erratic. Loughner tried to buy ammunition the morning of the shooting at a local Wal-Mart Stores Inc. outlet, then left during the sale process, according to a statement by the company.

    “If a clerk at Wal-Mart picked something up and refused to sell this guy some ammunition, we can certainly imagine that law enforcement would have picked that up as well,” Brewer said.

    (… goes back to calculating Markov chains for the non-stochastic probabilities [tip o’ the keyboard to Mentor] …)

  37. Acilius says:

    Good link, Mentor! I think the time has come to revive the concepts of “good taste” and “bad taste.” If you’re calling for the violent death of your political opponents, or insinuating that they represent a mortal threat to people your audience has an obligation to protect, you should know that what you are doing is in bad taste.

    If you are equipped with the concepts of “good taste” and “bad taste” and you know that what you have done is in bad taste, you have two alternatives. First, you can apologize and try to show good taste. Since every human being on the planet Earth has at some point or other flown off the handle and acted like a jerk, everyone should be prepared to accept such an apology.

    Second, you can acknowledge that your behavior is in bad taste, but can argue that under the circumstances it is necessary. If you think the political situation calls for violence, then you can’t very well object when people classify you as a kind of terrorist.

  38. Kat says:

    Thank you, Mentor. So far, I haven’t really heard the words “domestic terrorism” much, and I’ve been wondering why.

    Acilius, just because one *can* say something, doesn’t mean one *should*?

  39. Andrew O. says:

    ARe you going to change your cat’s name to Winnicat?

    [Freed from spam-filter limbo. –Mentor]

  40. ksbel6 says:

    With great power comes great responsibility.

  41. Laurie Bell says:

    re: Winnicott –Highly recommend “After-Education: Anna Freud, Melanie Klein and Psychoanalytic Histories of Learning” by Deborah Britzman (incidentally, an amazing lesbian writer/teacher)

  42. Ian says:

    Has everyone seen this? Pics/photo essays of baby gays and lesbians!

    It’s a new blog that invites readers to post a pic of what they think shows their earliest ‘mo tendencies. Lots of blurring of gender lines. Obviously the blog owner’s on the ‘nature’ side of the debate. But once you go past that, the stories are wonderful to read.

    It’s very, very sweet and heartwarming, without being schmaltzy.

  43. Minnie says:

    I wonder if Dr. Winnicott’s voice was recorded on a wire recorder? I wonder if any are still around, and how the recorded-upon wire stood the test of time?

    My dad, a language teacher, had one in the early fifties. I played with it a lot, and would gradually alter the speed and pitch to try to decipher the lyrics of hits I’d recorded from the radio.

    I remembered that long-ago machine when I heard this recording. Perhaps Dr. Winnicott’s voice got speeded up a little? If you can vary the speed/pitch on whatever you listen to recordings on, maybe more could be deciphered.