PostmodernTherapies NEWS                 01/01/01
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February 1,  2001

 Sound on PMTH NEWS

I have spent a amazing amount of time this last week learning about sound on the internet.  One of the consequences of this explorationis that I have left you a sound clip of my voice.  You can reach itby going to the upper corner of our blue tool bar.  There you willfind a new device.  It's a sound box.  If you click on the buttonto the left, you'll start my recording.  Clicking on the middle buttonpauses the recording.  Clicking on the right button turns it off. My apologies for the static and infidelity.  And, if you decide Ihave a terrible lisp, know that it is at least partly result of my soundequipment.

I plan to get better at making sound files and I even hope to lure someof my PMTH friends into making sound files, too.  Then, as I'm imagining it now, we'll scatter our little voice messages to you throughout the site.  You can choose whether or not to listen to them.

My Adventures with Napster

Up until last week I scarcely knew what Napster was.  But as partof my study of internet sound, I became a member and now I want to share with you what I know, and what some of the others on PMTH have told me.

Napster is an amazing new system of information sharing that is breakingall the rules of modernism.  First, Napster's inventor is not an establishedscientist.  It was Judy Weintraubthat pointed out to me just how young the inventor is.  Shawn Fanninginvented Napster as a 19 year old college freshman:

I found out how it worked by becoming one of the 70million new subscribers.  You might like to do this, too, butfirst, you will have to make sure you have a sound card.  Here's howI did it. 

First, I visited the Napster site at:  At the site I painlessly downloaded the Napster software.  Following its instructions, I had no problem installing this new device.  Atthis point, I found I had in my Windows start button a new link to the"Napster music community".  Clicking on the little gray Napster catfaceicon, I found myself faced with a very intelligible screen showing me whatto click to do searches.

I clicked on the search tab and from there I was given a space to typein the name of an artist or a title.  I typed in the name " ChavelaVargas," which is a Latin singer someone was telling me about lately. Soon, my screen was filled with dozens of Chavela Vargas songs.  Icould download any of these simply by clicking on my peference, and soI downloaded a few.   (Want to hear a little Vargas sample? Justclick here.)

As these tunes were downloading, I right clicked on the name of thesong, and it gave me the option of playing the song as I downloaded it or, alternatively, chatting with someone.  I elected not to chat,but then someone started a chat with me.  A little dialogue box simplyappeared on my screen and someone said, "Hello.  Where are you?" "California" I typed in, and "Where are you?"  "India" he told me. Now, that surprised me.

But what really surprised me was to learn that that I was downloading this man's songs!  That's right.  I had assumed I was takingthem off of Napster, a vague place that housed an infinite quantity ofsongs.  Not so!  I was taking my new songs right off of thisman's computer.  And, since I, in my greed, was now downloading several songs at the same time, I was taking other people's songs, as well.

Then, the most amazing thing happened.  A big window appeared atthe bottom of my screen and the name of my new songs appeared.  Then, there was a graph showing that these songs were "uploading."  AfterI rubbed my eyes a little, I realized that the songs I had just downloadedwere already being uploaded by others.  It was all happening in theblink of a an eye.

Well, I had a chat function, and now I knew how to use it.  "Whereare you?" I asked one of them.  "Italy," came the chat reply. 

Now, it doesn't take a genius to realize that this is truly revolutionary.  Everyone around the eworld is opening up their precious and very privatecomputers to let strangers reach in and take what they want.  In someways it reminded me of the way we used to share comic books as kids. Exciting.  The internet has often given me a thrill-of-the-futurekind of experience, and this experience was definitely one of those.

Why,  I asked, stop with sharing music?  Why not share words? Lesson plans?  Recipes? Published articles?  The possibilities seemed endless.  Maybe, I thought, they are already doing it.

And sure enough they are.  If you do a search in Napster on theword "lecture" (as opposed to searchnig for your favorite song) you can find everything from music lessons to lectures on self-hypnosis. If you do a search on "auto-book" you can find a tape of the Chroniclesof Narnia by C.S. Lewis that you can listen to on the way to work, or,alternatively, the Egyptian book of the dead.  "Lesson" will giveyou, for example,  lessons in Spanish or Russian.  "Speech" uneartheda copy of a Martin Luther King speech, and also another by Winston Churchill. Then, with a click of a button, all of these sound files could be takenoff of other people's computers and dumped right here on my no-longer-very-privatehard drive.  It was really kind of thrilling.

But nothing this good is without its controversial issues.  I sawtwo right off that bat. 


Privacy  - if people were downloading my songs, then couldn'tthey also download my private notes! 


copyright - What about the poor billionarie artists that were singingall these songs?  Or even all the billionaire wantabes that wouldprefer we only listen when we drop a dollar in their pockets?

I detailed these two concerns to PMTH and here's what people told me. 

On the issue of privacy, Val Lewis saidthat she could care less about people having access to her computer stuff. Although she did add that she would not like people to start sending hermore junk Email.  (But, Val, can't they do that more easily just takingyour address off your Email posts?) 

"What about hackers?" I asked.  What about them, Robert Santos responded.  Why would they concern themselves with your secrets?  Hackers want to get into the likes of the Pentagon. 

Santos comments made sense -- although I shared the feelings of RietSamuels, who felt there needed to be someway to protect our privatedocuments from Napster's eyes.

But, said Santos, remember you name the folders that Napster can getinto.  Moreover, you can always go into Napster and change which foldersthat are open to access. 

Can I trust that? 

Well, remember, said Santos, Napster is blind to anything but an mp3file (music file).

Okay, so maybe I can open my computer up for the world to inspect.  Maybe. 

But what about copyrights?  Well, that's another matter.  That's when Santos and Weintraubtold me about the law suit waged by the Recording Industry of America Association (RIAA). 

But, so I learned, Napster is making progress in workingout a deal with the RIAA.  Moreover, the artists generally seemsupportive.  It cuts out the middleman, so Santos told me.  And,browsing through the chat rooms on Napster, there seems to be a general feeling that once on Napster, people actually buy more music.  There is something addicting about music.  It's like potato chips or chocolate chip cookies.  Have a couple and you want a couple more.  Allof which is good for artists.  I downloaded a Spanish lesson fileand found myself searching out the maker for a more complete version.

So, maybe this is just another test of our postmodernism.  Whilewe are thinking like moderns we feel afraid of change.  Our imaginations are stunted by a commitment to our nostalgia.

But I have my toe in the ocean of change now, and although I'm moving slower than some, I refuse to be left behind.  I believe that toomuch nostalgia causes mental stagnation and  that the future belongsto those who claim it as an adventure in postmodern imagination.

Tom Strong's New Paper

Let me draw your attention to a new paper by TomStrong.   I have read this paper and appreciate the way itis written.  It is authored collaboratively by client and therapist. 

If you're interested in the paper, you can read it at:

Strong, T. & Flynn, T. (2000) Do you want this story to die withyou? Journal  of Systemic Therapies, 19 (3) 83-88

You can also read a letter to the author by Mel Snyder that will sesrveas a review of the paper.

 What's Hot in the 
New Therapist?

The New Therapist is a special magazine to PMTH for a number of reasons. First, a number of us publish there, second, the editor John Soderlundis one of us.  So, I like to keep you updated on what the latest iswith the New Therapist.  Consider this your update:

The January/February 2001edition of New Therapist will be about 

Altered States

Selected full-text articles will be posted online at the New Therapist web page, which can be found at
from January 6 onwards.

Some of the material will be provocative and controversial.  Here'sa sample of this edition's key articles:

The ecstasy of therapy and the therapy of ecstasy.

The definitive overview of the use of ecstasy in therapy, how it's done,why it's done and why it should or shouldn't be done. - By Kevin Durrheimand Kevin Burton.

Curing the therapeutic State

A wide-ranging and engrossing interview with ThomasSzasz on drugs, the state, therapy and why it's okay to call yourself Jesus. - By Jacob Sullum.

Coming to grips with the 
body therapies

An in-depth look at the growing popularity of the body  psychotherapies,their foundations, their theoretical underpinnings and why they shouldbe handled with care. - By Nick Totton

Body Worker Beware

For the wary, Robert Langs offers a few good reasons why body therapistsshould think twice before laying on hands. - By RobertLangs.

In the meantime, we have the previous edition to look at.  check out the article by PMTH's Val Lewis onthe Hokey Pokey of hypnotism by clickinghere.  Or check out an article by me on "What is Postmodernism" by clicking here.

Subscribe to New Therapist by clickinghere.

A Glimpse Into the Future?

These are soundbites that contain ideas about the role of soundbites and the future of writing.  You need a sound card to hear them.  If you don't know if you have a sound card, click on the three button device and find out.  It will play automatically if you do, unless you have some way of turning your sound off and it's presntly turned off. And, remember, wherever you see these soundbite devices, click on the buttonto the left to turn them on, the button to the right to stop them, andthe middle button to pause.  Please excuse the static.  I hopeto improve the sound fidelity in the future.

Sound bite one:

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If you were to listen to this sound, you would hear a few commentsabout the role of sound bites like this in future newsletters and periodicals


Sound bite two:

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The recording here talks about the possibility of sound bites replacingwritten text in a general way.


If you have comments or criticisms please mail them to me by clickinghere.

Want to Join Us?

PMTH is a closed community for professional therapists, as well as scholars,professors and graduate students with specialities related to therapy. We keep our list reserved this way in order to have a special place forpeople who are concerned with doing good therapy to discuss their personalissues about therapy in some depth.  We go to other lists to discussthings with people who don't fit this profile.  If you want to inviteone of us to a list you're on, there is a way to do that.  Or, ifyou fit the profile for membership to PMTH, you can do that, too.  Whichever you want, you can write me and tell me, by clicking


This will send a post to me, Lois Shawver.  Tell me of your interest. If you are looking to join us, also give me a little information aboutyourself that tells me how you fit the profile for joining the PMTH onlinecommunity.  And, in either case, .tell me that you got the idea towrite by reading PMTH NEWS.

Want to Read Past Issues of 

Thirty-two prior issues of this newsletter, Postmodern Therapies NEWS(also called  PMTH NEWS), are now available.  You can reach alisting of all prior issues, together with the names of the articles inthose issues, by clicking here.

Another way to read articles published in past issues of PMTH NEWS, or to read articles that were published as links from the PMTH NEWS front page, is by doing a search on the topic that interests you.  Justput the word or words you wish to look up in the search engine at the upperlefthand corner of this newsletter.  Notice that there are two kindsof searches.  One is for a search within PMTH NEWS documents and oneis for a search across the internet. 

Send a Note to a Friend 
about PMTH NEWS?
Lois Shawver

Would you like to tell someone about PMTH NEWS?  Just fill out the form below  and  click on the "send" button.  The invitation that goes out will include a special link that your friend can click on to arrive at this site.

Friends email:

Your name:




The Importance of 
the Imaginary

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Elmer and Ellen

Last week I talked to you about postmodern imagination, and I introduced you to our new imaginary characters ,Elmer and Ellen.  Elmer and Ellen are imaginary characters that PMTHtherapists are writing in order to explore some of the ups and downs ofhuman conflict.  They are being written by a variety of people, people who sometimes write one character's lines and sometimes another's. They even sometimes cross over gender boundaries and explore writing thelines for the opposite sex.  Moreover, there is a fair amount of conversation about what is happening, and how to write the different parts.  Theauthors for this month's edition of Elmer and Ellen have been: HelenShoemaker,Nigel Glaze, RietSamuels, Jerry Shaffer .

I have constructed a list of our imaginarycharacters to help you keep track of them.  The list contains pertinent information about each character and links to related conversational transcripts.

What follows is the story of Ellen and Elmer as it has emerged from collaborative writing on PMTH.  This story is my summary that turnsthe transcripts into a third person narrative.  If you want to readthe collaboratively constructed conversation, however, you can get to itby clicking above.  The following story however, will provide youwith a briefer reading that covers more than a single transcript and fillsin some of the gaps between conversations.

Elmer and Ellen
at Dinner

Last week, if you'll recall, Elmerbroughtup Ellen's lack of interest insex.  It resulted in Elmer giving Ellen a backrub and Ellen fallingto sleep in the process.  The next night, traveling for his work,Elmer found himself stuck alone in a hotel room.   Surfing thenet that night on his laptop, he ran across an online therapy site.  Eager for answers, he decided to try online therapy.  The therapysession was a mixed bag for him, but he took away from it the idea thathe should be more expressive about his sexual needs.  On the flighthome, Elmer decided he would fix dinner for Ellen the next night. He would arrange for their six year old son, Jeremy,  to stay at hismom's, and Elmer would prepare a fancy spaghetti dinner.  So, thenext night that's what happened.  Picture the dinner scene like this: 

It's Saturday evening.  Inspired by the possibility of recreating their sexual connection, Elmer is light on his feet.  .  Imagine him setting the table with flair.  Ellen is in the next room reading a book.  Elmer's voice is full of antipation when he calls her todinner.  All of this is unusual for him.

Ellen comes to dinner with her suspicions showing.  When Elmer asks her about her day she has a smirk on her face as she says, "Gee, you don't usually seem very interested in my day."  This remark joltsElmer, but it doesn't slow him down.  He has a plan.  So, hejust takes another breath and continues on.

And, before long, Ellen is actually talking about her problem.  She tells him that she works all day and carries the burden of work athome.  She works so many hours, she says, that she longs for unstructuredtime in which she can read or drift.  Such mental relaxation is muchmore appealing right now, she explains, than sex.  Also, she adds,the fact that she has gained 15 pounds since Jeremy was born is hauntingher..  She doesn't like the feeling heavy, and she thinks this mayhave diminished her sex drive. 

As Ellen talks, Elmer listens attentively.  For a while all hisremarks are supportive.  He offers to fix dinners.  He reassures Ellen about her appearance.  He thinks of someone who can baby sit.  But then, in the midst of all of this, he begins to wonder if he shouldgive so much away.  Privately, he asks himself if he really wantsto leave it like this with his taking on so much – so he throws in justa little thing.  Would she mind, he asks her, if she would start ironinghis shirts for him?

At this point, Ellen getting stiff.  Elmer's behavior was too goodto be true.  Now, he isn't really correcting the imbalance that shebelieves exists in their work schedules.  He is just shuffling the duties. She complains, "If I'm not doing one thing, I'm doing another.... What about you ironing your own shirts over the weekend…?"

Elmer sees her reaction and tries to repair things, but the evening is late and he is eager to move things along.  Last time he endedup giving her a massage and her going to sleep.  This time he hasput the whole day into creating just the right effect.  So, he standsup and puts his hand on her shoulder and he says, " You smell really nicetonight. We could try to get close?" 

But the moment has already passed.  "Not tonight," Ellen tells him. "I just can't do it tonight, Elmer. I just can't do it."

And that is that.  At this very mment, however, new conversations are gearing up.  With a little luck, you'll hear another episode onElmer and Ellen next month.

Meet  Floyd Langner
an Honest but Imaginary Person

Floyd introduced himself initially as Edward, but at the request ofEdwardEpp, he agreed to change his name to "Floyd" to avoid name confusion. I have edited all the quotations below, changing the name "Edward" to "Floyd"to honor Edward Epp's request. 

When, Floyd introduced himself to PMTHhe said 

I'm an imaginary person.  I'm not dishonest.  This is justan experiment. 

But what does it mean for an imaginary person to "not be dishonest"?  Think about it.  I can say, "It's true that I have a headache."  But what is it for an imaginary person to say he has a headache? Does it mean that the author of the the imaginary person has a headache?  Or that the fictional person is being written as if he has a headache? 

In his note to PMTH , Floyd continued: real life, I'm a therapist, but not Floyd Langner.  LoisShawver knows about this, and we decided it's just an experiment. 

But, she said, I would be removed from the list if you decided I couldn'tstay.  She said that she wants you
to decide.

Did people want Floyd Langner to stay around? RietSamuels said:

Welcome, you can stay but only as long as you're nice to me.

And Jerry Shaffer said:

I welcome Floyd'ss presence on the list. 

John O'Leary said:

Some of my best friends are imaginary. Stay! 

Then, Lee Nicols said: 

Welcome, Floyd -- and doctor whomsoever. 

Everyone in cyber space is
imaginary. We could all be together on the Orient Express heading forIstanbul and I would not know anyone of you. Lois could tell me she's Judy,Riet could insist she's Floyd. . .and the confusion would be delicious.

Everyone imaginary?  Well maybe this is so, in the sense, perhaps, that we construct our images just by our posts.  After all, we select what to say about ourselves and what words to use to say it.  Andin that spirit, George Spears said:

Welcome...from  an (other)  'unreal' person. Hope to hear

Then, Manfred Strahle replied to GeorgeSpears saying:

I mean George, you are a history maker with others, right 
now and here. We all as a group are creating our "I"s. The activityof what we do together creates this "I" that cannot exist independentlyof the "we".

But, the question that soon arose was: Is Floyd simply anonymous, oris he entirely a fiction?  Val Lewis said to Floyd :

I was curious at the choice of the word 'imaginary' over 'anonymous'in your first posting. As an 'imaginary' does that mean you will inventyourself, or do we get to hear the 'real' you? 

and she added:

Don't you  love this stuff?

and the New Therapist Editor, JohnSöderlund said about Floyd:

I think it's an interesting idea to run with. 

And, then Söderlund added his own twist to this evolving dialogue.  Not only was Floyd imaginary, Söderlund said, but he, John Söderlund, was going to imagine him more.  He said:

As compensation for your anonymity, however, I would like to imaginethat you really are a great deal more famous than your response above suggests. 

Why imagine him more famous?  Soderlund explains:

Vicariously, it always feels indulgently enriching for me to hang outwith famous people, so this is more for my benefit than yours, I think.This way, I can also feel less out in
the cold about who you really are and become a participant in your(re)creation. 

And Söderlund connected his idea about Floyd with a famous movie,saying:

I don't think I am asking permission to treat you as
famous, simply informing you that in my eyes, you're bigger than John Malkovich.

So, who is Floyd?  Val Lewis guessed that it was me, LoisShawver. Jerry Shaffer saidthat I would not be that dishonest.  I told Shaffer that I might be,under special circumstances.- Val Lewis objectedto Shaffer's accusation and Shaffer said he would forgive me in a heartbeatif I was really being dishonest about Floyd.  (Personally, I thinkShaffer is trying to get me to tell what I know about Floyd.)

Riet Samuels guessed thatit was Manfred Strahle plsying Floyd.  But Jerry Shaffer said that 

...a big piece of pomo is giving up questions about what is Real andwhat is True and what it Good.  We are interested in stories as stories,not as histories. As Rorty would put it, the question is, Is it interesting,is it stimulating, does it make for companionship, is it amusing, is iteye-opening?

But I made the point that anybody could be Floyd, and I would tell themhow.  Floyd could be played by more than one person.  No one knows if anybody volunteered to play Floyd.. 

And, so, for the time being, Floyd remains anonymous and imaginary.  Will he ever tell?  Maybe, but then if he does, someone else may become Floyd.  In fact, right now, more than one person may be writing Floyd. NickDrury told us that in Zen practice, deconstructed authors like thissometimes sign their names  buji-nin -- and no one knows exactly whothat person is at any given time.

So, that's Floyd.  He is now listed in our new imaginaryperson list.
This is a website that will help you track the imaginary people onPMTH.  Of course, keep in mind, that Floyd is being written by a realperson, or real people.  It is just that PMTH does not know who thisperson is, and, judging from what people say, most people don't reallycare.  Some people talk with him anyway, and lots have talked abouthim.  Moreover, I know, from good authority, that people have writtent;o Floyd at his private address.  After all, Floyd has an Email address. 

What Happened to American Democracy?

I have a dog that hates to have his leash put on.  He groans andmoans and shows his teeth.  But, once the the leash his clamped onto his collar he does a complete about face and goes to the front door, andonce it is open, bounces out into the great beyond for a walk down thesidewalk as if there had never been a problem.

Sometimes, I think American Democrats are like that.  During therecent election crisis in Florida, Democrat tempers flared and the tension was high.  But then Al Gore gave his it's-all-over-now concession speech and suddenly every Democrat seems to be walking happily down thestreet on a Repubican leash.  I don't remember Republicans puttingon such a collar when the Democrats won.  The Republicans fought Clintonin the Congress.  They fought him in the courts.  They foughthim in the media.  And then, when election time came around, they won. 

The problem with this scenario, as JoePfeffer pointed out is that , "we are constrained by our constitution from finding a dialectical solution" to our election problems. 

"Dialectical solution?"  Here is what I think Pfeffer had in mind:  According to Hegel each political position(thesis) lives in opposition to an alternative position (it's antithesis). But these two positions, over time, weave together to find a synthesis. Then, the synthesis (the combined position) becomes a new thesis that findsa new antithesis and breeds a new synthesis.  The process continuesindefinitely and can be called an "Hegelian dialectic."  A dialecticalsolution, then, as Pfeffer talked about, is one that weaves together theinterests of the different sides.

In other words, as I read him, Pfeffer is complaining that Americans go back and forth from Republican to Democratic leadership,  and back again with no real way of weaving our different interests and beliefs into a single fabric that sustains us all.   One group of us is inevitably left out in the cold.  That is, we are bound, by our consitution tosee-saw back and forth between these two power positions while other formsof government might allow a dialectical solution giving power to both sidesand allowing them to weave their interests into a more coherent singlecloth.  I find this hope of a dialectical solution inspiring.

I think Judy Weintraub agrees with Pfeffer in that she is impressed by the notion that the differentpolitical positions are incommensurable.  Incommensurable isa  a concept she takes from Lyotard.  If the two sides are incommensurable,she reasons, there is no solution that will be a solution for both sides. One side or the other must win and impose its preference on the loser. She argues that the hope that there is a solution for both is only a metanarrative,and, as she points out,  postmoderns are incredulous (disbelieving)of metanarratives.  This idea does appear in Lyotard.  Thereare certainly places where Lyotard seems to say that the two sides of apolitical argument are incommensurable.  He says this especially inhis book, Le Differend

Still, I read Lyotard differently , at least in emphasis.  In theafterword to his The Postmodern Condition,Lyotard talks about the postmodern as a historical phase that, paradoxically,can create the believeable metanarrative.  The postmodern phase isa phase of creativity in which new rules and games are established.  I find this view compelling, and I believe that the postmodern is a phase in the dialectic, a phase of disbelief in the prior metanarratives, a phase in which we are looking for creative solutions and sometimes find them.

If my interpretation of these thinkers is correct, then Pfeffer is sayingour constitution (or laws) need to be changed to allow for more dialecticalmovement so that the Republicans and Democrats can find common solutions. I believe Weintraub would say it will not happen.  Their only solutionis to struggle for their individual positions. And, I would say that thisstruggling for individual positions is a phase of creativity, and out ofthat phase can emerge a moment of synthesis and agreement in which particularproblems are solved and become part of the joint solution while new problemsemerge to become part of a new thesis in an ongoing, and ever evolving,dialectic.

Which means, I think, that all of us are right, and we all win prizes, but we are each looking at a different part of the problem.



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