R.D. Laing and Franco Basaglia, the subject of John Foot’s The Man Who Closed the Asylums, were contemporaries in close dialogue in the critical psychiatry movement that sought to revolutionise the field of psychiatry. They emphasized examining the structural bases to mental illness through a critique of capitalism and were aligned with the radical social movements that coalesced in 1968.
In his own review of Foot’s book, Laing’s son Adrian also observes this confluence of agendas, and praises Foot’s efforts to disassemble the ‘lazy narratives’ that obscure our understanding of Basaglia.
Pierre Boulez, iconoclastic composer, conductor, writer and pianist, died last week after a long illness at the age of 90. Michael Chanan pays tribute.
It was the mid-1960s, I was in my late teens, I was already becoming familiar with post-war avant-garde music, yet the first time I heard Pli selon Pli by Pierre Boulez, who has died at the age of 90, I couldn't make head or tail of it. Something in the back of my head, however, insisted that the problem was mine, not the music's, driving me back to hear it a second time when he conducted it in London again a few months later. This time I was rewarded by a musical experience as scintillating, diaphanous and transcendent as I've ever had. When I talked to him about his music a year or two later, I immediately connected the experience with his description of music as 'controlled hysteria', an effect which is highly calculated but produces in the listener a peculiar kind of euphoria, a free-floating intensity that can also be found in certain old time composers like Perotin or Tallis, even Beethoven, at least in the readings of certain symphonies by certain conductors–try listening to Boulez's recording of Beethoven’s Fifth.