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Discussion Questions for Feb. 10

Here are a few questions that have leapt out at me while doing this week’s readings and that I formulated in response to them.

Content

How can Damasio’s proto self, core self and autobiographical self (as Eakin presents them) be linked to Freud’s id, super-ego and ego?

“What I think about the event affects the event itself,” writes Hustvedt (p. 158). Both Hustvedt and Eakin declare that the self is basically an awareness of the self. So, does what I think about the self affect the self? Or is the self unaffected by me? Is there a separate self from the one having these thoughts — from me?

Being able to conceptualize one’s self indicates higher order functioning. I want to talk about the meta in all this — the above that is central to/in Hustvedt’s narrative, from which she observes the shaking woman and herself in the process of investigating the shaking woman. This meta/above contradicts with the inherent/within of Eakin’s and Damasio’s conception of self as within the movie of itself or as a continuous stream of music. How do these above and within schemas help us understand the self?

Why is it so much more powerful to read truth (ie, autobiography) than fiction? Why do Eakin and Hustvedt discuss subjectivity but rarely approach the concept of truth?

Methodology

What is the utility of having no chapters or formal divisions in The Shaking Woman? This format brings to mind hypergraphia or stream-of-consciousness writing.

The Shaking Woman reads as some combination of memoir, autobiography, novel and research paper. How does Hustvedt’s incessant citation of sources interfere with or add to her narrative? What about the way Eakin presents his work makes his reliance on sources not as disruptive?

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