Elliott Jaques’s “Intellectual Odyssey”

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Douglas Kirsner of Deakin University spoke with Elliott Jaques before he died, and wrote up the results from the perspective of another psychoanalyst. Jaques abandoned psychoanalysis but would later refer to that as perhaps going overboard. It’s an interesting read for those of you who are interested in what he thought of things at the end of his life.

This copy seems to be a poor conversion, so you will have to piece together what is quotations from Jaques and what isn’t. Not too hard but I could go for some use of blockquote tags.

It should be noted that Jaques, like everyone else, would remember things a bit as he wanted them to be rather than they were. For example, in the 1990s he would say that Glacier abandoned works councils because they had run their course, whereas Brown never stopped seeing them as the cornerstone of how he led the company. Jaques did abandon the ideas of the works councils, to be replaced with the strict hierarchy in all things, and he apparently unconsciously reconfigured his memory to fit his later values.

Many people (if not most) do this, and making getting the story right after several years hellish. One can think of the recent studies on modern artists of France or the Jack Kirby vs. Stan Lee debates where even the 1960s have become opaque behind a wall of conflicting memories.

Still, fascinating look into the changing mind of a remarkable genius.

Kirsner, Douglas. 2004. “The Intellectual Odyssey of Elliot Jaques: From Alchemy to Science“. Free Associations: psychoanalysis, groups, politics, culture, 11(2): 179-204. Free Association Books, London, UK.

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