KNOTS
by R.D. Laing

 
 
 
 

 

The patterns delineated here have not yet been classified by a Linnaeus of human bondage.

They are all, perhaps, strangely, familiar.

In these pages I have confined myself to laying out

only some of those I actually have seen. Words that

come to mind to name them are: knots, tangles,

fankles, impasses, disjunctions, whirligogs, binds.

I could have remained closer to the ‘raw’

data in which these patterns appear. I could

have distilled them further towards an abstract

logico-mathematical calculus. I hope they are not so

schematized that one may not refer back to the

very specific experiences from which they derive;

yet that they are sufficiently independent of ‘content’, for

one to divine the final formal elegance in these

webs of maya.

April 1969

R.D.L.

 

1

 

They are playing a game. They are playing at not

playing a game. If I show them I see they are, I

shall break the rules and they will punish me.

I must play their game, of not seeing I see the game.

 


 

They are not having fun.

I can’t have fun if they don’t.

If I get them to have fun, then I can have fun with them.

Getting them to have fun, is not fun. It is hard work.

I might get fun out of finding out why they’re not.

I’m not supposed to get fun out of working out why

they’re not.

But there is even some fun in pretending to them I’m not

having fun finding out why they ’re not.

 

A little girl comes along and says: let’s have fun.

But having fun is a waste of time, because it doesn’t

help to figure out why they’re not having fun.

 

How dare you have fun when Christ died on the Cross

for you! Was He having fun?

 


 

It is our duty to bring up our children to love,

honour and obey us.

If they don’t they must be punished,

otherwise we would not be doing our duty.

 

If they grow up to love, honour and obey us

either we have brought them up properly

or we have not:

if we have

there must be something the matter with them;

if we have not

there is something the matter with us.

 


 

A son should respect his father

he should not have to be taught to respect his father

It is something that is natural

That’s how I’ve brought up my son anyway.

 

Of course a father must be worthy of respect

He can’t forfeit a son’s respect

But I hope at least my son will respect me, if

only for leaving him free to respect me or not.

 


 

There must be something the matter with him

because he would not be acting as he does

unless there was

therefore he is acting as he is

because there is something the matter with him

 

He does not think there is anything the matter with him

because

one of the things that is

the matter with him

is that he does not think that there is anything

the matter with him

therefore

we have to help him realize that,

the fact that he does not think there is anything

the matter with him

is one of the things that is

the matter with him

there is something the matter with him

because he thinks

there must be something the matter with us

for trying to help him to see

that there must be something the matter with him

to think that tere is omething the matter with us

for trying to help him to see that

we are helping him

to see that

we are not persecuting him

by helping him

to see we are not persecuting him

by helping him

to see that

he is refusing to see

that there is something the matter with

him

for not seing there is something the matter

with him

for not being grateful to us

for at least trying to help him

to see that there is something the matter with

him

for not seeing that must be something the

matter with him

for not seeing that there must be something the

matter with him

for not seeing that there is something the

matter with him

for not seeing that there is something the

matter with him

 

for not being grateful

 

that we never tried to make him

feel grateful

 

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