Adam Phillips on Excess

September 16, 2008

Nothing promotes excess like talking about excess – Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips talks about excess (extravagant violations of law, decency and morality) in The Essay on BBC Radio 3 every night this week. In the first episode (15 minutes) he asks is our appetite by nature excessive – and makes a fascinating distinction between pushing things to extremes (pushing things to their limits) and excess (pushing beyond limits). He also goes on to talk about what excess can teach us e.g. if we feel people are being excessive then we must have some internal monitor of what appropriate behaviour looks like. This becomes all the more interesting around things like sexuality, addiction etc – how would we know what was right and appropriate? and what measures would we use to calibrate appropriate behaviour. So he’s also talking about social norms and codified behaviour and the ways in which attending to our emotional reactions can teach us about taken for granteds. You can listen to the programme here and there’ll be more thought provoking essays from Phillips each night this week at 11pm.
Afterthought: I misheard the title of Phillips’ essay and thought he was talking about INXS which, bearing in mind how the lead singer died isn’t an entirely inappropriate association..
Update: This blogger has kindly created a one hour (or thereabouts) mp3 of the entire series). Thanks!