Archive for August, 2010

Jung @ Cornell (3)

Posted on August 14, 2010. Filed under: Conference reports, Ethics, Jung | Tags: , , |

Plane delayed (the joys of US air travel) so time for reflection at end of  conference:

Surprised by lack of explicit investigation of ethics, given it was a keyword in conference title; only one paper (Bonnelle Strickling) explored relationship between Jung and another body of theory, in that case virtue ethics. Another presenter (Don Moores) referred to links w Jung and Aristotlean eudaimonia in an interesting session on the ecstatic in art and culture. Other aspects of ethics were implicit and focused on object relations or the other. Enjyed a useful workshop on psychological types – much easier to understand from a human than a book – which again implied ethical relations.

– and that’s one of the joys of a conference like this when your understanding is so based in literature: here people are talking about the concepts, phrases and contested interpretations that were hitherto just text – so much more vivid.

Realise that last year I wrote down every word; this year I can absorb and reflect, digesting rather than force feeding.

Fabulous conversations with great people: getting to know people throughtheir books and papers, then another dimension through presentations, then the human emerges over dinner. I remember noting at last year’s  conference in Cardiff that delegates seem to bring their whole self to academic conferences, not just their professional personae. Really pleased t have spent time with Roger Brooke whose work on Jung and phenomenology I knew (though felt out of my depth with) who gave the opening plenary session on post combat trauma. He mentioned a paper on Psyche Self and the World which I found online and will use in thesis – terrifically lucid and helpful. Nice man,too.

Hope to stay in touch with rinda west – felt like the start of a friendship. Love the fact she’s left teaching and taken up landscape gardening; she gave a terrific presentation on the garden in the psyche. And we make each other laugh.

Looking at comments I wrote after the Cardiff conference, this year’s event felt more inward looking, with fewer bridges into different disciplines, though key speakers all brought tremendous richness with them. I like the idea that the JSSS use in their conferences of consecutive rather than parallel sessions, even if it means fewer papers. Would provide more of an unfolding narrative.

Personally, I have  felt encouraged by feedback and advice, have several names whom I could approach for collaboration or other support. May contact them in coming months as I move from PhD to post doc work. Need to get moving on book plans too and work out how to fund the writing process.

Last night closed with dinner dance thing – not quite enough dancing for me, but made it to observatory to see andromeda galaxy and neptune – more adventures in the universe.

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Jung @ Cornell (2)

Posted on August 13, 2010. Filed under: Conference reports, Jung, Papers | Tags: , |

Presented paper yesterday – still digesting interesting feedback. The first presenter, Evangaline Rand, gave a moving and emotional reflection on suffering, her own and WW1 soldiers, tracing an inner and outer journey through images, dreams and paintings. At first thought my offering would seem pale and dull but decided it was just different and gave a confident and fluent paper, speaking to power point slides but with asides and comments which I had earlier  written as notes but which I had no need to consult, making the whole thing flow more easily. What was brilliant was the interested and engaged response of those present, who saw major possibilities in engaging professions with their own shadows. One pointed out the shadow of eros in teaching, the unspoken omnipresent sexual tension (or potential) between teachers and students, which I’d not thought about. Others talked about the  hidden aspects in the therapeutic community (i did cite some eg from analysts on professional ethics).

Another person, Austin Clarkson, hoped I wd be taking this message to boardrooms and exec committees and wondered how that engagement might be managed. I spoke to him later over dinner, and we talked about maybe writing stories about the organisation, its members, its history to see if the shadow could be brought to light that way. Evangaline also very enthused by my work and we talked later – possibility of working together? She’s an experienced analyst so this cd be a good partnership.

Terence Dawson suggested contacting Wellcome to seek funding for post  doc research and I do need to get on with some ideas about taking  these ideas further into the world. Have to deal with not having a Jungian clinical background – treat it as a strength because I can talk to professions from educational and practitioner background, with added Jungian insight. Might even be easier – no hint of a therapeutic approach – just a diagnostic aide with suggestions for institutional integration, if desired.

If David Cumes,who shared about divining the bones and working with the dead yesterday, can take that talk to the medical profession (he described the ‘you’ve got 3 months’ line as a voodoo curse), I can surely talk to professions.

Conversations have all been v helpful. This time I haven’t taken notes  as few of the sessions feed directly into the thesis. Instead have enjoyed absorbing and reflecting on a wide range of presentations, including fabulous paper on Kafka’s metamorphosis, an Auschwitz novel and the dangers of hope.

Also enjoyable meetings – spent 4 hours today walking up and down Ithaca hills with Rinda West, a lovely woman with Jungian, literary and political tastes close to my heart. Got a bit lost, didn’t matter at all.

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Jung and ethics conference @ Cornell

Posted on August 10, 2010. Filed under: Conference reports, Jung | Tags: , |

Arrived v late Sunday night after gruelling 24 hrs of travel. V grateful to shiatsu massage people at La Guardia, where I ended up spending 7 hrs (missed connecting flight during loo break!), who restored flagging body and spirit.

Now in Cornell dorm, wondering if I  can get away with saying ‘I went to cornell’ without mentioning it was only for five days? Conference starts in a couple of hours – interesting line up, with highlights on combat trauma and the collective response, plenty on film studies , esp vampires, lots on the Other. I’m most interested in the political stuff, how ethics is lived collectively and in one paper on jung and virtue theory. Only the latter seems to address how a Jungian ethic might resemble or differ from established approaches. There will also be ‘interactive workshops’ which sound a bit scary, like audience participation.

Quite a full schedule – breakfast meetings and post-supper sessions; last year’s Jungian conference was hard physical work too, but the dancing made up for that. This year, I’m v tired so may skive off to write chapter 9, the PR case study.

I present tomorrow – have finished the slides, now need to rehearse. As these are parallel sessions, don’t expect big  audience, but these events are usually most interesting over meals and coffee. We’ll see….

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can you do ethical PR for unethical countries??

Posted on August 3, 2010. Filed under: Ethics, professions, Public Relations, Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

London PR capital for makeovers of dodgy countries

Today’s Guardian (see link) runs a big expose of the PR industry’s expanding market of re-branding for countries with appalling human rights records. It shows details of work done for Rwanda, Saudi Arabia and others, contrasting the PR statements with those from Amnesty and UN sources.

The PR people offer the usual defences – ‘we’re like lawyers’; ‘as long as I’m comfortable’ ‘my job is to assist communication not judge them’ ‘nobody’s perfect’.

As set out in the article these look specious to put it politely and there are real problems with these lines: for a start PR does not resemble the law at all, though many ethicists claim a legal approach to ethics (esp. US- based on First Amendment arguments). There is no courtroom with equal  rights for prosecutors and defenders, no public defence lawyers, rules of evidence etc. It’s more like a back-alley fight, no rules.

Likewise the use of ‘comfort’ as a moral indicator is only valid if one is convinced a real moral struggle precedes the conclusion.

But what moral responsibility do communicators have for clients? Should there be a list of forbidden clients? Even though the UK government is doing business? Should PRs run boycotts when other trade is permitted? Should they aim for higher standards?

There is a conundrum in that PR often claims to ‘serve society’ , citing many examples of how communication aids understanding, motivates communities etc. But at the same time it asks to operate just like any other business.

The problem, surely, is that PR ethics is a complete mess, with minimal reflection, just a grab-bag of excuses and slogans, lacking any sense of the internal contradictions of these statements.

It would be more consistent to operate as a business, free to serve any client no matter how noxious, and abandon the claims to ethical standards. But that would jeopardise the ‘professional project’ the claim that the profession is entitled to trust and autonomy because it operates on ethical lines.

So what would a really ethical PR do?

I am not convinced that ethics lie in the client’s activities – whether its oil, tobacco or repressive regimes. What matters is that the communication is ethical – an outcome unlikely to be achieved if the client is looking to conceal or distort its central functions. I would like to see PR people turn down work because the client wants to withhold important information from the public, whether the client is Saudi Arabia or Amnesty International.

I also think we need to support investigate journalism like the Guardian piece because that’s the best defence against ignorance = maybe the PR profession should pay a tithe to support the exposure of their own deception?

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