Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life Paperback – 4 Jul 2013
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"Missing Out" is [Adam Phillips's] most poetic, paradoxical, repetitive, and punning yet; he doesn't argue in a linear fashion but nestles ideas within ideas, like Russian dolls.--Sheila Heti "The New York Times Book Review "
A wonderfully concise appeal for presentness...Elegantly stated. "The Boston Globe"
"Missing Out" is [Adam Phillips's] most poetic, paradoxical, repetitive, and punning yet; he doesn't argue in a linear fashion but nestles ideas within ideas, like Russian dolls. Sheila Heti, "The New York Times Book Review"
[Adam Phillips] has an elegant prose style...with a talent for turning a phrase, a knack for epigrams "Los Angeles Review of Books"
Extraordinary...Always humane, never reductive, Phillips is one of those writers whom it is a pleasure simply to hear think. "The Sunday Telegraph (London)"" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Adam Phillips was born in Cardiff in 1954. He is the author of numerous works of psychotherapy and literary criticism, including Winnicott, On Kissing, Tickling, and Being Bored, Going Sane, Side Effects, On Kindness, co-written with Barbara Taylor, On Balance, Missing Out, One Way and Another and Becoming Freud.
Adam Phillips is a practising psychoanalyst and a visiting professor in the English department at the University of York. He writes regularly for the London Review of Books, the Observer and the New York Times, and he is General Editor of the Penguin Modern Classics Freud translations. His most recent book is Unforbidden Pleasures.
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Top Customer Reviews
General comments - Philips' prose style is not easy to read. He expects you to read his words with the same sort of care that a psychotherapist listens to the words of an analysand. So you have to invest a bit of attention. This is necessary in the same way that a warm-up is necessary before a work-out. If you can't do this, you won't be develop the mental muscles you need to put his ideas into practice (and that is the idea).
This is not pop psychology or a how-to manual. You have to accept a lot of the basic precepts of Freudian psychology, although Philips is willing to point out when he hits the limits of this approach. He also draws on the work of those who have taken Freud's tools and developed them, like Winnicott and Bion. But if you think Freudian psychology is poppycock, then you won't like this book. There is a lot of analysis, and that is not everyone's cup of tea.
What I've taken away from the book - it's about "getting it", both in terms of getting what you want, and understanding (getting) what you want. He also goes into ideas of what "getting away with it" means, and what revenge means in terms of getting satisfaction. And how satisfaction can generally be a form of revenge. He does this using King Lear and Othello as his main texts, and I would say that if you are a fan of these, two of Shakespeare's plays, then his analysis of them more than justifies the book.
This brief paragraph doesn't do justice to the density of the analysis and the precision of the prose. There's the occasional bravura flourish or allusion that could be read as "showing off".Read more ›
While the premise of this rambling, discursive, digressive, incoherent book, volume or tome (conventionally a collection of printed paper bound together between soft or hard covers; nowadays as likely to be an e-book), that is to say, the main thrust of its argument or its central idea - that our lives, that is, existences, by which I mean quotidian routines, the way we actually exist, never turn out quite as expected, that our unmet aspirations inform our 'lived lives' and that finding the balance between what Larkin called the "immobile, locked, Three-handed struggle between Your wants, the world's for you, and (worse) The unbeatable slow machine That brings what you'll get", is the key to satisfaction - is interesting enough, its execution is, to say the least, howlingly unsuccessful thanks to its dreadful writing.
No, I can't go on like that. I'd never make a good parodist. I'm still being far too comprehensible. For me, untangling Philips's clotted syntax in an attempt to discern his intended meaning was akin to combing congealed spaghetti - indeed, the book reads rather like he dictated it to a distracted amanuensis over a couple of late-night bottles of wine and didn't bother to review it. I managed to get through the introduction and a couple of pages of the first chapter before I flung it across the room in a fit of pique, tired of having to go over sentences several times in an attempt to work out what he meant to say.
I'm a professional copy editor and I can tell you that manuscripts arrive on the editor's desk in this sort of state; it's not how they should be when they leave the building.
Penguin, this reflects very badly on you.
I found that they got infuriating close, but then the chapter ended abruptly and the next chapter seemed to me to be a non-logical leap - it wasn't really a surprise to find out (as I did in the acknowledgements) that each of the chapters was originally a separate lecture.
But then what do I know? This is the first book on psychoanalysis that I've read, and it has two five-star reviews already, including one that reads "Because of its fascinating aspects i [sic] reckon allot [sic] of people will find it hard to read." - so maybe it's me, the reader, that's at fault rather than the writer.
All I know is I'm glad I got it out of the library rather than buying it - sorry Amazon!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book arrived in excellent condition. The content is difficult but well worth the effort . It attempts to describe what it is that makes life worth living and why it is so... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
I do not know if it is just specific to me - but I find all of Adam Phillips' books almost impossible to read - it is often obscure writing, and he seems to want to wrap up his... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Tony Burton
Brilliantly argued and written, it is a mind-opening pleasure to read Adam Phillips Missing Out, which I purchased after loving On Kindness.Published 8 months ago by Rasmus Nalle
The Prologue and Chapter 1 are fantastic - well written and easy to understand. The rest of the book is dense and at times incomprehensible.Published 8 months ago by Stephen Coleby
Like several reviewers who have given low ratings I too have asked myself the question 'Is it me, is it my fault I can find so little sense in this book? Read morePublished 12 months ago by Jiment