Books by Bernadine Jacot

Released: Sept. 1, 1995

Hudson and Jacot (The Way Men Think, 1992) make a perplexing and incoherent effort to analogize intimacy and art. The authors declare ``that psychological differences between the sexes are both deeply engrained and imaginatively galvanising'' and ``that there exists a parallel between art and intimate relations.'' Unfortunately, very little that follows has anything to do with these potentially engaging assertions. For example, they devote two chapters to a ``thought experiment'' in which they describe several historically important women, including Margaret Mead and Kate Millett. The experiment requires imagining these figures as men, with the assumption that, as such, their stories would not make sense. The experiment fails thoroughly, however, for well-read readers of gender and sexuality literature, possibly because the authors dismiss these fields as postmodern and liberal to the point of irrelevance. Basically, they see men and women as fundamentally different because of early relationships with parents. Based in Freudian thought, they believe that men and women grow up with different complexes, and ``wounds,'' which color future interactions. The authors are exclusively concerned with ``the mutual fascination of individuals who are categorically dissimilar'' in terms of biological sex, so although they bill this as a history of desire and intimacy, only heterosexual love is addressed. And many of their characterizations of patterns of loving are rooted in stereotypes and structural inequities, criticisms of which they discard as extremist rhetoric of feminists and other radical groups. In their final analysis, intimacy and art are comparable because they both spring from the imagination, what Hudson and Jacot see as the ``mind's central function.'' But there never emerges a natural history of intimacy at all. What could have been a compelling discussion about the imagination is cluttered with conservative biases and false interpretations of social scientific data. (illustrations, not seen) Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 18, 1992

According to the husband-and-wife team of scientist Hudson (Nightlife: The Interpretation of Dreams, 1986) and Jacot (a painter and psychological researcher), the psychological differences between men and women arise from a trauma suffered during infancy by men, in differentiating themselves from their mothers. This trauma, the authors say, creates a ``wound'' predisposing men intellectually to abstract, formal, and mechanical thought, occupationally to being scientists and technicians, and emotionally to depersonalizing women and to humanizing objects. The most interesting and eloquent passages here refer to the relationship between ``eros and intellect'' in great men such as Isaac Newton, philosophers such as Descartes, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche, and students of human behavior such as Kinsey, Freud, and Skinner—whose systems of thought, the authors say, were depersonalized versions of their own ``wound,'' and who made productive use of the energy created by their developmental crises. The most moving passages involve creative artists—Weston the photographer, Hardy the poet, and Bonnard the painter—whose depersonalizations of women were raised to the level of art while their personal lives displayed their failure to relate to living women. (This paradigm, the authors argue, also pertains to sexual deviants.) Despite its adherence to debatable ideas (e.g., that men are imperfect women; that homosexuality is a perversion; that the origins of art are pathological, and its expression compensatory), this study is especially interesting in a late-feminist cultural setting and in its speculative approach to what Hudson and Jacot call the ``gender industry,'' as they complement recent scientific studies of the biological basis of sexuality. Most fascinating, though, is how the book vividly both illustrates its own thesis and undermines it: characterized by formality, mechanical thinking, abstraction, depersonalization, and misogyny, the intellectual style supposedly conditioned by the male ``wound,'' it was co-authored by a woman as well as by a man. (Ten illustrations—not seen.) Read full book review >