Reading Group – Marion Milner’s ‘A Life of One’s Own’

Join us in discovering what Marion Milner calls ‘butterfly thoughts’, which flutter in from nowhere and are gone in a moment, in Chapter 8 - ‘Discovering that Thought Can be Blind’ - of A Life of One’s Own.
Yellow Warbler, 9 Northwold Rd, Cazenove, London N16 7HL Map

‘Another trick that I discovered was to keep myself particularly alert to any little movements going on in the back of my mind, passing ideas which were often quite irrelevant to my task of the moment and which I would never have noticed in the ordinary way. I called these ‘butterflies’ for they silently fluttered in from nowhere and were gone in a moment.’

Marion Milner’s writing concerns itself with the joys and difficulties of thinking independently and living creatively. A Life of One’s Own begins with Milner observing that her life ‘was not as I would like it and that it might be in my power to make it different’. What followed was a ‘seven years’ study of living’.

Written before Milner trained as a psychoanalyst, this book is difficult to classify: part diary, part detective story. The aim of this reading group is not to master Milner’s writing, but to try out for ourselves Milner’s experiments in writing, thinking, and observation. After a discussion of the text, participants are invited to take a walk in neighbouring Abney park, and to write a journal entry, if they so wish.

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