Archive for May, 2010

Behind the Jet-Propelled Couch: Cordwainer Smith & Kirk Allen

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

ALAN C. ELMS [Originally published in the New York Review of Science Fiction, May 2002] In 1978 I began to pursue the question of whether Paul Linebarger, aka Cordwainer Smith, had been the patient in “The Jet-Propelled Couch,” a psychoanalytic case history written by Robert Lindner. Over the past quarter-century I’ve accumulated more information and […]

Obedience as Personal Response: The Role of Individual Differences

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

[Originally published as Chapter 4c of Alan C. Elms, Social Psychology and Social Relevance (Boston: Little, Brown, 1964)] Obedience is a curse. That is what makes Germans. – Gertrude Stein, Yes Is for a Very Young Man The forty volunteers in each of Milgram’s experimental conditions were quite similar to every other forty volunteers in […]

The Sin of Conformity

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Stanley Milgram’s obedience studies were not the product of an isolated genius creating a radically different body of research. They came out of a heavily worked vineyard within social psychology, the field of experimental conformity research. Milgram’s virtue is that he has drawn new wine from old vines. But conformity research itself has not been unproductive. It has even had its vintage years.

Plain People: The Political Personality of the Average American Citizen

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

[Originally published as Chapter One of Alan C. Elms, Personality in Politics (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976)] Politics starts with the people. Not just “people,” but the people, as in “We, the people of the United States”: the ordinary men and women whose votes give political leaders whatever power they enjoy and whose postelectoral […]

Uncovering Lives, Chapter One

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

[From Alan C. Elms, Uncovering Lives: The Uneasy Alliance of Biography and Psychology (New York and Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1994). Reprinted by permission.] Homo sapiens is the biographical animal. Humans differ from other creatures not only in anticipating their group and individual futures, but in reviewing and recounting their personal pasts—and in being […]

A Psychologist Investigates Cordwainer Smith

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Alan C. Elms [Author's 2002 note: Well over a decade ago, a Japanese correspondent requested my permission to translate my paper, "The Creation of Cordwainer Smith," for publication in a Japanese fan magazine devoted to the work of Cordwainer Smith and titled (in English) Alpha Ralpha Boulevard. He sent me several sample copies of the […]

I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Alan C. Elms Midnight in New Orleans.  Mud beneath his feet.  Above, more stars than he had ever seen at one time.  Around him, the smells of a city that might have just entered the twentieth century: horse droppings, raw sewage, a hint of honeysuckle.  Wood smoke.  Maybe coal smoke too, though he hadn’t smelled […]

The Woman We Didn’t See

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

A review/essay discussing the many strengths and some weaknesses of Julie Phillips’s generally fine biography of James Tiptree, Jr. (Alice Bradley Sheldon).The book is “beautifully written, narratively gripping, thoughtful and subtle in exploring the complexities of Alice Sheldon’s life and work…. Though she [Phillips] is not a psychologist, many of her individual comments are remarkably insightful. But they do not add up to an overall picture of Sheldon’s personality structure, and they do not fully explicate the sources of Sheldon’s substantial psychological problems.”

Falling Through Eden

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Adam felt sun and sucked at pulpy fruit, spitting the seeds between his dusty toes. He never searched the fig tree’s roiled root nor felt a thorn upon the nose-brushed rose. He tapped the tiger’s fawning teeth, and knew no growling worry at the sun’s soft fall (with warming Eve to hold against the dew […]

Acts of Submission

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Imagine yourself living in New Haven, CT, in the summer of 1961. You see an ad in the local newspaper, asking for volunteers for an experiment on Memory and Learning, to be conducted at Yale University. The ad looks a little too flashy for Yale, you think. But – well, hell, why not? So you send in the coupon. A couple of weeks later, you get a phone call. This young man says he’s calling for the Memory and Learning Project at Yale, and he wants to know whether you can come tomorrow evening at eight. How about nine, you say, since you eat dinner at 7:30. He says okay and gives you directions. The next night, you drive through the fancy arch by the art gallery, right into the heart of the Old Campus, and park your car outside one of those old stone buildings, Linsly-Chittenden Hall. You stroll through the first floor hallway until you see another guy, middle-aged uncle type, bumbling around like he doesn’t know where to go. “You looking for the memory experiment?” you say, and when he says yes you point to what you think is the right number: “This door here, looks like.”
[To be continued....]

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