Saturday, March 20, 2021

The Oceanic Feeling - Pictures from a Booklaunch

Cover image: Katharina Jaeger / Cover design: William Bardebes (2020)
[All Photographs by William Bardebes (11/3/21)]

The Oceanic Feeling. Drawings by Katharina Jaeger. Afterword by Bronwyn Lloyd.
ISBN 978-0-473-55801-7. Auckland: Salt & Greyboy Press, 2021. 72 pp.

So Bronwyn and I drove down to Hamilton last Thursday with our good friend Liz Morton for the dual launch of Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2021 and my own new poetry book The Oceanic Feeling.

Poppies Bookshop Hamilton
[l-to-r: Mark Houlahan, Aimee-Jane Anderson-O'Connor, Alison Southby, Bronwyn Lloyd, Janet Charman]

Luckily my publishers at Salt & Greyboy Press, William Bardebes and Emma Smith, were able to come down as well - and the former got a number of pictures of the event.

Tracey Slaughter launching the book

& me reading from it

So what is this "Oceanic Feeling," anyway?

J. M. Masson: The Oceanic Feeling (1980)

Here's a book on the subject by Sanskritist and animal-expert Jeffrey Masson. To quote my own abstract (alas, those of us in Academia do have to compose such statements when claiming such works as 'creative research'):
In a 1927 letter to Sigmund Freud, French writer Romain Rolland coined the term "the oceanic feeling" as a way of referring to that "sensation of ‘eternity’," of "being one with the external world as a whole," which underlies all religious belief (but does not necessarily depend on it). In his reply, Freud described this as a simple characterisation of the feeling an infant has before it learns there are any other people in the world.
Of course, those of us who live in Oceania, may have our own alternative interpretations of the phrase. This, at any rate, is mine.

Huge, heartfelt thanks, then, to everyone who worked so hard to make this event a success: Tracey Slaughter, for her luminous launch speech (and for inviting me along in the first place); Katharina Jaeger, for the use of her beautiful images in the book; Bronwyn Lloyd, for her afterword, not to mention her imperturbability in the midst of crisis; William Bardebes, for his amazing book design, as well as for rushing the copies down-country in time for the launch; Alison Southby for offering to sell it at her delightful bookshop Poppies Hamilton; and (of course) to all those who turned up on the day for the Yearbook launch, and kindly stayed on for this part of the event.

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