R. D. Laing Making Faces

Here is a video of the Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing, filmed at the height of his fame in 1973.

I’m not sure why I am posting this: it just seems somehow remarkable. It is an odd conversation; and more than a little disturbing.

Is it supposed to be funny? I don’t know. It is intriguing because on the surface it seems phony. And yet what is most troubling – regardless of the biographical veracity of the details – is its sheer excess of authenticity.

Laing’s short storytelling at the end feels of a piece with his earlier face-pulling: a matter of posturing, playing and pretending. It is pointless to dwell on whether the story is ‘true’ given that – for Lacan at least – it is in the most hysterical lies that we unwittingly articulate the truth.

The variety of user comments on the YouTube clip all seem entirely right: everything from ‘pointless, charlatan shite’ through to ‘an absolute genius – and for that we will never forgive him’.

Or, as one viewer said, ‘I think I’m in the weird part of YouTube again’.