Dialogues with the Wise Woman
Dialogues with the Wise Woman is the story of George Sistern, a gifted pianist who meets a very reputable psychologist and philosopher named Mildred Markowitz, or “The Wise Woman,” as she is called in the title. He realizes his need for help after he starts asking women to gamble with his money at casinos. If they win, they keep half of the earnings, but if they lose, they have to “have dinner and a show” with him. One day, one of these women swindles him, and it launches George into depression. When he meets Mildred, she starts sparking question after question in him. Unable to resist the mental stimulation and satisfaction from their interactions, he begins to have meetings with her regularly. The meetings help with his depressive state and nurture opportunities, insightful thinking, and hope.
The nature of this book is highly philosophical, comprised of hypothetical situations and Mildred’s experience with other clients. It is fiction, but the plot is very weak, as the style of the book is primarily conversations between George and Mildred. There are story elements in between their meetings, but the dialogue paragraphs are understandably long-winded. It does include some hypothetical situations that, while not overly detailed, some are certain to find uncomfortable (the rape of a small child is one example). There is also some use of irreverent and crude language that some may not expect to come from a professional psychologist. Because of Dialogues with the Wise Woman’s style and format, it will only appeal to a very narrow group of people. This would likely appeal to a lot more people if it were in a different format, perhaps a video series.
I did think it was odd that the primary reason George meets with Mildred is that he feels foolish for getting swindled rather than for finding unscrupulous ways to get women to sleep with him or something that points to him not being a good person. But in the end, it seems like it is his ego that pushes him to meet with her. Regardless of the prompt for why he first visited Mildred, their conversations do show the benefit of philosophical dialogue and self-unburdening.
Overall, this work is designed for the average fiction reader. It is largely for those who enjoy dialogue, philosophy, or university-style debates. If anyone finds themselves in a real-life situation similar to George’s, they might also benefit from reading this.
|Richard Todd Devens
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