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Ingmar Bergman, novelist

A personal anecdote, if you’ll permit me: during one point in my college years, I was deemed angst-ridden enough to warrant not only twice-a-week therapy sessions, but also attendance at a weekly group for people similarly angst-ridden.  It was during this period—and this is certainly unfortunate timing—that I watched Ingmar Bergman’s 1966 film Persona, the haunting tale of a cheerful nurse, played by Bibi Andersson, and her selectively mute ward, played by Liv Ullman, whose personalities begin to blend together in sinister, mysterious ways.  I was just as captivated by the stark cinematography of Bergman’s longtime collaborator, Sven Nykvist, as I was by the existential struggle of Ullman’s character, an actress who has lost her luster for role-playing on stage and in life.  It seemed as if a speech delivered by a psychiatrist early in the film (which contains such maudlin gems as “The hopeless dream of being—not seeming, but being”) was somehow meant just for me.  I regaled the other group members with the lessons I had learned from watching the movie, using Bergman’s bleak rationales as a counter-argument to the group therapist’s insistence that we all try to lead happier, more productive lives.  A few days later, my individual psychologist told me that the group therapist had called her because she was “concerned” about me.

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