Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life

I read Adam Phillips’ book Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life, and I wish I’d enjoyed it more. I probably would have, if only I were more familiar with Freud and Shakespeare (King Lear and Othello are frequently discussed). I’ve read a couple of his others that I really liked (Going Sane and On Kindness).

This one a lot of “What does it mean when we say ____?” kind of stuff, and a good bit of historical/etymological looks at how our our language has developed ideas like “getting away with it” or “getting out of it”. The best recurring theme for me was the idea of omniscience, and how it relates to frustration (assuming we know what we need; reluctance to seek advice or try new things), escapism/prediction (assuming we know what we’re avoiding, or that we are in fact avoiding it), tyranny (false confidence about someone else’s needs), avoidance (“we mustn’t let knowing do the work of acknowledging”), etc.

It seemed a bit more impersonal and less psychological than what I remember of the other two. Still, some good stuff here and there, and Phillips has a knack for aphorism.