Recently, I virtually met an amazing man, Dr. Mark Solms, who’s many YouTube lectures do a superb job of walking students of human consciousness and the “mind-body problem” back onto the solid ground of physical reality based science, with a roadmap for constructive learning, through the new disciple of neuropsychoanalysis.
You can watch a dozen of Mark Solms' lectures and find that each was worth it, for each offers unrepeated gems.
What’s he walking people back from? The cliff edge of meta-physical philosophizing pretending to be serious science.
I mean, proclaiming “spacetime is doomed”? Advocating that the search for our consciousness must look to out-of-body agents, because every puzzle hasn’t been solved yet? Rather than continuing current fruitful “physicalists” research, such as that being explicated in Dr. Solms' talks.
Get serious, that’s evolved religion. Hidden under all the pretentious words and inscrutable math, it’s all about protecting our ever so fragile human egos. What about focusing on learning about this amazing fantastical planet, that created this amazing fantastical body, that created our amazing fantastical consciousness, to have and to hold for the duration of our short lives! By the Grace of Earth!
Speaking of human ego.
All of us make first impressions of people we meet, in life or virtually. Some we like, some we feel indifferent to, some we’re leery of, and so on. Mark Solms impressed me from the start. I saw solidity and a superb mastery of his topic. As I watched succeeding videos red flags never showed up. The fascinating talks captured me and though the topic overlaps, each talk is unique and refreshing.
Then I started researching and learning about the man. His list of accomplishments helped make sense of that inner solidity he radiates. After a few days of absorbing nothing but Professor Mark Solms I had to take a break for a while, allowing it to percolate and settle some.
Recently to get warmed up and into the project again, I clicked on a short TEDTalk by Mark Solms that I hadn’t listened to yet. I was waylaid.
Now I’ve spent the past couple days trying to imagine the sort of inner reality lived and the sense of place experienced, by a sixth generation white African farmer who possesses not only his piece of land, but also the 180 indigenous & slave descendants who live on the farm.
Well, at least that was until he did something about it. It’s complicated. I should add that Mark left his home in South Africa (1988) to avoid compulsory military service for the National Party apartheid government and turned his back on the family farm to focus on his studies. In London he received his PhD in '92 and worked towards unlocking the origin of our dreams. After apartheid fell, the lure of home and his neglected hereditary farm drew him back to South Africa in 2001.
Therein lies an amazing story of human dignity, respect, compassion, intelligence, vision, humanity, the best in men. Something that’s becoming all too rare these days. Which is why I also want to share this aspect of Dr. Solms' story.
I’ll let the professor, psychoanalysis, neuropsychologist, farmer, vintner, friend to many, Dr. Mark Solms tell the rest of the story:
TEDx Talks - April 1, 2011
“Land ownership in South Africa: turning neuropsychoanalysis into wine.”
(He does a heck of a lot more than that!)
(That title is misleading. Solms helped them purchase and develop a neighboring farm,
and then a second, the three operate as a cooperative business. It's a fascinating inspiring story.)
Julius Baer - January 12, 2018
Solms-Delta is a prize-winning producer of fine wines in South Africa. In our interview, Mark Solms, professor of neuropsychology and owner of the farm, explains what brought him to give half of the farm to his staff – putting an end to a 327-year history of slavery.
Wealth inequality is one of the three core areas of the Julius Baer Foundation (for further information, please refer to the box at the end of this article). Even though it is a problem that does not spare the rich, industrialised nations, it is an even more burning issue in less developed countries of Latin America, Asia and Africa. Many people across the globe have started their individual battle against the persisting divide between rich and poor. One of them is Mark Solms, who has found a very bold and innovative way to bridge the gap.
In 2001, after the end of Apartheid, the renowned professor of neuropsychology returned to his homeland near Cape Town, in South Africa, where his family owned a big farm. He was shocked to see in what precarious conditions the 180 employees of the farm lived, often lacking the most basic goods and sanitary installations.
After a thorough analysis of the situation at the farm, which looks back at a 327-year history of slavery, Solms and his neighbour decided to run their farms in a rather different way, empowering their workers through co-ownership. Nowadays, Solms-Delta is a prize-winning producer of fine wines with the farm’s staff owning 50% of the enterprise.
Mark Solms’ next project is to create a ‘Cape Winemakers’ Equity Accelerator’ (CWEA), where he will develop a training curriculum and mentoring programme including all aspects of wine production (viticulture skills, access to vineyards, cellars and equipment) and its distribution (financial and business planning, administration and marketing).
Additionally, he will establish an endowment fund that will help emerging black wine makers to purchase wine estates and wine making equipment. Ultimately the aim of the CWEA is to fast-track the equitable redistribution of resources and expertise and thereby increasing the number of black wine producers in the Western Cape Province of South Africa.
Off the R45
Franschhoek Valley, South Africa
Following the democratic elections in 1994, Professor Mark Solms returned home to South Africa in 2001 to breathe new life into the neglected Delta farm, establishing Solms-Delta Wine Estate. As a sixth-generation member of a farming family, he looked forward to returning. But upon his arrival, he realised that it wasn’t only his to call home. Seven households of people lived on the farm and had been there for generations. Mark was determined to restore their sense of belonging and their right to own a fair share of the land.
MAKING A DIAGNOSIS
While he was eager to kindle transformation on Solms-Delta, the tenants didn’t cooperate. Frustrated, Mark turned to what he knew from being a clinician: That to remedy an ailment, one must first take a history. When did the symptoms begin? In what context did they start? How did they develop? This is how a doctor understands what needs to be put right.
So Mark and the workers on Delta stopped farming and started digging. Deeper and deeper into the soil of Solms-Delta, and deeper into history – finding the roots of the tenants’ pain. As the archaeological digs uncovered artifacts from different periods in the history of the farm, the people of Solms-Delta could piece together their own personal stories. The historical and cultural treasures that were uncovered form a tapestry of the lives of the people of Solms-Delta and can be viewed at the Museum van de Caab social history museum and Music van de Caab centre located on the farm.
ESTABLISHING A 50/50 PARTNERSHIP
The archaeological digs also uncovered the realisation that everything on the farm – from the vineyards to the elegant Cape Dutch buildings – was built on the backs of slaves. This meant the tenants who live on the farm today deserve a fair share of the products of their forebears’ sacrifices and their own current efforts. So together with British social entrepreneur Richard Astor, Professor Solms set about tackling the social realities of South African agriculture by establishing a platform through which ownership of land and equity in the business could be shared.
In 2007 the workers and residents of Solms-Delta acquired a 33.3% interest in the business of Solms-Delta, which interest was, with the support of the National Empowerment Fund and the national department of Rural Development and Land Reform, increased in 2016 to 45%. Solms-Delta continues to pioneer change in the agricultural sector, and now is one of the farms spearheading national government’s 50/50 Strengthening the Relative Rights of Workers program.
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Jill Choder-Goldman, LCSW, has been a psychoanalyst and psychotherapist in private practice since 2004, after graduating New York University and The National Institute for the Psychotherapies, where she trained in social work and psychoanalysis.
She sees individuals, couples, and groups, and is also a supervisor to analytic candidates in training and the Interview Editor for the journal Psychoanalytic Perspectives.
Her writing includes interviews with psychoanalysts from around the world, which explore how political, cultural, and socioeconomics affect their understanding and practice of psychoanalysis. She also interviewed the novelist A.M. Homes for a special issue, Arts on the Couch, and was the Guest Editor for a recent issue on “What Makes a Good Supervisor.”