A Man Searches for His Father

A meal, a movie and a discussion.  This is how the evening unfolded as we hosted the Arts Meeting of the Dallas Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology last Friday.   The movie was the award winning “My Architect”, a documentary journey of an illegitimate son seeking to discover personal information about his world-renowned architect father, Louis I. Kahn.  He visited the buildings his father built around the world.  He asked everyone who know anything about his father the simple question, “What can you tell me about my father?”  The movie shows how Nathaniel had to know more about his father (who died when he was only eleven), in order to finally say good-bye to him.  I had not realized prior to last week, that the Kimball Art Museum in Fort Worth was designed by Louis Kahn.  We all agreed that the Kimball is a notable work of art itself, even though a not-so-sensitive news reporter in the movie called it “a concrete cattle barn.”

So, what does all this have to do with psychology and theology?  Here are some of the questions and comments that the twelve of us shared.
How did Nathaniel seemingly escape any understandable anger that might have come from a young boy who experienced so many broken promises from his dad?  When Louis found out that his mistress was pregnant with Nathaniel, he said, “Oh, no.  Not again.”
What is a family?  Nathaniel asked this of his two stepsisters, one by Louis’ wife and the other by his first mistress.  Three adults, connected by their common father, discussing what is a family, where not able to say clearly that they were.  Nathaniel clearly wanted a family.
Is the contribution to the field of architecture and the resulting worldwide fame worth leaving three women and three children so wounded?  How does a man cope with his success in his vocation juxtaposed with his failure as a husband and father?  One of Nathaniel’s questions was, “How did he think about this?”

What is the meaning of the “spiritual dimension” of architecture?  Many references were made to this spiritual dimension of his creations.

Charlie Rose interviewed Nathaniel Kahn and his show includes several clips from the movie.


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