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Difficulty with the Bates method
#1
Hi All,

I have been into the Bates method for some years now. Started out with glasses around -4.0, and not sure where I stand now, but probably not so far from that. I consider not having much success until now. That is even though I go about 90-99% of the time without glasses (90% would be when I'm very busy working/studying and don't have much choice). Even then I use only reduced glasses.

I also have very very often very annoying neck pains which feel like stress holding up in the neck area - and it's always together with stressed/strained eyes (very uncomfortable feeling in and around the eyes). So far I haven't been able to be helped for my neck, and by now I strongly believe only improvement in my eyes is the key to improving my neck situation.

Now my difficulties are basically that I feel like the more I consciously practice and apply correct visual habits and perform Bates method techniques, the more I suffer from my eyes and neck. On the other hand, when I do suffer it is a tension circle from which I cannot exit, unless I engage in some activity which takes my mind completely off it, and then after a few minutes I notice I have no more eye-neck strain. This of course leads me to think I am failing in performing the habits and techniques effortlessly.
Moreover, if I practice shifting and central fixation I feel like I'm releasing tension - because I get tons of ticks in my eyes and neck, and I usually notice my breath better - but the eye-neck strain I'm suffering from just stays the same if not worsens.

Generally there are days where I feel really free from it, and days where it starts at some point and then there's almost always no turning back, and these are becoming really bad days for me.

Maybe somebody would have some ideas for me, or explanations to share with me?
I obviously keep doing the method, but I'm also always worried that I so much want to improve my vision, that I won't give up on something that won't work for me, or something that might even hurt me...

Thanks!
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#2
Fuoco,

I have similar issues with my neck and back aching, bad tension. I have had it always and when wearing contact lenses, I used to come home from work with terrible stiffness/tension in my upper body, even though I was not always conscious of the pain during work. I only recently started to tackle this issue. Ever since I became shortsighted, I had a fear that the problem ahead of me (school or work) is bigger than what I am able to solve. I usually prove it wrong and end up solving the problem, but this fear still comes with every new assignment. When under this fear, no matter how sharply my vision is being corrected, I start looking closer and closer at the page or computer screen. Interestingly I did that with full correction and now with no correction at all, too :-). So basically, the solution for me is to stop this fear somehow. It is difficult to do and requires a different thought process in every situation. I have to think of something comforting. Either by reminding myself that I can do it (and/or there is still plenty of time) or by assuring myself that failing this one task will not destroy my life entirely :-). It takes lots and lots of practice but I try it now with everything. I totally want to change my mindset and want to be a relaxed laid-back person. Nothing else matters. (With practice, now I have gotten glimpses of this side of me (huge personality change) and it feels so good, that I think I would give up everything for it: prestigious job, lifestyle, etc) Once I feel warm and fuzzy then the next step is to figure out how I can stop the physical strain. Now that I work without glasses (prescription would be -5.5/-5.75 plus lots of astigmatism) I have to think of how not to get too much physical strain to see. Adjusting seat height, screen distance, taking frequent breaks (every few minutes!) to stretch, lean back. Allow my eyes to look at my work from a more comfortable distance without the need to see at the moment. (That does miracles, actually!) Near vision test card on my cubicle wall helps me practice. Also I use my swivel chair to do long/short swings effortlessly looking from the wall to out the window, back on the wall, etc.
So basically I had to carry Bates with me to the most dreaded place if I want success. But I cannot force it. First, I could not take my glasses off for the screen. For two weeks, I kept trying and trying until I gathered the courage... I hope this makes sense to you, too! :-)
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#3
Andrea Major Wrote:... I start looking closer and closer at the page or computer screen. Interestingly I did that with full correction and now with no correction at all, too :-). So basically, the solution for me is to stop this fear somehow. It is difficult to do and requires a different thought process in every situation. I have to think of something comforting. Either by reminding myself that I can do it (and/or there is still plenty of time) or by assuring myself that failing this one task will not destroy my life entirely :-). It takes lots and lots of practice but I try it now with everything. I totally want to change my mindset and want to be a relaxed laid-back person. Nothing else matters. (With practice, now I have gotten glimpses of this side of me (huge personality change) and it feels so good, that I think I would give up everything for it: prestigious job, lifestyle, etc) Once I feel warm and fuzzy then the next step is to figure out how I can stop the physical strain. ... Adjusting seat height, screen distance, taking frequent breaks (every few minutes!) to stretch, lean back. Allow my eyes to look at my work from a more comfortable distance without the need to see at the moment. (That does miracles, actually!) Near vision test card on my cubicle wall helps me practice. Also I use my swivel chair to do long/short swings effortlessly looking from the wall to out the window, back on the wall, etc. So basically I had to carry Bates with me to the most dreaded place if I want success. But I cannot force it. First, I could not take my glasses off for the screen. For two weeks, I kept trying and trying until I gathered the courage... I hope this makes sense to you, too! :-)
This makes a lot of sense to me - but instead of analyzing my thoughts I analyze my visual positioning and habits. I've always been a confident person, never afraid of anything. That didn't prevent my nearpoint fixation disorder. It didn't help me develop normal distance vision. What did help me, though, was uncovering new facts/observations: 'palming' can result in a flash of clear distance vision. So can 'swinging'. And so can a shiny cd-in-a-styrofoam cup device sitting on my desk at arm's length. And three of them, left, center, and right, create a visual system alignment biofeedback training device/system as well as a clear flash stimulator.
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#4
Andrea, congratulations on your progress and your approach. You sound like a similar personality type to me. I also constantly have to challenge my fear of not being able to do something, reminding myself of what I was successful at in the past, telling myself as you say that even if I "fail" I'll be OK, etc. The emotional component seems to be bigger for some with vision difficulties than for others, unless they just don't recognize it or admit it. Like you I've come to realize I could do all the Bates techniques in the world and it won't help me if I don't relax the way I think.
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#5
Hi Fuoco, Emily Bates often wrote about how being conscious of your eyes increased teh strain. Another thought I had while reading your post was that it seems you have most success when you do relaxation activities that draw your attention away from your eyes. Finally, I can sympathize with your tension in the neck, as sometimes I get that so bad the only remedy is to lay down and go to bed. I can only hope to fall asleep before it gets so bad I can't move, eat, or do anything. What I suggest is to learn to isolate and relax the tense muscles causing your neck pain first, before going on with eyesight improvement. Here's why I think that, and how I think you can succeed:

I have been very inspired lately by Meir Schneider after having a conversation with him and buying his book, movement for self healing. In that book, there are some breathing exercizes that have almost eliminated these tension attacks in my own neck. Also, there is a chapter on joints, and the shoulder section exercizes are so relaxing for me. If I catch a tension attack at the beginning and do these shoulder exercizes, my whole upper back and neck becomes so relaxed that the tension attack GOES AWAY! I think it would be well worth your time to look into this, as tensions in one part of the body may cause muscle spasms in another. Here is a link to a very abbreviated set of instructions on his website for the shoulder exercizes:

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.self-healing.org/tips-for-neck-and-shoulder-pain/">http://www.self-healing.org/tips-for-ne ... lder-pain/</a><!-- m -->

See if you do these activities very gently, and with an awareness of the muscles you are activating, if it helps. If it does then check out more of what he has written because what is on his website is very valuable, and only a drop in the bucket compared to what you get in his books.

In the same book there is a chapter on vision improvement. For myopes, he specifically recommends making a commitment to practice at least an hour a day, but with no expectations of results. He talks about how it is a very myopic tendency to retard progress by seeking improvement. Whether consciously or subconsciously, it seems that your brain is straining to improve, instead of learning to do anything with ease. For this reason, I think it might be a good idea for you to learn to use different body parts with ease before doing any more eyesight improvement stuff. Learn to breathe freely. Learn to release the tension in your neck. I suspect it comes from misuse of the shoulders.

In the example of your neck, it's possible that when you use your arm or neck, instead of using a small muscle to turn or lift, you are tensing your entire trapezius muscle for the task. As soon as you successfully learn to isolate a small muscle, and use it instead of tensing a large muscle (trapezius) to do a task with less tension, more ease, then you will able to more easily do the same thing for other muscle groups (like your eyes). Release the spasm in the large, tense muscle, and use the right muscle for the job.

I really hope that something in there gives you an idea of how to go on and make some progress! Perhaps give it a think and write out some goals for practicing whatever you decide to do. See if you can keep it up daily for a month and then check back in with yourself to see if what you're doing is helping. Look for benefits like less nick tension, not eyesight improvement. If it is helping, decide how to continue for the next month to keep on improving even more. You can accomplish a lot with your own intuition if you have the ability to listen to it. If after a month you find nothing has changed, it may be best to find a teacher in person to watch you doing relaxation activities and normal activities. They (a Bates teacher, or an Alexander teacher, or even a yoga teacher), will be able to identify what destructive patterns of movement you need to change
in order to release tesnion.

best wishes!
Sorrisi
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#6
sorrisiblue Wrote:Hi Fuoco, Emily Bates often wrote about how being conscious of your eyes increased teh strain. Another thought I had while reading your post was that it seems you have most success when you do relaxation activities that draw your attention away from your eyes. Finally, I can sympathize with your tension in the neck, as sometimes I get that so bad the only remedy is to lay down and go to bed. I can only hope to fall asleep before it gets so bad I can't move, eat, or do anything. What I suggest is to learn to isolate and relax the tense muscles causing your neck pain first, before going on with eyesight improvement. Here's why I think that, and how I think you can succeed:

I have been very inspired lately by Meir Schneider after having a conversation with him and buying his book, movement for self healing. In that book, there are some breathing exercizes that have almost eliminated these tension attacks in my own neck. Also, there is a chapter on joints, and the shoulder section exercizes are so relaxing for me. If I catch a tension attack at the beginning and do these shoulder exercizes, my whole upper back and neck becomes so relaxed that the tension attack GOES AWAY! I think it would be well worth your time to look into this, as tensions in one part of the body may cause muscle spasms in another. Here is a link to a very abbreviated set of instructions on his website for the shoulder exercizes:

<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.self-healing.org/tips-for-neck-and-shoulder-pain/">http://www.self-healing.org/tips-for-ne ... lder-pain/</a><!-- m -->

See if you do these activities very gently, and with an awareness of the muscles you are activating, if it helps. If it does then check out more of what he has written because what is on his website is very valuable, and only a drop in the bucket compared to what you get in his books.

In the same book there is a chapter on vision improvement. For myopes, he specifically recommends making a commitment to practice at least an hour a day, but with no expectations of results. He talks about how it is a very myopic tendency to retard progress by seeking improvement. Whether consciously or subconsciously, it seems that your brain is straining to improve, instead of learning to do anything with ease. For this reason, I think it might be a good idea for you to learn to use different body parts with ease before doing any more eyesight improvement stuff. Learn to breathe freely. Learn to release the tension in your neck. I suspect it comes from misuse of the shoulders.

In the example of your neck, it's possible that when you use your arm or neck, instead of using a small muscle to turn or lift, you are tensing your entire trapezius muscle for the task. As soon as you successfully learn to isolate a small muscle, and use it instead of tensing a large muscle (trapezius) to do a task with less tension, more ease, then you will able to more easily do the same thing for other muscle groups (like your eyes). Release the spasm in the large, tense muscle, and use the right muscle for the job.

I really hope that something in there gives you an idea of how to go on and make some progress! Perhaps give it a think and write out some goals for practicing whatever you decide to do. See if you can keep it up daily for a month and then check back in with yourself to see if what you're doing is helping. Look for benefits like less nick tension, not eyesight improvement. If it is helping, decide how to continue for the next month to keep on improving even more. You can accomplish a lot with your own intuition if you have the ability to listen to it. If after a month you find nothing has changed, it may be best to find a teacher in person to watch you doing relaxation activities and normal activities. They (a Bates teacher, or an Alexander teacher, or even a yoga teacher), will be able to identify what destructive patterns of movement you need to change
in order to release tesnion.

best wishes!
Sorrisi


Thanks Sorrisi!

I feel like you understand exactly what it is for me. On one side the neck suffering, and on the other side the feeling that the more I try to release tension in my eyes and/or neck the more I suffer from pain which feels to me like tension.
In the last few days I've been searching for more and more information about Meir Schneider - nice coincidence that you suggest me exactly that (Not the first one either Smile
If I were in America I would have loved to meet him, unfortunately I'm in Europe. The book which you recommend is "Movement for Self-Healing" or the older one?
By the way, regarding books, is there a way to get the Bates book and magazines in a book format that is convenient to read? I'm sick of reading on the computer, that's really bad for my neck!
I have never read the Stories from the Clinic by Emily Bates - is that what you were referring to? or the stories in the magazines? If you have some specific parts in particular in mind I would appreciate if you could send me a link.
I'm going to start by reading more in Meir Schneider's website.
I wish I could be inspired by Andrea and take the Bates method and other good habits with me to work, study and other places where it's most needed and most difficult to achieve a change!

Thank you all a lot!
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#7
Dump the Bates Method! It sounds like it's straining the hell out of you. That's when I get my successes, then I come back here in the forum to tell everyone and the goose chase is back on.
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#8
Hey Nancy,

Thanks for the encouraging words! I always like to read your posts, there is always something in it for me! In fact, without people like you and this Forum, I wouldn't have gotten so far...
But I need to say that I am really really at the beginning of this journey of tackling my nervousness. I still get to stress myself out with something silly daily! So if you have any suggestions of what you have found helpful, what worked and didn't work, etc. those would be very welcome!

JMartinC4,

I didn't suggest that someone should just analyze their thoughts, either. Oh no. I actually find some posts very annoying, like that engineer guy who after 2 weeks of hearing about the Bates method and removing his glasses saw so much improvement because he looked at his polyopic imagination and he could pick out, which line is the real one! (And could discard the rest) Now com'on! ((And he also "lost" weight buy sucking in his tummy and walking straight!)) (OK I am nasty now, I cannot remember what he said exactly and do not care enough to look it up so I am exaggerating a bit, but you all know who I am talking about, don't you?! I wonder where he is now?! I doubt that he got too far with his approach but I know there are supposed to be exceptional cases, so I wish him good luck! The rest of us, losers, must work out to get fit and practice the Bates method an hour a day to get results. Recently, I am very diligent with my Bates exercises actually! For now I cannot say what works for me the most because I constantly change what techniques I use. I am still learning things by reading this forum and all the Bates material I can find. I don't want to make the assumption that I know exactly what I need to do. I got this idea in my head that fully understanding the method equals normal sight and I will not believe that I am doing it right until progression becomes rapid.

Fuoco,

I have thought of another idea of why the Bates Method may actually bring more strain to you than relief! Is it possible that you don't feel like you are doing as much as you should for your own (and maybe even others') vision improvement??? As in guilt?? Please don't get offended, I know this may sound judgemental and you have my permission to course at me openly as much as you need. But I am talking about my own experience. Once I realized how serious this Bates stuff was (the first time around before I quit it for almost 20 years!!!), I constantly felt like I wasn't doing something that I should have been. I believe that the Bates Method must become a great burden on any conscientious person's mind because of the realization that facts, which could improve millions of lives are being denied by medical authorities all over the world. It is like learning that you have been living in "The Matrix" and not knowing what to do about it...
I am terrified to think that my son (now 2) may become shortsighted and I also have a relative, who is very dear to me, and is slowly going blind with macular degeneration. And I still don't know if I will ever be able to help anyone by setting the right example, but for now I sleep a little better knowing that I have been trying and 1 did my exercises before going to bed. :-)

OK, again I should have stayed quiet. Every time I write a post, I reveal a bit more of my craziness to you guys - not a good thing ... ;-)

Cheers!
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#9
Andrea,
Hi -- I was in a class this weekend with someone who quoted Dolly Parton as saying "Find out who you really are, then do it on purpose". As I get older I am embracing my natural sensitivity more and more, and making apologies and trying to fit in or appear "normal" less and less. The world needs people like us, even though it doesn't always know it!

If you like my posts (thanks!) you may want to check out my blog, where I get to really be myself. Daily meditation, as soon as I wake up (sitting up in bed, usually), then later before dinner, has helped calm me a lot. My meditation teacher says you can't learn this from a book or tape, that you need to have an actual live teacher to guide you to get started correctly so it will be truly effective. Other tools for relaxation which work for me are daily exercise, as much time out of doors as I can get (I usually relate to trees better than people!), and regular journaling. Also, find a supportive community of friends to surround yourself with so you can all recharge each other's batteries -- many people spend a lot of time in negative surroundings (noise, traffic, etc.) or with negative people (at work or in the family) who regularly drain them -- try to keep this to a minimum.

I am also trying (not always succeeding!) to look at every painful circumstance that shows up as a lesson -- what can I learn from this? I think we're here because it's Earth School as one of my other teachers says. See you in kindergarten!
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#10
Hi Fuoco! Hope you're still checking this thread, I wasn't online over the weekend.

fuoco Wrote:Thanks Sorrisi!

I feel like you understand exactly what it is for me. On one side the neck suffering, and on the other side the feeling that the more I try to release tension in my eyes and/or neck the more I suffer from pain which feels to me like tension.
In the last few days I've been searching for more and more information about Meir Schneider - nice coincidence that you suggest me exactly that (Not the first one either Smile
If I were in America I would have loved to meet him, unfortunately I'm in Europe. The book which you recommend is "Movement for Self-Healing" or the older one?
By the way, regarding books, is there a way to get the Bates book and magazines in a book format that is convenient to read? I'm sick of reading on the computer, that's really bad for my neck!
I have never read the Stories from the Clinic by Emily Bates - is that what you were referring to? or the stories in the magazines? If you have some specific parts in particular in mind I would appreciate if you could send me a link.
I'm going to start by reading more in Meir Schneider's website.
I wish I could be inspired by Andrea and take the Bates method and other good habits with me to work, study and other places where it's most needed and most difficult to achieve a change!

Thank you all a lot!

I think both of Meir's books are great, but I'm referring to the 'Movement for Self-Healing'. It's expensive but sometimes you can get a used copy for a low price on amazon. He travels a lot, and sometimes in europe! check his calendar.

take the Bates book pdf to a copy shop to get it printed and bound, I don't think it would cost much. David offers a pdf version here that you can take to your local print shop: <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.iblindness.org/books/bates/">http://www.iblindness.org/books/bates/</a><!-- m -->

The magazines ( they include the stories from the clinic by emily dotted throughout) can be bought in a telephone book size version. It is called 'Better Eyesight' and is edited by Thomas Quackenbush, search for it on any online book retailer. A lot of people complain that he took out articles (not every single one is in there, Bates published monthly for 10+ years), but the fact remains you won't get a cheaper printed copy and most of the articles that aren't in there are repeated in some form in other articles. I use it all the time. I've read almost every article both in the original version and that printed one. There is so much information in the printed version, you won't run out of Bates reading material for years, and I personally find it nice to be able to pick it up every day and read an article without having to turn on my computer. As I'm now rereading some articles for the 3rd or 4th time, I still find that I learn something new each time I read.

From this you will find the parts of the Bates method that inspire you.

Here is one article that might help:
<!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.central-fixation.com/better-eyesight-magazine/better-eyesight-1922-01.php#comfortable">http://www.central-fixation.com/better- ... omfortable</a><!-- m -->

pay special attention to the first paragraph! I have observed the facts stated by Dr. Bates in my husband who has perfect vision.
1. he doesn't like to think about his eyes because it lowers his vision.
2. he always makes sure he's comfortable. It's a habit that I find fascinating. I think he finds it equally fascinating that I have such a tolerance and habit for being uncomfortable.

Sorrisi
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#11
Andreas, good point about the guilt. My son is 9 years old and I worry about him following in my visual footsteps. One way I try to counter this is to let him know often that school is not worth bothering about, or at least not worth getting bothered about if you know what I mean. There seems to be a kind of moral undercurrent here, that you have to make yourself 'worthy'. And in Bates' book there is, as I mentioned before, such an emphasis on 'perfect sight' that the likes of me need not apply!

Of course, this is a total misperception! What is on offer is a way out of all this cr*p and if we find ourselves thinking about the "Method" in this way we know it's just the way we are thinking "wrong thoughts". Hey, that could come in handy. I hadn't meant to say that, it just occurred to me as I was writing (just as in my very first post to this forum) so I put it down. Publish and be damned!
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#12
Sorrisi thanks (I'm still here!)

I've just received my copy of 'Movement for Self-Healing', and it looks very thorough. I want to finish up FM Alexander's 'The Use of the Self' first. In fact one thing one notices at some point is that there's (like you say too) just so much information out there, so many books and articles etc. I've now decided to try my best steering clear of reading for the sake of reading, and go slowly reading what I WANT at that moment. I often find myself with 10 or more open tabs on my browser of stuff I want to read, and then I just read through quickly everything, so I'm sure not to miss anything. But that's exactly the wrong attitude. I should learn to feel comfortable without being all the time in a rush to accomplish lists of tasks. For one thing I always have many things that I want to do, learn, accomplish - but I'm being counter-productive by always being 'stressed' of making it to the next one, by rushing the current one. I hope I'm making any sense at all Smile

I have decided a few days ago, according to your suggestion to kind of let go of the Bates method for my eyes now. Of course I keep going almost exclusively without glasses, and of course I stay clear of staring and bad habits when I notice them, but now I want to let go a bit, and tackle first of all more my general feeling of relaxedness, posture and neck. I think I need to go a bit more step by step. I was maybe too muck multi tasking around the neck, posture, eyes and that made me stall. I really believe I needed to change the attitude, and I'll see now how it progresses this way. It connects to me to what I was trying to say in the previous paragraph, trying to go more slowly, and thus deeply.

Thanks so much, I feel you guide and inspire us all so generously - it's very special!
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#13
Hi Fuoco! I understand just what you mean in that first paragraph. This habit of wanting to do so many things is one I am letting go of as well. I am always reminded by my husband - do one thing at a time! Your approach of going slowly and thoughtfully will be very helpful to you when you get to Meir's book. I also think it's a good idea to finish with what you are learning now with the Alexander book before moving on.

This book by FM Alexander 'The use of the self' is on my to read list as well. Has it helped you? when I have worked through Meir's book I intend to check it out from the library here.

I hope you manage to learn how to release your neck tension. I'll keep an eye out for your posts!

best wishes,
Sorrisi
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#14
Nancy,

I am especially interested in how you deal with the fact that so few people know about the mind-vision connection. There are meditation teachers out there (I am going to sign up for one in the winter) who are very much dependent on their glasses. Do you say anything to someone like that about the Bates method? If yes, what? Do you wonder how come if they are supposed to be great at relaxation/meditation they are still straining your eyes? Or is it possible that if they just had the knowledge, they would have great success faster than the rest of us? I am really torn about how I should approach others about the subject and whether if I should at all.

And others,

Please feel free to respond, your replies are Welcome, too! I am only addressing Nancy, because I know she has been through some things like this.

Andrea
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#15
All the meditation in the world isn't going to fix a person's vision if he continues to use his vision and eyes poorly. You can't have clear vision without doing specific things such as constantly searching to details that are a basic aspect of the correct functioning of the visual system. Occasionally you'll hear of someone who has regained his vision from common vision problems like myopia by some spiritual practice or whatever else that seems to have very little to do with the Bates method, but in virtually all cases it has to be because he went through some kind of psychological or philosophical change that initiated a change in the way he looks at things.

Dave
Site Administrator

"Half of our funny, heathen lives, we are bent double to gather things we have tossed away." - George Meredith
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