Archive for the ‘out of treatment’ Category

Obey, and Dance

November 7, 2008

The above Obey images were taken at the Folsom parade by a friend of my friend and former, roommate, Sammy.

The day after the election brought me an intense high. For eight years, I’d been suffering from political depression. Eight years ago, the last civil conversation I had with my mother was truncated by a fight over Bush’s theft of the presidency. “I don’t see what there is to get so upset about,” she said of the Supreme Court decision to my intense annoyance. For years, I’ve been cherishing a fantasy of humiliating revenge against the Republican party for their crimes. 9/11 only made that worse, as they hijacked the country in a wave of “who the hell are you?” patriotism and an undertow of nationally sanctioned violence. For years, I shared Roger D. Hodge’s eloquently phrased disdain of the Democratic machine for refusing to fight dirty — to fight back at all — against our emerging tyranny.

That depression was palpable all around me. I feel it’s the reason I ended up in an incredibly destructive relationship with Michael. His soft leftyism couldn’t stand up against the system. Rather, it expressed itself in Human Rights mumbo jumbo and a brief fling with Arab fetishism. I ended up being an experiment, a dalliance, that could never last. Political desire doesn’t have longevity. I kept telling him to stop donating to the Gay Human Rights fund. I would have made better use of that money — and it would have lasted longer than our love anyway. This was true Socialism on my part. An investment bank paid him from their ill-gotten gains, he would give me the money, and I, a Communist, would spend it on books.

Election night brought me incredible, unheard of, levels of satisfaction. As states kept tumbling Obama’s way, I felt one long spiritual orgasm after another. I’d given my tacit support to that bitch, Hillary, only because I believed a defeat of the Republicans at her hands would have given me the most satisfaction. I was fine with choosing Obama’s neo-liberalism over the neo-con imperialism of the past eight years only because I feel deep down that Obama was cloned four years ago — specifically designed right before the 2004 DNC to crush the current Republican regime. He was a weapon of the unconscious — the return of the real — that would shatter the psychotic subjectivity that had overtaken our nation. I have no interest in his policies. In fact, I find them rather distasteful. But, like all politicians, he’s a blank screen. He’ll say whatever his advisers project onto him. They already seem like an efficient, effective, bunch.

For all my cynicism, however, I can’t ignore the cultlike, subjective, effects of his victory. People are truly happy. I can see it all over the southside, Chicago, neighborhood where I live. The black people here are teary-eyed and overjoyed. This really means a lot to them. People look at the little black boys and are clearly thinking, “he could be president some day.” I see shoppers buying up copies of every newspaper they can. A friend who works at a frame store tells me that people are pouring in to get their Obama images framed. One woman came up and hugged me. While, I am immune from the optimism, I can see that it’s real for others.

For me, the main effect is that the day after the election I forgot to take my anti-depressant. It was unnecessary. My body felt like I’d already taken it. Not only had the enemy been defeated, but it wasn’t by some guy named John Kerry. It was by a guy with a Muslim name. Irony only made the victory seem sweeter.

I ask all readers to write in to me with their suggestion for the perfect Obama inauguration dance music. Reader, Zed, suggests Chocolate City. “God bless Chocolate City, and its Vanilla Suburbs.” But I’d like a multitude of suggestions to pass onto my musical consultant, Josef, before we decide for Obama.

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Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Disintegration, or I Broke My Dick Once, Part I

October 9, 2008

I broke my dick once.

It was the swampy summer of 2003 and one morning in August, I woke up already frying in the heat, cringing under the air-conditioner, with a broken dick.

To be more accurate, I woke up one morning and found my penis dislocated. The penis-entity could be found at the usual place on my body, but the organ itself was distorted. Unerect, it was a tiny bulbous mass pulling into body for shelter. Erect… let’s just say that two heads were forming. Peeing was a trial as the pee-hole leading out of my penis was no longer directly connected to the “inner tube” from whence water issued.

As calmly as possible, I assessed the injury and called Michael (we were still together) who was in Michigan working on the hardwood floors for the house or something. I have no idea what he was up to. All I know is that I didn’t want to spend time with his cult-like family and had proffered one of my panoply of ready excuses to avoid the visit. But I needed him with me now. Moving across the apartment with painstaking care, my penis was clasped in my hands gently – as I would carry a bird with a broken wing. It wasn’t a bird that was broken, though. It was me. I needed care. To Michael, I explained that my penis was broken or dislocated. I described what was happening. He laughed. He told me “your penis isn’t broken. It will go away. Cancel your tutoring appointments. Just take it easy for the day.”

Bar none, it was the most shattering moment of my life. I was not going to “take it easy.” My mind ran through the possibilities at the speed of paranoia. Thomas Laquer had written about cases in the eighteenth century where clitorises “descended,” dropping out into full-grown penis and testes. Was the opposite happening? Making matters worse, I’d recently been reading about eighteenth century medical debates about “spermism” and preformation, giving my mind material to introject the moral into my medical concerns. I’d read about people who were born hermaphrodites and whose doctors had sewn up the vagina or snipped off nascent penises. Not knowing much about female anatomy, I wondered if perhaps I was one of those cases. Had a doctor (my own father, the Obstetrician who delivered me) stitched up my vagina, and was it now opening up causing my penis to cave in? I cursed him. In my panicked, paranoid rage, I cursed my dead father. Better he had drowned me in a tub after I was born, then risk a life of hermaphroditism for his own “son.”

Or maybe an erection had come upon me at night, and in an effort to avoid sleeping on our cat, (and to hide the shameful erection from her), had I rolled over onto the erection and broken the shaft of my penis? Was the bulbous entity pulsing on the shattered remains of my groin now filling with pus and blood?

Three months before I would begin to find myself in total therapy meltdown, I was already exhibiting symptoms of several kinds of madness. Some of my eccentricity had always been part of my cultivation of personality, but I look back at my cover story and know it wasn’t all act. Was this the tipping point? That period of time moved so quickly; I’m grateful that it remains a blur. I know that my life would soon completely change. Veering from one scenario to another, one thing was certain: the Cronenbergesque mass on my groin was no hallucination.

Coincidentally, this development occurred just as campus graduate students were furiously debating the issue of health insurance — the university provided it to some incoming students, but not universally. The thought that someone would not only go into debt for graduate education (understandable if you are talking about a technical school such as law, medicine or social work), appalled me. That anyone would accept a funding package without tuition coverage or even mere health care included convinced me that there truly were people who would sell their souls to a faculty and administration of Caligula-level sadists for a chance to frolic for a few more years in, what Jerome McGann once called, America’s “retirement homes for the young.”

Remember that it wasn’t simply the desperation of students to get into graduate school at work in the mind-set of my colleagues that led to a “debate” about the advisability of pressuring the university to provide basic health care for all its working teachers (at a university that was famed for driving students insane), the debate was also riven by the cronyism of graduate students who would never EVER stand up to the administration for fear of being black-listed.

Given the events of the years prior, fear of the academic black-list was not baseless. Following the strikes of their teaching assistants, Yale University actually compiled a list. Everyone in the field knew whose names were on the list — they were the applicants whose letters of recommendation were unusually cruel, even for Yale. Tenure was infamously denied to professors who openly encouraged the graduate student union’s strikes. At my university, I sat through a job talk from one of the strike organizers — a sensitive, intelligent, man who worked on 20th Century working-class literature and who had fascinating ideas about how the genres of the picaresque and picturesque worked. He was one of the few job candidates with whom I’d ever had as candid a conversation about my work and his – he seemed genuinely engaged in what other people had to say. At the time, I knew nothing about the politics of his job-talk but I did notice that some of the more advanced students in my program treated him with an unremitting smugness. I wondered if there was a “class” thing going on since this guy was clearly from a blue-collar background. Was Sam, one of my nemeses, smirking at the heavy arm hair emerging from this guy’s shirt sleeve? At his job talk, two of the most senior professors in the department sat in the back loudly gossiping while the the applicant lectured without notes. An assistant professor curried favor with her seniors by attacking his thesis like a rabid dog. You could probably still find her dental records by referring to the bite marks on his leg.

Like Yale, my university was deeply hostile to student organizing. The journal where I worked was directly across the hall from the Romance Languages department. Their department had posted on their bulletin board a photocopy of a story that ran in the undergraduate paper about the proposed Graduate Student Union. It explained that the main organizers behind such a union had taken their degrees and gone on to the job market. Administration officials forecast no imminent organizing on the horizon. Someone had ominously underlined, prior to the photocopying, a chilling quote from a dean mentioning that the university “discourages” any new graduate students to follow the lead of their predecessors. The Department of Romance Languages would not brook a repeat of the Revolutions of 1848!

As I was nursing my broken penis with tender strokes, emails from the graduate student list-serve were flashing across my computer screen, debating a meeting that had been scheduled where we were to consider approaching the university about providing the “basic” insurance plan to all its graduate student employees. That we were asked to live on a pittance of $4,000 to $12,000 depending on the grade of one’s fellowship – plus $1,500 a course for every quarter’s teaching ($1,500 over two and a half months of work, facing the impudence of entitled little undergraduates who constantly liked to remind us that their parents were generously paying our salaries) – was not up for discussion. Rather, we were far more abject: we simply wanted the university to pay for part of our anti-depressant prescriptions. Dissent came from a contingent that opposed any body that would organize such a demand on their behalf.

I remember one particularly noxious character who I’ll call “Matt.” Matt entered the program a year before I did with his future girlfriend, “Scarlet.” Quickly they began to date. Soon they were engaged. Even sooner, Scarlet would take all her classroom queues from Matt. If she was about to make a point, not only would she need a nod from the professor to speak, she’d also look for one from Matt. He completely dominated her. A once beautiful young woman turned into a crony of a crony. Matt cronied himself to the Modern poetry professor. A man with a Germanic name who had added a “Von” to his name in order to feel more legitimate teaching about the importance of Rilke. “Von” was a strange guy on his own; his second wife was a young black Classics Professor a quarter of his age. When teaching Othello to freshman, he would stop at Iago’s inflammatory line, ‘An old black ram is tupping your white ewe,’ and not ask the students to meditate on race relations; instead he asked them consider Iago’s disdain for inter-generational relationships. “Von” is a consummate name-dropper. One of my fellow students reports to me on the condition of anonymity, “The best part of his class was the literary gossip he would gift us with, always being sure to lay out each of the degrees of separation that tied him to some woman who had the dorm room across the hall from Elizabeth Bishop.”

But I digress. Matt was one of those douche-bags with an electric socket tattooed on his ankle. His favorite band was probably Everclear; no, the Foo Fighters. We all hoped that Scarlet tied him to the bed at home and whipped him every night to compensate for his obnoxious extroversion and her invisibility in his company. In a seminar, I once debated a question about the Protestant Reformation with one of his professors when Matt was not even present, and based on hearsay he sent me an email about the importance of knowing “one’s place” in the university system.

Matt was opposed to our attempts to “socialize” health care. When I weighed in on the list-serve about the matter, he referred to my thoughts as “spam” and rattled on about “rocking the boat.” A few nights prior to the broken penis, Matt had personally called me out on the issue even though I wasn’t one of the organizers of the meeting and wasn’t very invested in the issue. I think my stance boiled down to “of course all of us should get health insurance.” Lately, he had taken to sending me messages directly from a non-university account, arguing with me on a one-on-one basis. I asked him several times who his pseudonym stood for (“You seem to know me. Do you want to tell me who I’m conversing with?”), but he steadfastly refused to name himself not realizing that I already had him pegged from a signature on a previous mass-email exchange. I respected his need to imagine up some privacy in order to have a discussion. It fit his profile of someone trying to climb out of his social rank through a Ph.D. program.

Matt’s emails consisted of impassioned bullet-points that spilled out over several lines. I’ve never understood people who write paragraphs in a bullet-point form. Either make your point quickly and get out, or write an essay. The bullet-point disorder probably has a similar aetiology to whatever disease causes people to write long, manic, emails without ever using single a paragraph break. He wanted me to “see reason.” Me, personally. Not everyone else. I had taken on meme-like status for him. I represented the idea of the impudent student, the malcontent. His emails impicitly proselytized the Virtues of Cronyism as a way of life. Matt believed that graduate education was a benefaction upon us, not a full-time job. He discussed Marcel Mauss’s essay,”The Gift,” claiming education as a gift given with the expectation of reciprocity. Was Matt’s cocksucker’s position his counter-gift to the university? I found all this funny as I’d seen him walk Von’s wife’s dog on campus as part of his editorial duties at Von’s poetry magazine. Had he never read Derrida’s response to Mauss?

darknessatnoon@redacted.edu to “Matt”psp2@hotmail.com
Subject: RE – The Gift

Dear Interoluctor,

A true gift is given without the demand for reciprocity. Derrida says: “For there to be a gift, il faut that the donee not give back, amortize, reimburse, acquit himself, enter into a contract, and that he never have contracted a debt.”

Don’t give anything back during these apprenticeship years other than labor, time, sanity and intelligence, of course. Those are merely “symbolic equivalences” for him. Not the real thing. So of course, those things don’t matter.

Are you now, or have you ever been, a deconstructionist? I am not a commodity fundamentalist, but my political affiliations are Marxist.

Sincerely yours,
darknessatnoon

A Vizier of bullshit, Matt had a list of words such as “hegemony” and “episteme” he’d kept since before I’d known him that he felt needed to be used in his dissertation. I speak of Matt with contempt because he is a contemptible person who bullied his students, his girlfriend and his peers, but I really did feel sadly towards him. I had come to realize that replying to his emails constituted a form of medical relief for the overbearing egomania and tension that built up in him daily. I once asked him, “How shall I bill you for our sessions? I take it you’re not covered, so will I send the invoice directly to your home? What is your address?”

As I said earlier, I couldn’t just sit around taking it easy. I was not going to spend this day waiting to see if my penis would put itself back together while I discussed trade unionism with Matt who violently opposed me with his jargon. The only course of action would be to somehow get to the hospital. I couldn’t ride my bike there, could I? …

Coming Soon in I Broke my Dick Once!

darknessatnoon worries about penis theft! He confronts Judge Schreber and a doctor with long fingernails asks to stick her fingers up his ass! All this and more in the finale to I Broke My Dick Once!

Out of Treatment, My Mother’s Vagina Came First

May 7, 2008

Michael the Therapist asked why I had to go to the dentist.

— Because of the Conference on Depression, I cracked a tooth.
— How did a conference crack your tooth?
— Sigh…

There was a Conference on Depression that I decided to attend — because I am depressed — even though I was not presenting. Normally, I don’t go to these things unless I’m involved somehow. Anyway, I knew a few people from the Art Institute who were going to be giving papers. I met them when I interviewed that Palestinian Journalist a couple of years ago for their video archives. I decided to arrive early and mingle with them.

“You’re not usually so social,” commented Michael.

“I can be a butterfly when need be,” I explained.

— Plus, I was bored with sitting around at home watching Star Trek re-runs.

When I got the conference, I saw that they had a tray of bagels sitting out. The university provides the same food for every event, and I knew they’d have these. I hadn’t eaten breakfast. I was talking to someone I knew when I bit into the bagel. The bagel was so hard that it cracked my tooth. I felt this sharp, intense, pain and shouted out. Then I asked around if anyone had a Tylenol or aspirin on them. But none of them had one. The two people from the Art Institute acted all aghast that I wanted an aspirin. They harangued me for “dependence on the Pharmaceutical Industry.”

— Because you wanted an aspirin?

YES! Assholes!!! I even asked Kat, an acquaintance who helped organize the event. I thought all women carry painkillers around for their periods. No one had one. While the speakers were all condemning me, including some lady I never even met from Austin, Kat gave me a sad, condescending, look. As if I were “the problem.” I was furious! I can’t remember ever being so angry. I already knew what this conference was going to be about. “Depression is socially constructed,” or something equally insipid. I was ready to start yelling, “Fuck all of you! If you people hadn’t taken your Prozac this morning, you’d be huddling in the corners of your hotel rooms, weeping.”

— You didn’t say that, did you?
— No. I was in too much pain. But I was right about the conference. I walked out on the first paper because she was delivering the same Foucauldian line about mental illness being a social construct.
— I take it you don’t believe that.
— Obviously, neither do you. I was in the suicide ward, remember? I’ve seen true mental illness, and it sure as hell wasn’t socially constructed. Plus, I hate hate hate everything Michel Foucault ever wrote. It’s all eloquent gibberish. He’s the kind of thinker with a Humanities training who instrumentalizes any other field he can get his hands on, even if he doesn’t fully understand it.

At this point, I stopped talking.
— You’ve gone quiet.
— Oh, I was just thinking about when I was in the suicide ward, and Michael called but refused to visit. How he told me “I was about to get back together with you, and then you go and do this to yourself. I could never be with anyone who could try to kill himself.”
— You never told me he said that.
— Yeah, it’s what he said.
— That’s fucked up.
— Yeah. What bothers me about it was that he made the whole attempt about him. It was his way of taking even that away from me. When it was really about me. It was my thing. My act. He’s too narcissistic to understand that. He’s such a fucking asshole!

I began to cry.
After a couple of minutes Michael the Therapist said, “I’ve never seen you cry before. This is the first time you’ve cried in session.”
— I never cry.
— Really? Are you exaggerating?
— It’s true. I don’t cry. It doesn’t do any good. I was raised to believe crying is ‘manipulative.’
— Still, children cry.
— I didn’t.
— That’s difficult to believe.

When I was about five or six, I explained to Michael, my mom took me to the dentist for a cavity. I don’t really remember the incident — probably because I was anesthetized — but the dentist screwed up; he drilled into my gums. He was fairly panicked about it. I remember, afterwards, he was trying his best to placate my mom. I don’t know why he bothered. She was very blasé about it. I guess he was worried she would sue him or something. Knowing her, she probably bartered my missing piece of gums for a discount. In the car, on the way home, my mom blamed me for the accident.

— How was it your fault?

It’s because, according to her, when I was a baby I would cry a lot at night for my bottle. She never got up. ‘Crying was your way of manipulating me and your father. Your father always fell for it. All that milk he would give you rotted your teeth. I used to tell him not to indulge you so much.’ I guess, while she sat in bed, my dad would bring me the bottle. She thinks that this caused milk-rot. I think my dad, being an obstetrician, knows how much milk to give a baby. But she thinks that her assessment is objective since my brother never ever gets cavities, and my dad was already out of the picture shortly after he was born. I have no memory of them at the same time. I remember my father, and then I remember my brother. Never both of them at once. I really don’t know why she thinks Ameer got any more or less milk as a baby than I did since Ameer was my Aunt and cousin’s pet project, not hers. I didn’t have “milk-rot.” I was just lackadaisical about brushing my teeth, whereas Ameer — because is a robot in all ways — is very methodical about brushing.

— So your mom blamed your cavity on your crying as an infant?
— Yeah, she used to go on about how I’ve always been manipulative since I was a baby. And she’d rant about how I cried. Gawd, she’s a total bitch. Oh! Also, her other line is “you’ve always been aggressive. Ameer never punched me when he was in the womb.” Get that? I didn’t kick. I was ‘punching’ her. I guess even as a fetus, I knew how to throw a punch.
— I can see why you don’t talk to her.
— Which doesn’t stop her from butting into my life. Lately, she is convinced I am bi-polar. She keeps sending me “literature” on bi-polarity.
— You’re not bi-polar.
— Really? I’d hate for her to be right for once.
— If you were bi-polar you’d have experienced severe and immediate side-effects from the Adderall.
— Other than the side-effects I am experiencing?
— Far worse.
— I see.
— Why does your mom think she knows anything about psychiatry?
— Because that bitch is a know-it-all. Also, she became a nurse in a mental institution after she married my dad. Can you imagine? She worked there while I was in the womb. Think of the level of neurosis I was exposed to even before I was born!
— I’d like to discuss your feelings about how your mother put her needs before yours.
— What’s to discuss?

Ever since I was a little boy, I understood that my mom’s vagina came first. She never let my brother walk around alone. I always had to walk him to Little League. But me, even when I was very young, she always sent to the store whenever she was having her period. I was supposed to go there by myself and “ask for ibuprofen.” It was always very ominous. She’d be sitting in her room with the lights off, and would scream my name. I’d come running into the room and she’d ask me — either politely or angrily — to go to the store to get her some ibuprofin.

— How did it make you feel when she asked you to do this?
— Oh, I suppose at the time, I was glad I felt needed and important. I think, at first, I was confused because I didn’t know if ibuprofen was an English or Arabic word. She would use Arabic with me, but not Ameer since he never learned it as a kid. This would lead to difficulties if I, for example, were to ask for something in Arabic at the store and not be able to pinpoint an item in English. Yeah, so I felt important. Later, I remember being annoyed at her lack of preparation. The annoyance is what helped me learn to start standing up to her. I mean, why did she wait till she got cramps before getting the stuff? Since she was raised in Egypt, from a cultural perspective, it was very slutty and inappropriate for her to involve anyone in the business of her cramps. She was pretty trampy when I was a kid. She’d be out for all hours, staying out till 2AM a lot. I’d make dinner for brother and I, and make sure he went to bed. I once walked into her room one Saturday and found some guy in her bed. Come to think of it, he looked a lot like the dentist who cut my gums. They both had a Magnum P.I. look. I wonder if it was the same guy?

For a long time, we lived in terror of her. Whenever Ameer and I would hear the garage door open, we’d start throwing all our toys and action figures into a blanket. Then, while he wrapped the blanket up into a sack and swung it into the corner of his room, I’d be wiping down the kitchen counters. He’d come back and switch the channel from cartoons to the news. We had a system. Sometimes one of us would make the mistake of speaking to her when she was opening the mail, and she’d scream that she didn’t need to be assaulted right after she walked through the door.

My mother always complained that my father — who delivered me — gave her a never-ending episiotomy after I was born. He kept sewing her tighter and tighter. Eventually, she had to warn him that if he put in one more stitch, he would never touch her again. She always told this story. I would say her vagina was central in my childhood imaginary.

— I think we made some progress today. How do you feel?
— Vague. I’m surprised I cried. I don’t feel embarrassed about it.
— You shouldn’t.
— And you shouldn’t tell me how to feel.

Coming Soon in Out of Treatment!

The End is Nigh!

Out of Treatment, Interlude (Routines)

April 25, 2008

If you follow the comments, then you know that a reader pointed me to Dead Ringers for a transferential scene par excellence. It shamed me as I don’t know Cronenberg’s work as well as I should. Finally, last weekend I got around to watching this. Of course, of course, of course, Jeremy Irons’s portrayal of twins was fantastic. That should go without saying. What needs to be said, though, is that Geneviève Bujold completely steals every scene she’s in from Irons.

I have been extremely promiscuous. I’ve never even used contraceptive devices. I’ve never even thought contraceptive thoughts.

Well, she’s obviously a genius. A Lena “Fucking” Olin caliber actress. I’m angry now. I could have watched this movie instead of wasting my time with countless episodes of Law & Order. I need to change my life.

Change yours first, though. Watch this clip for the scene with Bujold and Irons playing footsie on the couch.

For me it’s all about the récit, a term from French narratology. It could be translated as “a telling of events,” or “story,” but I think the best term for it is “routine.” In the only good essay he ever wrote, pussy-flasher, Jacques Derrida pointed out that the récit perfectly demonstrates the “Law of Genre.” A genre piece, such as a novel or a bit of theater, can never tell you what it is. It functions by telling you what it is not since every variation in a routine differs from previous ones. Variations mark their differences from previous occurrences (becoming re-occurrences. Of course, David Hume basically said this, but you’re supposed to quote Derrida). That is why Claire Niveau (Bujold) finds something “subtly schizophrenic” about the Mandel twins who are both fucking her while pretending to be the same guy (her gynecologist). To get it up with women, Bev needs to hear how his brother screwed her. Elliot also needs to hear how Bev did it, for “you [Bev] haven’t had an experience until you’ve told me about it first!”

The French word “genre” also refers to gender, so the interchange about Bev’s name is particularly delightful; “It’s not a woman’s name. It’s spelled differently.” At which she teases, “Does your brother have a woman’s name, too?” Of course he does, though he seems to prefer the more masculine-determinate Elliot to the gender-bender, “Lee.”

I consider transference a good outlet for frustration when routines go bad. Once a decent therapist starts to see the patterns of your routines and has the balls to call you to the carpet for them, it’s convenient to raise a big emotional fuss to distract everybody. ‘I’ve just pooped my emotions onto your carpet. Now you sympathetically pooped yours. We have to clean this mess up. There’s no time for you to touch my routines. Our emotions are stinking up the room! We’ll never get these stains out!’

Out of Treatment, the Relationship Episode*

April 22, 2008

darknessatnoon meets Michael the Boyfriend after a particularly traumatic incident. he has had to kick his bartender roommate, Becky, out of the apartment. she had been a good friend, but was out of work for seven months out of the past nine. during this time, her usual cynicism has transformed into a deeply bitter depression. she lays on the couch glaring at darknessatnoon as he types out conference papers, angry that he is hogging his computer. with nothing to do, she takes his cordless phone and sits on the porch, smoking, running up his phone bill to complain about darknessatnoon long-distance. when darknessatnoon finally forces her to leave, he discovers $500 in long-distance charges. $500 worth of complaints about him for which he will never be compensated, as well as nine months of rent he has had to cover for her. several of his friends are angry at him for no longer supporting Becky. now they have to support her. they refuse to speak to darknessatnoon for shedding himself of his burden because now they carry the burden.

then darknessatnoon meets Michael, and they become boyfriends. they have achieved happiness.

darknessatnoon is happy for the first time she has known him, according to his friend, L.,. according to his friend, C., he behaves like a born again christian. C. claims that a blank moon-face has replaced his personality. but darknessatnoon, the prescription drug addict, has to be happy! so he disregards the born-again comment.

Michael the Boyfriend finds expressions to communicate his loud feelings at world hunger, human rights violations and injustice. His MAC homepage is the guerilla news network. earlier, he had to give up his career as a cellist because he was poor. he did not finish college because the republican governor of Michigan ended his scholarship. darknessatnoon is impressed that his boyfriend survived victimhood at the hands of powerful and corrupt men. now, at a young age, his boyfriend is a successful IT director at an investment bank. he prefers to discuss poverty and injustice instead of internet technology because Michael feels no internal relationship to the internet, but feels kinship with the poor. Michael the Boyfriend, himself, is related to many poor people. internet technology is unsatisfactory to Michael who boasts that he would rather be humble and bag groceries than make several hundred thousand dollars a year from the investment bank’s dirty money. darknessatnoon is proud of Michael the Boyfriend, for Michael the Boyfriend has abased himself before technology and mastered it. the Boyfriend boasts a fluency with machines that darknessatnoon admires because it is a fluency he will never possess. darknessatnoon, nevertheless mocks his IT-guy soul patch, privately praying for Michael to shave it off.

when they are in london, darknessatnoon’s friend, C., a trust-funded WASP who has a research grant at a british library, mocks poor people over dinner. Michael the Boyfriend experiences a feeling of offense because of this and demands that darknessatnoon keep C. out of the apartment when they return to the states. Michael the Boyfriend feels that if he shows that darknessatnoon rejects his snobby, elitist, friend, it will show that darknessatnoon loves him. darknessatnoon feels no opinion either way about the poor, and, in fact, enjoys his friend’s frivolity as she sneers her contempt for them over expensive drinks, but agrees to humor his boyfriend’s wishes though he does not realize that by indulging these wishes, he validates the jealousy behind them.

after the first month, Michael the Boyfriend says he loves darknessatnoon. he had a dream that darknessatnoon fucked someone else, and he dreamed of killing the person darknessatnoon fucked. darknessatnoon does not say he loves you back. he will eventually say he loves you Michael the Boyfriend while he is ejaculating. Michael the Boyfriend’s spirits soar when darknessatnoon ejaculates with semen and I love you.

darknessatnoon tells his therapist that Michael the Boyfriend experienced a crisis of faith when his two sisters died one month apart from another from breast cancer. darknessatoon’s therapist is unmoved by this touching story and asks a pointed question: “so?” darknessatnoon tries not to laugh at his therapist’s hateful insensitivity since he feels that laughing at Michael the Boyfriend’s grief is taboo. he would prefer to remain an emotionally manipulated person than to break this taboo. Michael the Therapist warns darknessatnoon not to be absorbed by his lover’s story since he is not his boyfriend’s property, claiming that he knows darky well enough to know that he is only trying to convince himself that he is sincerely touched by the Boyfriend’s confessional, daytime television, patois. darknessatnoon, says Michael the Therapist, is not usually driven by taboo. darknessatnoon snaps shut his thoughts so that Michael the Therapist can no longer share his interior.

Michael the Boyfriend has his own therapist, named Julie or Janet or Jeana. repeatedly, darknessatnoon’s Boyfriend complains that his therapist is a straight woman who cannot understand him. when darknessatnoon’s boyfriend complains, darknessatnoon swings his hand behind Michael’s head, pretending to be a puppeteer yanking his boyfriend’s mouth open and shut. he mimics his boyfriend’s complaints with a shrill puppet voice. darknessatnoon briefly dated a puppeteer from whom he developed an admiration of the craft. darknessatnoon privately dreams of producing an interpretation of Jacques Lacan’s “Signification of the Phallus” essay using lesbian puppeteers. darknessatnoon calls Michael a “puppet head,” as a nick-name. Michael the Boyfriend fumes when his problems are belittled by darknessatnoon’s impromptu puppet shows.

Michael the Therapist despises Michael the Boyfriend. he prefers Boring Jim or Tom, the Nutcase with the Psychosomatic Multiple Sclerosis — former darknessatnoon boyfriends who were degreed professionals without a history of driving their old boyfriend’s crazy. darknessatnoon ignores his therapist, thinking of what nice intercourse he and his boyfriend just had, again! Michael the Therapist points out repeatedly darknessatnoon’s own words: his boyfriend’s three immediately prior ex-boyfriends have all gone crazy.

1) Punjab or Punit or something, is an actor whose headshots Michael the Boyfriend refuses to return because the Boyfriend does not want to deal with him. Punjab or Punit’s headshots sit in a manila envelope on top of the refrigerator. this Indian constantly tries to contact Michael the Boyfriend, to retrieve his head-shots. he cries out for them like a jackal. perhaps he wants more than the head-shots? perhaps he spent a lot of money on his head-shots and only wants them back? darknessatnoon wonders why the Indian hasn’t made more copies unless these are the negatives. he doesn’t feel like intruding into the manila envelope to investigate. darknessatnoon volunteers to hand over the head-shots himself because he feels for Punjab or Punit, but to no avail. having grown up in California, darknessatnoon understands how important it is to an actor to be able to think he is pursuing his vain ambitions by making several career oriented calls a day, and sending out head-shots to punctuate those calls. but his Boyfriend does not wish to discuss it and the head-shots remain on the refrigerator.

2) down the street lives another Michael, who is Michael the Boyfriend’s Ex-Boyfriend. Michael the Boyfriend’s Ex used to be an executive, who, after being dumped by Michael, went crazy and gave an ultimatum to his employers. ‘promote me by the end of the day or consider this my letter of resignation.’ his employers accepted the resignation. to make enough money to eat, he cleaned Michael’s house and cooked dinner for months. darknessatnoon laughs and says he will never cook Michael’s dinner like some servant. Michael the Boyfriend’s Ex sold Michael the Boyfriend his collection of Bette Midler VHS tapes. darknessatnoon says to give them back. when are you ever going to watch Bette Midler movies? Michael the Boyfriend shrugs. Michael the Boyfriend’s Ex, Michael, is incredibly rude to darknessatnoon whenever opportunity arises. darkness’s Boyfriend, Michael, claims to never notice this, but darkness can see that even though he has argued on behalf of the ex’s Bette Midler repossession that he and the ex would gleefully beat one another blue if the opportunity were to arise. darkness tells his therapist that he would like to smash Michael the Ex’s rude, fat, face into a wall. he discusses his glee with his therapist that the Ex-Boyfriend is health food freak who doesn’t eat enough iodine and has been growing a goiter. darknessatnon and Michael the Therapist spend several minutes discussing the fact that Cleopatra also had a goiter. darkness and Michael wonder how did Cleopatra blow Julius Caesar with a goiter in the way?

3) Michael the Boyfriend also dated David for 11 years, a local minister. after Michael dumped David in under-described circumstances, David moved to Michael the Boyfriend’s new apartment complex. more specifically, he moved into the apartment across from Michael and proceeded to ignore him, refusing Michael visitation rights to their shared cat.

Michael the Therapist finds all this suspicious. he sees trouble in the works for darknessatnoon. after he walks in on darknessatnoon in the waiting room, flirting with another patient who is just there to pick up drug samples, he asks darknessatnoon what darky thinks of the patient. he is nice, says darknessatnoon, he’s a flirt. he clearly wants to sleep with me. Michael the Therapist comments, I think you two would sleep together. darknessatnoon asks, really? Michael the Therapist says yes, he would definitely sleep with you and you probably would sleep with him. darknessatnoon angrily answers, you are being unprofessional. Michael the Therapist claims that darknessatnoon doesn’t allow anyone to be professional around him, but apologizes for the transgression. darknessatnoon elaborates that he doesn’t want professionalism per se, but would rather his therapist, whom he pays! not regress into a boob.

Michael the Boyfriend suffers migraines. he and his hippy doctor are opposed to medication, and the boyfriend constantly criticizes darknessatnoon’s prescriptions. Michael the Therapist asks if darknessatnoon considers this rational. darknessatnoon says that he is grateful for headaches since they give them the chance to take Tylenol. when Michael the Boyfriend falls sick, he takes the day off and mopes around the house. darknessatnoon offers him Nyquil but the boyfriend says no, he would rather ride it out. in the past two years, darknessatnoon has cracked a rib, dislocated a shoulder and sprained a wrist and an ankle, all while rowing. he visits his primary care physician regularly after graduating from physical therapy for his shoulder. his doctor asks if his boyfriend is physically abusing him. darknessatnoon laughs and says he is 6’6″ and his boyfriend is 5’9″. even if he wanted to physical abuse me, says darknessatnoon, it would be unlikely that he could. darknessatnoon tells his physician that if he were being sexually abused, he would enjoy it. his physician has a sluttish air about her. darknessatnoon suspects she is a nymphomaniac, so he is not surprised by her incessant abuse inquiries. he also knows his accidents of the previous two years make him a rather suspicious patient. he says he would like to get an HIV test to show Michael. the doctor tells him that syphilis is currently a BIG DEAL in the gay community and agrees to give darknessatnoon a blood test if he will take a syphilis inoculation and test. darknessatnoon says that if he had syphilis wouldn’t he be blind and mad by now, but agrees to take the inoculation which hurts like hell. the glutinous injections harden in his ass cheeks, and darknessatnoon bikes home in agony, cursing his bitch physician for not warning him of this. Michael, who won’t even take an aspirin, puts off his blood test for months, angering darknessatnoon. he explains to darknessatnoon that his father is a hypochondriac and that he has always been resistant to medication. your father probably isn’t going to give me a sexually transmitted disease. you, I don’t know so much about, says darknessatnoon. get tested! Michael the Therapist clucks in anger at this story. he whines that his namesake should get tested. darknessatnoon begins to enjoy feeding his therapist reasons to whine about his boyfriend.

Michael the Boyfriend forces darknessatnoon to sit through Chuck and Buck, a movie one of his professors recommended. darknessatnoon finds the movie hugely awkward and embarrassing. Michael the Boyfriend holds him down for fifteen minutes until darknessatnoon cannot take it anymore and screams that Michael is sexually abusing him.

in elevators with other people Michael the Boyfriend often says things to humiliate darknessatnoon, like if you ever hit me again, i am leaving you. darknessatnoon simmers helplessly when his boyfriend does this to him.

Michael the Boyfriend watches The Simpsons and Law & Order. darknessatnoon is bored by these shows, opting to go to the bedroom and read Anna Karenina, by Tolstoy, or The Mother by Gorky. he is having a russian phase which leads into a socialist realism phase. while the Law & Order cast struts its way through the credits, darknessatnoon wonders why socialist realist novels never include narration about work. with their dreamy soft-focus on factory life, “work” is never, ever, shown. everything but work appears, including political power plays, dramatic interpersonal encounters, the violence of the strike — fitting the revolutionary vanguard novel squarely into the traditional frame of bourgeois novelistic self-cultivation. darknessatnoon never gets around to writing about this. he is too happy to give a shit!

darknessatnoon gives up all the movies he used to watch because he is willing to compromise. in the past, he would go to art-house theaters. the Boyfriend has introduced him to DVDs and would prefer to watch Lord of the Rings. darknessatnoon fumes at Lord of the Rings. he is disgusted by this pompous, over-wrought, garbage. darknessatnoon goes a year without seeing his favorite film, The Last Seduction, because Michael the Boyfriend wouldn’t like it. Michael the Boyfriend is gay and spiritual, whereas darknessatnoon is gay and cynical. C., and Michael the Boyfriend reconcile because of their Lord of the Rings love, forcing darknessatnoon to go see The Two Towers. darknessatnoon makes loud, crude, jokes about 911 in the theater while waiting for the ‘film’ to start rolling. he begins to resent his Boyfriend.

Michael the Boyfriend lends darknessatnoon money for tuition since his loan hasn’t arrived. darknessatnoon pays his boyfriend back. Michael the Boyfriend immediately uses this money for taxes that he didn’t pay the year before and for the taxes of the current year. since he spent the money immediately, Michael forgets that darknessatnoon has repaid him. resentment stirs in Michael the Boyfriend.

darknessatnoon owes Michael the Therapist for two sessions. a strange man who calls himself Michael’s Bookkeeper leaves a message on darknessatnoon’s answering machine, reminding him of the payments. darkness hardly ever goes back to his apartment, so several days pass between the leaving of the message and the listening to it. darknessatnoon immediately sends off a check. he can sense the Bookkeeper is gay. he feels a twinge of jealousy. is this just a Bookkeeper or a Bookkeeper & Michael the Therapist’s Boyfriend at once? darknessatnoon considers asking his therapist if the Therapist is fucking around with the Bookkeeper, but he cannot bring himself to voice the question and thereby pump his therapist’s already bloated ego.

Michael the Boyfriend complains again about his own therapist, Julie, Jane or Jenna. because she is a woman she can’t understand him. darknessatnoon thinks to himself that he is grateful because he doesn’t need therapeutic understanding; only pills. darknessatnoon wonders what’s so ‘complex’ about Michael that his therapist can’t understand him. he laughs about this with his own therapist. Julie or Jean or Janet the Therapist tells Michael the Boyfriend that he and darknessatnoon are right for each other for all the wrong reasons, which gives the Boyfriend an anxiety attack. before doing damage control, darknessatnoon angrily asks puppet head what the hell that’s supposed to mean, but, as usual, eloquence fails puppet head who lays in bed, shaking from his bitch shrink’s disapproval. darknessatnoon states that the puppet cannot express what this means because the statement itself is meaningless mumbo jumbo.

Michael the Boyfriend does not know that darknessatnoon regularly goes to visit Michael the Therapist. darkness fears having to explain his therapist’s animosity towards Michael the Boyfriend. darknessatnoon asks Michael the Therapist what it means to say that Michael and I right for each other for all the wrong reasons? from this cliché ridden statement, can Michael the Therapist detect Julie the Therapist’s school of thought? Michael the Therapist wants to know why darknessatnoon wants to know her school of thought is. darknessatnoon explains that it will aid him in undermining Julie the Therapist if he can figure out her therapeutic technique. Michael the therapist refuses to aid darknessatnoon in understanding Julie, saying that it would be unethical to interfere in Michael the Boyfriend’s treatment. saying that he doesn’t have enough information to go on anyway. saying that he can understand why darknessatnoon is upset by this comment. why, asks darknessatnoon? because, darknessatnoon, one thing I know about you is that when you fall in love with other people, you only love all the wrong things about them. you always love only all the wrong things.

Michael the Boyfriend reads Fast Food Nation. because of this book that darknessatnoon has no time to read, he becomes a vegetarian. darknessatnoon is unsympathetic to this. their first serious fight takes place on a visit to michigan, to see Michael the Boyfriend’s family. The mother is a horrible cook. after a third visit, darknessatnoon can’t abide the prospect of eating her food one afternoon and asks that the puppet head briefly stop at Wendy’s. the puppet head rebels. Michael the Boyfriend refuses to support the fast food industry. they have a heated argument, during which darknessatnoon, who is starving, nearly leaves the car. but darknessatnoon doesn’t know how he’ll foot it to Wendy’s, and doesn’t want to figure out how to find a train back to chicago. he curses his own laziness and impracticality. after the break-up, the mother poisons herself with her own salmonella-filled cooking. darknessatnoon sends her flowers at the hospital. Michael the Ex-boyfriend thanks him and says the doctors claim she has a 50% chance of living five years. darknessatnoon says that means they have no idea what they are talking about. are they planning to flip a coin? he laughs. Michael the Ex-Boyfriend is upset by this statement. he gets off the phone abruptly.

Michael the Boyfriend hates darknessatnoon because he owes him his hard-earned money. darknessatnoon shames Michael the boyfriend by reminding him of the six thousand dollar check he gave the Boyfriend back in April. Michael says he forgot and apologizes, but angry words have already been spoken and he wishes darknessatnoon would make more money. Michael the Boyfriend is really angry because he wants to buy a house in the country near his aging mother and father, and the rest of his family. darknessatnoon is disgusted. he says that Michael treats his family like a cult. you don’t have to live on a compound with them. Michael the Boyfriend wants to give up his high-paying IT job and bag groceries, and wishes darknessatnoon were more interested in things like gardening and adoption. darknessatnoon giggles at the adoption suggestion and asks why darknessatnoon cannot just look in the phone book and call up a Mexican who can garden for them. darknessatnoon asks puppet head how he intends on taking care of his aging mother and father, who have no medical insurance, on the income of a grocery bagger. Michael the Boyfriend hates darknessatnoon because just when puppet head would like to discuss his emotional problems, which involve a house with a garden, — nearby a lake,– and child-care, darknessatnoon acts as if he doesn’t possess a heart, but only a brain. Michael the Boyfriend has even already referred to his stance against the war and his sympathy to poor people, and the bush administration’s indifference to the American infrastructure, to demonstrate that humans must help one another, and in turn, they collectively overcome crises. after Michael finishes spewing about poor people, darknessatnoon explains that he is not anti-war. that he is pro-war but is just rooting for the other side. his eyes show how, by god, he hates darknessatnoon’s politics, thinks Michael the Boyfriend.

Michael the Boyfriend buys them a house in Michigan and goes to fix it up. then he drives back on their anniversary to tell darknessatnoon that they will work it all out. as they go to bed, Michael the Boyfriend throws his arm across darknessatnoon. darknessatnoon lays still and cold, pretending he is unconscious of the gesture. he is thinking that he needs to write his dissertation and get out of this situation before he ends up bagging groceries with Michael. he thinks that he needs a refill of speed.

darknessatnoon falls asleep, and wakes up to find his Boyfriend gone. he goes into the other room to see the Boyfriend packing his shit up into the car. the car is parked in a tow-zone, and as they argue at 2AM, a tow-truck comes to take the car. Michael the Boyfriend — now Ex-Boyfriend — argues that darknessatnoon doesn’t make enough money. he wants to give up his job and bag groceries. as he is talking about bagging groceries, he is running outside to save his car from the tow-truck driver. after saving his car with a quick bribe, Michael the Ex-Boyfriend comes back and offers darknessatnoon his cats – cats he found as kittens when cleaning out his dead sister’s house. darknessatnoon says no thanks. Michael the Ex-Boyfriend asks darknessatnoon to pick up his dry-cleaning and drives off. darknessatnoon emails the news to Michael the Therapist and makes an appointment. he also asks the Therapist to send a refill for Adderall.


darknessatnoon then spends the next two years overreacting.

* Where we fast forward through ‘the relationship’ in a stylistic homage to Elfriede Jelinek’s Women as Lovers.

Coming Soon in Out of Treatment!

darknessatnoon attends the Conference on Depression and cracks a tooth!


Out of Treatment, a Psychoanalytic Interlude

April 15, 2008

In psychoanalytic terms, fantasies are some sort of frame or window. Variations within the structure of the frame are virtually infinite, but if you want to go through the frame and act out your fantasy, you die.

— credited to Sylvère Lotringer,
but probably written by Chris Kraus

I craved therapy because I wanted that experience of death where I could come to terms with my subjective alienation from Symbolic Discourse. I should have read more Lacan to realize that I’d never be willing to accept this alienation without experiencing psychosis or schizophrenia, or whichever serious mental illness he felt like assigning — during his weekend seminars — to reconciliation with the Big Other. I associated psychotherapy with a vain, but worthwhile, attempt to at least placate Angry Otherness.

Readers have privately written in to me, shocked that Michael the Therapist would oppose my seeing a Psychoanalyst while treating me pharmacologically. One called him “arrogant.” Perhaps that’s the case. He was pretty arrogant, though not as arrogant as I was. Obviously, his disciplinary prejudice against Psychoanalysis factored into his reluctance to refer me. Also, I think something else was at work. I believe he was opposed to sending me, in particular, to an analyst. I would often ask questions like, “if these medications are striking directly at the primary processes, what about the secondary, post-traumatic, structures? Aren’t those what I’d see an analyst about?” He strongly objected to my use of the lingo. He refused to answer direct questions, such as whether or not something like Wellbutrin was designed for “the primary processes.” Once he flat out said, “I think you know that you’re mocking Psychoanalysis by using that language.”

— I don’t mean to. Why do you think that?
— Your tone, and the fact that you seem to be more concerned that anti-depressants don’t impact sexual function than whether the biological brain is where the ‘primary processes’ take place.
— Well, ‘sexual function’ is a pretty primary process for me. Becky thinks that Wellbutrina would make a good drag name, though I personally am partial to Ms. Anthropy.
— That’s a good drag name, but would you please try to be serious?
— Sorry.

After a year of badgering, he eventually referred me to an analyst in my neighborhood, telling me that his practice specialized in academics. I came back into Michael’s office after two weeks, seriously displeased.

— How did you like therapy?
— My treatment is over.
— Are you cured?
— That’s not funny. You sabotaged my psychotherapy by recommending that guy.
— How did I do that? Tell me how it went.

The therapist worked out of a depressing building in my neighborhood. “It felt very ghetto,” I accused. “At least it’s in the same building as my bank so that I can have an excuse if someone I know sees me there. But you should have sent me downtown. I don’t want to see the usual people around me. And have you met him?” Michael had not. He had been given ‘a strong recommendation’ by colleagues. I described how the analyst looked like Chris Claremont. “He not only had the girth, but also the smug attitude I associate with ‘the Mighty Claremont.'” Michael commented (for the millionth time) that we needed to work on my hostility to overweight people, which was fair enough since, as a former fatso during my youth, my open hatred of fatness bordered on serious pathology. Fat is a Feminist Issue was not my playbook at the time. “The real problem is that he talked too much. He was very mouthy and discussed his personal history with me.” I told him the story.

When I entered the Psychoanalyst’s office, he introduced himself and asked me how I felt. I answered by saying that “I feel vague today.” He countered that he was “feeling great today.” I was tired and didn’t appreciate the forced jocularity. He then asked what I’d done that afternoon. I explained that I’d been at ’round-up,’ a lower level editorial meeting at the journal. “We have two round-ups per issue. For each one, we split the articles ahead of time, read through them and go line by line through our corrections out loud at the meeting to see if the others agree with us. It always leads to these huge wastes of time as the Manuscript Editor and his second-in-command rehash the same arguments about grammar that they’ve been having for years, and then they have the same show-downs over the manual of style. Does Socrates have an “s-apostrophe-s” when used as a possessive or is it just “s-apostrophe”? Which Greek philosophers get the “s-apostrophe” and which aren’t so important and therefore get the less prestigious “s-apostrophe-s”? It’s boring, and today I was chastised.” He said the whole process sounded ‘intriguing,’ not boring.

I told him that I’d like to discuss how I was chastised. He granted me permission to “go ahead.” I thanked him and showed that discipline had come in two ways; one very passive aggressive and one more overt. “At the start of the meeting, I mocked the use of the word “constellate.” Two of the articles I’d been assigned had people “constellating” concepts. I told the guys at the meeting that I thought people need to start using the word “edema” in theoretical articles. Julia Kristeva used it once, and I was very struck by the usage. But it never came into fashion.”

Michael interrupted.
— Edema?
— Yeah, it’s when an organ is swollen with excess liquid.
— I know what it is, but why would you want critics to start using the term?
— Why not? Why should critics be discussing astrology and constellations?
— What did [the analyst’s name] say?
— He said that my suggestion was ‘fascinating.’ Which is bullshit. It wasn’t fascinating. It was just a comment I made designed to elicit annoyance from the others at round-up.
— Of course.

“It goes without saying that the rest of the editorial staff did not find my comment fascinating. As usual, they just stared at me as if I hadn’t said anything of importance. They find me anything but fascinating. I’m sure I annoy the hell out of them. I’m getting really sick of those guys. They sit there and edit while listening to the Mekons — a band I hate. How can you concentrate on apostrophes while listening to the Mekons? And they have no respect for the classics, like Julia Kristeva, Lucien Goldmann, or Émile Benveniste. For such philistines, they’re awfully uppity.” The analyst asked what I meant by “uppity.”

— What did he think you meant?
— Honestly, I think he wondered if I was being racist.
— Because you said uppity.
— Yes. People in the neighborhood are like that. It’s ridiculous.
— Did you call him out on his assumption?

I elaborated, “for such nobodies, they sure attribute a lot of importance to their minor contribution is what I mean by uppity.” To make up for my near collision with racism, I added, “And they get defensive when I claim that post-colonial criticism has any value other than mental masturbation. I am not on the same page with them when it comes to 911.” The analyst asked what page I was on. “What goes around comes around is the page I am on.” I’m sure he was offended. It always offends people when I say that. He became still, and it was clear that he hadn’t been following my theory references anyway, so I turned to the second incident. “Basically, I was criticized for finding one of the articles stupid and illogical. When I pointed out a series of logical errors, the Manuscript Editor told me that the ‘real’ editors — who are all professors who do nothing! — are the ones who get to criticize the arguments. I’m supposed to pay more attention to grammar. As if a journal that publishes Jacques Derrida’s Alzheimer’s induced meditations about how he isn’t sure if his cat likes to watch him while he’s naked and brushing his teeth doesn’t have more pressing problems than grammar!”

I explained that I was really sick of the Manuscript Editor, who was my boss. “He’s a stoner who got a Ph.D. in English even though he hates to teach. Now he just edits, and in his spare time he writes essays about Jack London and goes to Jack London conferences and publishes in Jack London journals. The way he talks you’d think Call of the Wild is the greatest classic of all time.”

— This is when the Psychoanalyst made me angry.
— What did he do?

He told me that he loves Call of the Wild; that it was one of his favorite novels growing up.

— What the fuck? Jack London? Jack London! Has Jack London suddenly become a hot topic and I’m unaware of it? Is Jack London now stylish? Are people discussing Sea-Wolf and White Fang at cocktail parties? Is my boss undergoing treatment with my psychoanalyst, and are they discussing Jack London’s oeuvre together?

Then out of nowhere he said his father “would be appalled by the state of literary criticism today.” The state of literary criticism. He told me, “My father used to collect sixteenth and seventeenth century manuscripts,” and that the kind of criticism I was discussing was a disservice to the kind of collecting his father done. “A disservice.”

Michael laughed a little maniacally when I told him this.

— How did you react?
— I told him that I was very uncomfortable with his mention of his father. He asked me why, and I wasn’t sure what to say. Finally, I said, “Because

  1. I can’t stand people who collect manuscripts.
  2. A professor once became angry at my ‘pornographic’ interpretation of Milton’s Comus.
  3. I don’t find the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries very interesting, and have a whole stereotype in my head about people who admire the literature of that period.
  4. You just gave me personal information. That’ s ammunition I won’t be able to help using later on when I start to hate you during transference and counter-transference.”

— Also, I don’t really care about his opinions on literature or literary theory, but that would have been rude and confrontational to say. He told me that he considers therapy a ‘two-sided conversation’ and that I would have to learn to allow him to express himself. I don’t want a conversation, Michael! At least you rarely disclose anything personal about yourself, so that when I’m feeling aggressive towards you, I don’t have material at hand to attack you.
— Rarely? When have I ever told you anything personal about myself?
— You disclose sometimes. There was that time I told you about how I had crashed my bike in front of the ROTC Nazi on the crew team. You told me that once you had overturned your bike at gay pride when you rode the wrong way on a one-way street.
— I was empathizing with you when I told you that.
— I know, and I empathized back at you and hated all those Pride faggots for laughing at you. Then I felt homophobic and guilty for hating them, and then I began to resent you for telling me the story in the first place.
— Such complicated reactions. I apologize for burdening you with a homophobic reaction. Are you finished with the Psychotherapy?
— For now, I guess. It was too much of an effort. I don’t want to ‘converse’ with this guy. I was very drained after talking to him. Everything about him made me hostile, and I’d just be abusive to him if I went again.
— You place people in the position of having to manage you.
— That’s a really good, non-pharmaceutical, observation.
— Speaking of, do you need any refills?

Coming Soon in Out of Treatment!

The series is ending in just a few short episodes and the shit is going to hit the fan! Don’t miss the ‘serial killer incident.’ Michael the Therapist & darknessatnoon have a breakthrough! Michael the Therapist tries to pimp darknessatnoon out, and hates his boyfriend! Someone commits suicide! Be sure to catch the final episodes of this blog’s only personal entries!

Out of Treatment, Episode Thrice

March 30, 2008

Man will not be saved until he realizes he is the most despicable creature ever created.

— Pedro Almodovar, Dark Habits.

It took Michael the Therapist and I about a year to warm up to one another; a couple of years to become jocular. At first I was chronically late (I am normally extremely punctual), or far too early. He would become annoyed that I sometimes pressed his buzzer a good 45 minutes early. “Starbucks down the street is too touristy. It’s better to wait here” or “I didn’t want to forget to buzz later on,” I would explain. Each session we would struggle over our different visions of where discussion should go. He wanted to discuss boring topics, such as how I was sleeping? Was the medication reducing my appetite? Was I taking it on a full stomach?

In addition to the ADHD meds for inattention, he decided that my impatience with people was a sign of nascent depression and subscribed anti-depressants. Being a natural pill-popper (I always like to have something in my mouth), I was curious about how they would affect me. A friend of mine in college had studied Medical Anthropology, and was deeply opposed to anti-depressants. I had read her thesis as well as some of the pro-medication memoirs she referenced and had become curious. Whenever there was a switch-over to a different pill, Michael the Therapist would walk to the office closet, open it up, and pull out boxes of samples. I always tried repress visible signs of excitement, though I felt like a kid in the candy store.

In the meantime, he also kept sending my Adderall prescription through the mail, which was technically illegal to do since it was a Class Something Or Other drug. This, he explained, was why he was so strict with my coming regularly to sessions, so that if the record were ever audited (this part was implied) it would be plausible that he was handing me the script in person. I did my best to loosen him up. “Don’t worry. I’m not going to sue you for malpractice.” This statement would cause his personality to observably tighten up, at first. Eventually, he began to crack a smile when I’d say it. His uptight demeanor turned me on. I was in his hands. I was Michael’s guinea pig.

The only truly disruptive side-effect was the low blood pressure. After rowing, I’d try to disembark the boat and nearly fall back in. My roommate yelled at me once to hurry up and tie my shoes. When I stood up, all I could see were spots. She later described me as clutching the bookshelves in attempt to stay upright, “like you were having a seizure. Your head kept bobbing.” Despite my efforts, I fell anyway along with several shelves and their contents. This symptom was occurring with frightening frequency, but I considered it a small price to pay for a newer, happier, more-efficient me. My guide through the world of neuro-chemistry didn’t seem to think it was a serious problem. He’d merely make note of it and move on through his list of questions.

In exchange for giving my chemical brain up to his care, Michael permitted me to indulge in ruminations during our sessions as discussing my physical reaction to meds never took longer than ten minutes. For the extra forty, I simply talked — or complained, mostly.

— So, while I was sitting there, this really ugly woman at the table behind me yammered some story about how “sexy” some guy was. She kept enunciating the word sexy really loudly, verbally underlining it, so that everybody could hear it. It really made me sick. Partly, it was the juxtaposition of a really ugly, obnoxious, person discussing sexiness.
— Don’t you think standards of beauty are culturally specific?
— When it comes to beauty I go with the Evolutionary Anthropologists over the Cultural ones.
— Which means?
— Which means I feel my assessment is objective.
— ‘Ugly people’ don’t have a right to find other people sexy?
— Yes, they do. But this lady, she was flaunting the concept of sexiness. I suppose the upsetting part was really that the guy she was talking to was also very ugly. I felt like she was being insensitive to him. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I left.
— You had been drinking caffeine with your Adderall?
— It was a latte, so it wasn’t too bad. That doesn’t matter. I truly think I have found the situation grotesque with or without caffeine.
— Uh huh. Espresso has a lot of caffeine.
— The guy at the counter had put the drink in a to-go cup. It bothers me when people assume my order is “to-go.” It makes me feel like they’re just trying to get rid of me. Even if they’re not! The assumption is possibly implicit, and they should be aware of that. Because they should be aware it’s a possible interpretation, I assume it is implicit. Baristas make me feel really paranoid.
— I see what you mean.
— Do you?
— Paranoia can be a side-effect of the medication. It’s also a symptom of depression.
— I’m not ‘paranoid’ about clerks. Go to a record store if you want to see what they really think of customers. Call me a skeptic, Michael, but that doesn’t prove I’m depressed.
— Yes, but why do you care?
— I don’t know? Why do you not care? Jeez!

— So, we were in the bookstore, C. and I. I recommended Smilla’s Sense of Snow, by Peter Høeg. It’s also translated as Ms. Smilla’s Sense of Snow, but that’s the snooty British translation. She told me, she wanted to take a look at it. She found the book, started reading the back cover and looked through it… Why do people do that? I already told her what the book is about. Either read it or don’t. But don’t stand in the bookstore in front of me pretending that you’re ‘evaluating’ it by flipping around! You know what I mean?
— Uh huh.


— I really like my desktop — it’s a Sony–, but I can’t stand my desk.


— I dropped German.
— Why?
— Too much time. But I realized when I was in that class that I keep learning and then forgetting something about myself. Basically, I never absorbed any idiomatic expressions as a kid.
— What do you mean?
— I’m just no good at platitudes or clichés. Like ‘a chicken in hand is better than two in a bushel….’
— You mean ‘a bird in hand is better than two in the bush.’
— See. I can’t say it right as an example but it flowed off your lips. The are the things normal people say. Southerners have tons of these expressions. Their dialect is rich in abstract phrases, like… “a stick in the mud!” I love that expression. In college, I went out for a while with a grad student, Ben, a Canadian, who studied Philosophy of Language. Actually, come to think of it, that phrase is one of the reasons why we broke up.
— Why is that?
— He wouldn’t admit that “stick in the mud” could be polysemic. It can mean more than one thing… We mostly broke up because he was boring — and not just at the philosophical level. He really was a stick in the mud. Anyway, I would never casually start talking metaphorically about mud, or if I did, I’d use it in the wrong way, mix it up so that when I spoke it I wouldn’t make sense.
— How come this bothers you?
— Well, I feel like the way I speak is very unnatural because I’m no good at throwing around abstractions like that and only half-heartedly use metaphors to describe the abstract. My speech is not grounded in the ‘everyday.’ Sometimes, I compensate by being really literal. Obsessively literal. I turn double entendres into single entrendres.
— Give me an example of what you mean.
— In [redacted]’s class, I once pissed everyone off when I insisted the the phrase, “And then the fog came…,” in Dickens’ “The Christmas Carol” only meant that the fog was cum.
— The class was hostile to a sexual reading?
— Maybe. I think the real problem was that I wouldn’t admit that the fog could even be fog; only ejaculate. There was something else about doorknobs, also. Why do I do this? I wonder if I was just deprived growing up in the cultural wasteland of Southern California, or because English isn’t my mom’s first language. [Speaking with increasing rapidity] I think I must have only heard Arabic in the chora. Do you think it might be because I grew up without a dad? I always had the impression that fathers are the ones who pass down clichés in language. The women in my family are very sullen and reject the oral tradition. My mother would give out meaningless yells.
— Yells?
— She would be on the other side of the house, and she would yell out some sound. The sound was unclear, but it could mean that I should “come here” or that my brother should “come here.” Our names sound very different, and the noise they make shouldn’t be easily mixed up. But she made one, non-complex, sound and neither of us could ever tell the differences in meaning. We’d both have to come running before she lost her shit. There was a real linguistic poverty in our upbringing. Or it all could be a symptom of my ADHD [By that point, I had come to accept the myth of my Attention Deficit Disorder]?
— It’s probably not related to a physiological condition.
— hmmm… Maybe. I was wondering if I maybe had Asperberger’s Syndrome. Would not knowing idiomatic expressions be a sign of mild autism?
— No.
— But…
No. It’s not. Stop self-diagnosing.

I had been told by someone ‘in the know’ that if I was being medicated (even in bad faith), I should also be psychoanalyzed. For a long time, conversations between doctor and patient followed a pattern:

— I feel like I’m boring you.
— You aren’t boring me. I wish you wouldn’t interpret for me. You don’t bore me.
— Goo goo ga ga, to you too. You shouldn’t worry about giving me a narcissistic injury if I am being boring. I bore myself a lot of the time. I want to see a psychotherapist. Why won’t you give me a referral? I can see you both.
— It wouldn’t be productive.
— Why not?
— Because you’re too smart for one. You would manipulate him.
— Please do not infantilize my potential psychotherapist. You can be so condescending, Michael.
— [My name], do you, honestly, believe digging up your ‘Buried Child’ will help you become a more patient person? Or are you actually trying to… Forget that. Answer the first question.
God… No. You obviously feel antipathy towards psychoanalysis. Personally, I don’t have the patience for the petty feuds going on between you Psychology people. I know you were indoctrinated in school to hate Freud. It’s not like I never had a conversation with a Psych major before. I want to embrace my contradictions. I’m not naive enough to believe I can cure myself with some digging. There’s nothing to cure anyway. There’s nothing wrong with me.
— Go on.
— Have you read R.D. Laing’s The Politics of Experience?
— No.
— A professor thought it would be useful for my project. It’s not, but I read it. There is something interesting in it. Laing wrote [pulling the book from my bag and finding the clipped page, I read it to him very quickly while pointing my finger to emphasize ‘thoughts’ or to make finger quotes when I got to jargon I found kitschy]

Psychotherapists are specialists in human relations. But the Dreadful has already happened. It has happened to us all. The therapists, too, are in a world in which the inner is already split from the outer. The inner does not become outer, and the outer become inner, just by the rediscovery of the “inner” world. That is only the beginning. As a whole, we are a generation of men so estranged from the inner world that many are arguing that it does not exist; and that even if it does exist, it does not matter. Even it if it has some significance — HERE IS THE PART THAT PERTAINS TO YOU, MICHAEL — it is not the hard stuff of science, and if it is not, then let’s make it hard. Let it be measured and counted.

— What would you like me to learn from that?
— That not everything can be counted and divided into milligram dosages.
— I’ll look into finding you someone appropriate.
— You keep saying that.
— I’ll do it.
— Ok. Before I forget, I’ll need a refill.

Coming Soon in Out of Treatment!

Michael sends darknessatnoon to a Psychoanalyst. They make fun of him together!

Out of Treatment, Interlude (A Snapple Break)

March 28, 2008

from: darknessatnoon@gmail.com
to: Michael the Therapist
date: sometime in 2001
subject: Appointment

Dear Michael,
Please accept my apologies, but I have to cancel our appointment this coming Thursday. I am swamped with misbehaving students.

P.S.

I am experiencing no side-effects from the medication.

Thanks!

— darknessatnoon

from: Michael the Therapist@earthlinkorwhatever.com
to: darknessatnoon
date: a day later
subject: re – Appointment

Dear [Real Name],

I am experiencing no side-effects from the medication.

That is for me to judge. Please let me know your soonest availability.

— Michael

Which I did. I responded with a couple of free mornings and afternoons in the coming week. My mind wasn’t really on getting downtown so I could recite a list of the medical effects of speed. I was busy navigating a student revolt. The end of the course was coming up. For my final Friday section I had asked that they turn in a thesis statement and a complete outline for their paper in addition to reading the final assigned novel, Humphrey Clinker. I could tell all my kids were annoyed at having to think about their paper a week sooner than they wanted, however, I knew the professor. She may have seemed all sweetness and light, but that was an act. At heart, she would always be a Hopkins Girl and, therefore, a complete bitch about grading. I warned them that they’d need to get started ASAP. Instead they complained loudly to the professor. When she backed me up, I was ambushed during class.

Angrily waving her Snapple bottle around, my best student commenced traumatizing the class by screaming she had an Honor’s Thesis due in the English Department and another one due in the Sociology Department [editors note – That is a sickening combination of disciplines]. She didn’t “have time” for a “condescending assignment like this.” I had made a strategic error. The lecture had decent enrollment — the class may have been a drag yet it was a requirement –, but the department had assigned an extra course assistant, causing my section to be smaller than usual — 6 people. It had been difficult to sustain discussion without “favoring” this girl. She wasn’t as intelligent as she thought she was, but I had granted her too great a license to blab just so that I could fill the alloted time of discussion. This was blowback. I told her, “look [whatever her name was], I don’t want to have a war with you…” “YOU are trying to have a war with US!” she screamed. Then she stormed to the door, threw her Snapple bottle into the trash can — cracking the bottle in half –, and flew out of the room, crying hysterically. She couldn’t have startled us more if she had pulled out a gun and began executing her peers.

I knew she was going straight to the professor, who would definitely bitch me out for this. There was nothing I could do. I was stuck at the table, teaching Humphrey Clinker to a room full of traumatized students. “Uhm, so guys… What can you tell me about the status of constipation in this novel?”

Of course, I got nothing out of them. They hadn’t read it. The prof’s syllabus was too ambitious, and instead of rushing upstairs to mitigate the damage, I was stuck trying to draw water from a group of stoned out kids. The student went to the professor and the Chair of Undergraduate Studies. The Chair saw me in the hallway an hour later and told me that I had handled the situation perfectly and was in the right. Later the Prof would sit me down, furious that I had spoken to any other faculty about it (as if I’d initiated the conversation) and told me that the student I had upset was ‘from the former Soviet Union.’

— She is allergic to Totalitarian Behavior.
— I can’t believe you’re falling for that load of bull.
— It’s not bull! You should have spoken to her more softly, and shouldn’t have used the ‘war’ metaphor. Also, I can’t believe you spoke to anyone else about this. I’m up for tenure in a couple of years and you just endangered it!
— Oh, please. I didn’t endanger your tenure. That’s passive aggressive. She went to him and he came to me. This has nothing to do with tenure. I can’t believe you’re selling me out to protect the student. It undermines the whole professor, course assistant, student triad. What if I played my I’m from the Third World card, and did my poverty squat to prove it? Would that cancel out her Soviet Union, Second World, guilt trip?

I started to squat, but she waved at me to sit back down on the armchair. All in all, this woman was adept at ‘managing’ me. We weren’t friends. We never would be. I didn’t respect her Good Girl routine, her Neo-Kantianism, or her research methodology, and she felt I was an undisciplined wild card. I tried to reschedule with Michael the Therapist so that I could discuss my Great Annoyance instead of discussing how I could “now sit still,” but he neglected to answer my email. I decided to go to his office.

I biked downtown, rang his session buzzer and sat myself down to read The New Yorker and glare at the contrived stupidity of the articles (“The New Yorker,” I mentally sighed. “Who the hell does he think he is?” I would later convince him to subscribe to GQ, The Atlantic Monthly and Harpers, any of which I prefer to read). He came out of his office and appeared surprised to see me.

— What are you doing here? We don’t have an appointment today.
— I know. You didn’t answer my email, so I decided to drop by.
— You can’t just do that. I have other patients. I am with one right now.
— Well, you shouldn’t have answered the door during your session. You should get a secretary.
— [Livid] If I had a secretary, my rates would be a lot higher. I’ll email you later today to set something up. Please don’t just show up off-schedule like this again. [Calming] I apologize for not responding sooner.
— Good. I always feel that it’s important to respond to email within 24 hours. It’s the professional thing to do.
— We can discuss ‘professionalism’ the next time I see you, if that’s what you would like. Goodbye.

Coming Soon in Out of Treatment, Episode Thrice!

All the stuff darknessatnoon promised last time but was too busy this week to write!

Out of Treatment, Episode Deuce

March 21, 2008

The wound I have just suffered, some setback or other in my love life or my profession, some sorrow or bereavement affecting my relationship with close relatives — such are often the easily spotted triggers of my despair. A betrayal, a fatal illness, some accident or handicap that abruptly wrests me away from what seemed to me the normal category of normal people or else falls on a loved one with the same radical effect, or yet … What more could I mention? … All this suddenly gives me another life. A life that is unlivable, heavy with daily sorrows, tears held back or shed, a total despair, scorching at times, then wan and empty. In short, a devitalized existence that, although occasionally fired by the effort I make to prolong it, is ready at any moment to plunge into death. An avenging death or a liberating death, it is henceforth the inner threshold of my despondency… I live a living death, my flesh is wounded, bleeding cadaverized, my rhythm slowed down or interrupted, time has been erased or bloated, absorbed into sorrow. Absent from other people’s meaning, alien, accidental with respect to naive happiness, I owe a supreme, metaphysical lucidity to my depression.

Julia Kristeva, Black Sun

I’d spent a summer a year beforehand studying for two practice orals lists; one on Semiotics and one on Psychoanalysis. I’d devoured Kristeva’s melodramatic texts in the same way some people I know sit rapt before an afternoon Spanish telenovela. I journeyed with her into the womb to watch the Pre-Oedipal psychodramas of the chora in the ‘lurid and rotting uterus’; mentally traveled to China with her to observe as she rubbed her hands all over the faces of Chinese Women; cackled with laughter at her xenophobic rants about the Immigrant Other. Whenever I read Kristeva, I remembered being a student in Paris. There was a woman in my Hannah Arendt seminar at the Collège international de philosophie, who used to get into violent spats with the Jewish participants by ridiculously arguing that Arendt was a Catholic ‘at heart.’ I ran into her once, sitting in Notre Dame during mass, with a copy of Jacques Derrida’s Dissemination open on her lap. Her attention was half on the mass, half on the book. When she saw me waving to her, she blessed me with a sign of the cross. Every gesture she made — every comment that escaped her lips — indicated a highly flammable personality deep in the depths of an over-intellectualized depression, seeking the rapture of Pure Being through a total ontic immersion in Philosophy and Theology. I’m sure she was a widow, and I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see her yank an urn out of her oversized purse to sprinkle and stir her husband’s ashes into an afternoon coffee.

I wasn’t ready to ‘plunge into death’ in my therapist’s office. Though I wouldn’t say that I necessarily fit the ‘normal category of normal people,’ I was fairly self-satisfied to a point of arrogance. At the time, I was a rower. I was working as an editorial assistant at a ‘theory’ journal. I read three books a day in preparation for my exams. I was lecturing and course-assisting during, as well. I wanted to up my productivity with ADHD meds. At the farthest, I would be willing to obtain confirmation from a therapist that my family really was insane. That’s about it.

The therapist who wouldn’t remove Black Sun from her desk was persuaded to give me an off-campus referral. I didn’t really know much at the time other than that he wasn’t a psychoanalyst, he worked downtown and he was “very good” with gay men. I gave his number a call and made an appointment for a few weeks down the line.

Michael the Therapist’s office overlooked the lake. He was attractive, dressed smartly, and unlike the previous two therapists, he actually had a couch I could sit on. After biking to his office against the wind, I was happy to sink into it and play with the pillows. Later when Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate” was installed in Millennium Park, I could see it out of his window. These elements combined to give a (wrong) impression of supreme competence on his part.

“You keep staring at my books,” he said.
“Yeah, I’m trying to see if I recognize any of them.”
“Do you?”
“No! I’m relieved.”
“Why is that?”
“If I knew them, I’d be uncontrollably cross-referencing. I wouldn’t really be present.”
“You find yourself compulsively distracted by books?”
“Yeah, I guess so. I read too much.”
“You are a graduate student? Isn’t it your job to read?”
“I hope you don’t have some unrealistic idea in your head that graduate students actually read anything. We always ‘re-read.’ Just ask around.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means that I’ve never met a grad student who would admit they were reading something for the first time. It’s always this ‘re-reading.’ No one will admit to reading something for the first time. If you insinuate that something is new to me, I am supposed to pretend to be insulted. But yes, even for a graduate student I read too much. Not enough re-reading, though.” I was babbling. I always got like that when I saw an opportunity to mock the culture of graduate school. I tried to reign it in.
“Why do you think that is?”
“I don’t know! It doesn’t matter. That’s not why I’m here,” I said, meaninglessly.

I then gave him my whole prepared line about “not being able to sit still and concentrate” (only now do I realize that statement somewhat contradicted my claim about reading too much). I’d looked up my goal symptoms at the Science library on campus (while I was supposed to be verifying footnotes for one of the journal’s absurd articles) and felt well-prepared for this. Realizing that the bike ride might make me appear calm — even placid — on the advice of a friend, I had stopped by Starbucks to order a latte with an extra shot. I made sure to play with the cup holder to perform my level of distraction.

I’m not a consummate liar, but psychological narratives amused me — enough so that I was fairly certain I could fool this guy. In a college seminar, we had watched A Thin Blue Line, Errol Morris’ documentary about a police officer’s murder in Texas. During a badly mishandled flashback, I began to laugh at the narrative construction of the film with its contrived psychoanalytic plot-line. The lecturer (the young, untenured husband of one of the more entrenched professors), began to shout at me that “this is a serious psychoanalytic narrative.” This sparked a case of the giggles in me that spread to other students. I had to excuse myself to go to the bathroom, where I wiped the tears from my face and pulled myself back together. To me, being a little snot, there was no such thing as a “serious psychoanalytic narrative.” But I knew what they were supposed to sound like, and I had come prepared.

Apparently, I didn’t need as much preparation as I thought. There was no need for me to delve into a back story regarding my family. “I’m only concerned with symptoms,” he explained — effectively chastising me for narrativizing. This was new. He was a behavioralist or psychiatrist of some kind. This development was … interesting, if intimidating. I was dealing with ‘real science’ and I would have to learn only to ‘describe,’ but the course of the struggle was already charted; the battle between Michael and I to decide which of us had the authority to interpret my symptoms would become one the two defining contests between us. The second contest turned out to be my persistent effort to goad him into unprofessional behavior contra his struggle to maintain a professional comportment.

“You are shaking your leg,” Michael observed.
“I am? Yes! I never notice myself doing this,” I lied. This had been one of my carefully researched symptoms. In truth, I’m hyper-conscious of my leg. I had actually learned to monitor myself and stopped doing this as a kid when my Swedish aunt, Astrid, witnessed me doing it at a restaurant and slapped my leg, announcing to the table in her heavily-accented English that, “You are acting like one of the autistic children I used to take care of when I volunteered at the hospital.”

“How long have you done this?”
“Oh, since about 8,” I said. I made certain to indicate that this was a pre-pubescent symptom, having read that ADHD is evident in children prior to puberty. Seeing an opportunity to stretch the symptom out, I added, “I always thought it was a good way to get extra exercise to burn extra calories, since my aunt used to bribe the kids to stay in shape.”

This little addition about the bribes was actually true — a vulnerable moment for me–, but it elicited what I was to learn was a cynical “uh huh” as he rapidly took notes on a yellow legal pad. “Shit,” I thought. “Don’t go too far!” I knew, instinctively, that discussing my family truthfully would take us into areas of ludicrousness far afield of plausibility.

I sensed he was attracted to me and, feeling that it was mutual, I rolled up my sleeves to give him a good look at my rower’s arms. Halfway through the appointment, he stopped asking questions and simply wrote the prescription for the speed I needed.

I feigned reluctance.

“I don’t know how I feel about medication…”
“Let’s give this a try. Your have symptoms of Adult Attention Deficit Disorder. You appear to have had this problem for a long time. Clearly, you’ve developed strategies to get around it, otherwise you would not have progressed so far academically.”
“… OK…. I’ll give it a try. Is it addictive?”

We made a follow-up appointment (which I skipped). I threw on sunglasses and jumped on my bike, gleefully. The medical system was mine to manipulate. This, however, was only temporary. Michael the Therapist would quickly get my number.

Coming Soon in Out of Treatment, Episode Thrice!

darknessatnoon and Michael the Therapist figure one another out! darknessatnoon is chastised for absences and tardiness! The battle to control the conversation begins! Michael the Therapist suggests to darknessatnoon that he should have intercourse with another one of his patients! darknessatnoon calls Michael the Therapist ‘a boob’! Patient and doctor loudly argue about Sigmund Freud and Julia Kristeva! darknessatnoon begs Michael the Therapist to let him try out psychotherapy! darknessatnoon starts to date a guy coincidentally named Michael, and Michael the Therapist evinces jealousy! All this, and more, plus a guest-appearance by a shrink who resembles a fat bear of a comic book writer!

Out of Treatment, Interlude (How Am I Not Myself?)

March 19, 2008

In lieu of new content (I am busy!), I post a great moment from I HEART Huckabees. In this clip, Lily Tomlin plays my reader, Luches. Brad Stand’s ‘cover story’ comes crashing down through excessive repetition, causing him to ask a key question:

Unfortunately, going online I cannot find any great Isabelle Huppert moments from the film.