Mar 022014


“The drama in my plays, I think, is nearly always people trying to reach each other . . . It’s true they’re confined inside their own skins, or their own cubicles, but they must try to get out as much as — they must try to find a common
ground on which they can meet . . . ”

—Tennessee Williams

The man who made the movie was drunk. When I say drunk I mean he could barely stand up and hold a camera. He had children. And he had a girlfriend, who blew a lot of kisses at him as he shot the film. I don’t know what happened to his wife, the mother of the children. The girlfriend was pretty, but the children were beautiful.

Everyone else was hideous. Aging men, dentists and veterinarians with comb-overs and polyester suits. Women, old before their time, who had their hair done at the beauty parlor and nothing else to get excited about but they kept on going, kept on going. Big cars taking the sting out of it all.

And then the young men with beards and long hair just back from Vietnam. One of them was a burglar or a con man or a murderer. He had yellow teeth and a snake coiled up in his pants between his front pockets. And a gun, always the gun.

This movie was made a long time ago, so the old people in the movie are dead.
And the young people are old.
The children are grownups.

I went to the movie by the drunk man and I sat too close to the screen.
Someone bit the head off a chicken, I believe. My eyes were closed so I wouldn’t vomit.
Elvis made an appearance.
Someone stuck a bottle up his own . . .

Why do people want to put the lights out?
Blacken the scene. Wipe themselves clean.
Is it so very painful to just be alive and awake?
God yes god yes god yes.
Especially in Memphis.

(Thoughts on Stranded in Canton dir. by William Eggleston & Robert Gordon)

Feb 212014


“Nature is a Haunted House—
but Art—a House that tries to be haunted. ”

—Emily Dickinson

Case Notes: Patty Emerson Berglund
Fictional Work: Freedom
Author: Jonathan Franzen

Patty came to me because of chronic recurring depression and intermittent alcoholic behavior due to a traumatic event early in the narrative. (Patty was seventeen.) As the main female character in an ambitious work of realist fiction, Patty knows that something awful has to happen to her. Her issue is with plausibility. Franzen wrote Patty into a drunken date rape during a pool party. Patty’s teenaged rapist actually put on a condom before he violated her.

Patty’s anger and lack of trust in her author has interfered with her ability to move forward in her life post-denouement. She expressed her confused anger several times: What rapist uses a condom?

(NB: I agree. Doesn’t make sense.)

As Patty’s author, Mr. Franzen, has every right to structure his novel around a traumatic and horrible experience. But he could have at least made it believable. Patty and I agree that it will take more than a few sessions to unravel her feelings and work toward resolution. She is aware that a rewrite, a prequel, or a recall are out of the question.

Another big issue is the way Franzen developed Patty’s relationship with her son. Franzen wrote the son out of Patty’s house during his junior year in high school. The son actually moved in with the next-door neighbor. Though Patty recognizes that this is rich, fertile ground for fiction, she wishes she could have kept her son at home.

(NB:Plausibility might be thin, but I’m siding with Franzen on this one.)

Have asked Patty to check with her insurance company before we settle on her session fee.