"Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear or a fool from any direction"- Ken Alstad
After the election (more fun than the Oscars) I went to the outreach clinic for my third session of psychotherapy. Last week I had been discussing William Burroughs and the Jungian imagery in the dreams I used to have where I was eaten alive by tarantulas.
"Last week," the therapist said.
"You mentioned a lot of things. A lot of topics were covered in... a very short space of time."
I'm tired and strung out on caffeine.
"Like Dennis Hopper in True Romance?"
She smiles. "I haven't seen it."
"You know, show and tell. I was showing you a lot of things, but telling you nothing. You know, Dennis Hopper is trying to hide the fact that he knows where his son is, and Christopher Walken talks to him about Sicilians and the art of lying. He says women have seventeen tells and men have fifteen."
"So women are better liars?"
"He says Sicilians are the grand masters of deception."
"Oh. So what happens?"
I turn to look out of the window. "Dennis Hopper tells him that Sicilians were spawned by niggers and Christopher Walken shoots him in the head."
"So is that what you're doing now?"
I'm desperate for a cigarette already.
"Empire, Post-Empire. I think it's the most Empire scene about Post-Empire in cinema history."
"Can you translate that?" She asks.
"Empire means everything that predates the end of the Bush administration. It means closed, deceptive, living a lie. Barack Obama is the prophet of Post-Empire. Post-Empire is Lady Gaga, Empire is Michael Jackson."
"So last week was Empire then? I like that."
"I'm trying to be Post-Empire now but as far as I'm concerned I always was."
"And that means you want to tell the truth?"
"I'm not sure I haven't been but Bret Easton Ellis is convinced that I'm lost in the Empire and I'll never return. As for Marilyn Manson, hell. I don't think he likes me very much."
She notes this down. I never like making eye-contact during therapy. I try and sit in a non-confrontational manner, my hands behind my head, my legs apart. Out of the window is the garden where I've performed live music for the outreach clinic. I smile as I remember rapping "Fuck the Police" on a loud PA system and dividing my critics. They had hired two Community Support Officers to watch over the gig. The male PC looked pissed but I think I tickled the WPC a little. They love a bit of rebellion so long as there's a hint of glamour.
"Marilyn Manson, huh," she says after a moment.
"Sounds crazy," I reply.
"A little bit."
"Are you a fan?"
"Can't say that I am."
"He's pretty damn Empire."
"I can imagine."
"I think he's read Smoking Is Cool. I think Fred Durst has read it. I think Matt Stone and Trey Parker have read it too. Because most people don't read for pleasure, when I tell them I handed a copy of Smoking Is Cool to Bret Easton Ellis they don't understand what that means."
"What does it mean?"
"That I have a certain reputation in certain circles."
"Difficult to say. Part of me thinks I'm being groomed for a top position in the corporation, while the other part thinks that I'm a serious problem that needs to be solved. So," I sigh, "kind of a bipolar reaction."
"You've talked before about your diagnosis."
"They wanted to classify me as a psychopath at one point."
"You piss off enough psychiatrists you'd be surprised at what they cook up."
"What is your opinion now?"
"I've been misinterpreted. Misrepresented."
"And you've spent...ten years now in the system?"
"Time flies, huh."
I take a look at her to work out a few key descriptive points for my blog. She dresses like my sister. Fashionable hippy chic. Scarves, boots, Osiris glasses, lots of browns and purples.
"And we talked about therapy too," she says.
"Yes. Freud was a child. The idea that you can, in some Hitchcock/Dali way appropriate some childhood trauma that will unlock your true inner self is like something out of Good Will Hunting."
"Yes. It's corny."
"That's what the psychiatrist at the secure unit told me. Told me I was Will Hunting."
"Although there's a key scene in that movie that says that it's just as easy to create a Uni bomber as it is to create an Einstein. And anyway," I smile, cracking my knuckles, "I got a Double C in G.C.S.E science."
"So you're no Einstein."
"It's a damn shame."
"So how do you want to approach therapy?"
"Like Woody Allen. Although he lost it in the nineties."
"Oh, I love Woody Allen."
"Me too. But Vicki Cristina Barcelona was at best amateurish."
"Yeah," she replies. "I think he just wanted to make a movie with Scarlett Johansson looking sexy."
I can tell that my therapist finds me immensely entertaining. Me? I just enjoy having intellectual conversations. It's a rare occurrence. I spend most of my week alone thinking about the girl I knew who hung herself. Most of the time I am dropping Promethazine and obsessively tweeting random (but archly devised) satirical barbs.
"I want therapy that focuses on the here and now. I want therapy that will in some way help me work out why I was sectioned in the first place, and why the NHS psychiatric system and its mandate of enforced hospitalization is total bullshit."
"You're not the first person who's told me that."
"I'm overwhelmed with surprise."
"We talked about Burroughs last week."
"Yes, you're a clinical psychotherapist. I imagine you've experimented with automatic writing."
I can see her blush slightly.
"I also don't want to become a chapter in one of your books, Andrew."
"Of course not," I smile.
After the session I put in my earphones and listen to XXXO by M.I.A which is my current favourite song. Usually after previous attempts at therapy I would have some kind of emotional reaction, a need to get drunk, high, whatever. This time round I don't care. Romney, in hindsight, never really stood a chance. Obama has charmed Hollywood, and they run the show. Maybe not Fred Durst, but he's just a redneck cracker from Jacksonville. I can only see good things happening with a fully across the board healthcare system in the USA. I don't think it's hope he's peddling. Optimistic rationality. I used to say that Americans would never understand irony. I wrote two books about that conceit. Maybe they will, maybe they won't. All I can do is hope.