The Couch Trip
—So, you bring me any dreams, today, Camel?
—Forgot them? Didn't dream? Dreamt but didn't record them?
—Ok. So, what do we talk about today? How's your mood, generally?
—You know, collywobbles. Weirdness.
—Ok. What kind of weirdness?
—Mind-trips. Disharmonies. Unbalance.
—We're not getting a clearer picture here.
—What can I tell you, Dr. O'Dyne?
—I believe we've established you can call me Ann. Is there a reason for your formality today?
—I'm losing track, Ann. I'm unmoored, like Iago.
—Very funny, Camel. You haven't lost your sense of humor.
—You know someone said, there are few tests of a truly sane mind but knowing what's funny is one of them.
—You're just being perverse now.
—Ok. I'm not myself.
—You've been bodysnatched.
—Now, who's being funny?
—I'm sorry, Camel. It's just that you're giving me so little to work with.
—I know. I am so little to work with.
—That's just ego. You're smarter than that.
—Right. I've lost the course, Ann. I mean, a few years ago, it seems a few months ago, there was reason, there was a light in the chaos. Now, so much has disappeared, Abbie, our focus, JimJanisJimi, Altamount.
—You're jumping around a bit. Abbie. You mean Abbie Hoffman?
—You feel his disappearance has somehow caused a lacuna to open up before your feet, a void in your very existence.
—In a sense. But not just Abbie.
—So I understand. The sixties are over, or as John said—
—Don't say it. I hate that thought.
—You know, Camel, you have taken a large quantity of, shall we say, illegal substances.
—I know. This isn't a flashback or bad trip. This is soullessness.
—That's quite a large claim.
—I can't tell the difference between "Foxy Lady" and "Purple Haze."
—I mean when one comes on the radio I have to concentrate really hard to figure out which it is.
—And this, to you, is some sort of failing, some sign of deeper unsteadiness.
—Ok. Now, that the sixties are over, the war looks as if it will be ended completely soon.
—The war is forever.
—Why is that?
—The war is forever.
—In the White House, in the Mansion of Exxon and AT&T, sits an evil gnome. He uses flagitious succubi and incubi to infiltrate. He uses that Opinicus Hoover to study our bedrooms. He squats there like a toad on the highway to hell—
—We're getting off track here, Camel. This is paranoia, plain and simple. You see that?
—Paranoia is never simple.
—You think everything is copacetic?
—Of course not. It never has been. I think a few years ago you felt a sense of purpose, a united front against an evil government, a take-it-to-the streets movement which almost was successful in overthrowing an administration, which surely was instrumental in ending an corrupt war, and now, here you are, a grown man, and there are no more monsters, or at least there are no more organized groups of citizens with picks and axes and torches. You feel lost. You feel useless.
—It's more than that. You're simplifying.
—That's what I do, Camel Dear. I simplify. I try to make you see through the cobwebs.
—What if the scene on the other side of the cobwebs is more cobwebs?
—You're playing word games with me now.
—I assure you I am not.
—Then it's more paranoia.
—You dismiss out-of-hand the forces at work to destroy the best minds of our generation.
—Are they really trying to do that? Is there an evil force at work, Camel, with no other thought in mind but to disorient and defuse our children?
—Where do we go then?
—Nowhere? How does one go nowhere?
—Abbie did it.
—You seem obsessed with Mr. Hoffman.
—He's emblematic. He's an avatar.
—I assure you he did not go nowhere. He exists.
—Outside the radar.
—Right. But he may be in a good nowhere. I'm on the road to a bad one.
—Why is that?
—Short end of the straw.
—Camel. You're talking nonsense.
—Nonsense is all we have left. We lost.
—In a sense.
—The war is over.
—The war is never over.
—We lost. I'm on a road to nowhere. I'm in a battle with Satan for my soul.
—So you're fighting. You haven't given up.
—Nice catch. I'm in a losing battle, to be more precise.
—It started when Jagger let Him in. It started when Jann Wenner sold out to R. J. Reynolds. It started when they killed the Beautiful Brothers for stepping in front of the war machine. It started in our fair city on the balcony of a downtown hotel, the death of the Sweet Protomartyr. Martin the Martyr. It started on your doorstep and mine, in Strawberry Fields, on Desolation Row. It started when Clancy stopped singing. It started in our muses and spread to our fighters and then to the lovers. A stain. A crapulence.
—My goodness. I have no response to that. Let's concentrate on you.
—I don't matter.
—Why are you here then?
—Why am I here?
—Camel, you're batting the birdy back just to bat it back. Sit up. Take stock.
—I can't sit up. My spine is gone. As Neil said, "We're finally on our own."
—Then there's still a we.
—A wee we. A dying we.
—The end of the sixties, if I grant you that, was not the end of you. Do something. Get off your ass and find something concrete out there in Dreamland.
—Dreamland, yes. Exactly. Nightmareland.
—Camel. Before next session I want you to do a number of things. I want your dreams recorded. I want you to write down every day four different emotions you feel during that day and I want you to separate them from your anxiety. Can you do those things?
—You aren't convincing me. Look at me, Camel Dear. Care. Love. Try.
—Tom Robbins said that psychiatry is at the place today where medicine was when barbers practiced it. And that the only psychiatric test worth anything was to ask, who's your favorite Beatle?
—You seem hostile. To me, to yourself. There is still reason to love, reason to keep reasoning.
—Who is your favorite Beatle?
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