a visit to the psychotherapist

from robbe-grillet’s project for a revolution in new york

For this underground area seems entirely devoted to amusements: on each side of the huge central mall open out huge bays filled with long rows of the gleam­ing

 

I discover without difficulty the shop window I want, easily found because it displays nothing: it is a wide plain ground-glass sheet with the simple inscrip­tion in moderate-sized enamel letters: “Dr. Morgan, Psychotherapist.” I turn the nearly invisible handle of a door made of the same ground glass, and I step into a very small bare cubicle, all six surfaces painted white (in other words, the floor as well), in which are only a tubular-steel chair, a matching table with an artificial marble top on which is lying a closed en­gagement book whose black imitation-leather cover shows the date “1969” stamped in gold letters, and behind this table, sitting very stiffly on a chair identical with the first, a blond young woman—quite pretty perhaps, impersonal and sophisticated in any case, wearing a dazzlingly white nurse’s uniform, her eyes concealed by sunglasses which doubtless help her endure the intense lighting, white like everything else and reflected on all sides by the immaculate walls.

She looks at me without speaking. The lenses of her sunglasses are so dark that it is impossible to guess even the shape of her eyes. I bring myself to pro­nounce the sentence, carefully separating the words as if each of them contained an isolated meaning: “I’ve come for a narco-analysis.”

After a few seconds thought, she gives me the antici­pated reply, but in an oddly natural voice, gay and spontaneous, suddenly bursting out: “Yes … It’s quite late … What’s the weather like outside right now?” And her face immediately freezesagain, while her body has regained its mannequin stiffness at the same time. But I answer right back, still in the same neutral tone, insisting on each syllable: “It’s raining outside. People are walking with their heads bent under the rain.”

“All right,” she says (and suddenly there is a kind of weariness in her voice), “are you a regular patient or is this your first visit?”

“This is my first visit here.”

Then after having looked at me again for a mo­ment—at least so it seems to me—through her dark glasses, the young woman stands up, walks around the table and, though the narrowness of the room does not at all require her to do so, brushes against me so insistently that her perfume clings to my clothes; in passing she points to the empty chair, continues to the far wall, turns around and says to me: “Sit down.”

And she has immediately vanished, through a door so well concealed in the white partition that I had not even noticed its glass knob. The continuity of the sur­face is re-established, moreover, so quickly that I could now suspect I never saw it broken. I have just sat down when, through the opposite door opening onto the shopping mall, walks one of the men with iron-gray faces I glimpsed a few minutes earlier stand­ing in front of a bookshop window: his body was turned toward the row of specialized magazines and papers on display, but he kept glancing right and left, as if he was afraid of being watched, though at times his eyes rested with some deliberation on an expen­sive magazine of which an entire row of identical copies were displayed at eye level, showing on its cover the full-color photograph, life size, of an open vagina.


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