Speech and Writing: Impossible Tasks

This sentence doesn’t need my help. I need its help, now, as this one nears its end. Writing in this way sometimes leads me to creative mental places, where images appear when I’m about to head to the kitchen and prepare myself coffee. I find myself in a free-associative state of mind. This also happens on the psychoanalytic couch, when I speak words and sentences that make sense only afterwards. Later on in the fifty-minute hour, I might glimpse what I was struggling to say ten or fifteen minutes earlier. Often, though, from the opening minute until the end, when Martin seated behind me says that our time is up, I’m too involved in the act of speaking or of remaining silent to become aware of anything else. This is also the case when I write, for instance this paragraph. The final sentence has yet to be imagined. I was on the couch this morning, writing sentences in my mind and then speaking as many of them as possible. I could never write or speak everything that comes to me. Perhaps that’s what attracts me both to writing and to speaking in free-associative manners: they’re impossible tasks. I would’ve preferred if I hadn’t spoken the truth on the couch this morning. Part of me would prefer to write a more coherent narrative. This is what happens when I listen to the unconscious. Words escape onto the page. I become unimportant. The writing itself, the speech itself, take control. I’m drinking my afternoon cup of coffee while I write. Maybe, while I was on the couch in Martin’s downtown Seattle office this morning, his mental and emotional presence behind me had a similar effect to what caffeine has had on me while I’ve been working on these sentences. And these sentences have come to an end, which reminds me of when I stood up from the couch and passed Martin in silence as I left his office.

 

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