Courses

Preview: Life Raft

An inauthentic work has no unconscious. Nicolas Abraham (1962)

Bed S has a bird’s eye view of a sea of green, a golf course. While MDs of every specialty (a medical conference is in town) go about their business of recreational rounds and side bets, her IV drip, which S. calls her hour glass, has run dry, causing her MD’s surrogate, a plastic cabinet of vital signs affixed to a metal pole and her blood stream, to throw a conniption that reawakens the patient to consciousness of pain. Chair G buzzes for help. S. is in tears, and the tears continue to flow after an RN announces that painkillers have not been ordered—nor will they be. Outside, the well-remunerated healers may as well be on the moon. The hour glass is refilled.

During reprieves, S. goes walkabout in her hospital gown.

Within reach of Bed S is a heavy-cloth brown bag from a beloved port of call. Marked New York City STRAND 8 Miles of Books, it contains her “desert island” selections. The Strand literature is consulted as needed. Outside, the flags on the putting greens wave.

Day One
On the nightstand are Mémoire sur la découverte du magnetisme animal by Anton Mesmer, The Collected Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe and The Lure of the Sea by Alain Corbin.

Day Two
On the nightstand is Water and Dreams by Gaston Bachelard.

Day Three
On the nightstand is The Writings of Robert Smithson: Essays with Illustrations.

Day Four
On the nightstand is In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust.

playlist
Am I the Same Girl? (1968)

acknowledgments
Nicolas Abraham, Rhythms: On the Work, Translation, and Psychoanalysis (1988, trans. 1995)
Théodore Géricault, Raft of the Medusa (1819)
Brian Goldstone, The Pain Refugees, Harper’s, April 2018
Ariel Levy, World Without Pain, The New Yorker, Jan 13, 2020
Barbara Maria Stafford and Frances Terpak, Devices of Wonder: From the World in a Box to Images on a Screen (2001)