A banana a day keeps the psychotherapist away

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The Independent Culture
DON'T KNOW about you, but I woke up with a banana in my eye this morning. You'd think that would be a nice change, but it wasn't. I still woke in the usual way, knotted insides, pounding heart, dry mouth, sudden disorientating panic, like being thrown out of a moving car, WHOP onto the THUMP motorway so you think "Jesus " and "What the?" and "Where am?" and, frankly, entre nous, a banana in the eye is the least of one's worries.

It is, I suspect, mostly down to the unconscious mind. Not the actual banana; I don't think even my unconscious mind, in its malevolent and relentless hostility, could have materialised and peeled an entire banana from thin air. But it certainly could have made me get out of bed, and fetch a banana, and peel it, and then nod off (or "black out" as we call it in my case) with the banana poised in exactly the right way to bugger up my bright new morning. They're supposed to be lubricants, bananas. Not in your bloody eye, they're not, but I don't want to bang on about the banana. The banana is not the point. The unconscious mind is the point.

I wonder if we were happier before Freud thought it up. All those millennia without an unconscious mind to worry about. There would have been drawbacks, of course, but on the whole, things must have been simpler. Now, we all fret about our motivations, worry about our Inner Child, try to achieve Self-Actualisation by clearing our minds of old baggage, yearn to Love Ourselves ... all of which makes us miserable as sin used to, without the good bits for compensation.

It would have been better if Freud had left it where it was. All very well to discover the unconscious mind (if it is a mind at all, which I doubt; seems more like spares and samples and experiments and left-overs to me) but did he have to haul it up, wet and twitching, to the surface? Did it never occur to him that it was unconscious for a reason, and that repression was actually an extremely good idea?

Take mine. I've had a good look at it and it's a nightmare, a hideous flapping turmoil of resentment, inadequacy, self-indulgence and purest self-pity. It doesn't even do a good job. The last couple of weeks, I've been working with another writer, and we've been using the office of a third party. The third party is rich, handsome, slender, beautifully dressed. He has, to judge from the photograph on his desk, a beautiful French wife and two charming children. Also a boat.

The rest of the stuff on his desk is numbers. Fanned out on the glossy teak surface are analysts' reports on dozens and dozens of high-tech companies. I can't understand a word of them and neither can my partner, Neil. We had a look. They are full of numbers, and have been done by people with thin lips and mad staring eyes who sit in front of spreadsheet programs in clean, brightly lit rooms, and all the numbers have little phrases in front of them like the things you get on spreadsheets which we don't understand either, things like EPS and MIRR and discounted this and on-target that.

We discussed these reports in depth. "Look," I said; "it's just ... bollocks. Look at it." "I don't know," said Neil; "it looks like bollocks to me. How can he do this? How can he read this stuff?" "And look at his wife," I said. "Look at his boat," said Neil.

We thought for a bit. "All these numbers and what-have-you," said Neil; "that's how you get a wife like that and a boat like that and ... and ... and all the other stuff." "What other stuff?" I said. "The other stuff he's probably got," said Neil. "You know. More than one house. You read all these numbers and then you get more than one house."

Then our unconscious minds kicked in. Did they say: "Why don't we learn to read these numbers and things, then we could have more than one house?" No. Of course not. Bananas in the eye is what the unconscious mind does, not common sense. Instead, up came the service message: "CREATE IMAGINARY SOCIETY COMMA SET DISTANT PLANET STOP ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY BUT OTHERWISE STUCK DARK AGES STOP RGDS COMMA UNCONSCIOUS MIND STOP."

So that's what we've been doing, and, gosh , has it been fun. There's the Gat, hereditary ruler of the great city-state, commemorated in the great architectural folly of the Hotel Gat, behind which stands Large Mall, home to numerous thriving chicken-accessory businesses, not to mention Von Doenitz Menswear, creators of the Original Gentlemen's Self-Ablating Single-Legged Re-Entry Trouser and the Irresistible Jacket, pre-soaked in pheromones and available in five popular genders. The outskirts of our city are ringed with small businesses: dog-seed suppliers, intelligence- repair shops in crumbling sheds, dodgy robot dealers operating from council flats. There is a maverick priest, Father Turbot, who sells visions to the unfaithful so they can keep their end up; Boppy Headcase and his Hot Beat Combo can be found any night at the Profitable Cafe; over the whole cityscape towers the nightmare colossus of the Big Starship Yards, on which the entire economy depends.

And what we have in mind, you see, is that into this ramshackle, faintly corrupt, on the whole rather agreeable fictional economy, comes a Modern Manager, who can read analysts' reports, and has an eye for a P/E ratio, and another eye on a glamorous French wife and more than one house, and begins, inch by inch, to destroy the complex organism which he has invaded and on which he depends.

Remind you of anything? Well, quite. It's just a piece of infantile fictional revenge, an exercise in schoolyard name-calling. Instead of working out how to get rich ourselves, we have simply decided to blow raspberries, and it's all because of our unconscious minds. Well; it can't go on. It won't do. And it occurs to me that perhaps, if, each night, before I go to sleep, I give my unconscious mind a banana to play with, it might perhaps eventually learn its place.