“The Analyst” – A Short Story

NOTE: I tried getting this story published in a few journals, but it was declined. This is probably because of one line in particular. However, I am completely open to the idea that it was simply terrible. I decided to share this story with you anyway, because I am fond of it and I thought you all might enjoy it.

This is not an overtly political tale because I do not believe the themes explored in this work are political. I view them as issues of philosophy rather than issues of government.

The Analyst

by Ethan J. Hatchett

Rain fell on his black coat, each drop numbing his shoulders further. He approached the door of the hulking, concrete fortress that was his workplace. He swiped his identification card through the reader and the door creaked open. “Morning, Analyst,” the nurse greeted him dryly. The Analyst nodded in passive acknowledgement and continued his march forward. He removed his coat and hung it up on the the rusty hook in his office. He shook his computer awake from its slumber and the monitor lit up at a creeping pace. He studied the file of James Thomas, the patient he would be seeing this morning. Thomas had been diagnosed with an Antisocial Personality Disorder and has been experiencing Manic Depressive episodes. The Analyst had not seen this patient, Thomas was transferred from  another facility last week, but he already had a sense of the issue. Thomas was raised in a rural area, far from the reach of the Community and was probably indoctrinated by that uneducated, Neo-Reliant philosophy.  The Analyst did not believe in insanity. Everything had a logical explanation that could be deduced with well phrased questions or the simple implementation of the Scientific Method.

The Analyst arrived in the plexiglass chamber where they held therapeutic sessions. On the other side of the glass was James Thomas. Nineteen at most, Thomas was barely a man. He had short hair, clean shaven, and his clothes were awash with bright,  garish colors. Thomas was a stereotypical Neo-Reliant in almost every way, the only thing that was distinct was his young age. That movement tended to appeal to old men who had nothing to lose and were, in essence, dead already. They grow up before the Restoration and had faint memories of a world gone.

The two men sat in silence for sometime. The Analyst had learned over the years to put the patient off balance.  The Analyst took meaningless notes and every so often glanced sternly at Thomas. Almost half an hour elapsed before Thomas finally spoke. “Can I go now?” The Analyst looked up from his notes.

“Why would you want to do that, James? Everything is provided for you. No one has hurt you.” Thomas rolled his eyes. “Why are you so disrespectful, James? You went to school, correct?” Thomas nodded. “Well, then you knows as well as I, that respect is the foundation of human interaction.”

“Is that why you people have no doors? Respect?” Thomas chuckled.

“Do you not value transparency, James?” Thomas leaned closer to the glass.

“I prefer to shit alone.” The Analyst smiled. He closed his eyes,  took a deep breath, and recentered himself.

“Why haven’t you been taking your medication, James?” Thomas had no answer. “You need to take your medicine in order to feel better,” The Analyst continued in his calm tone.

“No,” Thomas replied curtly. The Analyst was taken by surprise.

“No?”

“I refuse.” The Analyst leaned back in his chair.

“I’m afraid you do not have a choice. We are doctors, our authority supersedes yours in this matter. You are a danger to yourself and others.”

“How am I dangerous?” Thomas asked in a mocking tone.  The Analyst was losing his patience.

“Do you remember July 5th, Mr. Thomas?”

“This again? I’ve explained this a hundred times.” The Analyst had enough.

“Do you really think that anyone would believe that an officer of community assaulted you and withheld food from you?” The Analyst stood up. “Why did you kill him? He had a family. Have you no empathy for your fellow man?” Thomas stood up and they met eye to eye.

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” The Analyst stared in Thomas’ eyes. They were two brown balls of fiery emotion. There was no logic, no rational thought. He was hopeless.

“Where are you taking me?” Thomas asked, half curious, half scared. The Analyst did not answer. He held Thomas’ wrist and walked as fast as he could without bursting into a sprint. “I’m sorry.” The Analyst kept moving, barely acknowledging his admission of guilt.

“It’s too late for that now.”

The Analyst waited in the brightly lit room for some time. It was nearing midnight, but he was still restless. The metal door in front of the room swung open and the Physician approached him. “Congratulations. Another successful conversion, thanks to the Scientific Method.” The Analyst smirked.

“The praise belongs to you and yours,” The Analyst replied with anticipation. “May I see him?”

The two men entered the dimly lit ward. The Physician gestured towards a figure hunched on a bed. The Analyst rushed towards him. Thomas was bald with freshly made scars running down his skull, his eyes searching blankly for something. “James,” The Analyst began, “do want to take your medication?” Thomas nodded silently.

 

 

The Snow Dream

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

-Carl Jung

I would like to preface this story by stating that I do not necessarily believe that dreams are anything mystical. In my experience, dreams are manifestations of the subconscious.

This is a clip of one of the lectures that introduced me to this kind of thinking:

 

I fell asleep in the middle of the afternoon yesterday waiting to go to the store. My car is in disrepair at the moment so I have been stuck at the house and I have been restless.

My relationship with sleep has been rocky since I was very young. I am often awake late into the night, as I am tonight. The thought of going of to sleep fills me with dread because I know I have to wake up at a designated time each morning, while I can sleep indefinitely during the day. I know this is silly, but on with the story.

I put a song on loop, shut my eyes, and slowly drifted to sleep.

I only remember one “scene’ from my dream because it filled me with an overwhelming sense of peace that caught me off guard. My dreams are often frantic and alarming because of my anxious temperament.

I was standing on the back porch of my house, looking into the woods. The ground was covered in the patchy snow that we occasionally get in Georgia. There were white rabbits with broken, black patches hopping after leucistic (partially albino) doves that were flying. I turned my head to the railing of the porch and perched on a branch were all manner of leucistic birds (Indigo Buntings, Zebra Finches, House Finches). It was stunningly beautiful.

The next fragment was what I can only describe as a pterodactyls with a semi-mammalian heads, swooped down and starting devouring the birds.  I was awake the second after that fragment ended.

I kept thinking about the dream for the last few hours and I began researching it.

Snow, as an archetypal dream, can mean healing.

Dinosaurs or reptilian creatures, can mean a conflict with your logic and instinct.

Rabbits can represent a need to act intuitively, and not over-analyze a situation.

Birds can symbolize tranquility and balance.

The forest can represent the unknown.

Using these archetypes or for whatever reason, I deduced that I need to take action to enter the unknown. So, I applied for a job in a new place, then the thoughts subsided and I relaxed.

This is the second time I explored a dream to solve a problem and they both have ended positively. It is strange to the least. I thought I would share this story because it applies to more areas than just sleep.

As an artist AND a neurotic person, there are probably thousands of unfinished ideas and probably more that were dismissed before they were even completely thought through. When I am exploring my dreams and acting on them, I am placing faith in my intuition, which terrifies me. However, in order to write, make films, or do anything creative, I have to use my intuition as well as my analytical abilities. It is a leap of faith that rest solely on myself, the person I trust the least.

Perhaps the pterodactyls represent that aspect of my psyche.

 

 

Should We Forgive Artists?

During the whole Harvey Weinstein debacle I felt I had some kind of hazy responsibility to comment on it. So, I decided to wait until the dust had cleared and then comment, but, being the person that I am, another question arose within, after watching the response to the event. The question of “Should We Forgive Artists?” was probably derived from watching the art community cannibalistic-ally devouring its own.

I think writing about how you shouldn’t sexually assault people would be redundant and the moral of that essay is pretty self evident to begin with, but tackling the issue of art and forgiveness might spur us to much needed introspection.

Artists are people too. They are deeply flawed like all of us. The key difference between them and us is exposure. Whenever a public figure does something wrong, they are either ignored and ostracized, ignored and tolerated, or simply damned to Hell, seemingly on a random case-by-case basis. I believe that is what people struggle with. The arbitrary nature of accountability among public figures.

Artists are, for lack a better word, strange people. It is because of their unique way of being that we admire them. Should we forgive them? I think so, but that point stops when they transgress the law. The Law should not be arbitrary. Justice plays no favorites. However, when artists do repugnant things that do not break the law, we should forgive their faux pas. Another crucial detail to this constant mass hysteria is that we treat every tweet like it is anything other than a throw away thought. People say and do repungnant things. Status, wealth, and talent don’t protect artists from their own faults. As a general rule, you shouldn’t take anything at a face value, especially when confronted with creative types. They clothe themselves in irony, jest, and shock for effect. It is better to assume ignorance (and classlessness) than malevolence.

I would also note that it is possible to like the art without liking the artist. Art is a transcendent feat of humanity, but sometimes part of that task is to see the flaws its creator and accept them.

We must keep in mind the humanity of artists, as well as the other captains of industry, and judge ourselves by the same principles that we judge them by. Why does it matter if a movie producer transgresses the law if a truck driver can get away with it?

 

Ethan’s Motivational Mix

I awoke this morning feeling anxious and generally restless. This happens somewhat regularly, so I decided to put together a care package of sorts for when these moods rear their ugly head. Rather than hoarding it to myself, I have decided to share the playlist with you.

My anxiety is usually centered my work so the playlist is compiled of 5 videos, mostly centered around art. It is best to watch them in order.

I hope this reinvigorates you as much as it has reinvigorated me!

 

My Brother

*I’m digging through old writing and I have found some stuff that I think might be worth posting.  This was written sometime in 2015.*

This is not an easy topic for me to write about. I don’t want this to be a catalog of perceived wrongs or just the good things about my relationship with my brother. I want to give a fair portrait of my relationship with my brother.

I have an older brother. His name is John. John has Asperger’s Syndrome and epilepsy. He is adopted. John is six foot nine inches tall. He is the most gentle person with animals I have ever met. John is also the crassest person I have ever met. Our relationship is… complicated.

John is different than most older brothers. He is nineteen, but his sensibilities are that of a thirteen year old. John can’t be left alone. He could seize and really hurt himself. John is socially awkward and doesn’t always get social cues. He doesn’t know how to tell if someone is disinterested when he is telling a story, if someone got his joke, but doesn’t think it is funny. and other things like that. John has no filter. What a normal person knows not to say to their grandmother, John says on a regular basis.

I used to resent my brother. My parents would always make a big deal over his, in my childish perspective, tiny accomplishments. He would color in the lines once and there would be a celebration. I would always color in the lines and not even get a pat on the back. John couldn’t ride a bike, but he was congratulated for trying. I could ride a bike with no problem, but no one cared. I understand now why my parents did this, but at the time I did not. It was a massive injustice in my mind and it was all John’s fault.

When I was born my brother was unhappy. He pitched a fit, actually. He was jealous that his mother was holding a new baby. This wasn’t exactly unusual behavior from an infant, but this behavior continued all the way into adulthood. My brother was always jealous of me. Who could blame him? I could do things that he couldn’t. Things that he struggled with, I did with ease.

On my birthdays (in early childhood), my parents would often get my brother a gift too so he wouldn’t complain. John hated when I was the center of attention. He would pitch a fit and complain to the point where I was miserable.

When I got my learner’s permit my brother was extremely jealous. Because of his epilepsy he couldn’t drive even though he was older than me. He wouldn’t go anywhere with me (when I was driving) without criticizing any little mistake I made.

When I entered into a relationship with a girl from his horse riding classes, he was, once again, jealous. He called her “The Foul Blue-haired Temptress” and me “The Love Leech.” Luckily, she took this all in stride and laughed about it. This time he was concerned about losing me which was kind of nice. It showed that he cared in his own weird way.

In later years, our relationship has improved. I used to ask ‘What is wrong with John?’, but now I know there is nothing wrong with John. He is just different. I understand John now. I don’t expect him to be like everyone else’s older brother. I love my brother. I wouldn’t want to have any replacement. He is special to me. He may be crass, rude, and just plain mean sometimes, but so am I. I would do anything for my brother. When I look to the future, I know that I will have to take care of John and that’s okay. I wouldn’t want my brother to be left all alone without anyone to look after him. They say you can’t choose your family, but I think you do. You choose who you keep in contact with, who you associate with, and who you trust. I choose John. He is compassionate, funny, and his heart is in the right place. Despite our past, I value my relationship with my brother even though it isn’t conventional.

Novlr

I have been trying Novlr recently and I really enjoy using it. Novlr is a browser based program for novel writing. Many of us have tried writing on normal word processors, it can be done, but Novlr makes it a lot easier.

Novlr has constant saving so you don’t have to worry about having to interrupt your writing to save. They also have Google Drive integration, so you can back up your files to a reliable source. I really like the Focus Mode, which fades out the headers, toolbars, etc. so you can focus on the writing. and I like reading the statistics to keep me motivated.

If you interested in using Novlr, they were kind enough to set up my audience with a special discount and free trial.

If you go to: http://app.novlr.org/signup/ejhatchett and use promo code: EJHNOVLR

You will receive a third off an annual subscription to Novlr (normally $10/month) and all of November for free.

Check out Novlr, it’s great!

Suicidal Weakness (Video)

I was listening to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly a lot lately, and the song really stuck out to me. I didn’t fully appreciate the album when it first came out, but, now it is my second favorite album just under Good Kid,  M.A.A.D City.

The second half of really stuck with me. It was really visceral, dark, and catches you off guard. The ending line, “The world’ll know money can’t stop a suicidal weakness,” is haunting in its honest bluntness.

Anyone who has struggled with depression or suicidal thoughts knows that riches, fame, or any external pleasure won’t fix it. It is an internal struggle that you have to face alone, which is why it is so difficult and isolating.

I wanted the video to capture the (for a lack of a better word) black and white thinking that someone has when you enter this state. People tend to focus on past regrets or future worries and that bogs them down even further in the muck.

The most haunting part of that half of the song is the familiarity of the tone and language being used. A lot of people have negative “self talk” and I imagine it sounds similar to the song.

It is somewhat cathartic to share these kinds of stories with others because it lets us know we are not alone in our struggle and we are not truly alone.

Kaufman Kounselling

Charlie Kaufman is my favorite screenwriter and his lecture at BAFTA is something I like to listen to periodically. I think applies to artists of any medium and contains some of the most potent universal truths about life in general. I highly recommend listening to it.

What did you think of the lecture? Let me know in the comments and stay connected with me on social media!