Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.
Recently, rummaging through my papers for a copy of a magazine, I came across an old notebook among the papers. I thought it was empty, but on the first page I found a note from April 1945:
Yesterday I left Jacques’ in such a good mood! I already feel as if I’m better.
After the electroshocks and lying in the hospital, my legs hurt for days, I walked stiffly, like on crutches. In fact, my whole body hurt. I dragged myself down the corridor overlooking the courtyard, but I didn’t know if I was still in the hospital or in my apartment. The green colour of the bushes in the courtyard was mixed with the white and grey of the surrounding walls, as if a veil had been cast over my eyes. I felt like swimming in muddy water. My brain was slowly recuperating. Jacques got me out of Sainte Anne, where they almost killed me. They tie you to the bed, they shove a wad of cloth in your mouth and then let electric current flow through your body. In fact, I don’t even know how many times I went through that “treatment”, as they call it at the hospital. I didn’t even ask.
A fad, Jacques said during our first meeting after my getting out of the hospital, an ordinary stupid fad. In medicine it is the same as with hats or shoes.
But that fad is the reason my body still feels beaten!
Forget about the electroshocks, you’ll recover, and you aren’t even forty yet. You’ll come here, at my place and we’ll talk. Nothing more. You don’t need any therapy, no medications, you no longer have to be afraid.
I do not want to talk about the hospital, I barely survived…
And you don’t have to, you decide what we’ll talk about.
I guess it’ll be about why I ended up in hospital and now why I’m here with you for psychotherapy. I’ve supposedly experienced a nervous breakdown. Picasso got scared for my mental health, so he called you for help. In fact, I don’t believe that he really worried, only someone who doesn’t know him would think so. I simply think he dumped me in a madhouse to get rid of me…
Then talk about what a person who knows him might think.
I waved my hand dismissively. In his cabinet the afternoon sun illuminated the bookshelves, the massive walnut desk and the tin figure with jug ears in a dark blue sweater. His office smelled of books and cigarettes
On my way home, I bought a notebook with lines and hard covers in the bookstore. At school I hated such notebooks since I had a very neat handwriting and the letters didn’t run either above or below the line. But now I had the feeling that I really needed them, that with such a dizzy head it would be difficult for me to write the letters straight. I also bought a bottle of purple ink. I can try to put some things on paper, I thought, putting the notebook in my bag. After all, I don’t have to show it to anyone, not even Jacques.
I’ve even decided to write these notes in Croatian and thus better protect them from all curiosity, although I don’t know anyone here except my father who understands this language. I believe this will help me pull myself together. I have to try to do something myself, I cannot entirely depend on Jacques. Since I know him from before, not through Picasso, but through his wife Sylvia, whom I had been friends with while she was married to Georges Bataille, I feel that knowing them all somehow hinders me in our new relationship patient-doctor. That’s why I believe that if I remember some of my past events, if I write them down, maybe I myself will better understand why I experienced a psychological crisis and ended up in a hospital. I have to concentrate, just like preparing myself again to stand behind the camera lens and look – at myself. It seems to me that now I can do it, with the help of Jacques and this notebook. It’s the same procedure as in my profession: when I take photos or paint, I choose who and how I will record, I control reality and I shape it. I decide and that’s what I’ll do now. You decide, didn’t he say so?