I thought I would die like Deleuze. The preparation of the philosopher is death. To no longer be scared of death you must be God-like.1 If you ask too many philosophical questions you must die like Socrates. No true philosopher is scared of death. Socrates willingly drank from the hemlock-based liquid.2 He was a free man.
I lived like one of Deleuze’s patients from his schizoanalysis. I was already death.3 I had black hair and black clothes. But unlike the philosopher, I was scared of death. I was certain I would jump from the balcony of my third-floor Homeswest apartment. I asked the property manager to turn off the gas in my oven just in case I tried to gas myself. To halt the event. The suffocation of my organic body. The falling of my organic body through space.
The counsellor at Lifeline said I was locked in a mental institution because of my obsession with a man. My head was a cancerous body without organs.4 My head was cracked I couldn’t put it back. I could only think the same thing over and over again: his name; the aesthetic validity of marrying him; to give birth. He is anti-capitalist theft: repetition.5 He is the eternal recurrence.6 To die and to love are events among many.
The balcony was the open of the outside (death).7 From the balcony, I could see the tops of the skyscrapers. The Bankwest tower. And the screaming ‘madman’ in the apartment adjacent.
In one of the Homeswest apartments, a man died and his body wasn’t found for over a year later. His pension payments still came in.
The fire alarm would go off at the Homeswest apartments almost on a weekly basis but there was only one fire. So many false alarms. The tall firemen would arrive in their yellow suits and then tell us it was safe to go back to our apartments.
The Doctor said, ‘What happened to your laughter?’ My laughter was a defence mechanism. A way of dealing with the Doctor/patient relationship. Now it had backfired on me.
The Doctor said, ‘What do you want to be on?’
The medication made me feel like a clockwork doll. The medication felt like a clamp around my brain. My head ached and ached.
I had never been administered shock treatment but my medication felt like a preparation.
Her first suicide came after the effects of shock treatment. She was given shock treatment about eleven times. She was not given a general anaesthetic or muscle relaxant. She was not watched over. She was almost electrocuted.9
The ECT machine stares at her with the gaze of a man. The bed is ready. She is stripped of everything but white sheets described as ‘virginal’. Metal probes are placed at her temples. A man appears above her like blue thunderbolts.10
In my pink room at Graylands, a man levitates above me. Another man has me in a sadistic chair and is sticking PVC on my body. Are these dreams or flashbacks?
When a writer dies people say there is silence but really a new sound emerges from ‘the retreat of silence’.11 Why are women called minor characters? Why is Jewish writing called minor literature? Sylvia will never be silent.
After I gave a conference paper at the University entitled, ‘The fascist poetic objects of Gertrude Stein’, I saw a note on my door. It is from the psych nurses at Royal Perth. They wanted me to ring them. I ignored it but the next day I got another note. I went to human resources at the University. They told me to ring the psych nurses and get their email address and tell them that I am ok. I get their email address and send an email saying, ‘I don’t need your service, I am fine’. I phone the female psych nurse and she says, ‘That’s cool about the email but you have to meet with us. We have a letter’. ‘What do you mean’, I say, ‘is it compulsory?’ ‘Yes, it is compulsory’, she said. ‘Then I will put a restraining order against you if you come to my flat again’, I say. ‘If you do that we will go to the top and get the police to come to your flat’, she said.
When I am at student services the psych nurses approach me and take me into a darkened room. ‘This is very 1984’, I say. The male psych says, ‘We can get you a psychiatrist’. I know that they are going to take me to Graylands. I run out the door. A man outside says my name disdainfully. Then I run down the stairs and outside. Then I walk to the shopping centre. I try ringing my mum at a phone booth but her phone is switched off. Suddenly, a police officer approaches me. I run, then I give up and go with the police officer. It was surreal getting driven down the road in a police car. They drive to where the psych nurses are. The police officer says, ‘Is she ok? Is she ok?’ I get into another car. Then two police officers sit close to me on either side of me.
I follow the male psych nurse down a vestibule in Graylands. When we arrive at the ward I sit in the green room for a while. Then a nurse calls me for some food. After I eat I walk toward the nurse’s station and see another patient. She smiles at me and I see that she has no teeth. ‘See what Risperidone has done to me’, she says. I feel scared wondering if this will happen to me too. Later I say to another patient, ‘Will they put me on medication?’ ‘Yes they will definitely do that,’ she says. I meet another patient in art therapy. She is wearing huge glasses. The art therapist says I am doing a PhD. The patient says, ‘Then, we’ll have to take your PhD off you’. I feel uncomfortable. The patient with the big glasses says to the Aboriginal patient about me, ‘She’s your aunty’. ‘No, she’s not, she’s my sister’, said the Aboriginal woman.
I am put on Risperidone oral medication for a week then the Doctor says if I switch to injections I’ll get out quicker. So I switch to injections. The Doctor says she will discharge me to the Avro clinic.
I used to walk past the Avro Clinic and curse it. I used to scream the lyrics to The Sex Pistols and Iggy Pop till I was evicted from my flat. I slept with a homeless French boy. I used to get on the bus without paying singing The Sex Pistols. I used to walk through the grounds of the University singing The Sex Pistols. I used to sit in the Perth mall singing The Sex Pistols.
Now I am trapped inside the Avro Clinic. The nurse says, ‘The other nurse told me when you got your last injection that you weren’t wearing any underwear?’ ‘I ran out of clean underwear’, I told her. ‘We were worried about you. We thought it was a sign you were becoming unwell’. ‘No, no I just ran out of underwear’. ‘Well clean your underwear in the bath or shower every night’, she said.
I tell the nurse it is my last injection before moving on to oral medication. She says, ‘then I better give you something for you to remember me by’. She clumsily pricks me with the needle it hurts a lot.
The Doctor suggests hospitalization. I am secretly glad. They secure me a bed at Charlie Gairdner’s. The Doctor says, ‘Don’t worry, Charlies isn’t like Graylands’. Two nurses came and collected me. They drove me back to my Homeswest apartment. I packed my bag. The nurse says, ‘structurally the apartments ok’. I waited in Triage for the nurses. Then I wait inside the hospital to be taken down to D block. A nurse asks me, ‘Who is the Prime Minister of Australia?’ I blank out. Then she says, ‘Julia Gillard’.
After many hours, they come with a wheelchair and wheel me all the way to D block. When I get to my room I can hardly breathe. The nurse that had wheeled me to my room said, ‘I hope this is your last visit to D block’. I forgot that I was being admitted to a psych ward I thought I would just get a bed in a hospital.
The next day I see the psychiatrists. I tell them how I am scared I will jump off the balcony at my apartment. They tell me I am schizophrenic. I say that I have never had a relationship. The male Doctor says loudly, ‘Why don’t you want to be intimate with anybody!?’
The Doctor at Alma Street said, ‘Maybe its stigma’.
The Doctors increase my medication a little.
After the weekend, the Doctors let me out. I didn’t want to leave.
At a hardware shop, I buy a lock for the balcony door and give the key to my mum. This makes me feel less suicidal.
Deleuze was breathing through a respirator after his tracheotomy. He jumped from the window of his third-floor apartment. Later he dies from the injuries from his fall.
‘Perhaps one day, this century will be known as Deleuzian.’ Michel Foucault, Theatrum Philosophicum.
1. Large, William (2014). The Vision of Necessity and the Intellectual Love of God in Spinoza — Lecture 12, Religion, Philosophy and Ethics, University of Gloucestershire https://drwilliamlarge.wordpress.com/category/spinoza/ [accessed 13.11.2017]. Large says, the highest wisdom of philosophy is to teach you not to be scared of death. According to Spinoza, this occurs the more we have access to knowledge hence ‘the more the mind loves God’.
2. The last three sentences are influenced by R.G. Frey’s account of Socrates’ death. See: Frey, R. G. (1978). ‘Did Socrates Commit Suicide?’ Philosophy, vol. 53, no. 203, pp. 106–108. doi:10.1017/S0031819100016375
3. Colombat, André Pierre (1996), ‘November 4, 1995: Deleuze’s death as an event’, Man and World, vol. 29, pp. 235-249. Colombat writes that, in cases of suicide or other diseases, ‘the individual can be dead before his or her body actually dies’ (p. 245).
4. Deleuze and Guattari describe the cancerous body without organs (BwO). In a BwO ‘each instant, each second, a cell becomes cancerous, mad, proliferates and loses its configuration, takes over everything’ (p. 180). Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari (2004). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, tr. Brian Massumi (London & New York: Continuum).
5. Deleuze describes repetition as theft on page 1 of Difference and Repetition. (2004) (London: Bloomsbury).
6. The concept of the eternal recurrence is Nietzsche’s. Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm (2001). The Gay Science, Book IV: 341 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
7. Death is seen by Deleuze as coming from the outside (235; 242; 245).
8. Sylvia Plath marked in her diary ‘ShockT’ on the day she was given her first treatment. Kirk, Connie Anne (2004). Sylvia Plath: A Biography (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press) p. 53.
9. See Plath, Sylvia (1977). Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams (London: Faber and Faber) pp. 38-39.
10. See Plath, 1977: 38-39.
11. Holland, Michael (1995). The Blanchot Reader (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers), p. 151.
A few sentences of this piece have been previously published in ‘The Suit’ by Gabrielle Everall in Verity La.