In a neurotic society, discussing your neurosis is a way of bonding with others, but it also reveals the fundamental emptiness behind your experience:
It was safe to enjoy Fisher’s novels, to romanticize her neurosis and pretend it was the same as mine, because those books were fiction — they were fun, they were fresh. But there’s no way around the fact that when it’s all thrown at you as fact, and often as repetitive, rambling fact, it’s distressing. Distressing in large part because it’s clear — as it’s always been clear — that even when she is out of control, even when she’s revealing way too much to her readers, even when she’s repeating herself and skating in verbal circles that used to be much tighter and more concentric, on some level, Fisher knows how sick she is and wants us to see it … all of it. There is a line of Paul Simon’s that she quotes in the book, written in part about her, “From what I can see of the people like me/ We get better but we never get well.”
As Fisher has continued to not get well, the quality of her writing has not gotten any better. When she goes off the rails, the window on Fisher’s brain shows us not an inner life that is complicated and frank and funny and all churned up, but instead one that is more than lightly scrambled, by mental illness or drugs or ECT, it is impossible to tell.
The object should be to get well. Not go to a shrink and talk about it for ten years, reveling in how it makes you the center of attention. Get well. Fix the problem and move on.
But that requires venturing into dangerous, uncharted space…