Heartbreak Hotel

Heartbreak Hotel

“I do not like to work with patients who are in love. Perhaps it is because of envy—I, too, crave enchantment. Perhaps it is because love and psychotherapy are fundamentally incompatible. The good therapist fights darkness and seeks illumination, while romantic love is sustained by mystery and crumbles upon inspection. I hate to be love’s executioner.”

There are some people who are magnetised by quoting in the beginning or the end of an artwork. And this is because they believe that such cohesion and sharpness when managing to determine and fit the essential meaning of the piece in a sentence, is what makes it a piece of art. This is also because people tend to be in favour of plain conclusions that someone else arrives at, in order for the normal levels of paranoid complexity which characterises everyone’s inner monologues, to have a clear and exculpated ground to be projected upon. There are the others though, who regard (introductory or concluding) quotes as an over-simplistic, degenerated and provocative form of expression, which by pretending to be holding a sort of summarised, all-inclusive truth, detaches any emphasis would have otherwise be given to the continuous becoming beauty of the actual plot. I have so far considered myself as belonging to the most annoying category of them all, the third one, which agrees with none of those two previously mentioned, but the views within it alternate instead, depending on the most recent art-stimulus that is supposed to be presented an opinion about.

And then came Irvin Yalom. In my eyes, one of the most controversially frustrating figures in the history of narrative psychoanalysis. This is because although he is viewed as withholding the damaging aspects of the Lacanian approach under his therapeutic course (among other, by entangling the patient in such an abstract depiction of his issue(s), that it is never felt by the patient that his issue regards and/or is produced by him), he still manages to haunt his readers when summarising his conclusions, obvious in quotes similar to the one mentioned above. What is considered as the most challenging aspect of that quote, is its purely Rock ’n Roll laden character, since it melancholically wraps itself in a blanket of self-destructive, lewd, war-smelling aphrodisiac. In the most realistically mysterious spiral of expression, whose quote-like dimension, although short, manages to steadily unwrap itself thought the rest of his narrative.

If a musician have fallen in love with this quote when seeing it proudly showing its alluring simplicity around, then that musician should have been Elvis Presley, and the quote if actualised when hitting the pentagram, should have been matching the “Heartbreak hotel” song-form. Although, Yalom’s philosophy could have been better and more representatively applied on various other art-pieces, Presley’s (and rock n roll’s) eternal interplay between relieving and offending the hearts of his audience, are evaluated as a challenging field to test it upon. The reason for such a linkage, may be better understood through the following lines of Elvis’ song, by simultaneously bearing in mind Yalom’s quote attached before. “Well, since my baby left me, well, I found a new place to dwell, it's down at the end of lonely street, at Heartbreak Hotel, although it's always crowded, you still can find some room, for broken-hearted lovers, to cry there in the gloom”.

Yalom necessitates mystery, as the core factor of romantic narratives. And Presley’s song is based on either the story of a man -published on the newspaper “Miami Herald” who, before killing himself, left a suicidal note behind him, stating “I walk a lonely street”. Or it was based on the criminal career of Alvin Krolik, -published on Time magazine- a Chicago based artist, who lost himself in spirals of pathological love affairs and addictions, and was murdered after walking down the ‘lonely streets’ of wastefulness. Whichever of these two scenarios hold truth for the generation of the song, Presley’s martial voice sealed the delinquent background on the song’s character, making sure that the otherwise blandly romantic lyrics, would not be accounting for the overall lyrical impression. When it comes to the content’s meaning, exactly as the Yalomian narrative demands, the healing of a broken heart is only enabled in the gloom of remote dwellings after wandering around lonely streets. Such a kind of rove, typical among the regular crowds of the Heartbreak hotel, verify Yalom’s belief, that the less one delves into the self-sustained mystery of romantic grief, the more often he will consider himself as a worthy patron of that Hotel. And how bad can it be to belong to a crowd whose brutally lustful eroticism can only be given the melody of a Presleyan Rock ’n Roll tune?

Finding myself to eventually -due to Yalom’s mastery- belong to the first category of people when it comes to the quotes’ appreciation, I might let Paul Claudel summarise, why despair is the undoubted price one pays for self-awareness and why such self-awareness when it comes to romantic love, can easily be portrayed as a meaningless, yet comic wandering around empty, mysterious streets, whose only ending point, is a constructed chance for relief. Why Irvin Yalom and Elvis Presley have, complementarily to each other, created an anthem to the loneliness which characterises the identical voids of erotic loss and erotic expectancy. And that can be quoted as follows: “If order is the pleasure of reason, disorder is the delight of imagination.”

Written and Curated by Marianna Serveta

Lensed by Elen Aivali

Featuring: Citrine Bra