On eating alone

6 March 2009 | , ,

On Monday, I taught my session on Supervision for which I use Lars Von Trier film ‘The 5 Obstructions’ (and for which I have to thank Dr Malcolm Quinn). The movie is compelling and work as a teaching tool. At the beginning, students don’t know what to make of the relationship and the works produced but, by the end of the second obstruction, something falls into place and the blank stares and silences turn into comments, opinions, ventures. They change from the role of student to the role of the supervisor. And thank God, what good a silent supervisor would be?

Anyway, I have watched the film dozens of times, as some years, I show it to 3 different groups. Imagine. This time, however, the second obstruction looked different to me, sadder, more vulnerable. This not only due to the Valium stuff Jorgen Leth talks about (I am more receptive to addictions and compulsions since I teach psychoanalysis). The films depicts the meal scene from ‘The Perfect Human’, with Leth as Nilsen, and I had something to relate to the experience.

My recent trip to New York was filled with high points, but like any trip there were also low ones. Only one time, I went out to dine on my own. I don’t get to eat many seafood feasts at home, since my husband is allergic to most so I decided to treat myself only to feel like sobbing by the time the starter came. It wasn’t the starter (although that was not too cheerful either). There was chatter all around me, celebration, encounters between friends… And there I was, alone, unable to lose myself in the partner I had chosen for the night (Ernest Jones’ biography of Freud’s early years) as Newyorkers tend to eat in near darkness. I regretted ordering starter and main, also the wine, the whole thing. I felt being watched, pitied by the waiter, rushed, wanting to go home, confronted by my own solitude. Such a sad story. The subsequent take-aways with on demand episodes of House, MD fed my body and my soul better (I did only finish the wine at the restaurant) but the experience forever changed the way I look at that second obstruction. And what good a supervisor von Trier is…

2 thoughts on “On eating alone

  1. Laura, if you ever watch Steve Martin’s The Lonely Guy (also set in New York), there is an amusing scene where he attempts to eat alone in a restaurant.

    I can sympathise with you on this personally as I went to a conference in NYC about 5 years ago, and ended up shuffling forlornly back to my hotel with Subway sandwiches most of the time, rather than brave the fabulous eateries alone. Maybe next time. You are brave!

  2. Thanks for the film tip, Dr Steph! Nothing like Steve Martin on a Sunday afternoon… At least, we were both in New York, where even Subway sandwiches are of a decent quality. I dread to think what would happen in other, less gastronomically advanced places…

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