Tuesday, June 21, 2011

You Don’t Say: Dr. Rae Psychoanalyzes V.S. Naipaul

V.S. requires treatment
for a serious word disorder.
To be blunt,
he doesn't know when
to shut up.

Welcome, Mr. V.S. Naipaul. Please make yourself comfortable. I see that you are in the habit of removing your shoes. This is good.

You have the right idea. Just sit back and relax on my virtual Word Couch. Here is where I muck around in my client’s gibberish, looking for telltale psychology.

One wouldn’t think so, with your Nobel Prize for literature and what we assume is a talent with words, but you are up to your neck in a very funky word hole.

Do you remember saying these things about women writers last week?

“I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me.”

Ah ha! You, too, use words as a way into a person’s psychology.

Women’s writing, you say, reveals “sentimentality, the narrow view of the world.” And you don’t stop there, Mr. Naipaul. “Inevitably for a woman, she is not a complete master of a house, so that comes over in her writing too.”

Hold everything! Do you have a license to practice? Or perhaps you think the Nobel Prize gives you liberties?

About your publisher, Mr. Naipaul, you say this: “My publisher, who was so good as a taster and editor, when she became a writer, lo and behold, it was all this feminine tosh. I don’t mean this in any unkind way.”

We are all at the mercy of our words and you have blathered yourself silly. Thank god for Dr. Rae.

Permit me one digression: When is “feminine tosh” not unkind?

“Tosh” means “nonsense,” you know, and could easily be construed here as synonymous with “female.” Not good.

Preliminary diagnosis: Muddle brain.

No problema! Dr. Rae to the rescue of V.S. Naipaul because Nobel laureates get sick sometimes, too.

Let us get on with your evaluation. Please answer the following questions with a yes or no:

  • Do you and Arnold Schwarzenegger share any forebears?
  • Do you identify with Popeye the Sailor Man?
  • Do you dress in a phone booth?
  • Do you covet John Edwards’s barber?
  • Are you wearing a crown as we speak?
  • What are your thoughts on virgins?

Stop it, Mr. Naipual. You may not channel Schwarzenegger’s swagger. Look what you’ve done. You’ve made an unholy mess of my Word Couch.

You suffer from a form of dementia called I am Man, Hear Me Roar. And you’ve roared yourself hoarse, I’m afraid. You are in extremis.

Treatment Options:

Lobotomy: A procedure that involves a sharp instrument and a malfunctioning frontal lobe. This pretty much neutralizes that roar of yours. Don’t give me that look, Mr. Naipaul. You’ve brought this on yourself.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (a k a Shock Treatments or ECT): There’s some loss of memory but Paul Theroux has offered to refresh you on the past. He’s written a book, in fact, that gives the details of how you used to be.

Since I’m handier with electrodes than I am with an ice pick, ECT it is.

Bite down on this tongue depressor, please.


  1. You tell him, Doc!

    Edith Feminine-Tosh-Queen Maxwell

  2. The one thing that runs in the DNA of males regardless of their (supposed) intellect and assorted attractive traits is the deep fear and mistrust of women. Hence, men still try to corral them in small places, keep them behind walls or veils. The beauty of words, of course, is that they are not bound by such constraints, a fact that clearly irritates Naipaul to the point where he risks looking like a gander squawking on his way to the neck-wringer, while the females, having no more need of him, raise their young.