Sep 9 2011: The Unconscious Revealed in Two Pages from a Physician’s Notebook (Date Unknown)
This random leaf from a commercially produced diary (the advertising of ‘Robinul’ on each page suggests an origin in a pharmaceutical company’s promotional free gift to a GP) seems more like a work of Outsider Art than the notes of a professional.
The page turned up as a long-forgotten marker inside a copy of Michael Roberts’ poetry collection Orion Marches, as published by Faber & Faber in 1939, but it’s unlikely that the notebook it came from pre-dates the NHS.
But then, I suppose it could have been put there at any time, so while the days are printed on the leaf, the year isn’t and must remain a mystery (though we can narrow it down, a little: August 5 fell on a Monday in 1957, 1981 and 1985, for example).
So, too, must the meaning of the image itself – a roughly drawn girl with a guitar. Perhaps someone used the diary to sketch a folk musician in concert (are those circles behind her the schematic faces of an audience?) or perhaps she emerged from the subconscious of the notebook’s owner during a distracted phone call or a long session with a patient.
It might not be the work of a GP, even, but of someone else entirely.
On the reverse side of the drawing are a series of enigmatic notes in red and blue ink that do seem (at least in part) related to medical concerns, though could equally be notes on crossword clues, so cryptic are they when considered together:
132: I gave the man the sale of the day
145: his rhomal organ – ?snoring ?nose
160: in the swale of the morn
160: after Sept – grass is good for little, lash & sour at best
177: has recommenced talking in jergo (Mr. Platitude)
Beaneath these is a column of inverted pencil numbers, presumably unrelated. They add up to 1030.
I suppose we can make of them what we like, since the actual purpose or intention behind every mark on this small page is beyond recovery.