He loves being up high above the city, especially this city, gazing out through floor to ceiling windows. The air conditioned cool. The subdued lighting. He is looking at his own reflection in the window as night falls. His suit is beautifully cut. He has kept his weight down.
Johan has, he must confess, an embarrassing obsession with Friedrich’s Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, and has had ever since he was a boy. Because of his mother, no doubt. He used to imagine the Wanderer turning away from the precipice, seeing his face. Which was of course his own.
Perhaps he should mention this to Calvert. But perhaps that is too obvious. He doesn’t want to bore him. Better that he just free associates rather than try to give him what he thinks Calvert wants. Before he went into analysis, at Nastya’s request, at Nastya’s insistence, he had his people prepare several executive summaries on the history, approaches and latest trends in the field. He knows that one of the biggest problems in analysis these days is the analysand’s over-familiarity with the language and protocols of psychoanalysis itself. He attempts therefore not to provide a running commentary on his own observations, but he thinks that also Calvert is aware of this. Of a certain suppressed element. And that perhaps it would be truer, more genuinely revealing if he were to vocalise those thoughts too. After all, Dr Calvert, the world is irredeemably meta, is it not?
He is sure that Calvert will say something like, why do you feel you have to ask me what you should and shouldn’t say? He feels a sudden burst of irritation and then almost immediately laughs. Perhaps he should just talk into a microphone then play it back and analyse himself. Perhaps there is a programme online that will allow him to run his recording through an algorithm. That will offer him some concrete analysis, a diagnosis. Disintermediation. He smiles when he hears that term. What on earth does that mean? Perhaps he should ask Calvert, who is pre-eminent in his field. If not that, perhaps he should outsource. No doubt he could find an online therapist for a fraction of the price. If money were a consideration. Was it not true that Argentina had the highest number of psychoanalysts per person in the world? He contemplates going to his workstation to check this out. Makes a memo to investigate it more fully but instead merely files the idea away, returns his attention to the view out across the Thames taking in St Pauls, the Gherkin, Zhu-Min Heights, Canary Wharf.
He loves being up high above the city, particularly this city. Night has fallen. He can see his own reflection clearly now. He has kept his weight down. He checks his jawline. He has a famous jawline, famously sharp and he works hard to keep it that way. He never lets his body fat get above twelve percent. He repeatedly checks his jawline in the mirror. Does face tightening exercises every night in the bathroom before bed. Uses a particular and very expensive Japanese collagen-enhanced horse fat face-cream. He knows the fat in the face disappears over time as it accumulates unnecessarily elsewhere. Another of the body’s’ archaic impositions. The body, an atavism.
These days, one’s face is everything, the integrity of one’s image an absolute requirement. Yet here we are, shackled to a primitive, stone-age biology. Yes biology is the battleground. He has already prepared himself for future surgeries, lifts and implants, regularly checking out the literature from the best personal cosmeticists around the world, many of whom are here of course, in London.
Johan believes that the relationship between the image on the screen and the face in real life is essential to trust. He has contemplated having photos digitally manipulated so that he will look a little older than he is, a little more drawn, perhaps slightly fatter so that when he meets associates in real life they will be taken aback by how much better he looks than on screen. He is part owner of a company, Stelth.com that provides brand and image management support to major corporations and high net worth individuals, one aspect of which is correcting and improving any unauthorized photos or videos that appear on the web. He would be asking for the reverse of course and this is the telling difference between Johan and his competitors, his peers. He understands that the really scarce good, the premium good of the future will be the face-to-face, the unpressured moment of intimacy, the rich and puzzling, sublime ambiguity of the other.
Perhaps this is why he has agreed to analysis. Not entirely because he is incapable of refusing Nastya anything, but because it helps him in researching that soon to be most sought after commodity of all, direct contact. He is already toying with a company that will set up face to face encounters between the A-list clientèle on his Social media platform Networth and people from radically different backgrounds and income categories. They have begun trialing it among close associates, placing executives in neutral, wireless-free rooms for an hour or so with single mothers or teachers or Bengali immigrants, forcing them to interact in a radically de-hierarchical and anonymous space, seeing them emerge sometimes several hours later shaken and exhilarated or disturbed, adrenalized. Intense, intense, one of his junior employees repeatedly muttered on emerging from the meeting room and summed up his 83 minute meeting with a 43 year old cleaner from Philadelphia on the feedback sheet as “ a real white-knuckle ride. ”
Head back he smoothes his jaw-line with the back of his hand. The rest of his face is not such a worry to him. His hairline is solid, he has had enough peels and treatments to keep his skin supple and largely wrinkle free. Hydration is fundamental as is the right kind of exercise. His diet is exceptionally nutritionally dense and rigorous, his workout regimen qualitatively intense.