From Paris To Lakewood: European Depth Graphology Via Betty Rozakis
“Everyone should be able to benefit from receiving an objective blueprint of their self and of those they care about,” (37) writes Lakewood graphologist Betty Rozakis in Coffee with the Subconscious (2011), a hybrid account of personality stories bound to wisdom codes used to analyze personality and psychic health for over two thousand years. From Hippocratic humorology to Jungian typology, from enneagram to graphology, Rozakis has done her homework across esoteric systems of human personalities to make Coffee with the Subconscious a functional fiction of archetypal modalities. Intelligently probing elemental vocabularies for structural insights into human process, Rozakis fashions a charming prose-poem of life experience, mystery, romance, and self-confrontation within the conceit of “an objective blueprint” (37).
Coffee with the Subconscious is, above all, a love story clad in graphology—an assessment practice which proposes that handwriting reflects the psychological structure of the person. Plotted through Lily de Mani’s attraction to Jack Sterling—her husband-to-be and future thoracic surgeon—is a psycho-dynamic quest to join love with scientific purpose. Jack Sterling’s scientifically inclined consciousness calls narrator Lily de Mani to explore the subconscious more deeply and to embark upon an intensive exploration of various schools of graphology.
“You are an enigma” (22) declares American graphologist Q. Jackson to Lily de Mani early in the book. Not satisfied, Lily de Mani needs to know more: “I sensed that there was more to this tangible evidence of personality and character” (25). Challenged by “enigma” (22), Lily de Mani answers the call to voyage over raw script and character shadow in search of “an objective blueprint” (37). “So I set out on my quest to learn this strange art or science of graphology” (25). Seeking to penetrate the “enigma” (22) of her own complex character, Lily de Mani realizes quickly that only a particular stream of graphology can provide access to “an objective blueprint” (37) essential to her self-discovery.
European depth graphology, which advanced a Gestalt approach to handwriting interpretation, provides Lily de Mani with answers to “enigma” (22). Although orthodox science may reduce graphology’s “objective blueprint”(37) to Barnum effects subjectively strung out across meaning hungry brains, the Gestalt approach holds that handwriting must be analyzed as a totality. Hence the dance of scripted rhythm invites Lily de Mani to participate in unconscious movements that when observed reveal not only the character types of others but more crucially the relational field demanded by her own psyche. In this way, the Gestalt approach of European depth graphology permits Lily de Mani to satisfy expectations for regularity, symmetry, simplicity, and completion needed to underwrite “an objective blueprint” (37) of personality. By dint of desire for totality, then, Coffee with the Subconscious offers a telling transmission of psychological concepts and philosophical conflicts traceable to nineteenth century French graphologist René Le Senne as well as to twentieth century German graphologists Ludwig Klages and Walter Benjamin.
In 1927 Benjamin commenced The Arcades Project (1999), a book that studies the rise and fall of Parisian shopping arcades in light of “the phantasmagoria of capitalist culture” (7). Benjamin pointed to the starry similitude in the shopping space that informed the Paris Arcade. “The ring of Saturn became a cast-iron balcony, upon which the inhabitants of Saturn take the air of an evening” (18), wrote Benjamin in “Paris, Capital of the Nineteenth Century.” From astrology and graphology, Benjamin attributed domains of correspondence, resemblance, and similitude to “the mimetic faculty” (Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings. 1931-1934, 1999, 720-721). Linked to graphology, says George Steiner, is Benjamin’s “concept of image and trace . . . , with his meditations on the act of scripture and writing, with enigmas of similitude” (“To Speak of Walter Benjamin” in Perception and Experience in Modernity edited by Helga Geyer-Ryan et al, 2002, 16).
“Enigmas of similitude” (16) percolate through “the mimetic faculty” (720) in Coffee with the Subconscious. Planets roll subtly across the hand and pulse through script. Writing makes visible the personality’s enslavement to planetary archons. Fingers attributed to planets stress the character of the person picking up the pen. Taken up by the hand of a writer, the pen rests on the middle finger of Saturn, the Lord of Karma. With aspirations channeled through Saturn, Lily de Mani wants first to study law before turning to graphology wherein archaic, planetary residue unfolds rhythmically in gestures expressive of similitude.
“I’m the emotive Saturn who internalizes all the pain...and seeks to understand,” (16) Lily de Mani confesses. The negative emotions of Saturn—doubt, pity, sympathy, and worry—are embedded in Lily de Mani’s karmic script.
Saturn rules the dubious grounds that graphology evokes in her father’s skeptical mind.
Daddy once wrote that graphology was baloney.
His attitude didn’t stop me.
My mother encouraged my journey. (171)
In order to know for herself, Lily de Mani must trump Daddy’s gnosis with the feeling for similitude that wells from the maternal principle.
Astrologically speaking, the title Coffee with the Subconscious can be located in the Zodiacal Fourth House ruled by Cancer and the Moon. Both “coffee” and “the subconscious” are keywords associated with the emotional matter of the Fourth House. According to Dane Rudhyar, “the fourth house can be said...to refer to the basic psychic function which Carl Jung called feeling” (Astrological Houses: the Spectrum of Individual Experience, 1972, 78). Just as hot water is necessary to make a cup of coffee, feeling is necessary to make a marriage.
Marriage, suggests Rozakis, is both cup and crucible. According to Jewish angelology, the cup is a symbol of archangel Anael's and the planet Venus. As Jack Sterling’s image sets Lili de Mani’s watery feeling function on fire with intuition, Cupid’s arrows of projection are fired from the Venusian quiver:
My college friend thought that Jack was the type that made a good friend. But I knew that he was so much more. I didn’t know anything about him. I didn’t even know his major. It was something that I couldn’t explain. But I knew. (27)
Taking place in the chapel of European depth graphology, marriage to Jack Sterling is the self-reinforcing container that grounds Lily de Mani’s reach for similitude. Marriage to Jack Sterling is a karmic opportunity to confirm her feeling for similitude with diagnostic power. A relational space must be made by the marriage between Jack Sterling’s left hemisphere-driven empirical science and Lilly de Mani’s right hemisphere-driven intuitive science. The rite of hieros gamos is thus folded into neuroscience.
For the twenty-first century Lakewood reader, Coffee with the Subconscious may stimulate the mind to contemplate “enigmas of similitude” experienced dimly at the local neighborhood level. The transmigration of Benjamin’s Parisian reflections on “the phantasmagoria of capitalist culture” (7), “elements of the department store” (10), and “the ring of Saturn” (18) yields marvelous context for understanding the devolution of mayoral fever dreams from “Shops at the West End” to “The Miracle Mile of Dollar Stores.” As common “enigmas of similitude” are twisted by Saturn into registered trademarks and proprietary schools, Lily de Mani’s journey through graphology yields considerable insight regarding the conversion of occult wisdom into scientific domains, professional fields, and commercial enterprises. Indeed, the rare European blend of philosophical sources and psychological insights that Rozakis delicately serves in Coffee with the Subconscious supports the popular claim that Lakewood, Ohio is the Paris of Cleveland’s inner ring suburbs.
Kenneth Warren is the author of Captain Poetry's Sucker Punch: a Guide to the Homeric Punkhole, 1980-2012.