"David"[1]

In M.B. Bowers. (1974). Retreat from sanity: The structure of emerging psychosis. Baltimore: Penguin.

David G., at the time of his hospitalization, was a 21-year-old senior at a Western university. He was approaching the end of his college career with a great deal of concern about his future. Though he had already been accepted by a prominent law school, David was not certain about his choice of vocation, and had also given some consideration to medicine and writing. David knew that his father, a lawyer, had also encountered difficulty in choosing a vocation and had taken a kind of moratorium after college by going abroad to participate in a foreign civil war. The experience had been disillusioning, however, and Mr. G. had given up his idealism completely, directing his attention to making money. In many ways, Mr. G. considered himself a failure, and though he made a good living for his family, he was unhappy with his accomplishments. He had managed to purchase a very expensive home, though there always seemed to be outstanding debts.

Mrs. G., long intimidated by her husband, sought psychiatric assistance for intractable asthma two years before David's hospitalization. As a result she became more assertive toward her husband in ways that frequently took the form of undercutting his authority in the home and belittling his sexual ability. Mr. G. was usually very passive toward his wife, dealing with her aggression with a kind of sarcastic banter. However, following bouts of drinking he would engage in violent outbursts, and on such occasions David, his 18-year-old sister, and his 13-year-old brother were often witnesses to the abusive arguments of their parents. Mrs. G. held the threat of divorce constantly over the heads of other family members.

David had a special girlfriend, Laura, who had been in psychotherapy for two years. Their relationship was characterized by a great deal of sexual experimentation, with David frequently doubting his own sexual ability. Separations and reconciliations were violent, highly-charged experiences, much in the fashion of the relationship between David's parents. In mid-February Laura had dated a boy in another city and refused to tell David the details. He immediately fantasized that Laura had engaged in intercourse with her date and wrote a very vindictive poem to her, calling her a whore. Having mailed the poem, he felt angry and guilty. A trip to another city, where he visited friends, served only to assure David that they had their own troubles. Following his return, he wrote a short story entitled "Test To Be a Man" in which the storyteller finds that his best friend has stolen his sweetheart. He became even more overwrought when he learned that a lifelong friend, Nathan, sided with Laura in her quarrel with David. This discovery prompted him to write Nathan a "hate letter," accusing him of betraying their friendship. At this point, David essentially confined himself to his room at college, attended a few classes, but spent most of his time -- day and night -- at the typewriter attempting to get his thoughts on paper.

At one point, he seemed to view this process as a self-analysis. He recorded the progress of events in calendar form as follows:

Sunday, Feb. 22-wrote letter to Laura, severing.
Weekend, Feb. 28-fled to Cleveland, no good.
Monday, March 2-wrote story "Test To Be a Man."
Friday, March 6-found Nathan sympathetic to Laura, story comes true.
Sunday & Monday, March 8 & 9-two hate letters to Nathan.
Monday & Tuesday, March 9 & 10-intense anxiety.
Wednesday, March 11-partial solution (intuitive) in letter to Nathan.
Friday, March 13-ended diary.
Saturday, March 14-began self-analysis
March 17-case closed.

The following day he found his way to the hospital emergency room where he presented a picture of intense fright, pressure of speech, ideas of influence and reference, and autistic thinking.* The diagnosis, based on clinical data and psychological tests, was acute, undifferentiated schizophrenic reaction. Later, when his parents visited his room at school, they found the typed account that is reprinted below. There has been some deletion and condensation where certain sections were repetitive, but otherwise the account has not been altered in any way. The stream-of- consciousness style has been left as written by the patient, who has given his consent for the publication of this material. Brief explanatory footnotes have been included where they seem indicated.

Slight Depression
or
Watching Yourself Live
or
Just A Week Like Any Other

Monday, March 9, 1964

She had said she loved me (bopping off to Providence in between protests I suppose I could swallow that though) but I don't think if it were ever true, that she still does. (N told me that, told me just like that and reason he hadn't called was cause he was playing pickup sticks with her date he's so charmingly forthright I puke).

His logic is so good he can laugh at his own (girl) having her insides torn out he's so positive and rational and knows just how everything works including one divorce, one abortion that he's undoubtedly reassured her everything's all right such a good friend midwife to disasters a cool guy that's what so even if she does still love me (she was so cold on the phone) anyway so cold her voice on the phone she wanted to chat I fantasied suicide for twenty-four hours ... twenty-four hours you begin to scare yourself like that wanted to chat bragged she'd burned 'everything' (I wanted to ask if that everything included thirty dollar cashmeres doubt it) chat about her date etc. If he had been alone I would have killed I promise if I believe anything is left in myself I promise I would have killed but he was only there as a friend so that solution would have been disproportionate honor among friends (I had asked him not to meddle asked him as a friend ha ha) being outdated anyhow no one not even me would have understood not being able to kill him and less able to kill myself I just got drunk alone in Harlem. If she still loves me if then still I can't see her talk to her until I am worthy if I can ever be of her of anything until at least say (stinking symbolism runs my life) even then if I see her at all it must be to propose to say here I am me at last me I respect myself can respect love marry you can bolt myself onto life and ride ride ride we'll ride together some say it's a good thing I'd like to give it a try when I trust myself and what I am when that time comes I shall say I love you.

I have a right I do have a right to hold that bastard responsible ... my game wasn't pretty perhaps; I wanted her to relent first, that's all, just relent first that much of the double standard I hold by if that means double standard but she bore the burden she ran off on me I had a right ... she made no attempt at apology that night none none so we're both prideful but all I wanted was an I'm sorry even to the letter I wrote, horrible letter designed to humble and that's all just asking an emotional sacrifice an ego sacrifice on her part something she had been as little willing to make as I was ... but she couldn't do it with that snake whispering in her ear someone for her anyone for her to talk to excuse herself to but me.

Tuesday, March 10, 5 A.M.

Story will be turned down today for the simple reason that it's lousy. I don't realize things like that before I've shown them all over town ... at least then I'd avoid having my vanity take as bad a beating as my pride ... and there's old Hawthorn's bosom serpent for you eating away hissing all night I lie there and I lie there and think and think and think all the time trying not to think I think anyway or reminisce rather (delightful pastime) until pow I feel like the top of my head blows off and I smash my fist into something and begin all over again like a one cycle engine. As far as the stories go it's a good thinking [sic] I'm going to make money as a lawyer. Quite ingenuously it is hard for me to believe I write so poorly. Hemingway says it should be two against the world the religion the New Faith and all nothing like that just her there exclaiming how she made it or worried about her mother or trying to beat me in ping pong and when I got off the boat last fall I announced I was going to rescue and protect her! I'm getting warts on my neck, I deserve them. Tonight I composed three different suicide notes in my head and I think I broke the pinkie on my left hand when the pow came. What a joy if insanity were still the romantic mysterious brain fever type thing it was in the 19th century then I could try going mad instead of writing I'd probable [sic] be better at it.

Hemingway lost a whole suitcase full of his earliest stories and was thus forced by the world (conveniently that world which kills the bravest, gentlest, blest [sic] etc.) to start again. Maybe if I can find a suitcase will get lost. The one real advantage of suicide is that at least there wouldn't be a reception at the Master's house afterwards. I want a war like Hemingway had ... it isn't fair ... I never learned to shoot squirrels either.

What a sad thing! There is nobody any good around anymore ... I was going to be the last one and then mucked it. Will spring never come??? Or maybe they could make insomnia less painful by changing the time system: IST ... insomniac savings time.

March 10, 5 P.M.

I'm becoming a monomaniac it's incredible it just doesn't stop there are moments when I can do no more than tear up matchbooks futile futile things and others of greater lucidity when I can see so clearly what went wrong why we were unable to commit ourselves each coming to the brink at different moments I came to her that evening at her house felt my insides dissolve with wanting, expecting to burst free she put me off good put me off and put me off and then 12 hours later when the thing lay sticky like bile inside me then only then we went to bed together and she had her orgasm and I did crossword puzzles. Did she ever come at me yes I suppose, at the beginning, too fast too desperately when she knew there was no chance and was doing it on her doctor's advice and I kept telling her I was no therapist that wasn't my job not my job. But that letter should have been a test it was a test I wanted her to make it on her own without help confronting everything but she dragged in a surrogate she dragged in my lily-livered friend and he came galloping to the rescue in all the accouterments of maiden rescue and good will. There are moments of lucidity when I see how close hate and love can lie, back to back, moment to moment I could kill I could love I lie here tearing up matchbooks. My story was rejected and I think I mucked an English test this morning. Will do the same for a French test tomorrow. The big test is still ahead or behind I tear up matchbooks. First a tragedy then a comedy I keep trying to laugh. Someone said you can refuse a man a loan you can refuse him your sympathy but you can't refuse him a fight if he wants to fight. I'll beat him on the streets I'll beat him in front of Laura or before his parents. He'll fight. Anyhow at last that second self is returning the one that wants to turn his life into a work of art it's returning a little in writing momentary sweet breaths of sanity in the end perhaps it's the only way I must write even poorly.

Tuesday, March 10, 10 P.M.

I can't cope, I can't come to grips ... it's Hawthorn's disease blazing away, red guilt or little stringy black warts (they're growing with a virulence I swear I never noticed before) ... music helps a bit and I've conducted the Eroica all over the room three times already today, waving my arms and occasionally hitting things ... all very dramatic ... to think I worried myself about sleeping too much last fall! I've given the jargon a once over; it stems from incest drives, castration fears, masturbation complexes, homosexual doubts, oedipal fixations bullshit bullshit it was around before the jargon and it's got me ... already at table I've been making curious unconscious slips as if the synapses suddenly rot away and I come disconnected it's all right it's all right I'm going to be a lawyer and make lots of money and grow up to be as weak as my father as torn as my mother look ahead! Be a good little benjy franklin and don't despair; simply write down your virtues on one side of the page like this and then your vices on the other (that's a good boy) now add them up, divide by the fraction of a normal life already lived (that's right, one third) nice going benjy you're doing fine, now multiply by your abilities as scored by the IBM machine and factor by your various ambitions (what's the matter benjy?? haven't got any? Come on now boy, you always did want to invent a lightning rod, didn't you? Or build a fire house? Sure you did ... well skip it and just multiply by the height of the statue you want built after your death) now ... what have you got? (now don't be corny benjy, Hemingway has already been through that for you ... try something else) (be a good boy benjy and don't seek escapes in vulgarity, try again) look here, benjy, we'll have none of your morbidity, be positive boy, reach down way deep inside you and tell the world what you find HATE HATEHATEHATE (what a cornball! A lousy sensationalist ... what kind of founding father would you make?) Founding father? Are you kidding? I'm well on my way to becoming a blithering schizoid it's too bad really too bad I have too much of a sense of humor to believe that adam eve and apple stuff. I rather think that Beckett's got the right idea and original sin was trying to climb out of the mud we must have had a good time back then never overreaching, no such thing as hubris or stargazing or breasts the size and texture of (dear diary! How can I begin, you mean I really never tried before? Who was I kidding did I never chance to look in the mirror and see the warts) of Christ the more fool you.

Tuesday, March 10, 11 P.M.

It's silly to stop now, I've got a good rhythm going. I type for twenty minutes and then read back over the past two months for forty. That makes an hour. Then I begin again. Pretty soon I'll get sleepy from all this banging down on the keys and then I'll go to sleep and start fresh in the morning. I ought to entitle this to my future headshrinker cause Mr. White says this is about the age when the snap occurs ... he says anything can set it off if it's there to begin with (what that means, of course, he's not sure ... I am) any drop in (get this) "esteem income" occasioned by test situations or symbolic maturity crises like graduation or tests or even a love affair (what a bland term!) So I'm waiting. Where and when does it begin? Do you at some point decide to go crouch in a corner talking to yourself unable to shit? Except maybe I'm pulling myself out of it, kind of reeling out the intestines of diseased inch by inch ... sublimating in other words. My concerns are once again pretentiously self-conscious, I notice in my rereadings an increasing number of quotes and witticisms ... I'm showing off again, what a good thing: Like the eighty-year old women in the asylum to whom the scientist gave estrogen just to see what would happen ... sure enough, they began combing their hair and fixing their dresses and primping, in short preparing like mad to go out and have their hymens busted again. Everybody, doctors and relatives and other patients thought Oh what a good thing that they're taking a renewed interest in life! I thought it was a rather touching think [sic] myself. So I'm taking a renewed interest in life ... I even began criticizing certain turns of construction in the pages just written ... hot diggity, pretty soon I'll be sitting around in a pile of writing up to my ears and simply tickled pink! Like feces I'll play with the paper make gliders and little sailor hats and be innocent again.

Rereading this time, I just noticed a terrible thing ... I'm such a short sighted misanthrope that I will never be able (in a particularly sever paroxysm of self pity of course) to give this to any of my friends ... There isn't a single one I've spared much less said a good word of! I'm sorry really. The obvious solution is to send it to Laura and then blow my brains in (I'd prefer to fall on a sword but I'd probably take it through the forearm) that way she'd feel bad about burning it. Egotism the bosom serpent, I need a good priest.

Midnight, Tuesday-Wednesday

Every last bit of it, right to the bottom of the stable get out all the crusted horse dung leave it spic and span so there will be place for more. Cause like they say there is knowing and then there is knowing and I know anything at all ... I know how to type ten hours running and drink beer (thank god the beer was around I'm broke and down to my last two cigars and not a bit sleepy yet) but I don't know what to DO and that's what counts most of all. Or does it? It appears I'm out to prove the cliché about the intellectual ... except I'm no intellectual so that is solved, or maybe it proves the cliché about the tortured jew, but then I'm no jew either. I sure know all about what I'm not. This little dispatch from hell is really turning in on itself like a seashell winding smaller and smaller; I see now where I picked up the theme of insanity mentioned flippantly and in passing, and succeeded in running it into the ground ... I ought to skip the verbiage and go find a good crown of thorns, or do like Bruce did in Cleveland drink somebody's blood and lie back blissfully in their vomit ... but then he was drunk and that doesn't count and shouldn't discourage the happy people.

Boy, that Nathan and Laura business really pulled the cork I'm bad or mad or just dull? Down on my knees before the crescent moon I got my pants dirty. This is undoubtedly one of the most prolix records of a scarring over process (I'm sealing like one of those puncture proof tires, but in slow motion) I should be back to my habitual state of callousness in a couple of days with no apparent damage, maybe I can even go on staving off like this ("a poem is momentary stay against confusion" Frost ... this is quite a poem) till I die. I guess you shouldn't be alone in a moment like this, what you need is a good friend ... ha ... today he gets the letter the second letter, the one in which I spoke his own language ... nothing assuages nothing (oh don't do that again you've already done that twice before, try something new, quote some more big names).

One ray of hope (the first branch, Mt. Arrarat [sic] is in sight, get all the animals ready to debark the hell out of here particularly the snakes and spiders) that is my regrets and nostalgias seem to be coming closer on the heels of my debacles last time it took me two years to realize that I'd made a mistake with Laura, this time it took me two weeks, but maybe next time (three strikes you know the pitch?) well maybe next time I will have killed Nathan first ... a little foresight should do the trick ... what drives that bastard anyway? I think I've taken him to represent my own rational sickness and not seen what he is at all, it's myself I hate in him ... but then the old empirical hard core fact remains that this is the second time he sniveled around in the wake of my romance with Laura ... of course, she begged him to ... they can both go to hell (redundancies boy, esthetic considerations are replacing moral ones for the sweet sake of sanity and the coming spring) skip it. How can I hate myself like this?

Thursday, March 12, 11 A.M.

I'm out! I'm through ... boomed out of the tunnel sometime last night and it's raining stars ... whooey ... it's nice out there's time for everything ... I can do it I did it and if it happens again I'll do it again twice as hard I got a dexamyl high going and I'm not on dexamyl and I've been up for forty-eight or more hours and I'm giddygiddygiddy and I took a test this morning and it was on Voltaire and I kicked him a couple of good ones for being down on Pascal that poor bastard with his shriveled body and bottomless abyss they're not bottomless!! You get down far enough and it gets thick enough and black enough and then you claw claw claw your way out and pretty soon you're on top again. And I licked it by myself, all alone. No pandering psychiatrists or priests or friends by myself. Now, I must admit I'm a little leery; I dashed back to the typewriter to give it form to write it down and sew it in my vest like Pascal so if the Thing hits me again I'll have this in my vest and I'll kick it in the teeth again but Pascal saw God and yet still it hit him again ... will it hit me again? Who cares ... I just sat in on one of those weddings of the soul and I tootedtooted ... I don't care I can use it I can run on it it will be my psychic gasoline now I don't have to sleep sleep all the time to get away with it ... but if I lose my typewriter? So my hand will get tired too bad. The tail ain't going to wag this dog no more ... at least not as ferociously. The passions, the humors, the libido, the original sin, the blood curse I'm going to put them all in a suitcase and them I'm going to lose that damn suitcase or maybe I'll just keep throwing it away. But I can do it. I licked this school and I licked my blue bear. Maybe I can even lick Laura ... she can't do it for herself. Maybe I've got enough left over for two. I took that test without having read three quarters of the material with my head still going whooey and I licked that Maybe I can lick Laura.

I got a few confessions to make. Still, I think I did overflow a bit on other people and that is just a trifle bit humiliating since I knew they couldn't help anymore than a psycho and then, yesterday afternoon I trotted over to the third floor of Univ. Health and the woman said Well, we have two openings next week maybe we can fit you in and I thought about that guy who got put off like that and launched himself from the roof and will never fly again and thought for a while how bad I was going to make them feel having history repeat itself and came near to slamming my fist on the receptionist's desk (having made that great sacrifice in the first place ... ah pride) and nearly shouted That's nonsense I just want a little offhand advice this business should be more convenient and stormed out noting on the way a slightly terrified look in the poor receptionist's eye that was fun ... I can always do that again too if the Blue Bear ever comes growling back. Poor Voltaire, the son of a bitch never understood never did spend a frenetic life throwing well turned witticisms into Pascal's yawning pit and eternal silences ah the sound and the fury I'd better get some sleep now. Or maybe I'm a manic-depressive. Maybe the pills did it to me. It's coming back step on it step on it shave that Blue Bear. No. I've got it now. Just don't reread anything but the good parts. That's it. Underline them.

Oh jesus christ I still don't really believe in anything I just got myself too worn out to care. I'm pretty sure Kierkegaard had something to say about this but if I get any more names and quotes and things in my head my ability to make fun of them is just going to go pachunk and I'll give out altogether. No dice. Me I'm still flying.

The coincidence of my break up with Laura with imminent graduation and the inevitability of law school combined with pressures from home have kicked off these bouts of self-doubt and account for the virulence of the blue bear (subconscious, warts, dreams etc.) White is wrong or Freud or whoever insisted that dreams are pure wish fulfillment ... or rather, the wish may be very subtle ... a wish to punish oneself ... because certainly my greatest wish at the moment is to beat this thing and I certainly haven't dreamed any victories yet. How many years did it take Freud? I'll bet he didn't have any french paper to write for tomorrow. No that's for sure.

But the biggest step has been made ... I have objectified my disturbances in the person of Blue Bear (we'll deal with that one later) torn them apart from myself in the moment of tooting and prevented them from wrecking me. Now I must destroy the blue bear once and for all.

ANNOUNCEMENT: A new campaign is on against the word "maybe." When I stamp out maybe maybe I'll stop smoking. I tremble seeing how close I came to the brink. How do you like that? I repressed the whole reason for writing this time ... I knew I had missed something (ha ha won't get away from me blue bear I'm hot on your tail) my story was truer than I wished to believe (changing hair color location and all etc.) I had taken Nathan as symbolic of some male principle and was tormenting myself with ... he's just as stuck as most of us, he just has great and clever specialized intellectual faculties ... so that the irony of my story coming semi-true was also too much to take and aggravated my sense of betrayal. That letter to him then was not completely sincere ... I don't want him to do my courting (that was the doubt about the manliness of the favor) I just wanted to apologize to both of us and maybe duck the decision to go after Laura myself because after all, I'm not sure that I need her if she represents no more than a test. Well, we'll see ... maybe the test wasn't such a bad idea because if she's got the guts to take me back she's a big enough girl for me and we'll see what comes of it. I was half exposing myself, half proving myself, half boasting to her and hurting her, half admitting my problem and half challenging her to save me ... no one saves you Christ was a fool you save yourself. Let me qualify that, you don't save yourself all at once up on a cross that's what Nathan would like to do and Pascal all the absolute hunters craving to die in orgasm before the starry heavens shaking their fists or down on their knees life doesn't work that way ... novels and poems do and should ... to live "en bonne foi" in good faith with yourself you have to save yourself each day ... not in some corny way helping old ladies across the street ... but in a little soul plunging before breakfast ... a pickerupper. You can do it with the setting up exercises.

March 12, Midnight

I mustn't test it yet ... I've got to keep quiet ... I've got momentum habits of exhibitionism and I've come to grips with my own doubts but the resolution hasn't been strong enough to sustain the doubts of other ... I can't be a proselytizer because the essence of my discovery is that there ARE NO doctrines that living is a day by day affair I do much better talking about monopoly I LIKE to talk about monopoly I LIKE to touch things and listen to things I CAN'T support Greg's problems I start proving myself to him QUIET QUIET SHUT UP AND SILENCE I can see too well what happens I go on a grand flight and halfway up it sounds hollow and then to save face I begin to force and push and I can carry him along for a minute but he always comes down before I do and then my stomach just caves in ... the thing is too fragile to test yet ... if it were only based on a permanent thing on an absolute on God capital g on Love capital L but it isn't and I don't want it to be even Fromm became a doctrinaire and then he was no good anymore I wish I could pray god give me just couple of years of this that is all that will be enough I am so big now my body has such stretching potential it gallops like Thomas Wolfe's character it bounds along and it doesn't touch ground until someone like Greg casts a shadow.

I must pursue the analysis and not talk about it. I know what I must do. Right now, with eight hours to go I must stay awake (I feel like I've been up for two weeks) and do the french paper ... Laura once said it is going to be fun falling in love with you I was flattered but I didn't understand now I do ... what do they say? Take it as it comes? Right that's it ... just take it as it comes too bad we didn't ... too bad? What am I saying ... a damn tragedy ...

HUMILITY let's go right back to the text books right back to the puritan primers cause after all they know what they were talking about and if I've done it then what I've done is to secularize and personalize their solution and I must keep my trap shut.

But jesus I feel that I've changed I really do I've never felt this way before I'm even beginning to trust it a little bit ... so if you are introspective then BE introspective ... all the way ... you come through the bottom and out the other side and there's a world out there just waiting to be eaten played on lived with worked for jumped up and down upon made love to sung about man I'm six years old.

I could be simply overawed but in rereading this I see an incredible, an astonishing structure ... automatic writing but there is development, there is almost an internal plot ... the hand of god? Or of the subconscious? Or of both at the same time? Grace and peace and inner peace. Or have I gone mad? Am I talking rationally ... skip the french paper I've got to get out of this room this typewriter and find out no ... I'm okay.

I think I just passed the acid test, I passed through an absolute web of complexities involving the person who had posed the greatest threat and did so with what came close to serenity ... I wasn't dead (as John later tried to suggest in a veiled form of attack) ... I liked the music and the coffee and the people and the perfume and the women but I wasn't upset! I wasn't driven back against that wall of incriminations self-accusations self doubts etc. that used to clutter up my people encounters. It went like this:

John and I were talking on the usual subjects of identity and function in life (he talks so beautifully one would never guess!) I was attacking him as the symbolic beatnik the person who has given free reign to his unconscious who refuses to live a structured existence and identifying him with his brother-in-law Richard who did so badly by his sister etc. I can't do John I haven't even begun to do myself ... suffice it to say he got back to his high school experience which represents for him a dangerous but exciting search for identity in others, various attempts to graft himself onto more stable environments (that's where he picked up the business about the Jewish home ... boy did that bug me when he first came out with it!)

My resistance must have been immense because now I remember that night he got drunk he said straight out that he was trying to seduce me (intellectually of course.) Lastly, he keeps wanting to tell me what REALLY is the story between me and Laura and I keep stopping him short ... I'm still shaky, but less so. When I left him he looked sad. I can't help him and he certainly can't help me ... I wonder if I can get away from him without feeling like I'm running scared. I must never feel scared again. I must never again feel as if I'm swimming uphill against life. I'm going to sit at this machine until morning if need be ... until next year ... (no, until next morning because I've got to see Laura tomorrow) taking things topic by topic, systematizing, ordering, making as little or as much headway as I can. There must be an end and in any case, I have reassured myself that I won't go mad trying. Besides, I didn't dream at all (or probably, the repressant mechanism is healthy again ... all this is symbolic language who knows what really happens who cares ... I'm getting better ... I was close to being sick. Very close. When I finally got to sleep this afternoon).

I have been leafing through Jones on Freud again (I shouldn't ... I can and should do this on my own maybe I should? What am I afraid of finding out?) I will and it was a positively thrilling discovery that Freud's feelings of greatest worthlessness, as evidenced in his letters, came just prior to his greatest discoveries. But that went on all his life ... will mine? who cares ... Freud lived on, riddled with cancer thru a world falling apart with his religion being exterminated exiled from his own country and he kept working ... he still knew what he had to do ... that's what counts ... that much optimism and you don't need much else ... or do you? Have religions and books and castles been built as mere excuses? No ... They mean something but you don't have to flagellate yourself to know what they mean as, precisely, the beatnik tenet would say ... you can do them and dig them and do and dig yourself all at the same time like a great big ninety ring circus ... that's what it means the act of living ... the act not the significance of life is real ... more real anyway. holy cow it's a jigsaw puzzle and it all falls together and lord human beings are big big animals! My hands are literally shaking with excitement ... this is all so new so new ... just like they say why why why does nobody believe them? It's like a dam that builds and builds and fills up behind with dark things that putrefy and finally something or someone (I must see Laura if only to thank her) pulls the cork and out it comes gushing and making a terrible mess and leaving you shaking and cleaner I want to stay up all night and shine with cleanliness when I see her tomorrow ... can I take it? Is it too soon? ... no I have to go on living this isn't a monomania it's just a rebirth, that's all ... a mere rebirth.

You go in and out deeper and shallower and you come back you always come back it's like a drug but without the excuse of being drugged drugs do do that they make you think you're going to know yourself and then make you forget yourself so they promise and then they take away promise and take away someone promised and took her the bitch Laura my mother my mother promised to love me and then took it away and gave it back to him and kept doing that taking it away and giving it back to him you can't trust them they're not to be trusted they give and then take back and they make you cry and leave you frightened and crying and watching from your crib as they walk away walk away back to their room bedroom her room they don't rock you anymore they always stop rocking you and leave you there in the dark to cry and cry and cry boy I must have cried like hell as a baby ... my mother said I cried a lot ... post nasal drip or something she said, the bitch she was lying I knew what they were doing she was covering up hiding it from me she was scared and guilty about it and I knew and cried coming out ... I'm trembling also smoking a lot cause it hurts it hurts to know this but I MUST MUST MUST know this I don't want any more secrets I've had enough secrets secrets kept me from my beautiful lovely Laura in the purple velvet dress no more secrets cause of that bitch my mother whip out the happiness kit its your key your safety valve your proof it can be done you did it you saw that morning sometime that morning when it rained stars it will rain stars again no question about it so I figured I'd do it to my sister to get him back cause he like my sister too come to think of it I kind of did it with my mother with her her her (oh go on say it we'll burn the thing) with her panties a fetish that's all it was no it wasn't. Like my grandfather said my penis would fall of if I played with it so I played with it and played with it and am still playing with it and I suppose I'm still waiting for it to fall off ... suppose who are you kidding buster ... you want it to fall off want it to wish it would you hate it because because because it did all those things what things things with mother and father and freddie and sister and brother that's enough.

Saturday, March 14, 11 A.M.

Everything now conspires to my cure, my whole body aches to be better (slips of the typewriter ... is that possible?) I hadn't realized how sick I was ... the bloody stools or at least my queer satisfaction with them was in my head ... or libido or whatever one calls that amazing thing! I awoke after four hours sleep so as to continue ... went to take a shower, bought along vitamin pills (after all I don't want to die physically in the process of living emotionally) joked into the mirror saying automatically "Swallowing a bitter pill, eh?" And then, instead of leaving the pills on the tray over the sink I went right into the shower with them clutched in my hand ... I can't stop now ... and didn't realize until I was standing there staring at them in amazement (absent mindedness and what I do under it is another subject for analysis ... absent mindedness was on a terrifying increase just prior to the Day) ... Falling sleep last night a thousand million thoughts bubbled then the number the age 18 what happened when I was 18? (my stomach hurts ... it really physically does ... that blue bear has all kinds of tricks ... I'm going out for coffee) Well I DO have to go out to get some money but I MUST be merciless with the blue bear. He has no quarter for me ... he keeps asking too much demanding too much (my father kept asking too much love of me more than I could show him because my mother would have beaten me what a funny reversal of roles come to think of it that is about what I was going to do) in any case it threw up tests too hard to meet I've recently said that if I can't commit myself both to marry Laura and to apply immediately to med school then I'm no good ... I know I can't meet tests like that just yet and that creates anxiety, self punishment ... I had a bad moment when the money Nathan promised to send didn't come (knew rationally that I could get a blank check had money in the bank could charge at the Co-op.) I felt the old surge of hatred as I had against my father this last summer in Europe when money didn't come ... when love didn't come ... Everyone knows or accepts by now that such things "the jargon" homosexual conflicts etc. are within them ... everyone knows that what they do every day has something to do with that jargon, but very few are willing to find out EXACTLY what the connecting links are, what the psychic energy has to do with its product ... most don't have to until they are shown by some disaster that what they do is foolish, or harmful or too painful for themselves to bear and only then do they ask themselves what those connecting links are, HOW EXACTLY they have been exteriorizing ... John is driving me crazy (scaring me, still threatening) I called to get that lift down to New York I stumbled on some word (inside myself, still inside myself) and he jumped on it said "Do you feel guilty about something, daddy?" for himself he meant guilty about trying to escape him last night, refusing to let him bother me ... whatever he meant by Daddy is his problem I suppose the guy you want to make love to has to resemble your father. It's just too uncanny having him take me down to try and come to terms with Laura I had a fear a while back that something inside him would make us crash and although objectively that may yet be my own fear comes from a desire that that should be so, that I should go no further with this analysis but instead give myself up to him as he desires (desires ... desires ... there's another word I used in that letter to Nathan) ... Acquiesce to my desires I want to beat (love) you that damn letter was in part a love letter ... (No no it can't be that just stated them in their undeniable form so that I had to face it both the wish to beat and love my father and the wish to love healthily, heterosexually) I mustn't shake John's grip if I'm going to ride in the same car with him that's silly you have to go pretty far to kill yourself even subconsciously directed because you are threatened he probably believes there are plenty of others besides me the fact is I MUST shake John's grip on myself and not scare myself with eery consequences ... the newspaper odds are AGAINST automobile deaths, that was the resistance mechanism trying to stop me again I'm hot on your tail blue bear that doesn't mean anything what does that mean it means that I'm feeling the denied homosexual instincts, feeling the woman in me and getting over her that's it that's what Faulkner's bear was a woman I have the quotes up on my wall I wrote them down a week ago ... woman is a bear you must kill the bear to be a man no that isn't what I've got on my wall the quotes go "Anyone could be upset by his first lion."


Notes

"David" refers in the course of his diary to many of the authors he's read in four years of college.

You may also want a good encyclopedia handy.

The shizophrenia-like features of David's diary include:

  • pressure of speech: i.e., a tendency to talk rapidly and disjointedly in the attempt to describe his chaotic feelings
  • ideas of influence and reference: the feeling that his thoughts were somehow being affected from outside, and that seemingly innocent occurences were directed at him
  • autistic thinking: i.e., primitive, self-referential thought

These are all common signs of a schizophrenic episode, but David's rapid onset and apparent absense of psychotic symptoms in the past would rule out a diagnosis of schizophrenia by today's criteria.

Presumably, given David's fascination with Hemingway, the Spanish Civil War.

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864): "Egotism, Or, The Bosom Serpent," from Twice-Told Tales

Eroica: Beethoven's 3rd Symphony

Samuel Beckett (1906-1989)

White, R.W. (1964). The Abnormal Personality. New York: The Ronald Press.
A favorite psychopathology text of the 1960s.

the Augean stables?

Robert Frost (1874-1963) “a momentary stay against confusion

Blaise Pascal, 1623-1662.

Voltaire Francois-Marie Arouet dit Voltaire (1694 - 1778)

cf. Faulkner, W. The Bear.

Lion: A blue dog, found by Sam Fathers, which eventually took on Old Ben, the bear, and won, though at great cost. Major de Spain at first believed the dog was too wild to tame, but Sam Fathers conditioned the dog to tolerate humans through starvation methods. Later, Boon Hogganbeck took over care and feeding of Lion from Sam, even allowing Lion to sleep with him in the cabin at Major de Spain's hunting camp. When Lion attacked Old Ben and refused to let go, Boon finished the job started by Lion by killing the bear with his knife. Afterwards, Boon's first concern was to get Lion to a doctor; though a doctor did tend to Lion's wounds, it was too late: the dog died at sundown the next day.

Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

Fromm, Erich. (1956). The Art of Loving. New York: Harper.

Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938)

Jones, E. (1953, 1955, 1957) Life and Work of Sigmund Freud. 3 vols. New York: Basic Books.



[1] Note: This annotated text has been prepared for use in Haverford College Psychology courses. Please do not reproduce or transfer for any other purpose. Direct questions to Douglas Davis.