Friday, May 28, 2004

A Case of Paranoia


Hey, buddy. They say a single anecdote is worth a thousand words, so consider this brief note a substitute for a ten-page letter.
Check this out. This is really uncanny. It seals the lid on my insight that I'm a manager victimizer. I uncovered another "body," so to speak.
Norton is 26 years old. He graduated with a B.A. in English from The George Washington University in about the year 2000.
A few years back he got a job here at my apartment building (3801 Connecticut Avenue, NW) as a part-time front desk clerk. Talk about underemployment.
Last year, when Elizabeth Joyce retired, Tim was named Front-Desk Manager. (Trouble ahead for me!)
Tim is dissatisfied with his job. I heard him talking to a tenant about his desire to get a job in writing. Apparently front-desk management (and the awesome responsibilities that job entails) were not what the young Tim Norton had in mind while he was spending four years at one of the finer (and expensive) private universities.
He seems somewhat socially inhibited. I don't know of his romantic conquests; he may have a wild social life for all I know. But in fact I don't know.
Well anyway here's the picture. Crappy manager's job, professional underachievement and dissatisfaction -- and questionable social adjustment.
Now here's the punch line. What they call the clincher. A few months ago, Norton called me aside. He said: "Mr. Freedman, can I talk to you?" (Isabelle Fine was sitting in the lobby at the time). So Tim says: "Mr. Freedman, I try to be fair with all the tenants--treat them fairly. I pick up the feeling that you seem hostile toward me." I said: "What gives you that idea?" He said: "Well, for one thing, I notice that you wave to me in the exercise room." (The apartment has an exercise room with a closed-circuit TV.) I pointed out that I wave to everyone from the exercise room. I said that I used to wave to Elizabeth Joyce. (Elizabeth Joyce is English -- apparently, she has a stiff upper lip. After all, she survived The Blitz in WWII.). So, the long and short of it is that Tim says to me -- "Never mind."
Get it? Everywhere I go, it's the Cicada Syndrome. Probably the whole thing with Tim would never have happened if this hadn't been 2004. All I can say is, I don't know if I can take this again seventeen years from now, when I will be 67 years old.
By the way -- on a related issue. Icon Manipulation. I was thinking of something that might have prompted your bizarre accusation to the Metro Police that I had used the computer consistent with its intended use, namely, I pressed the "rename" function on the keyboard. That's hardly misconduct.
Anyway, I thought about an instance of your own computer behavior which was definitely misconduct from a number of perspectives.
Let me refresh your recollection. Remember the Romantic E-mail episode? (I know nobody reads these notes to you, Brian, so I can be open and frank here.)
You'll recall that about a year-and-a-half ago I found an e-mail that you had written and printed out -- an e-mail that you had written to a female who was not your wife. The e-mail was romantic, if not erotic. Remember that? Maybe it was innocent. Though usually, when a married man writes a romantic note to a lady not his wife, there tends to be something going on. As they say, "Where there's smoke, there's fire."
The clincher was your reaction when you checked the computer printer to get your salacious e-mail. You saw that the e-mail was not there. You said to me angrily and forcefully: "GIVE ME THAT E-MAIL!!" If I had any question before about the forbidden nature of the e-mail, your angry reaction "was worth a thousand words," as they say.
My point is -- isn't that a misuse of the District's property? A married District employee printing out a personal e-mail to his girlfriend?
What do you think your supervisor, Barbara Webb, would say about that? Did you ever wonder, Brian, if maybe I surreptitiously made a Xerox copy of that e-mail, and that maybe I have a copy of it right here with me now? Did you ever think of that? Like they say: "Get Met, It Pays."
Another thing. When a married guy sends a romantic e-mail to his girlfriend, isn't that a sign of some dissatisfaction in the guy's marriage? See my point? Isn't that another symptom of the Cicada Syndrome? "Romantic dissatisfaction."
Yes, Brian, the pieces of the puzzle fit together. Maybe you never forgot about the romantic e-mail incident, and you figured -- "I'll get that bugger!"
Check you out later, buddy. Rest assured, your secrets are safe with me.
P.S. I'm thinking maybe you're like Henry VIII. Now there -- there -- was a guy with marital dissatisfaction! His wives couldn't produce a male heir. Maybe you have the same concerns.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

The Cicada Syndrome


May 27, 2004
Hey, buddy. I'm feeling a bit low. I'm careful not to say I'm in a dark place. I know how that gets you upset. And we don't want to upset you, do we?
This muggy, rainy weather has me down. Besides I've kind of figured out that we probably won't be getting together on Memorial Day. Bugger!
I've been thinking about the French writer Marcel Proust. In the final volume of Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past," the Narrator, sitting in a little library waiting to go in to a recital, is flooded with illumination after illumination about love, art, memory and time. All the pieces of the puzzle of his experience suddenly come together for him, and he emerges from his reverie ready to undertake the task of writing the magical book that the reader holds in his hand and will soon have to part from.
I've been thinking of my experiences, and, as it happened in the case of Proust, the pieces of the puzzle fit together for me. It's unbelievable. It couldn't be more obvious. There's a pattern. It happens every 17 years. Can you believe it? It happens, like clockwork, every seventeen years. Like some bizarre insect that emerges from the earth, from its chrysalis, according to some exact internal biological clock.
I suppose the fiction writer might say something along the lines of "Once upon a time, in Washington, DC, there lived a human monster unlike anything mankind has ever known. Enter the world of an evil genius, a miscreant so depraved that only the most hideous of crimes could satisfy his lust, a depraved monster who lives to possess the essence of young organizational managers, a vampire of the unfulfilled underachiever, whose bloodless, inane quest takes him beyond the boundaries of unconscious wishes, and culminates in job termination, in some cases, or suspension of library privileges, in others."
So much for the fiction writer. I deal in facts.
I am a threat. Yes! My potential victims fear me. There is so much I could do, if only I wanted to -- at least according to the belief systems of my individual victims. I hold the power in my hand. A power stronger than the power of money or the power of terror or the power of death: the invincible power to command the fear of the paranoid!
I can't believe I never saw the ineluctable schema before. But there is a pattern to my victimization. As Dr. Eissler pointed out "Victimology, that newly-founded brand of criminology, has found that the personality of the victim is the cause of his becoming a victim and this is also true of persons who suffer from the so-called "Cicada Syndrome."
What is the "Cicada Syndrome," you ask? In this heretofore unrecognized syndrome the aggressor seeks out another individual, who, because he possesses certain personality qualities, is considered by Freedman a prime candidate for an unusual fate, a fate destined to be repeated every seventeen years. The victim is sought out and terrorized in a ruthless, but insidious, attack on the victim's inner sense of well-being and narcissistic integrity. Freedman places the victim's very masculinity at risk!
These are the facts.
In the year 2004 I preyed on you, Brian. You know about that, of course. I sought you out and terrorized you. Inside I laughed in scornful mockery at your fears, while you cringed lest I strike out at you from the dark places of my soul.
Little did you know that you were only the latest victim of my serial perversity.
Seventeen years ago, in 1987, I preyed on another innocent victim, Craig Wallace Dye. He feared my attack, and responded in self-defense, or should I say he responded defensively.
Then, in early 1988, as part of the same 17-year cycle (1987-1988) I began my ruthless attack on another hapless victim, John David Neary, at the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld.
Oddly enough, my victims have several things in common. All three were managers, with serious dissatisfactions in their private lives, who had unrealized aims in their professional work. Yes! Let the word go forth! I am a maniacal manager-victimizer. I victimize innocent organizational managers, who are underemployed and who are dissatisfied in life. I force them to love me, and they respond with reversal and projection. In the end, I am destroyed. I return to the bowels of the Earth from whence I came, and emerge from the Earth seventeen years hence to strike again.
In the event you remain unconvinced, let me elaborate.
The year was 1987. Craig the Embalmer had started working at the law firm of Hogan & Hartson in October 1986, at age 27. He was a brilliant young man with a genius-level IQ. He was later accepted to Harvard Law School and other law schools of high repute. But that would be years in the future.
As of 1986, Craig had a master's degree in international relations awarded by Johns Hopkins University. And what occupation did he assume at Hogan? An elevated position of responsibility and authority, you say? No! A resounding no! He worked on the firm's furniture inventory, when he wasn't involved in the lofty vocation of coding documents. He had spent the earlier years of his life in dissipation -- traveling the world, waiting tables, and getting due mileage out of young lassies. Yes. Craig was handsome, intelligent, manipulative and a professional womanizer. But career-wise he was less than successful.
In mid-year 1987, the love of his life, Amanda, dumped Craig. Yes, dear, sweet, clinging, 20-telephone-calls-per-day Amanda left Craig's life for good (or ill) while the assassination heiress had yet to make her appearance. As of 1987 Craig was, as they say, going nowhere fast: romantically and professionally.
In August 1987 the Embalmer took on a male roommate, Daniel Cutler, who also worked at Hogan -- Craig and Daniel had adjoining desks at work, in fact. It was "mostly Daniel, most of the time."
Craig assumed responsibilities in the Computer Applications Department, and of critical importance for our tale, ultimately became Manager of the Computer Applications Department.
The picture is complete. Romantic dissatisfaction, professional underachievement, and a crappy manager's job. The perfect victim for me! I took advantage of Craig's situation and ruthlessly exploited the poor, hapless Embalmer. He responded with reversal and projection, as the analysts say, and the rest is history. Or at least my job was history. Craig and his comrades concocted a story that I was out to get poor Craig, poor helpless Craig. Yes, I was a manager victimizer! I had to go. In late February 1988, I was terminated by my supervisor at Hogan after the effective machinations of the Embalmer sealed my coffin.
Thus ended Phase I of my seventeen year cycle.
The cycle picked up again a few days later, in early March 1988, at Akin Gump, with my second victim, John David Neary.
John David Neary was the perfect victim for me. He was a 1985 graduate of William and Mary College and had high hopes for a brilliant career in the law - as a lawyer, that is. Unfortunately, for John David, law schools didn't quite have a corresponding confidence in John David's potential.
In 1989 he attended the wedding of a friend and complained that he was the last in his crowd of friends who remained unmarried. Romantic dissatisfaction.
John David had a crappy manager's job, supervising other paralegals. My depraved and insatiable urge to gratify my vile proclivities could not be staunched. I would once again follow the dictates of my biological destiny. I would once again be a manager victimizer!
I know this will weary you, buddy. It wearies me. But I have to say it.
Once again, John David -- as with Craig before him -- presented an image of alluring potential victimization that I could not resist. Romantic dissatisfaction, professional underachievement, and a crappy manager's job. The perfect victim for me! I took advantage and ruthlessly exploited poor, helpless John David. He responded with reversal and projection, as the analysts say, and the rest is history. Or at least my job was history. John David and his comrades concocted a story that I was out to get poor John David. Yes, I was a manager victimizer! I had to go. In late October 1991, I was terminated by Akin Gump after the effective machinations of John David convinced senior managers that I was frightening, Yes!, a frightening paralegal with whom John David could not work. I was determined to be potentially violent -- more, in fact -- I was determined to be a manager killer. Not just a manager victimizer, but a potential manager killer. See Freedman v. D.C. Dept. of Human Rights, D.C. Court of Appeals, No. 96-CV-961 (Record on Appeal at 349, stating that J.D. Neary was afraid of me and that he could not work with me).
Thus ends the first seventeen-year cycle. I returned to the bowels of the Earth, not to be seen for the better part of a generation.
Years would pass. Seventeen years to be exact. But no fear, I would return to wreak havoc once again. I would arise from the Earth, as part of my seventeen-year cycle and start all over again. Not to another life, a better life, but to the self-same life of manager victimization.
That brings us to the year 2004. That brings us to you, buddy. You, like your predecessors, were the perfect victim.
You were male. You had a crappy manager's job, running a local branch library, despite your obvious intelligence and underutilized abilities. You had worked your entire adult life in a field traditionally dominated by women (and a fair quota of homosexuals). Your only male colleague, William -- a unique individual -- is a bi-polar psychotic whose wife's first husband was a homosexual. Indeed, there's an "incestuous" quality to William, who married the lovely Debra, also a librarian -- the children's librarian at The Chevy Chase Branch of The DC Library.
Though married, you have no children -- at an age when most married men enjoy paternal fulfillment. Yes, you are unfulfilled in your private life. You were the perfect victim for my ruthless exploitation. Ironically, or uncannily, John David was active in the Big Brother's of America, an organization whose members mentor fatherless boys. Odd, don't you think? My victims are always unfulfilled males.
Yes, Brian. I victimized you, and you were sore afraid. I terrorized you with talk of dark spaces, references to compensatory damages (frightening!), and my open confession that I was failing to do what I had no legal duty to do. Yes, what a bastard I am, preying as I do on hapless managers such as yourself.
Again, I know this will weary you, buddy. Oh, how it wearies me! But I have to say it.
Once again, as with Craig and John David, you possessed a host of alluring qualities that proved irresistible for me. Your lack of paternal fulfillment, your professional underachievement, and your crappy manager's job. The perfect victim for me! I took advantage and ruthlessly exploited poor, helpless Brian Patrick. He responded with reversal and projection, as the analysts say, and the rest is history. Or at least my library privileges were history. Brian Patrick and his comrade, William, concocted a story that I was out to get poor Brian Patrick. Yes, I was a manager victimizer! I had to go. And so, on April 21, 2004, my library privileges at the Cleveland Park Branch of the DC Library were suspended after the effective machinations of Brian Patrick and William convinced the Metro DC Police that I was frightening, Yes!, a frightening library patron whom Brian Patrick could not abide. Brian Patrick determined that I was a vengeful icon manipulator who resided in dark places and who -- bastard that I am -- perversely refused to do what I had no legal duty to do.
Thus ends my second seventeen year cycle. And thus, buddy, ends my "Notes from Underground." And thus, to paraphrase Nietzsche, ends Freedman's Going Under.
Check you out later, buddy.
P.S. Hey, Brian. A bit of Army humor. What would you call it if Dr. Brad Dolinsky (Captain Vagina) were booted out of the army? -- A Vaginal Discharge!! Get it?

Monday, May 24, 2004

An Epistolary Madness


Hey, buddy. This weekend was a total washout. I slept most of the time, and made a brief trip to the supermarket for oatmeal and powdered milk, although I have about a six-month's supply of both in my pantry. But like I always say, you can never have too much oatmeal and powdered milk.
It's like these letters I write. Letters, letters, letters, letters. I can never write enough letters. I live to write letters. As Ellen once said: "Of even vegetarian kreplach, one can get too much." To which I would reply, "No, Ellen. You can never get too much kreplach. Yes, there may be a limit to how many kreplach you can fit into your bowl of broth. But you, yourself, can never get too much kreplach."
What does letter writing mean to me? Why are letters my chosen form of communication, my chosen form of human interaction? I suppose because letters allow for a certain kind of intimacy, or even just the illusion of intimacy. It's a very controlled kind of interaction; there's a grandiose quality to letters. You never have to worry about the reactions of the person you are communicating with. No frowns or intrusive sighs emanate from the other party. One is free to blather on and on, without regard for the boredom or disapproval of the other party.
The psychologist Lillian B. Rubin put it so well: "Contact that takes place largely by letter allows for a peculiar kind of intimacy in that we can write about deeply felt matters while we are also protected from the unexpected or unplanned messages conveyed in a face-to-face encounter. If I am speaking directly to a friend, I watch for signs of his reaction to my words, just as he watches my facial expressions and body posture to fill out the message my words withhold. But the letter protects both of us. The signs of his approval or disapproval, restlessness or boredom, and so on, are not visible to me; the symptoms that would signal depth of my distress not accessible to him. Letters, of course, provide even less possibility than the telephone for an immediate or unintended response, therefore more control and more protection for both participants.
Such long-distance best friendships based on the exchange of letters share some of the qualities of the therapist-patient relationship. Both permit intimacy while, at the same time, preserving distance, both allow discretion in what is revealed, how much and when; both promise safety from well-meaning but unwanted intrusions
We can confide a personal problem to a therapist or to a long-distance friend with some certainty that intimacies revealed are safe from the immediate circle of friends and family (assuming I had either), without fear that we'll run into the confidante in the supermarket and have to face the question, spoken or unspoken, "Is everything okay?" We can share something of our fears and fantasies with some assurance that we will not confront a reaction that's difficult or painful. The responses of both will be safely hidden from view--the therapist's because of training, the friends because of distance." Lillian B. Rubin, "Just Friends: The Role of Friendship in Our Lives."
Of course, Lillian Rubin omits any consideration of the paranoid recipient of the letters, who sees dark meanings in the written communicator's references to dark places, recompense for pain and suffering, and the individual's failure to take actions (namely, ingesting medication) that he has no legal duty to do. No, Brian, Lillian Rubin never met you, buddy. You put a whole new spin on the dangers of letter writing. "The paranoid recipient" of letters saved to hard-drive on a public computer. Maybe Lillian Rubin needs to add a chapter for 21st century readers -- a chapter on the danger of letter writing on public electronic facilities.
At my meeting with William and the good offices of the Metro DC police, Officer Williams questioned my procedure of letter writing to you, buddy. "Have you ever had a friend," he asked? "Letter writing is not a way to make friends," he admonished. "The way to make friends is to talk to a person face-to-face."
Well, like my response to Ellen's views on vegetarian kreplach, I have to respectfully disagree.
The fact is there are all kinds of friends, all types of friendships. Some friendships, even great friendships, start out as letter-writing relationships and progress to face-to-face contact. Some friendships remain primarily, if not exclusively, letter writing relationships.
Look at the great, and ill-fated, friendship between Dr. Eissler and Jeff Masson. It started out as a letter writing relationship. The young Jeffrey Masson, a trainee at a psychoanalytic training institute, certainly wasn't going to show up at Dr. Eissler's Upper West Side apartment and ask the old sage of psychoanalysis out for coffee. The only realistic way for Masson to approach Dr. Eissler was by letter. Eissler was a formidable figure in the world of psychoanalysis. Kind of like you, buddy, in the insular world of the D.C. library system. The great Brian Brown, sage of Macomb Street!
Masson writes: "When I first read Eissler's books, shortly after I applied to the Toronto Psychoanalytic Institute, I felt I was entering a world of long ago and far away. It was a feeling that appealed to me, because it recreated the sensations I had had when reading European scholarship during my student years in Paris. I had felt like this when I read the great Buddhist scholar from Belgium, Etienne Lamotte, for example, or the works of the French Indologist Louis Renou. The excitement of seeing genuine scholarship in psychoanalysis provided a link to my own past. I decided to write to Eissler about historical matters in psychoanalysis that had already begun to interest me early in my training. I was surprised and delighted when he answered me and took my questions seriously. I wanted to know about Daniel Paul Schreber (!!!), and more about Wilhelm Fliess, and about Freud's early case histories. I greatly looked forward to getting to know him (that is, Dr. Kurt Eissler)."
So that's how the friendship between Jeffrey Masson and Kurt Eissler began. I'm still waiting for a letter from Lieberson. I'm thinking any day now, Jeff Lieberson's going to write me a letter asking about Don Zimmer's crotch-scratching proclivities. "Mr. Freedman, I presume? I'm Jeff Lieberson."
My point is, there's no one way a friendship can arise. There's no one way a friendship can blossom and bloom--or even be maintained.
Ellen and I were talking the other day--over some eggplant kreplach--about the great Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. -- Ellen's old mentor. Ellen pointed out that Holmes' personal relations were marked by barriers and distance. The archetypal Holmes friendship was a correspondence friendship, with the other participant being inaccessible to Holmes except for occasional visits. Even the most persistent of his correspondents, such as Harold Laski, rarely got beyond a certain level of intimacy. When Laski proposed, after many years of letters, that he call Holmes by his first name, he was summarily rebuffed.
Ellen pointed out (I call her Ellen, but she herself once said to me, "Freedman, it's 'Judge,' to you, buddy") that much of Holmes's communications with others was at the level of intellectual abstraction, though he also had an earthy, bawdy side, which punctuated his talk and occasionally his writings and revealed itself in his covert private life. Much of the distinctiveness of Holmes's style came from his juxtaposition of earthy or homely language with abstract ideas; although he held the two impulses apart in his activities, in his thoughts they easily intermeshed. "I wonder," he once said, "if cosmically an idea is any more important than the bowels."
Or as Goethe once said: "In the end, every idea is just a fart." I suppose great minds run along the same paths. Everything is just a collection of body functions. As David Duchovny once said about acting: "The human part of acting is all about basic body functions. Basically, the less complicated you are, the more primary your motivation is, the better actor you are. You take it down to the basics: eating, pissing, shitting, fucking. Those are the kinds of emotions that read. They're strong and good. They come across."
I guess, in the end, I'm looking for an intellectual relationship. A friendship with an intellectual guy, -- maybe Ivy, like David Duchovny -- someone with whom I can discuss abstract intellectual ideas. You know Duchovny got his B.A. in English from Princeton and was working on his Ph.D. at Yale when he went into acting. His dissertation at Yale was going to be titled: "Magic and Technology in Contemporary American Fiction and Poetry." Now that's what I'm looking for in a friend. A healthy taste for the intellectual and abstract.
Not that there's not another side to Dave: a homely, earthy, bawdy, Holmesean side. A world of eggplant and penises.
Here's a description of David Duchovny eating lunch during a break in filming a movie, back in 1999:
He's wearing jeans and a T-shirt. He is relaxed, affable even, playing a guy shooting the shit with a friend in a corner booth of a diner. He probes the contents of a Styrofoam container, the daily special from his favorite vegetarian restaurant, driven by special courier to the set, near a national park in Calabasas, an hour northwest of Hollywood. "Oh, my God," he says with mock horror, poking at a large eggplant, skinned, in a viscous brown sauce. "I think I've found John Holmes's penis!" That's John Holmes, the porn star -- not Oliver Wendell, although exactly how covert Justice Holmes's private side was remains a mystery. He might have done some porn in his day, though not videos, of course.
Duchovny's humor is your typical elevated Ivy humor -- Princeton, Yale, Skull and Crossbones humor -- wry, abstract, witty and urbane. A typical Duchovny joke: "I don't want to brag about the size of my cock, but I just got a sex change and a guy was fucking me the other day and he said: You have the biggest pussy I have ever fucked!" That's real Captain Vagina, Columbia University humor, buddy.
Yes, that's what I'm looking for in a friendship. Wry, urbane, witty asides offered up amid intellectual abstractions concerning eggplant and penises. It's just so hard for me to find friends I can commune with on my level. Besides, eggplant is out of season right now.
Check you out later, buddy. And we can continue this great discussion.

Friday, May 21, 2004

It's Legal in Massachusetts


Hey, buddy. What's up? Have these lazy, hazy, cicada-ridden days of late May got you down?
You know, people have been coming up to me on the street, they've been stopping me on the street, and been saying--have been asking me: "Hey, Freedman, what did you think, what did you really think and feel, at the moment, the very moment when William and the good officers of the Metro DC police force told you that you were banned from the Cleveland Park library, after all those years of daily visits? I mean, it must have been rough, devastating really? Well? What was it like for you?"
I have to admit, buddy, at first I was afraid. I was petrified. I was thinking, "I don't know how I could ever live without you by my side." But I grew strong. And I learned how to get along.
And the rest, as they, say, is a pack of letters!
No major opus today. I'm written out. Three major letters in one week is about all I can handle. Like I've said before I'm no Balzac. Even Balzac limited himself to about three major novels per year. That white heat of inspiration can wear a guy out. Then there's always carpal tunnel syndrome to worry about. Too much time at the keyboard--well, you know what they say. You might end up growing hair on your palms.
I was thinking recently, "What would Brian do if I were to call him at the library? Would he get all professional on me and say something like: 'Mr. Freedman, I don't think it's appropriate that we chat on the telephone.'" Or would you agree to meet with me outside the library. What if I were to call you and ask you out to lunch? What would you do? Get all professional on me? Hide behind that veil of professionalism? Is that what you'd do?
The fact is my psychiatrist, Dr. Cooper, suggested that I talk to you. Try to get close to you. Make a social approach to you. Doctor's orders, so to speak. I think it's a little hypocritical of you to, on the one hand, chastise me about not taking the medication that was prescribed for me by my doctor, and yet, on the other, refuse to respond to my social overtures, overtures that were prescribed by that very same doctor. See my point? Isn't that a little inconsistent? The bottom line is--it's you, buddy--you--who are the medication. Medication itself--literal medication--chemical formulations--are a means to an end. That end is social adjustment. Chemicals are a way for a mentally whacked-out person to get into the normal social groove.
The ultimate aim remains, in the end, that social groove. Making a friend, or a group of friends. In the end, the friends are a kind of maintenance therapy. You hook up with friends, and that keeps you on the right track in life. Friends are like non-chemical therapy. You see them, or talk to them periodically--you "ingest them," as it were, periodically, like you would take medication. The aim is to keep you normal, to keep you human.
Simply pumping a person full of meds, with no hope that that person will enter that higher level of functioning is pointless and, really, a little grotesque. It's like the courts ordering a criminally-insane prisoner to be medicated so he can be executed. What are the meds for, in that case? So he can be normal for a few moments before he faces execution?
What are meds for in my case? Make me non-paranoid so I can sit in my apartment alone, and just look at the four walls in a normal mental state? Stare at the TV all day without delusions intruding on my loneliness? I mean what's the point? What's the fucking point?
Think about it. You and the other humans out there are the meds. The ultimate meds. I really think I've hit upon something here. An intriguing paradigm. "Freedman is bad and dangerous because he's not taking his meds. But I, Brian Brown, am good and innocent--an innocent potential victim of Freedman's madness. I, Brian Brown, am the good object, medication is the good object. Freedman has a duty to take meds (in fact, under the law I don't--but, of course, you're not a lawyer), but I have no moral duty to respond to Freedman's social overtures, despite the fact that I've been obsessed with him for the last 12 years and despite the fact that Freedman's own doctor has recommended that Freedman be friendly with me. I, Brian Brown, have no duty to do anything. I'm just a passive object, just like the good old pills in the bottle."
Is that a keen insight into a psychological situation, or is that just my illness speaking? Maybe if I took my meds I wouldn't be having these thoughts. But, hey, look at Oliver Wendell Holmes--a brilliant guy, a logical guy, a lawyer. He was a pathological letter writer. He was a little whacked himself. Some of his ideas were a little off the Supreme Court wall, if you know what I mean. Should he have taken meds, assuming there had been any in his day? Would the Metro DC police be saying to old Oliver, "Listen, buddy. You seem a little strung out. Maybe you need to be taking something. Sure you're a bright guy, but mental illness is mental illness. It's just not normal for a guy to be writing all those letters you've been writing. Writing letters is no substitute for real social relations. And that's what you've been doing, Mr. Holmes. You hide behind your robes writing letters, squirreled away in your study writing letters to your 'friend' Fredric. That's not normal, dude. That's not healthy. That's not the way to make real friends."
I don't know. But, hey, I'm nuts.
Then there's Dr. Bash, The Mad Monk. "You should ask Brian to lunch. You and Brian should go to lunch." Granted, Dr. Bash is a psychologist. Legally, she can't prescribe. But that's her recommendation. Just who do you think you are, Brian, refusing the recommendation of an employee of the D.C. Department of Mental Health? An employee of your own employer. The D.C. Government.
Am I getting a little needy? Putting too much pressure on you? Like you never put pressure on me! "Freedman, you gotta take your meds!"
Funny thing. Back to my paradigm. Back to the issue of duty. Notice how you would say you have no duty to be my friend. But you imply I have a duty to take meds that have been prescribed by my physician. That's fucked up, man. The legal fact is, I have no duty to take meds. Just like you have no duty to be my friend, I HAVE NO DUTY TO TAKE MEDS. My paradigm is a perfect symmetry. A psychoanalyst might be intrigued by that. I wonder what old Dr. Palombo would say about that. The way you've turned everything around. You deny your own duty, and project that on to me. "I, Brian Brown, have no duty to respond to Freedman's social overtures, but Freedman has a duty to take meds." That's whacked, Brian. That's what the analysts would call a paranoid transformation: reversal and projection.
What would you do if I called the cops on you? "Officer, my psychologist says I should go to lunch with Brian, but Brian refuses. Are you going to enforce my psychologist's recommendation?" Officer Williams: "That sounds like a civil matter." Freedman: "Well, I'm not so sure. Dr. Bash, the mad monk, is an employee of the D.C. government; I think her recommendations carry some legal authority in this jurisdiction."
The ultimate symmetry is this. Just as I have no duty to take meds, you have no duty to be my friend. But, other people have made recommendations. That's all. Neither recommendation--the recommendation to take meds nor the recommendation that we be friends--is legally enforceable. And when you look at it, who's being more rational, who's being more reasonable. You? Really? You, Brian? "Call the cops on Freedman. He's not doing what he has a legal right not to do?" What if I called the cops on you, Brian, and said: "Hey, officers, Brian isn't doing what he has no legal duty to do, namely, go to lunch with me as was recommended by my psychologist." At least I have the sanity--crazy as I am--not to do that. I think the cops might really haul me off to St. Elizabeths if I called them and told them that.
You know what I think, Brian. I think, fundamentally, you're just a selfish MF'er. One total social MF'er. A Master of Fraud. We all know what you've been up to, lo, these last 12 years: watching, monitoring, taking note of my every sigh, groan and fart in the library. Reporting everything back to Malcolm and Earl. Who are you kidding, Brian? You've got a thing for me, to put it euphemistically. That's the paradigm.
Then you call the law on me! You have the nerve to call out the law. "Sheriff, I want this straggler banned from my ranch!"
Is what you did sane? No. A resounding no. It carries the deceptive ring of rationality, but it's fundamentally no more reasonable than my calling the cops on you for failing to do what a D.C. employee recommended that you do. Namely, respond to my social overtures.
You might be interested to know, buddy -- no, more than that -- you might be surprised -- no, even more than that -- you might be shocked to learn what an insightful psychoanalyst might say about your act of summoning the law to ban me from the library because I was not doing what I was legally free not to do. Are you aware that a psychoanalyst might interpret that as a latent homosexual fantasy? Think about it. Reversal and projection -- the two ego defenses operative in paranoia.
What is the opposite (the reverse) of legally-enforcing a separation between two people? Why, it's a marriage. In marriage, two people voluntarily assume mutual legal duties. An analyst might say, "Mr. Brown, unconsciously, you wanted Freedman. You wanted him in a powerful way. A way that was extremely threatening to your rational, conscious mind. Consciously you felt threatened by Freedman, but unconsciously you loved him. Unconsciously you wanted to marry him--you wanted to summon the law to compel a union, and you defended against that wish by doing the exact opposite--summoning the law to enforce a ban, to enforce a separation. You, my friend, are what is euphemistically termed a latent homosexual. My prescription? Five years on the couch, Mr. Brown!"
"But that's insane, doctor," you might say. To which the doctor would respond: "Have you ever heard of the famous Schreber case, Mr. Brown?" ("Who??") "In that case, Freud made the discovery that the 'core conflict in the paranoia of a man' is, as he put it in the case history, a 'homosexual wish fantasy of loving a man.' The paranoiac turns the declaration 'I love him' into its opposite, "I hate him'; this is the reversal. He then goes on to say, 'I hate him because he persecutes me'; that is the projection.'"
"And what does that have to do with me," you might ask. "Simple," says the good doctor. "You unconsciously grew to love Mr. Freedman. You felt an internal threat to your masculinity. You transformed that internal psychological threat into an external physical threat. You feared that Freedman might physically attack you. That was the projection. You defended against that threat by summoning the police -- the law, as it were -- to enforce a ban. And that was a reversal of the act of summoning the law to enforce a union, a marriage, between you and Mr. Freedman." (Projection + reversal) = paranoia = latent homosexuality. I would say that you and Mr. Freedman were made for each other. You are both paranoid. You are both . . . " "STOP!," you say, "I don't want to hear anymore!"
"Doctor," you say, "I couldn't care less about Freedman. Since he's been banned, I don't even think about him." To which the doctor would respond: "Out of sight, out of mind."
Anyway, that's the Freudian perspective. Remember, as Ellen would say, it's now legal in Massachusetts.
One word. Face it, Brian. You're a forty-year-old male. You've worked your entire adult life in a profession traditionally dominated by women (with a fair quota of male homosexuals). Sure, you're married. But you have no kids--at an age when most married guys have kids. I think--I really think you may have issues. And I think my letters to you, and some of the openly and persistently sexual content of those letters might have sent you over the top.
Not that I'm any better. Here I am, a fifty-year-old male. No wife, no woman of any kind. An underemployed, then an unemployed lawyer. But quite frankly, maybe we were made for each other. Maybe that's the connection between us. Metaphorically speaking, maybe it's a case of "Billy Bean" meets "David Catania, Esq."
Overture. Opening. Prelude. Season opener. First pitch. First swing at the bat. Whatever.
Listen, buddy. I know we don't have a lot in common--on the surface at least. I'm into baseball. You're into opera (Fag!). But at a deeper level, a symbolic level, aren't they really the same thing -- opera and baseball?
Think about it. Both opera and baseball, as someone once said, are genres of voluptuous lyrical expression, loved beyond rational explanation by the devotee, that any sane human bred into a culture of quick-riff garbage finds skull-numbingly boring, primarily because both demand an extended commitment of time and attention. Both opera and baseball freeze the moment in order to plumb and exalt the soul's emotion, unfurling at a stately, infuriating, nineteenth-century pace until, in one case, the fat lady trills at last or, in the other, Don Zimmer finally finishes scratching himself.
Listen, I'm just looking for a buddy to shoot the shit with in the corner booth of a diner. Is that too much to ask? That's what I'm gonna tell the cops when I call them. "Officer, my psychologist, a D.C. employee has recommended that I ask Brian to shoot the shit with me in the corner booth of a diner, and Brian refuses my overture. Is that legal? Isn't there something you can do? Can't you force him to do something?"
Or what about a friendly game of poker? You know a few years back Len Garment started up his monthly poker club. Bob Strauss and Bob Bennett (yes, Bennett and Strauss are poker buddies) and "the Chief" Bill Rehnquist and Garment get together--or at least they used to -- for a friendly game of poker, once a month.
I don't play poker. But I play Gin Rummy. Maybe we could get together for a high-stakes game of Gin Rummy. High stakes or "high steaks." I could bet my entire monthly food-stamp allowance on a "high steaks" game of Gin Rummy. That's ten bucks, buddy.
What do you say? Remember, in your paradigm, you have a duty--a legally-enforceable duty--to do what you're not legally required to do. You made up that ridiculous rule. You have yourself to blame.
Or are you just a double-standard MF'er? A Master of Fraud!
Check you out later, Brian. Think about the paradigms.
P.S. By the way, I found out that Brad Dolinsky--Brad Matthew Dolinsky, M.D.--is a Columbia grad. Yes, Captain Vagina (apartment 600) is actually Ivy. Can you believe that?

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

The Middle-Aged Man and the Holy See


Hey, buddy. Some disappointing news. I'm sorry, but I have tobreak this to you.

After careful consideration, I've concluded that I cannot accept the honor of being the Prime Minister. Yes, I must decline the call of my party to assume the all-important leadership position of our people. Hope you can get over that, Brian. It's time to move on.

What underlies my decision? Well, I was thinking about something my old buddy Hardy-Ames Hill, the idealistic individualist, once said: "I'm not somebody who's willing personally to barter or change my morals or change my values to be accepted by anyone. That's not being true to yourself."

I can recall reading something that Albert Einstein said in 1948, at the time of the creation of the State of Israel, when he was asked to become Israel's first president -- a largely ceremonial position.
He said that as Israel?s president he could foresee that there would be occasions when he would be called upon to support and promote policies that might be at variance with his values and beliefs. He said he could not in good conscience do that; he had to be true to himself. So he had to decline the offer to be Israel's first head of state.

Incidentally, do you pick up the shades of Hamlet there? "That's not being true to yourself." As the old windbag Polonius said. -- "Neither a borrower nor a lender be." I have the same philosophy, the same philosophy of life and philosophy of politics. Just as I don't vote in elections, I must also decline elective office. "Neither a voter nor a Prime Minister be." Besides, I don't want my toothbrush being used to clean the look -- if you recall that sordid episode in Hardy's tenure as Prime Minister.

You know -- as the actor David Duchovny once said in another context -- I always feel, when somebody calls you Prime Minister, it's like they're saying "fag." You know what I hear when somebody says Prime Minister? I hear pussy. (That's Duchovny speaking.) I don't know why. Maybe the best things about the celebrity of public office are the things like being able to get that seat on Air Force One that you wouldn't normally get, but that's kind of like cheating. They're not being nice to you. You're getting good service, sure, but in the end they're thinking: pussy. I know they are. They're thinking: He couldn't take it if we didn't bring him those special chocolates. They're thinking: He couldn't take it if he had to sit in coach."

Well, believe me, I can take it, buddy. I've sat in coach. It's not that bad. The long and short of it is, I can live without being Prime Minister.

Well, just five more months, and I'll be making my comeback to Cleveland Park. What do you have planned for my return? Any special celebrations? Forget about the champagne and caviar. A modest celebration will do. You know, it's pretty exciting. The thought of a comeback. "The Comeback Kid," that's what they'll be calling me on Ordway Street. Like Napoleon making his way back to France after the disgrace of Elba. One thing, Brian, just don't ever send me to St. Helena. Now that -- that -- I couldn't take. Hopefully, there won't be any Waterloos in my future. When I come back, I'll be back to stay. And won't that be a dream come true!

I'm wondering what the future holds for me in terms of my psychotherapy. Man, do I need psychotherapy! Dr. Bash, The Mad Monk, has promised me that if she can't locate a therapist for me, she, personally, will treat me. That should be a real trip. Psychotherapy with the Mad Israeli emigre.

Dr. Bash thinks I'm a fraud. She's convinced that I'm faking my illness. That I don't actually believe that I'm under surveillance. The whole thing about the Pope knowing me, and having read my writings was too much for her. I still remember when I told her: "All the Prime Ministers of Israel know me, they know of me at least -- and they've read my autobiography." Well, that was too much for Dr Bash. "You're making it up. I don't believe you," she said.

I have to tell you, it makes complete sense to me. The whole thing. The Prime Ministers, the President of the United States, even the Pope. They all know me.

The interesting thing is that it does sound incredible on the surface. But when you start to look at the details--it makes sense. Yes, I admit it, if you look at the whole thing from a Macro-paranoia level it sounds like a script that even Chris Carter would reject. (Remember Chris Carter? Producer of the X-Files? Twin Peaks?) But at a Micro-paranoia level, the pieces start to fall into place.

Here's my thinking. These are the pertinent details.

GARY FREEDMAN. Employed as a paralegal at the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld (1988-1991). The firm's executive partners include Robert S. Strauss and Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. Freedman's status as an underemployed attorney, with a Master's degree in International Trade from American University brings him to the attention of the firm's managing partners.

Upon being considered for a full-time paralegal position Freedman submits to the firm's legal assistant administrator letters of recommendation written by the Secretary of the Society of International Law (the late Seymour J. Rubin, Esq., Professor of Law, American University) and a letter by a former assistant attorney general for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The sheer ridiculousness of Freedman's status ensures that he's going to get noticed--if not in a good way, then in a bizarre way, a way ensured to trigger hushed snickers in the inner recesses of the firm's offices.

Freedman is of mixed Polish and Jewish heritage. His mother was a Polish Catholic and his father was Jewish.

Freedman writes his autobiography. The structure of the writing is experimental. Part play, part poem, part novel. The autobiography would tend to appeal, at least as a curiosity, to a person with a literary background.

Freedman has a strong interest in classical music, and the autobiography features an abundance of material about music, musicians, and classical composers.

ROBERT S. STRAUSS. Executive partner and founder of the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld. Areas of concentration include international trade law. Served as Special Trade Representative of the United States in the Carter Administration. Served as Ambassador to the Middle East Peace Negotiations in the Carter Administration. Met with President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel.

Ego-maniac. The publication "Current Biography" (1992) reports that Robert Strauss, after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Begin and Egyptian President Sadat, exclaimed: "Begin was intrigued, captivated by me . . . . [and] Sadat was crazy about me, and I him" (quoting Time Magazine, March 14, 1988). From the perspective of the psychiatric nomenclature, the personality quality of grandiosity (a symptom of narcissistic disturbance) will tend to be associated with the qualities of "lack of empathy" and a tendency to "breach boundaries." A grandiose individual might have no compunctions about obtaining confidential mental health information about an employee (boundary breach), disseminating the material to third parties (i.e., be totally lacking in empathy for the privacy concerns of that employee)--all for the purpose of glorifying his own massive ego.

Strauss's father, Charles Strauss, was an immigrant from Germany, where he trained as a classical pianist. Charles Strauss tried to make a career for himself in the United States as a classical piano concert performer.
Strauss has an interest in biomedical issues. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the Ronald Reagan Institute of Emergency Medicine of The George Washington University, and has funded a chair in neurology at The University Of Texas Medical School. Freedman was an out-patient at the GW Medical Center Department of Psychiatry from 1992-1996, during the tenure of psychiatry department chairman Jerry M. Wiener, M.D. The late Dr. Wiener was an internationally- recognized expert in psychiatry and psychoanalysis. He served as President of the American Psychiatric Association in 1994 and was a past president of The American Psychoanalytic Association. Dr. Wiener, like Robert Strauss, was a native of Texas and attended the Baylor College of Medicine in Waco.

VERNON JORDAN. One of three executive partners of Akin Gump, along with Robert Strauss. (I don't know the identity of the third executive partner).

Close friend and confidant of former President William Jefferson Clinton (1993-2001).
Serves on the board of trustees of Howard University. Strong interest in education issues.
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON. Actively involved in Middle East Peace negotiations. His administration negotiated a blueprint for peace, the so-called Wye Accords. National Security adviser Samuel ("Sandy") Berger was formerly a partner at the law firm of Hogan & Hartson, where Gary Freedman was employed from 1985 to 1988.

President Clinton's attorney in the Paula Jones case was Robert Bennett, Esq. at Skadden Arps. The legal assistant administrator at Skadden Arps was Freddie Rios (1991- ), Gary Freedman's supervisor at Hogan & Hartson (1985-1988).

Skadden Arps employs as an attorney Michal Barak Lotenberg, Esq., the daughter of former Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak.

Robert Bennett's brother is William Bennett, a highly-literate individual and author, and former Secretary of Education.

Robert Bennett also represented Henry Zapruder in litigation with the United States government concerning the ownership rights to the famous Zapruder film of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Zapruder's daughter, Alexandra, has been romantically involved with Craig W. Dye, since 1988.

CRAIG W. DYE. Romantically involved with Alex Zapruder, daughter of tax attorney Henry Zapruder. Employed as a paralegal at the law firm of Hogan & Hartson, beginning in 1986. Worked closely with Hogan legal assistant administrator Freddie Rios in 1986-1987 on the firm's furniture inventory, in preparation for the firm's move from 815 Connecticut Avenue to Columbia Square. Dye was Gary Freedman's best and perhaps only friend (for a time). Dye has a master's degree in international relations from Johns Hopkins University. Dye scored in the 99th percentile on the law school admission test(in 1991) and was admitted to the leading law schools including Harvard, but declined to attend law school.

EHUD BARAK. Former Prime Minister of Israel. Negotiated the Wye Accords during the Clinton Administration.

Fluent in English. Earned master's degree in systems analysis from Stanford University.
Trained as a classical pianist.

Three daughters, one of whom practices law at Skadden Arps (Michal Barak Lotenberg), where Robert Bennett is a partner.

HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II. Fluent in English. First pope to visit Israel (1999?). Met with Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

Polish-born Cardinal. As a young student, was interested in drama and literature. In school days he acted with an amateur theatrical troupe and participated in poetry readings and literary discussions.
Avocations included acting, theater, and playwriting. At age forty (1960), while a priest, the future Pope wrote a play titled "The Goldsmith Shop," which tended toward symbolism, metaphysical, and poetic presentation and was critically acclaimed for its very modern and sophisticated approach to stagecraft.
Well, breathtaking, isn't it, buddy. There's no doubt in my mind. The Pope knows me, and has read my works. He's one of my fans. So much for the Mad Monk's denials. If nothing else, I think this presentation shows that I'm not making up my beliefs. I really believe what I say, because it all works out at a Micro-paranoia level.

Here's the interesting thing. Dr. Bash was convinced that I made up the whole story because when she asked me: "Why do you think all this is going on, all this surveillance? Why is it going on?" I answered: "I don't know." Dr. Bash said: "That tells me you are making up this whole story about the Pope and the Prime Minister of Israel, because every other delusional patient I have ever worke with has been able to say why he believes his in delusions. You can't tell me why you believe what you say you believe. So I have to conclude that you're making these things up."

Well, now I can say why I believe what I believe. This doesn't mean it's actually happening. But I think it establishes my bona fides. I believe--I sincerely believe--what I say I believe because it makes sense to me in terms of the connections of the parties. And we know that's the way my mind works. I am driven, by the nature of my cognition and my paranoia, to link up people and events, to look for symbolic meanings, to investigate people's backgrounds, and to see connections. Crazy as my ideas are, they have their roots in my cognitive style--the need to associate ideas and people, to link up "like with like"--and to see connections between myself and people in my environment.

Again, I realize this is all part of my psychopathology, as I told David Callet years ago. (David Callet is from Pennsylvania, and like myself attended Penn State. That means something, right? We also are very literate individuals with a high level of integrity. We're both "virtue-a-holics." Obviously, David Callet would have a special interest in me. -- Now, of course, that's a little humor, but not just humor.)

The fact is, I can't prove that my ideas about the connections between people are real, or that people have some connection to me. But I think I've established my bona fides, based on what we clearly know about the nature of my personality. I compare, and I link up ideas and people.

In answer to Dr. Bash's question: "Why do you believe this is going on?" I will say: "I believe this because of the nature of my cognition, and the fact that I need to link up my immediate surroundings with people and issues on a grander scale. My real-life connections to Craig Dye and Freddie Rios and my more tenuous links to Robert Strauss and Vernon Jordan link up, at a much more tenuous level, with Prime Minister Barak and the Pope. My mind just expands ideas outward--from the most immediate to the most distant. I wonder if Dr. Bash can accept this explanation?

Be that as it may.

I was doing some reading about the Pope. Funny thing. He has things in common with my old buddy Hardy-Ames Hill. Hardy's mom died when he was ten years old. I think it was a defining event for him. I think his integrity as a person and his idealism can be traced to his psychological struggle with his mother's death.
And don't you know! The Pope's mother died when little Karol was nine years old. He must have been a sensitive child (you can see his artistic temperament in his interests and avocations, going back to his schoolhood days). He must have been really affected by his mother's death.

And oddly enough, he has things in common with Hardy. The idealism. "To thine own self be true." The leadership qualities. "In high school I played soccer, tennis and I swam. I always swam. In my senior year I captained all three teams." Then on the TV reality series "Big Brother" you could see the leadership qualities and the mentoring of the other contestants--and his need to protect the weaker players.

I remember what Hardy said to the other houseguests when he won the Head-of-Household position for the second time (by the way, he holds the record on that show for earning the title three times): "If anyone thinks this Head-of- Household thing has f-----g gone to my head, just stop me in my place and fucking tell me. I ain't better than any of you's guys."

Buddy, can't you just hear the Pope saying that to the College of Cardinals?

Check you out later, Brian. It's been great, buddy.

P.S. You think Shelly Cohen at Morgan, Lewis and Bockius knows nothing about this? He's a GW trustee and Henry Zapruder's old tax law partner at MLB. And of course, Shelly Cohen knows Gene Lambert, Esq. at Covington & Burling, another GW trustee. Give me time and enough computer space, and I could link up the entire world!

By the way, don't tell Shelly Cohen that I haven't filed a tax return in years. He's the former IRS Commissioner. The IRS is just about the only federal agency that hasn't investigated me at one time or another. Let's keep it that way.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

A Law School Reunion


Hey, buddy. What's up?
I got a letter yesterday from my old law school, Temple University in Philadelphia. They're holding a reunion for the classes of 1982, 1983, and 1984. I graduated in 1982. Here's something we could do together, buddy! Interested?
Reunite, Rekindle, Reunion 2004. It's being held on Saturday May 22, 2004. There's going to be a full open bar, music by DJ (who's DJ?), Hors D'oeuvres, auction of old library carrels (now that sounds exciting!), and complimentary parking in Liacouras lot.
Liacouras lot. Peter Liacouras used to be a law professor at Temple. He rose to Dean of the law school, then President of the University. He's now emeritus. He was Dean of the law school back when I was a student. I remember the school held a 50th birthday party for him back in 1981. I remember Professor Reinstein (now Dean Reinstein) saying that Liacouras couldn't believe he was 50; I know the feeling. (I was taking a course in Constitutional Law backing 1981. Reinstein had just returned from Washington, having completed a stint at the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, in the Carter Administration). I later took a course on Employment Discrimination Law (my specialty!) with Professor Reinstein. Eva Bleich was in that class: an old friend of mine. Frau Bleich's father was a Berlin Jew; both her parents were concentration camp survivors. Frau Bleich's husband, Robert (originally a mathematician), was also a lawyer.
President Liacouras knew my sister. Back in the late 1960s, when my sister was an undergraduate at Temple, she worked part-time as a secretary at the law school's unit in law and psychiatry. She was "Estelle Freedman" back then.
Maybe Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert can give us a ride up to Philly. President Swygert used to be a law professor at Temple Law School back in my student days.
Be that as it may.
I had my penultimate session with my psychologist at GW yesterday. Just one more session, next week (May 24, 2004), and I'm done baby, I'm done!
Indira Gandhi--as I call her affectionately--had some positive points and some drawbacks. She was a nice person. Very intelligent. Thoughtful and introspective. She was noncoercive, unlike many of the therapists-in-training I've seen in the past.
But there was a basic incompatibility between us. I just found her style (and this was me, not her) vapid and vacuous. There was a basic meaninglessness about the enterprise from week to week. I never got to build, or create, a narrative. I would come in, sit down, make a few comments. And it was like Pimlico: "They're off and running." She would start asking questions. She would keep asking questions till we got to the stretch. Then we'd reach the finish line. We went nowhere fast, as they say. Each and every week.
Then the whole process would start up again the nest week. No critical mass ever developed. There was little continuity from session to session, and little synthesis of ideas within a session. That's disturbing for me. I live--absolutely live--for continuity and synthesis. Example: look at my letter yesterday. I attempted to show how each detail was a metaphor, and the cluster of details could be seen to be interrelated at a metaphoric level. Now that's analysis! That's the work of analysis, my friend.
The themes yesterday were fraud, corruption, deception, Watergate, The Dreyfus Case.
Mayan Art, French Impressionistic painting, the huge marbleized columns in The National Building Museum, Watergate, The Dreyfus Affair. On the surface, these ideas (or issues) have nothing in common. But as metaphors, they tie together. The thing in analysis is to take the patient's free associations and find a common denominator.
Mayan Art: a metaphoric "veneer" of civilization that concealed a society living at the edge of an abyss, on the edge of the Central American Rain Forest. The few privileged persons at the pinnacle of Mayan society lived at the expense of the many who eked out an impoverished and disease-ridden existence.
French Impressionism: a metaphoric "veneer" of civilization that concealed a society at the edge of the abyss of World War I. The few privileged persons depicted in the paintings lived at the expense of the many who eked out an impoverished existence, working 16-hour days in factories and mines under horrible conditions, with no legal protections--as Professor Reinstein will attest.
The Huge Marbleized Columns at The National Building Museum: a literal veneer of plaster and paint that concealed thousands of bricks that formed columns that held a huge structure in place. The columns are a metaphor for fraud and corruption, giving the appearance of marble, when in fact they are faux marble. The columns support a huge structure of bricks, just as a large corrupt enterprise is supported by a deceptive appearance of legality. RICO. Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization. A corrupt organization whose illegality is plastered over--"marbleized" as it were--and supported by the machinations of a sizeable column of persons ("a mob of bricks," as it were).
Watergate: Burglary; illegality; small enterprise concealing a larger corrupt enterprise; deception; concealment; corruption leading to the highest level of government.
(Incidentally, Robert Reinstein can tell you the story of a law school buddy of his who was once interviewed by President Nixon during Nixon's days in private practice (with Len Garment) in New York, in the mid-sixties. The buddy wasn't hired, but Nixon gave the kid a souvenir "Vice-President" pen.)
Dreyfus case: Treason; illegality; small enterprise concealing a larger corruption; a racist society; a society depicted in the art of the times as one of ideal beauty.
Yes! That's the work of analysis. But it takes ingenuity to see the patterns of thought in a patient's concrete observations and anecdotes. Inexperienced therapists get caught up in the details. "Bricks, paintings, burglary? What is this patient talking about?" Inexperienced therapists don't know how to just shut up and listen. They don't get the larger picture. The larger impressionistic canvas, as it were.
In the end the patient is blamed for lack of progress. "He talks about inconsequential facts. He blathers on and on. It's not my fault that the patient doesn't progress. He doesn't talk about his feelings. He doesn't talk about important issues." But of course the feelings are embedded in the ideas the patient talks about. The patient is not necessarily aware of those embedded feelings. When the patient talks about "bricks," or "burglary," the feelings have to be brought to the surface by analysis. And analysis itself is a process of looking at the details, but not getting caught up in them. You need to look at the details as small, minute expressions of larger entities--larger structures of thought and feeling. In fact, analyzing a patient is like analyzing a corrupt business. "Why, we just sell pizzas. Nothing more. Look at our books. Check our suppliers. What do you think we are, the Corleone Family?" Indeed!
But most of that cannot be taught. It's a style of thinking. To be an analyst, the individual-in-training has to have a pre-existing disposition to look at the world in a certain way. The trainee has to have a cognitive style that permits--or more, requires--him or her to look for ever-larger structures in the flotsam and jetsam of the patient's ideational productions. And that cognitive style cannot be taught. The trainee either has that ability, or cognitive style, or not.
Now, yes, many patients talk in a flood of feeling. Sometimes, however, those are the most severely-disturbed patients. That's one of the ironies of therapy. Sometimes the most severely-disturbed patients are the ones who are easiest to treat, in a sense. Such patients immediately launch into feelings, castigation and neediness. The therapist cannot help but see the problem. The patient is obviously distressed and expresses that distress in a summons for help. "Please, please, doctor, I am in pain. Help me. Oh, you never help me. You take my money, but you do nothing. You just sit there." The patient is dependent, and that dependency shows.
Ironically, a more highly-developed patient can be harder to treat, precisely because of his complexity and structuralization. Typically, there tends to be more reserve, more tolerance for pain, more highly-developed capacity for symbolization in the more psychologically-mature patient. It's not always easy to discern the problems. (Metaphorically, like the real Corleone Family, the deception rises to the level of an art in the psychologically-complex neurotic). The therapist can very easily get lost in the "maze" of symbol and metaphor--the "bricks and marbleized columns" of the patient's narrative, as it were.
Here-see for yourself.
Primitive patient:
"This weekend was a pure horror. I felt alone, abandoned. I have no friends. I gazed out the window. Passers-by walked down the street. Couples walked hand in hand. People who had other people. Happy people. It's as if the entire world is made up of happy people. People with friends. While, I, alone in my apartment, sat depressed, aimless. Desperate really. I live on the edge of despair, doctor. You don't help me. You never help me. You are worthless, doctor."
Inexperienced Therapist's Report to Supervisor:
"Patient is lonely and depressed. Patient seems to be on the brink of despair. Suicidal ideation cannot be ruled out, though patient did not talk about harming himself. Patient needs support and re-assurance. Patient needs to be shown alternative ways of viewing his situation. Patient is compliant and cooperative, and talks freely about his feelings."
More Structured Patient:
"I went to The National Gallery of Art this weekend. I visited the Mayan Exhibit and an Exhibit of Small French Paintings. Then I went to the National Building Museum, and gazed at the huge marble columns. I was lonely and depressed. But seeing these things took my mind off my problems."
Inexperienced Therapist's Report to Supervisor:
"Patient denies his feelings. Patient is mired in details and circumstantiality. Patient discusses anecdotes, with little insight into his feelings. Patient undoubtedly has feelings of shame about his social isolation, but is unable to talk about his feelings because they threaten his fragile sense of narcissistic integrity. Patient needs to talk about his feelings in a supportive setting. However, this needs to be done in a careful manner. Clearly, patient is easily threatened by insight into his underlying distress. Patient's fragile sense of self could easily collapse in the face of a too-rapid and too-deep exposition of the underlying causes of his psychic pain. Patient tends to be uncooperative and noncompliant with the therapeutic process. He tends to become defensive and angry when confronted with the vapid quality of his narrative."
Right! Guess again!
There's something so frustrating about my therapy with non-analytically-trained therapists. It's like going back in time -- five years, ten years, twenty years -- in my mind, only to come to rest on a parking lot. Like a car parked on a parking lot in the inner city. I feel I never get beyond that.
Janet Malcolm puts the whole issue so clearly and fully in "Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession." She quotes a seasoned analyst's reflections on his treatment, years earlier, of one of the patient's he worked with early in his training. The psychoanalyst has the insight and integrity to see that the limitations and problems were his own, not necessarily those of the patient.
Malcolm writes: "[The patient] went on and on, berating me for my coldness and passivity and indifference to her sufferings--and that was the true beginning of the analysis. But I didn't know it. I sat there cowering under her anger and irked with her for not knowing that what I was doing as I 'just sat there' was classical Freudian analysis. I found her in every way disappointing. I had expected a patient who would free-associate, and here they had sent me this banal girl who just blathered. I didn't understand--I was so naive then--that her blathering was free associating, that blathering is just what free association is. Worse than that, I thought I had to instruct her on the nature of her unconscious. I would laboriously point out to her the unconscious meaning of what she said and did. Only after years of terrible and futile struggle did it dawn on me that if I just listened--if I just let her talk, let her blather--things would come out, and that this was what would help her, not my pedantic, didactic interpretations. If I could only have learned to shut up! When I finally did learn, I began to see things Freud had described -- to actually see for myself symptoms disappearing as the unconscious became conscious. That was an incredible thing. It was like looking through a telescope and realizing that you are seeing what Galileo saw." Malcolm at 70-71.
My wish. My fervent wish. Listen, you chorus of therapists out there! Could you all just let me drive around, take a look at the sights, and stop directing me to the parking lot! Meaning is disclosed by the succession of scenes that can be seen from the car window, and not by sitting in "park" in the place of your choosing, you leeward-chorus of therapists!
Check you out later, buddy. You're a good listener, Brian. Has anybody ever told you that?
P.S. Just because it's now legal in Massachusetts, don't be getting any funny ideas, Brian.
P.P.S. Angela Purnell runs a real professional organization up here at Tenley. You could learn a few things from her. It's quiet and professional up here. A quiet place to think and reflect, the way a library should be. A couple of weeks ago I told her about my problems with you. I said: "Do you know Brian Brown?" A spontaneous and genuine smile flashed across her face: "Yes, I know Brian." Apparently Ms. Purnell is an FOB.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Monet, Manet, Tippy-Tippy Day Day


Hey buddy. How was your weekend? My weekend was as vacuous as usual. My life is lived in my mind. I wander the highways and by-ways of my mind, with little concern for what transpires beyond the border of my blood-brain barrier.
Although I've written innumerable letters, many of them among the tensest and most poignant ever written, I have been little more than an unimportant bachelor to my contemporaries, a recluse, a nobody. I am undoubtedly aware of the sharp originality of my work, but I refuse to think of a publisher and, during my lifetime -- to date -- only one of my letters has found its way into print. That was a letter I wrote to "The Daily Collegian" in the Winter term 1974, at Penn State. It concerned the issue of organized labor. It was pro-labor. I regard publication as "the auction of the mind." and, secretly trying to perfect my daringly unorthodox missives, I hide the writing from all but a few privileged eyes. Consider yourself a privileged person, buddy.
My weekend repeated in large part my weekend last. I ventured out to The National Gallery once again. This time to see the exhibits I missed last weekend. I stopped off to see the exhibit of ancient Mayan art. It is the art of a lost world. It's peculiar when you think about it. A group of people, a collection of tribes in Central America, for a brief moment in history, rose to glory out of the tropical rain forests and created lasting monuments to their culture--only to succumb to the ravages of war, degradation of the environment and disease, finally retreating back into the rain forests from whence they came. Some law firms are like that, you know. A handful of lawyers get together, form a partnership--the firm grows to glorious heights, then withers and the partnership is dissolved.
While at the Gallery I perused the collection of small French paintings. Impressionistic paintings. I've seen the exhibit before. But it never ceases to delight. The paintings depict a lost world of elegance and grace. But that society was rotten to the core, really. What the paintings conceal are the ravages of uncontrolled economic exploitation--child labor, the mines, factories where people worked 16-hour days, six days a week. Not to mention the corruption of the French Third Republic, which reached the culmination of moral decay in the Dreyfus Affair of the 1890's. And then when you stop to think that this was the very society that immediately preceded the catastrophe of the First World War! It's really a fool's paradise in a sense. All you see in those paintings, really, is a fragment of a society, window-dressing, no more. Those painters certainly had a perspective on perspective, but had no perspective on the social problems of the day. I, too, loose perspective gazing at those enchanting scenes of life's most charming moments: a faux paradise.
There's an odd parallel between the exhibit of French paintings and the Mayan exhibit. The Mayan exhibit shows the art of courtly life. But what of the common Mayan, living at the edge of the rain forests, eking out an existence, fighting a never-ending battle with tropical diseases and the ever-present threat of famine. So too the French Impressionists depicted, unknowingly, a world at the edge of an abyss.
Don't you think those French painters had to have been near-sighted? Monet, Manet, Tippy-Tippy-Day-Day? The paintings all seem to have been painted as through a fog. Another oddity. The paintings comprise an exhibit of "small French paintings." The pictures were painted by artists no more than five-feet high, I guess. Impressionistic Lilliputians. Small French paintings painted by small French painters. Toulouse-Lautrec is a case in point. A case of stunted-growth -- poor Toulouse. A pathetic genius.
I also paid a visit to The National Building Museum. Have you ever been there? It's a rather bizarre architectural creation. The huge columns are a fraud, by the way. They mimic marble. But of course, they're faux marble: they're really plaster-covered brick columns painted to resemble marble.
They're a convincing fraud, though. Architectural RICO, as it were. They're totally believable in their deception until you begin to think about the fact that there are no seams in them. If they were marble, they would be blocks of marble with seams. The faux marble is continuous from floor to ceiling, a dead give-away. No marble columns that size could possibly be one large block of marble without a break. I'm sure Ellen--architectural maven that she is--would notice that scam immediately.
I suppose the building gives you some idea of what the ancient baths in Rome looked like in their day. I guess you've been to the Baths of Caracalla in Rome. Shame they weren't preserved for future generations. Perhaps St. Peter's gives some idea of the breadth and feel of what the ancient baths must have been like.
In any event, The National Building Museum is like walking into a Seinfeld episode. Instead of a coffee table book about coffee tables, you're confronted with an architectural curiosity about architecture: a building about buildings. I'm sure that's where Larry David got the idea for the coffee table episodes, don't you think, buddy?
You know The National Building Museum started out as The Pension Building. Now there's a complex symbolism! When I entered the building I thought: how fitting! Faux marble confronts the faux disabled-worker on disability. No--that's just a little attempt at humor. I'm in fact disabled. Make no mistake about that. And if there was ever any question about the bona fides of my disability claim, well, just ask your friends on the Metro D.C. Police. They know I'm disabled. William made that perfectly clear to the officers. Then there's Dr. Cooper and Dr. Taub. Dr. Meghana Tembe--otherwise known as Indira Gandhi. Virtually everyone is convinced that there's real insanity lurking behind the "paint and plaster" of my columns. Everybody except Dr. Israela Bash, The Mad Monk. I think The Mad Monk is still wedded to the idea that I'm basically functional: silly woman.
Do you think you and William are in the clear about the scam you pulled on the Metro Police? I wouldn't count on it. Anybody with half a brain could see that the whole thing smells.
First of all, I'm alleged to have engaged in the dastardly crime of icon manipulation and the lesser-included offense of icon tampering. William represented this to the Metro Police as if it were a heinous crime, a dastardly act, reeking of depravity. Yet at the same time quite seemingly-ingenuously -- or should I say insouciantly - William denied that he or you, Brian, were aware that I had been tampering with the icons for the entire previous twelve months. You see the problem? Just how serious can the act be (the act of icon tampering) if you can engage in the conduct, undetected, for a 12-month period. It doesn't take a Sherlock Holmes to see that your position is untenable. The ineluctable conclusion is that you and William knew about my icon tampering (and said nothing--which is the conclusion I've reached) or one must conclude that you and William were completely unaware of my act of icon tampering and that that conduct is absolutely trivial, certainly not warranting a six-month ban from the library.
You can't have it both ways, chappie. "Oh, yes, officer, we never noticed that he was tampering with the icons for the last twelve months, but indeed it' a dastardly offense that caused us endless trouble for the last twelve months." Now, really, Brian.
But I guess that's why you and William are librarians and not rickets scientists. Or is that rocket scientists? I always get the two confused. I'm planning to make the most out of this situation. Wait till I send a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft. Yes, that's my latest game plan. DOJ.
Dear Attorney General Ashcroft:
I want to assure the Office of the Attorney General of the United States that I am cooperating fully in an icon-tampering investigation conducted by the Metro D.C. Police: Officer J.E. Williams and his partner. The putative offense was reported by Mr. William Dacosta at the direction of Brian P. Brown, on April 21, 2004. A preliminary investigation by Mr. Brown disclosed that I had been engaged in the act of icon manipulation (and the lesser-included offense of icon tampering).
Rest assured that I am keeping Officer Williams apprised of all material evidence pertinent to the issues of fact placed in controversy by Mr. Brown. And I will continue to do so. I can do no less.
These issues include the following: (1) I am in a dark place; (2) I suffer from clinical depression; and (3) I have not been taking the medication that was prescribed for me by my physician, which I am legally-entitled not to do. Mr. Brown determined that these facts were incompatible with my continued patronage of the Cleveland Park Branch of the District of Columbia Library.
Believe me, I understand the seriousness of the allegations made against me, particularly the act of icon manipulation (and the lesser-included offense of icon tampering), and will cooperate fully in any investigation carried out by the U.S. Department of Justice. I understand that the Justice Department may be setting up an icon-tampering task force, owing to the gravity of this offense, and that my case might very well serve as a test case for the issue of federal jurisdiction.
I have previously been investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, the Federal Protective Service, and the U.S. Capitol Police. These agencies will attest that I cooperated fully in their investigations.
In order to assist the U.S. Department of Justice I am advising that I have set up a "Web Site" that contains a collection of letters and other documents pertinent to this matter. I am sure that this documentation could very well be invaluable in any investigation carried out by the Department, including the Icon-Manipulation Task Force. I will be contacting the Federal Bureau of Investigation (Director Robert Mueller) as well as members of Congress whose legislative responsibilities encompass the acts described above (namely: dark spaces, depression, and engaging in acts that are permissible under the law).
Thank you very much. Again, I pledge my full cooperation.
Gary Freedman, Esq.,
Buddy, I'm sure the Metro DC Police are going to love this. I mean absolutely love this-- in a manly way, I'm sure. I have a fantasy about this whole matter. Something that struck me about scandals from the past.
Do remember how the whole Watergate scandal started? It started out as a routine police matter, within the purview of the Metro DC police. The apparent evidence was that there had been a burglary, a common, garden-variety burglary, at the Watergate. In time, and with the ingenious and dogged persistence of two "Washington Post" reporters -- namely Woodward and Bernstein -- the burglary was seen to be a small growth in a larger cancer. A cancer on the Presidency of the United States, as presidential counsel John Dean put it. There's something about that notion that just grabs me, and links up with the deepest recesses of my unconscious fantasy life.
How ironic that it could very well be a trivial and routine police matter that busts this whole thing wide open. And what do you think your future in the DC library system will be once your role is exposed? Do you think "The Powers That Be" down at the Home Office will take kindly to your act of rendering the D.C. government liable to a multi-million dollar lawsuit? I think not, my friend.
Then there was the Dreyfus Case in France at the end of the 19th century. The so-called Affair.
Remember that? How do you think that whole thing got started? It all started with a nosy cleaning lady working the night shift at the Section of Statistics of the Office of the French General Staff. She used to read the trash that the French generals used to toss in the circular files. One evening she came across a curious, a very curious document. It was the so-called "bordereau"--literally, as Barbara Gauntt will translate--a laundry list. It was a laundry list of top-secret French weapons and other issues of military interest that had been issued by the German embassy. It was the memorandum out of which the Dreyfus Affair would emerge. Yes, beware of night-time security guards and bored cleaning ladies; those are the morals of both Watergate and the Dreyfus Case.
How did the famous Bordereau fall into the hands of the Section of Statistics? The "official" version, from which the Ministry of War would never depart, was that the precious document had been found by Mme. Bastian in the wastebasket of Maximilian von Schwartzkoppen, the German military attaché, and passed on to Commandant Henry, no doubt on the evening of September 26.
And the rest as they say is history.
I'm gonna make you famous, buddy. You might end up unemployed and destitute, but you'll be famous. Can you ask for anything more in life? Impoverished immortality!
By the way, I've been keeping Officer Williams apprised of the full dimension of the icon-manipulation case. I suppose I have a civic duty to keep the police informed of facts pertinent to conduct on my part that threatens the very core values of Western Civilization.
A barrage of letters to attorneys in the Criminal Division of the Justice Department should cause quite a flurry, don't you think? Remember Watergate? The Cubans? You may very well be known to posterity as the Irish-Catholic whose discovery of icon manipulation (and the lesser included offense of icon tampering) led to the downfall of The Waltz King and his merry dance band.
Check you out later, buddy. Gotta take my medication.
P.S. I told Officer Williams that I think "Schreber-like" dynamics underlie your fears about me--your fear that I might be dangerous. Quite frankly, I'm flattered. But just keep your hands to yourself, buddy!

Friday, May 14, 2004

Pharmacological Fulminations


Hey, buddy. How's it goin'?
No long Joycean letter today, replete with interminable ruminations and reflective free-associative introspection.
Just wanted to let you know that I'm free this weekend. My girlfriend is out of town. If you want to get together, just ring me up, buddy. You know I'm always here for you. Though, in truth, I may not be all there for you.
Maybe you could get some of your buddies together, and we could play some softball. Tim Norton, the front-desk manager in my building, plays softball; he's always a reliable ringer. Warning though -- you'll have a lot of explaining to do with your friends when they see that I throw like a girl.
I wanted to advise you of something about my medication. I started taking anti-psychotic medication on March 17, St. Patrick's Day. Dr. Cooper, my psychiatrist, prescribed Zyprexa (Olanzapine) after my psychotic breakdown the day before (March 16th) (Pat Nixon's birthday).
Dr. Cooper didn't prescribe any refills. The medication ran out. So I'm not on any anti-psychotic medication. I know I told you I had stopped taking the medication just before my "arrest," on April 21, 2004. And indeed that was true. But the evening of the arrest, I was so hyped-up that I started taking the medication again -- until a day ago.
The thing is I'd like to undergo evaluation before I start up on anti-psychotic medication again. There are assessment protocols that are used to evaluate the indications and effectiveness of anti-psychotic medication. As you probably can guess, psychotic thinking is characterized by specific, identifiable warps in thinking. The effectiveness of any anti-psychotic medication can be evaluated by looking at the amelioration of those specific and typical warps in thinking.
I was reading that in the clinical evaluation of Zyprexa, the following protocols (see below) were used to obtain a baseline of psychotic thinking (in the test subject's unmedicated state) and comparison readings at various dose levels of the drug.
I thought it would be useful if I were to take the very same tests that were administered in the clinical trials of Zyprexa. Even Dr. Henry Barbot, my current treating psychiatrist, said to me at my last consultation that I need psychiatric evaluation of my current mental state.
Be that as it may.
The following are the tests that were deemed useful in evaluating the psychotic thinking and amelioration of psychotic symptoms in the clinical trial of Zyprexa, the anti-psychotic medication that I had been taking. See Physicians Desk Reference, 57th ed., 2003 edition. Entry for "Zyprexa" at page 1877.
1. Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS)
2. Clinical Global Impression (CGI)
3. Positive and Negative Symptoms Scale (PANSS)
4. Scale for Assessing Negative Symptoms (SANS)
Subjects who were tested after medication showed a statistically-significant improvement over baseline measurements, using the above protocol.
Personally, I suspect that the protocol would show no improvement in my case upon administration of Zyprexa. I have never shown any improvement in delusional thinking. And in fact it is recognized that antipsychotic medication tends not to affect fixed delusional systems of longstanding duration.
There was no change in my psychological, or ideational, preoccupations while I was on the Zyprexa. If you review documents that I've written, such as my letters to you, I think you would agree that you can see no difference in the letters when I'm on the medication as compared to when I'm not on the medication.
Now, my view of the other meds I'm on is totally different. I'm also on antidepressant medication: Effexor. It's very effective in maintaining my mood; it increases my anger threshold (I can take a lot more crap and not get angry while I'm on the med); and it decreases my ruminations and my obsessive thinking. Believe me, buddy, when medication works, I can see that it works, and I'm enthusiastic about taking the med. I have nothing but positive things to report about the various anti-depressants (SSRI's) I've taken since 1999.
Same goes for the minor tranquilizer I'm on: Xanax. Xanax--like Ativan, another drug of the class benzodiazepine--is effective as a hypnotic and also at reducing my level of agitation. I get very good results with the benzodiazepines and am enthusiastic about them.
But the Zyprexa just doesn't do anything for me. Plus, it makes me very fatigued. I feel like I have congestive heart disease when I'm on Zyprexa; even walking is a strain. And you know how important physical exercise is for me.
I think psychological testing (see above) would bear out my point of view that there's no objective evidence that Zyprexa (or Abilify or Risperdal--the drug William takes) has any therapeutic effect on me.
In any event, give me a call buddy. We can get together and talk about the Indian elections. Gandhi's back, baby, she's back!!
Or we can talk about my current thinking; my current strategic thinking. I was pondering the possibility of talking to your supervisor, Barbara Webb. Or Grace Lyons, The Americans With Disabilities Act Coordinator. But to tell you the truth, as Gandhi would say, I'm thinking it's best to keep this grievance I've got against you going at full throttle. I now have a rationalization to send letters now and then to the D.C. Police, keeping them apprised of the issues that you, my friend, placed in controversy about my mental health and stability. If I got my library privileges back, I'd have no legitimate reason to stay in communication with the good officers who saved you from possible carnage and mayhem (I'm being literary, of course).
Here's the thing, buddy. The Police can protect you from violence, but who will protect you from non-violence. That's Gandhi's Truth.
See ya.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Earth's Constricted Life


Hey, buddy. I pen you another missive from my constricted cell--my six-by-eight foot writing hut--attired in the metaphorical garments of the prisoner-of-fantasy that I am.
How are you bearing up under the strain of our falling out? Breaking up is so hard to do, they say. Of course, I've never used a cell phone. (Who would ever call me?) So I have no experience with breaking-up. But I've heard about the phenomenon. Not pleasant, so I hear.
Breakup or not, my epistolary relationship with you continues. Did you foresee that? Did you foresee that I would continue to communicate with you by letter, or did you assume these letters would stop with the end of our physical relationship? Oh, the questions! So many questions.
Did the British authorities anticipate that jailing Mohandas K. would transform a garden-variety Indian malcontent into the future Mahatma? Did "The British Powers That Were" foresee that Gandhi, from his prison cell, would pen the blueprint of Indian autonomy? Probably not.
With me, as with others of my ilk, you always have to take into account the uncertainty principle. One never knows how I will react to a stimulus; and how my reaction will stimulate others, in turn, to act. I suppose that when I was terminated from my position at Akin Gump--(the world that dances to an interminable three-four rhythm)--The Powers That Be assumed that I would continue on my way, pick up a job at another place of employment and never be heard from again. Little did they know or foresee that I would assume the identity of a One-Man Warren Commission, turning my job termination into the crime of the century, assuming the role of Dick Tracey without portfolio--tracking down the malefactors who had denied me a place on the dance floor while the band played on: Um-pah-pah, Um-pah-pah.
Mortality and Immortality. These themes have plagued me since the end of last year, when I turned 50 years of age. What have I accomplished, what remains for me, how will future historians--the Michael Beschlosses and Doris Kearns Goodwins of this world--treat my legacy? Will my work be treated fairly, objectively? Or will my name be blackened by the "nattering nabobs of negativity," as Spiro Agnew would put it?
Like all great men, or potentially great men, I ponder and I worry about my legacy. I ponder how future generations will see me. Future generations must know-I must see to it that they know--how I lived, how I suffered, how I survived. They must know my thoughts, and the ego structure that housed those thoughts, as Stanley Greenspan--the Levittown of psychoanalysts--would say.
Do you wonder about these things, buddy? Do you wonder about your own legacy? I suppose the childless individual is more likely to ponder, and be preoccupied with, his place in the future than those persons who are fortunate enough to have sired biological heirs. Persons who have children see those children as carrying on their seed, and rightly so. For them biological continuity and biological destiny tend to subsume concerns for historical survival. One has a son and assumes that that one individual, at least, will, in the narrowest literal sense (but also in the wider metaphorical sense) "say Kaddish."
I didn't say Kaddish for my father. Where would I have found a minyan? It's hard enough--a near impossibility, in fact, for me to find a single other--let alone nine others who will share some physical space with me. And for that association of ten men to continue for an entire year is beyond the realm of possibility. In fact, my uncle--my father's older brother--arranged that Kaddish be said for my father.
I always wondered about that. About my father's mindset. He had a son, but what did he expect of that son? I had no Jewish education. My Jewish observance was virtually non-existent. What did that mean to my father. A man raised in an orthodox background looks to the son--at least one son--to carry on his name: in the narrow (and in the larger metaphorical sense). Certainly in the real, literal sense, my father passed on little if anything to me to carry on.
But in the realm of fantasy--unconscious wishes, conflicts and prohibitions--as they say in Levittown, perhaps my father passed something on to me that I carry as a burden (not as a cross, to be sure) but as a burden. The lumber, shingles and fixtures of the mind--as Stanley Greenspan would say. Psychoanalysts believe that, you know. The parent passes on to the child not simply conscious beliefs and behaviors, but also the underlying "blueprints" of unconscious mental life.
According to the analysts--and I've read this in Meissner and Erikson--unconscious beliefs, values, and fantasies from generations past will be passed on to future generations. Perhaps for me the burden of the past is so powerful, in some consciously-unrecognized way, that that cause, that burden, that responsibility outweighs any concern I might have about my own personal, biological immortality, and any responsibility I might otherwise have for biological procreation. It is, perhaps, as if The World of My Fathers have spoken: "You will be our servant. You will do a great deed, not for yourself, but for us. You will tell the story of our Wandering. You will pass that story on to your fellows and future generations. That--that--will be your life, that will be the purpose of your existence. You will have no children. You will devote your creative energies to The Word. Our Word. Do this, our son, and you will do all that is required of you!" Perhaps that is my responsibility, my destiny, and my legacy. "You will preserve in Words the World--the unconscious mental World--of your Fathers. And for that deed you will be blessed, Our Son!"
In this sense, I suppose, I resemble the Designated Survivor: for the Designated Survivor "The Word" vitiates the imperative of physical generativity. Perhaps it is this role--the role of transmitter of The Word--that dominates my anguished and tormented existence. At some deep level of the unconscious, properly speaking, the Superego, as Erikson would say, I live out the role of one who knows, who understands, who possesses a gift and responsibility for transmission of The Word. The Word of "The World of Our Fathers," in Louie Howe's phrase.
Knowledge and Memory. These are my tasks, perhaps. To know and to transmit The Word. My physical task will be complete upon publication of The Word. My physical existence has one purpose, and not to procreate my kind, but to preserve The Memory of the Past--the World and experiences of those who have passed. That is the sole task of the Designated Survivor. What is the Designated Survivor? Despairing of physical immortality in the form of continuity of the generations--biological immortality--the elders imposed on one individual the duty to survive for one purpose alone: to communicate The Word.
Suffering. I suffer my role, if that be my role. I seem to live for one purpose alone. That role is instinct with duty and guilt. I feel the burden no less than Goethe's fictional creation, Faust. But while Faust saw no purpose to his torment, I see purpose in mine. To wit: to turn dross into gold--to give permanence to the insubstantial, to transform the idiosyncratic into a universal medium of exchange. Faust despaired because of his lack of awareness. He saw his pain as personal and therefore devoid of value. He gained the ultimate transfiguration at the point he became parable, a parable of universal significance. The alchemist of matter became the "alchemist" of the universal human struggle. The dross of Faust's human existence was transformed into the gold of universal meaning: but only after Faust's death.
My suffering is Faust's suffering. "In every garment, I suppose, I'm bound to feel the misery of earth's constricted life. I am too old for mere amusement and still too young to be without desire. What has the world to offer me? You must renounce! Renounce your wishes! That is the never-ending litany which every man hears ringing in his ears, which every hour hoarsely tolls throughout the livelong day. I awake with horror in the morning, and bitter tears well up in me when I must face each day that in its course cannot fulfill a single wish, not one! The very intimations of delight are shattered by the carpings of the day which foil the inventions of my eager soul with a thousand leering grimaces of life. And when night begins to fall I timidly recline upon my cot, and even then I seek in vain for rest; savage dreams come on to terrorize. The god that lives within my bosom can stir my inmost core; enthroned above my human powers. He cannot move a single outward thing. And so, to be is nothing but a burden; my life is odious and I long to die." Thus said Faust. But Mephistopheles replies: "But somehow death is never quite a welcome guest." And isn't that true!
Goethe wrote: "Man errs so long as he strives." Another truth! Attempt to change your lot or even carry out a task, and you will fail. Allow the stormy seas of life to carry you, and eventually you may be carried back to shore. Am I becoming too philosophical, or perhaps too bathetic for your taste? I have a strong bathetic side that I try to conceal with humor. Yes, humor--but there's little humor in this letter, I admit.
Brian, people say to me--they stop me on the street and say: "Don't you despise Brian for what he did to you? Calling the police and all that? The embarrassment of being caught out as an icon manipulator, or perpetrator of the lesser-included-offense of icon tamperer? Yes, I despise that. I hate you for that. But I see you as my Mephistopheles. A devil, but not simply a devil. I see everything that comes my way in life as an opportunity. You, buddy, summon the darker forces, like so many before you: but that--that--compels me to light a candle in the darkness of my cell (May I admit that I am in a dark place?) How's that for a novel turn of metaphor? Eh, buddy?
I no longer struggle against the current. I've learned, like Goethe, that it's pointless to fight the tide: to attempt to strive. Let the current take you where it will. Let the devil tempt and destroy. I will make an opportunity out of the infernal forces you, and the other powers of darkness, foist on me. I remember President Nixon's ruminations in the darkest days of Watergate, when "The Great Resigner" faced the real--all-too-real--possibility of criminal conviction and imprisonment. He opined: "Some of the greatest political writing has been born out of the experience of the prison cell. I will be like Gandhi. I will welcome my imprisonment as an opportunity to create--in words--a new vision." Yes, that's what Nixon told Garment--Garment who was so constricted in the legal options he could offer his client, the President. "There are worse things than jail," Nixon said. "There's no cell phone there. There is, instead peace. A hard table to write on. The best political writing in this century (the 20th century, to be sure) has been done from jail." Nixon mentioned Lenin and Gandhi to his lawyer, Leonard Garment.
Here I am imprisoned in my cell, my writer's hut, my one-room closeted compound--and I play with words. Perhaps not great words or ideas. But who knows where these meandering thoughts will lead. I face the currents and let them carry me to unknown shores. More bathos! But not mere bathos!!
Yes, I'm in a bathetic -- if not pathetic -- mood.
So how will future generations remember me? Let's say one of your kind--a librarian of this wicked world--a librarian of the 25th century were to write my biography. What would he say? How would he open the account of my sordid life?
Perhaps you can "bank" on his "opening the account" as follows:
IN EARLY TWENTY-FIRST-CENTURY America there lived a man who was one of the most gifted and abominable personages in an era that knew no lack of gifted and abominable personages. His story will be told here. His name was Gary Freedman, and if his name--in contrast to the names of other gifted abominations, Saddam Hussein's, for instance, or Kim Jong-Il, Osama bin Laden's, The Waltz King's, etc.--has been forgotten today, it is certainly not because Freedman fell short of those more famous blackguards when it came to arrogance, misanthropy, immorality, or, more succinctly, to wickedness, but because his gifts and his sole ambition were restricted to a domain that leaves no traces in history: to the fleeting realm of icon manipulation and the dark world of the hard-drive. (Pace, Patrick Suskind).
Yes, Brian, that will be my legacy. I am, and will forever be remembered as, an icon manipulator--a shameless and tactless icon manipulator and hard-drive tamperer. And you found me out. You discovered my lack of Icon Tact.
But I had an intimation of your discovery--the discovery you made that would lead to your act of perfidy in calling out the law against me. Yes! Tuesday April 20 ("The Day Before," so to speak), a date which will live in infamy, I noted your lack of Eye Contact. I knew you knew. I sensed the impending disaster. I knew the jig was up.
Like the Big Jew in the Sky, I knew I was about to be betrayed by my own Apostle. The Apostle of Doom. Say what you will about my lack of icon tact, buddy, but I've always had the guts to look you straight in the eye. I always make eye contact. Can you say the same?
Who knows, Brian? Maybe a great friendship will be born out of our legal tussle. Did you know that for Gandhi, opposition and conflict were sources of friendship? Claire Hirshfield will bear me out on that. The chief concomitant of "non-violence" for Gandhi (what Gandhi call "Satyagraha," or truth force) was loyalty to the opponent. You must tell your opponent what you are going to do, precisely and without the faintest deviation from fact. ("I am in a dark place. I will not take medication. I will avenge my pain and suffering.") You must accept your opponent's course of action, which you yourself have foreseen and chosen. Did you think that I--Freedman--didn't know that there would come a point in time when you would react to my provocations? Are you that naive, silly boy? For Gandhi, asking the maximum penalty from the authorities was a form of this. You must never deceive your opponent or take unfair advantage of him. He must always be aware to the full of what you intend. He is, in fact, your friend, from whom you are temporarily separated by a disagreement, but you must never forget that he is your friend. It has often been noted that many of Gandhi's opponents--jailers, policemen, detectives, jail doctors--(perhaps even librarians)--became his greatest friends.
How sad, I must say, that the two bothers who interrogated me--the two African-American policemen--could not see the similarities between me and my struggle, on the one hand, and, on the other, the tactics employed by Martin Luther King, Jr.! It is so sad, really. The police I dealt with seemed to take offense when I, just like Dr. King, offered a hand of friendship to them. They didn't even seem to know of their own heritage!
Do you think my comparison of myself with the Mahatma and Dr. King is a tad overdone? Well, I'm a grandiose narcissist. That's how I earn my living. By my psychopathology. Some make their way in the world by their wits. I make my way by illness.
Well, buddy, it's time for me to move on--to the leering grimaces of the life that await me.
See you later, Brian.