Monday, September 27, 2004

The Art of the Flim-Flam


September 27, 2004

Hey, buddy. What's up, big guy? What's the long and short of it?

I don't have much on my mind this week. This will be a short. Yes. What they call in Dan Glickman's trade--the film industry--a documentary short. It's some old history with a new twist. I guess you could say Glickman has become the Master of the film industry, while I, for my part, spend my days mastering the art of the flim-flam.

This past week I've been busy with my campaign. The current phase of the campaign is direct mail. Gotta get out the vote, as the politicians say. I'm serious about getting a job. Really. I know nobody really believes my motive is to get a job, but actually my motive is twofold. If someone calls me for an interview (quite frankly, if someone is crazy enough to call me for an interview), sure, I'll go. And I'll take it seriously. On the other hand, if my campaign's sole effect is to settle some old scores, that's fine too. It's a "win-win" situation. Anyway the nonstop campaigning is keeping me active. It is so f***ing boring when you're not running for anything. Ask Bill Clinton.

Would you believe it? I actually did get a reply from one of my correspondents. They replied despite the crap I put in my job inquiry about the protective order, the mass homicide, the house arrest by the Secret Service, and all the other sordid details including the sexual thoughts. I got a reply from The Legal Aid Society, dated September 23, 2004. The legal director, Eric Angel, wrote me: "Thank you for your letter applying for an attorney position with The Legal Aid Society. Please be advised that we do not have any staff attorney positions available at the present time. We greatly appreciate your interest in the work of The Legal Aid Society and your commitment to public interest law. If we have future openings, they will be advertised on our website,"

Sure, it's a form letter, but I see it as legal insurance. If somebody complains about my letters, I'll show them Eric Angel's letter. I'll say, "You complain my job inquiry is a pretextual prank, a nuisance, but The Legal Aid Society took it seriously. What do you make of that?" Like I told Jesse Raben sometime late in the last century, "Get Met, It Pays." You need insurance. You can't live without insurance. There's a partner at Covington & Burling who is on The Board of Trustees of The Legal Aid Society -- Jan LeMessurier Flack, Esq. (no relation to Roberta). C&B is Eric's firm, that's Eric the former D.A.

I met with The Mad Monk last Wednesday, September 22. Her recommendation is that I should return to CPK when I'm allowed to return, and not to play games with you. I told her about my plan not to return immediately, but, rather, to leave a telephone message and ask you to call me. I know you're not going to call me, buddy. But I gotta play games; everything has got to have a gamelike quality for me. It's part of my psychopathology.

Anyway, Dr. Bash is taking the next two weeks off for the upcoming Jewish holidays: Sukkoth and the rest -- the Jewish harvest festival, to be precise. By the way, do you know how former Clinton Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman celebrates Sukkoth? He doesn't build a Sukkah; he creates a safe haven for crop subsidies.

Tell Earl and Malcolm (or Malcolm's son, in the event Malcolm really retired) that I plan to keep writing letters. They know how to get me to stop writing letters. Make me an offer I can't refuse. And you, Brian, you. You know what you need to do. Dial 362-7064 and say: "Freedman, get your ass down here. We're going to lunch!"

The Mad Monk was working really hard at our last session, trying to pump me for information about my campaign. At least that was my impression, my paranoid impression. Of course, she didn't say anything directly, but the cues were all over the place. She wanted me to tell her that I'm sending out letters, so, of course, I kept my mouth shut. What do people think I am, an idiot? That I can't tell when I'm being manipulated. Whenever I sense I'm being manipulated, I do the opposite thing.

That's how I got to be where I am today! A total success in the world of "Psychosis by Estoppel." Yes, I'm a master practitioner in that little understood legal maneuver. You lock opposing counsel into an admission that you're psychotic, then he's stuck, as in some grotesque Chinese finger gadget. I locked Dennis Race into "Psychosis by Estoppel." He can't deny I'm a crazy homicidal maniac, because he's never denied it before, when he was given a chance. I just wish Chuck Ruff were still here to see the fruits of his good works, the harvest of a long--oh, so long--growing season. If only Chuck Ruff had survived to see the celebration of this "Sukkoth."

The fact is I can't talk to Dr. Bash. She reduces everything to the nominal, the degraded, the undifferentiated. She denudes everything I tell her of any specificity; she drains my concerns of all nuance, and fits my narrative into neat, simplistic, conventionalized categories. With you, buddy, it's different. I tell you everything. Everything that's on my mind. You and I share something that I don't have with Dr. Bash, and never will. Speaking metaphorically, Dr. Bash is like my wife in a childless, loveless marriage -- a marriage that is nothing more than an arrangement. You, on the other hand (on the other hand!), are my mistress to whom I direct my secret and deeply felt longings in these e-mails. Do you have any idea what I'm talking about, buddy?

Give you an example. I told The Mad Monk last Wednesday that I idealize, and obsess about, the unattainable; but I turn away from the real, the world of objective reality. Dr. Bash's interpretation? "It's safe for you. It's safe for you to live in a world of fantasy. The real world poses risks for you that you would rather not confront."

That's all true. I can't deny it. But it is so simplistic, so conventional. That interpretation, Dr. Bash' interpretation, drains my feelings of all nuance. The accretions of a lifetime of experience that constitute my personality, the levels and layers of meaning in my psychological world, are hammered uneasily -- but with deceptive verisimilitude -- into a Procrustean bed of the conventional.

You, Brian, do not simply reflect my accommodation to fear. You are "The Sum of All Fears," but also the sum of all idealized imaginings. You represent my accommodation to the frustrating, tormenting, punishing object; but you also reflect my specific accommodation to the idealized, the longed for, and the ultimately gratifying. In my relations with you I express my psychological limitations, but I also realize, to some extent, my creative capacities.

You represent the pleasure principle but also what lies beyond the pleasure principle; you are a manifestation of my need to repeat the past, a past of idealized longings and tormenting frustrations. The repetition compulsion. Have you ever heard of it? This complex and little-understood principle of human functioning advanced by Freud has been variously discussed as a death instinct, as an atavistic return to the stereotyped behavior of insects (Yes! Insects!) or as a perverse "fate neurosis." The thriftiest hypothesis, Erikson's hypothesis, states: " . . . the individual unconsciously arranges for variations of an original theme which he has not learned to overcome or to live with: he tries to master a situation which in its original form had been too much ("Too Much!") for him by meeting it repeatedly and of his own accord." It must be added that in the complexity of human development it sometimes happens that the experience of the "original situation" is lost sight of, no longer comprehended, and thus only the unsuccessful maneuvers devised to cope with the underlying problem are externally repeated to no avail.

In my case, what is the theme? What are the variations?

You are the lost object, that I long to regain. You, who do not even exist in my real world, are nonetheless alive and at times ideal. But you are also the betrayer, the abandoner, the individual against whom I vent my rage. My loss will not be assuaged. Here I am Joseph Conrad.

You represent the world of everyday events and people that is infinitely appealing to me. And yet, you also present the image of an object that is overwhelmingly threatening. The best I can do in relation to you, to keep my tumultuous and unstructured fears at bay, is to withdraw from you and from the everyday world: retreat rather than merger consistently characterizes my efforts to establish satisfying relations with you, or anyone, or to settle on a career. Here I am Van Gogh.

You reflect my profound belief that happiness is a myth and that attachments bring nothing but pain; one day they must all be relinquished or they become too draining. The outcome of such philosophy of life is to lead to withdrawal, similar to Gustave Flaubert's, into my inner world. Hence, the inability to reach happiness through external reality and involvement with others, including you, Brian, is my main problem, as it was Flaubert's.

You are the absent Mother who, out of my capacity for creative dissociation, I am able to imagine. You are the ideal that I long for in place of the real mother. Here, I am the potentially creative infant. Note that this is a capacity, not a limitation. The individual who suffers from borderline personality disorder is unable to imagine, or derive satisfaction from imagining, the idealized Other.

I am Goethe's Faust who stumbles between enjoyment of the real and a desire for the unattainable; and in the throes of enjoyment yearns for more of the unattainable.

My friendships seem fixed in a pattern; my sadistic friend lies, teases, and abandons; he gradually withdraws from the friendship, leaving me in a state of excitement and fury. I feel repeatedly that only the current, forsaking friend can bring fulfillment (which no friend in the past had been able to do--as in Proust, only the unavailable is idealized). My compulsive and repetitive masochistic object choice (repeating the soul murder from my childhood in attenuation) makes me one of those unfortunates who follow one of Samuel Butler's characteristically twisted quotations: "'Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have lost at all." See Leonard Shengold, Soul Murder at 129.

The intensity with which I have entered into my largely epistolary friendship with you, buddy, must be a reflection of my disappointment with reality and my need to seek an idealized friend who exists only as a projection of my own needs. For me, as for Freud, the ideal friend has to be an extension of myself.

Yes, these are the variations. It is safe for me (yes, "safe," as Dr. Bash would have it) to live alone and isolated, yearning for an Other. But there is more than this. There is a diffusion of identity to accommodate--as Glickman would put it--an inner "gallery of characters," and there is a detached "witnessing" of the entire process. Put to creative use, such a "gallery" may issue in the career choice of writer, actor, screenwriter or any other artist. Or con artist. For with less good fortune, a self-effacing, indecisive chameleon emerges, with a chronic sense of weakness, suggestibility, fraudulence, or hypocrisy -- in short, the "flim-flam artist." I have ultimately known all these uses of my extraordinary capacity to empathize, that is, my ability to imagine the Other.

In any event, The Mad Monk and I talked about you at my last session, as we always do. "Do you still think about Brian?" "Yes, Dr. Bash." "What do you do all day?" "I lay on my couch." "What do you think about?" "Brian. I lay on my couch all day, stare at the ceiling, and think about Brian." When I'm not on the campaign trail, that is.

Incidentally, did you know I actually gave up my weekly six-pack of Molson Ice, so I could have some extra change for postage, for the direct mail campaign? Yes, I'm that serious about getting elected. I actually stopped my weekly visits to Robbie at Cleveland Park Wine and Liquor to fund the campaign. It's in our nation's interest, of course. I gotta get elected!

I told Dr. Bash why I like you. I said that someone once said to me that I only like people who remind me of myself. "And how is Brian like you?" I told The Mad Monk: "Brian is arrogant, he's bossy. He's also someone who, when he speaks, you have the feeling he says things you should listen to. He's not a chatty person, and when he talks he expresses himself well -- he says substantial things." I might have added that I find your earnestness endearing, buddy. You are so serious about you're little portion of the universe. Whenever I see you, I keep thinking of a chapter from Erik Erikson's biography of Martin Luther, "Young Man Luther" -- the chapter titled: "The Meaning of 'Meaning It'." You have that quality of "meaning it," of taking things seriously, of being earnest: of being an earnest young man. It reminds me of myself.

Of course, you didn't have the earnestness to call the cops on me. You had William do that for you. Although you're earnest, I guess I'd have to say that you lack the courage of your convictions, so to speak. In the end, I suppose, one could say that you're left with nothing but attempted convictions.

May I be permitted a digression?

Brian, you're a librarian. I always wondered how you relax after a hard day at the bibliotheque. Do you relax with some reading material or a beverage? What I'm saying is, for you, is it "book or tea?"

Be that as it may.

Acting. It's an amazing craft, don't you think? How do those actors pull it off? Actors, really good actors, that is, project such incredible credibility. Outstanding actors, those few who can fool all the people all the time, are able to portray widely divergent roles with convincing ease.

The following is my audition tape for the lead role in "The Enraged Psychopath." What's interesting is that before I did the audition, Dr. Bash was always trying to get me to go back to work. "It's a sin in the Jewish religion not to work." After the audition she's barely mentioned my getting a job. Before the audition Nicole Rafanello (supporting actress) said I seemed comfortable with my life, and denied that I was psychotic. Debra (the lead female) solicited comments from one of the group members about my appearance of malingering. One of the group members, a bright fellow with a Wharton School business degree (and a West Point graduate, no less), said I was just in group "to keep the checks (the Social Security checks) flowing." Notice how no one asked: "Why was it so important for the auditioner to have the security guards summoned, why did he want the incident documented in his chart, why was it important to him to be assessed for commitment to St. Elizabeths?"

Notice how the audition tape altered the course of my career in show business. Before the audition three psychologists -- Drs. Bash, Rafanello, and Kosch -- had raised substantial questions about my employability. They stated I was non-psychotic or employable.

But that was before the audition. After the audition, I had Debra and Nicole convinced I was psycho. The Mad Monk told me that after the audition, Debra and Nicole actually asked her if she thought I might be dangerous. So convincing was my performance that the very next day, March 17, 2004, Dr. Bash recorded in my treatment plan that I had been told by Dr. Cooper (on the morning of March 17) that I had paranoid schizophrenia -- a rare accolade from one of the real pro's, believe me.

Actors! It's a gift. Ask Glickman and his former partners. Acting and the rewards it brings are truly a gift.

Anyway, the audition landed me a starring role, just about a month later, in "The MLK Maniac," directed by J.E. Williams. "The MLK Maniac" has weathered almost six months at the top of the charts! "The MLK Maniac," in turn, has led to my current career in politics, and here we wonderfully are -- in the midst of Campaign Season. And I'm not even Austrian!!


March 16, 2004

Dr. Cooper

I suffered a severe psychotic decompensation at the beginning of my group session this afternoon, March 16, 2004, with Nicole Rafanello and Debra Kosch, both psychology interns at St. Elizabeths Hospital. Debra Kosch is working on her Ph.D. at GW.

I got into a loud, disruptive argument with the group leaders. I did not become violent. I was asked by Debra and Nicole to leave the group room. I declined to do so, and I requested that security guards be summoned to escort me out of the room. I thought it was important that the incident be documented.

The argument was triggered when Debra and Nicole request that I discuss my threat to contact the U.S. Attorney's Office about their handling of group.

I had left a telephone message with Nicole and Debra stating my concerns about group members being permitted to speculate about whether I was malingering. One group member ([name redacted]) had said that I was simply in group "to keep the checks flowing."

The immediate cause of my rage was Debra and Nicole's action in denying that [name redacted] had ever made such a statement.

I met with Henry Barbot, M.D. who filed a form in my chart summarizing his consult with me. Dr. Barbot determined that I did not pose a risk of violence.

I had earlier referred to the hypothetical possibility that I might have a gun on me in connection with a discussion the previous week in which group member [name redacted] talked about putting a gun to the roof of his mouth and blowing his brains out.

The group was kept an additional five minutes last week so that the group leaders could determine that [name redacted] was not suicidal (March 9, 2004).

I also referred to a gun in connection with [name redacted] statement, made at a prior group meeting: "Gary, if someone were to hold a gun to your head, and ask you what you were getting out of group, what would you say?"

I stated to [name redacted] my concerns about his references to gun violence. I said: "Certainly if someone wrote a letter to the President stating: 'Mr. President, if someone were to put a gun to your head and ask you . . . ' the Secret Service would have concerns. I believe I have a right to be concerned about references to gun violence when they are addressed to me."

I have several concerns:

1. I believe I should not have been referred for group in view of the severity of my illness.

2. The group leaders' 30-minute chat prior to the initial meeting was inadequate to determine my suitability for group.

2. Dr. Bash's observation that I am simply fabricating my illness is blatantly wrong. Dr. Barbot confirmed that my illness is in fact severe. He discussed with me the possibility of my commitment to St. Elizabeths. He said it is his opinion that I suffer from a fixed delusional system of long-standing duration.

4. I feel that Debra and Nicole were not following with due diligence the deterioration in my mental condition during my 5-week participation in group. Nicole said at one meeting that I appeared to be "comfortable" with my life. My life is in fact one of lonely desperation.

5. An additional stressor for me in the past week was that my imaginary friend Brian was on vacation, and I missed my imaginary chats with him.

6. I have documented my experiences and feelings in group. My thoughts and feelings were memorialized by me a brief time after each group meeting on computer disk.

7. My decompensation in group appears to confirm the sworn statements of Dennis M. Race, Esq. at the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld (my last employer) that I am unable to function in a group setting. Mr. Race terminated my employment as a paralegal in late October 1991 after determining in consultation with a psychiatrist (Gertrude R. Ticho, M.D.) that my thinking was consistent with mental illness that might be associated with a risk of violence. My direct supervisor, Christine Robertson, after consulting with Mr. Race, advised her employees that I might have been homicidal, and arranged to have the office suite's lock changed. The D.C. Corporation Counsel affirmed to the D.C. Court of Appeals that my coworkers at Akin Gump had formed genuine concerns that I might have been armed and dangerous during my employment (1988-1991). You may contact Mr. Race at (202) 887-4028.


5:30 PM 3/16/04

I swear, under penalty of perjury relating to false statements to a D.C. employee and under Social Security Statutes and rules, that the above statement is true and correct.


P.S. Check you out next week, buddy. "I'll be back!" as they say in Sacramento.

P.P.S. Wish Sheryl Dyner a happy 51st birthday for me. Sheryl Dyner: Penn State, B.S., Biology, May 1975. I wonder if she knew I had sexual thoughts in the workplace?

Monday, September 20, 2004

A Topical Depression


September 20, 2004

Hey, buddy. What's up, Mr. Brown?

I don't have anything to write about this week. I'm in a topical depression. It's that time of year. Generally around mid-September I run out of topics to write about, like the topic of terminal illness or the topic of Capricorn. I'm a Capricorn, by the way. In any event, this time of year I run out of topics. Hurricane season and all that.

We'll soon be passing on from storm season to the full swing of campaign season. This is an election year after all. I've been perfecting the art of the Reverse Kennedy. No, that's not a gymnastics move devised by the University of Dublin athletics department. I'm referring to the 1960 presidential campaign: Nixon v. Kennedy. The Irish-Catholic John FitzGerald Kennedy waged a campaign to win the hearts and minds of a skeptical electorate--millions of voters who had never before elected a candidate for President whose roots were Roman Green. Those were the days before Mohawks and punk rockers. Today, in 2004 I (as I do every week) come before you to seek the support of one, just one, Irish Catholic. And I'm not talking gubernatorial politics.

It was good seeing you AGAIN on Friday morning on Connecticut Avenue. You should have waited for me to cross the street. We could have chatted about the upcoming election--politics presidential and all that. We've had some scintillating conversations over the years, haven't we? I couldn't help but notice you were wearing the same shirt on Friday morning that you were wearing on Monday morning. Maybe I should find myself a gay friend. At least they have some fashion sense.

Maybe, in the end, it was for the best that you banned me from the library for six months. Maybe I'll end up finding myself a job. I've been spending some time every day writing letters to prospective employers. Letters of inquiry about employment. One of these days I might get lucky.

I've been giving some thought to what I'm going to do when, in late October, I'll be allowed to return to the library. My current thinking is not to return. Sure, if you call me (202 362 7064) we can get together. We can always get together. Hang out. Go to lunch. Whatever.

For now, though, I think it's best if I concentrate on finding myself a job. That's important. And the Metro police said I should be doing more with my life than just hanging out at the library. They said I should be teaching. Did William tell you that? Yea. They said: "You're highly intelligent. You're a highly intelligent person. You should be teaching. Why aren't you teaching?" I said: "I have severe mental illness." They repeated: "You should be teaching." A tad odd, don't you think? Telling a psychotic (I told them I had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and, of course, William filled them in on the fact that I wasn't taking my medication), telling a psychotic he should be looking for work as a teacher while in the process of issuing a protective order to the psychotic for making terroristic threats. As I like to say: "Only in the District of Columbia!"

I love the TV show "Cops." You ever watch that? It's on Saturday nights. Are you even home on Saturday nights? Or do you and the little lady do the club scene on Saturday nights? Of course, you can always tape it or TIVO it. I've been watching the show for years. I've never heard a cop tell a psycho freak who had just been accused of making terroristic threats that he's very intelligent and that he should be teaching.

But I take the police at their word. You can't just ignore the police. When they tell you to look for a teaching position, you better look for a teaching position.

I plan to look into that. With my law degree, I figure I might be able to teach law at one of the law schools down here. Georgetown, GW, AU, UDC, Catholic University. I plan to send letters to those schools (directing them to Dennis Race, of course) inquiring about how I might qualify to teach law at their law school. I'm thinking of sending a letter of inquiry to Gene Lambert, Esq. He's one of Eric's partners at Covington & Burling. He's a trustee of George Washington University.

And, of course, I'll tell Gene Lambert that I was directed to look for a teaching position by the Metro DC police. "Just following orders, Mr. Lambert." Isn't that what they always say?

The DC schools just got a new superintendent. His name is Clifford Janey. I think I'll write to him, too. I don't qualify to teach in the DC schools. Of course, I don't qualify to teach anywhere. But the police didn't take that into account. LOOKS LIKE THERE WERE A NUMBER OF THINGS THE POLICE DIDN'T TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.

In any event, Dennis Race is going to love this. Why, I was even thinking of sending out an inquiry to Dennis Race's old law school alma mater, Case Western Reserve University. I'll tell those folks I'm a paranoid schizophrenic who was directed to look for a teaching position by the Metro DC police. "I'm very intelligent, and I was told I should be teaching." The calls Dennis is going to get! But hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. Literally. You don't ignore the Metro DC police. Maybe Chief Ramsey could issue me a recommendation for a teaching position.

Verily, verily, everything has a gamelike quality for me. My life is meaningless. Why not have some fun? Then, of course, why don't you, Brian, give me some reason to act normal? You didn't do that in April. You went immediately to Plan B. You should have tried Plan A first. "Mr. Freedman, I know what you do on the computer, and I want you to stop doing it. No more letters on the hard-drive. If I see one more of your letters on the computer, I'm calling the police. You understand that?" Now, that -- THAT -- would have given me a reason to act normal. But your immediate deployment of Plan B put me into psycho-freak mode. Once I'm in psycho-freak mode, you've got problems.

Again, Brian, if you call me, I'm always here for you. It's true, if we were to get together, it might distract me from my job search -- my letter writing activity. But I'm willing to do that for you, buddy. Yes, if we get to be friends, it might jeopardize my future career in the teaching profession, but I will have made a friend. Feel free to do that. Feel free to destroy my future teaching career. I'm no Harold Bloom, and never will be.

I can just hear Dennis Race now: his reaction in late October. "I thought he was free to go back to the library in late October. Why is he still writing these letters?" Well, guess what, Mr. Race? I've decided to keep busy looking for a job, writing out letters of inquiry, instead of going to the library. Yes, if my buddy Brian gives me a call, that might distract me from my letter writing. But if Brian and I don't get together, it's just you, me, and your telephone, Mr. Race. You and Brian have given me no reason to act normal.

Be that as it may.

Are you picking up a touch of anger in my letter, Brian? I hope you are. Because that's what I'm feeling. I'm feeling hopeless and trapped. Though, as I said last week, I'm feeling less trapped than I did twelve years ago. Now I have my psychosis. I can say anything now. I guess my anger is a symptom of my topical depression. My letter writing is also a symptom of my topical depression. Hurricane season and all that. The letter reproduced below should end up creating at least an F-2 or F-3 political storm, don't you think? I love that term. The "F" scale. Gotta love that "F" scale!

Let's talk about matters gubernatorial: or matters latent gubernatorial, as it were. Check out the following letter.

September 20, 2004
3801 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008

Governor Tom Ridge
Secretary, Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC

Dear Governor Ridge:

I am an attorney, licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I am writing to inquire about entry-level attorney positions in the Office of General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

I am a disabled American and I invoke my rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act. I believe I have a duty to disclose the following matters.

1. On April 21, 2004 the Metro DC Police issued an order of protection against me on the petition of Brian Patrick Brown, manager of the Cleveland Park Branch of the DC Library. Brian Brown alleged that I had made written terroristic threats. The six-month order of protection bars my entering or loitering near said library under penalty of arrest and prosecution.

THIS WILL ADVISE THAT AT THIS TIME I CONTINUE TO SATISFY THE PROGNOSTIC CRITERIA THAT WERE DETERMINED BY THE METRO DC POLICE IN APRIL 2004 TO INDICATE THAT I AM AT SIGNIFICANT RISK OF COMMITTING AN ACT OF CRIMINAL VIOLENCE. It is likely that I will satisfy said criteria for committing an act of criminal violence in the future event I obtain employment with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The following four factors were the sole criteria considered by the Metro DC Police to conclude that I placed Brian Brown in reasonable apprehension that I might pose an imminent risk of harm to him and other staff, as well as patrons at the library.

On Saturday April 17, 2004, the branch librarian Brian Brown intercepted a letter I had written on the library's public access computer that discussed the following matters:

1. I suffer from depression;

2. I take or do not take psychotropic medication consistent with my legal rights under the DC Department of Mental Health "Consumer Rights Statement," which declares: "When you receive services from the Department of Mental Health or any facility contracted to provide mental health services or supports by the Department of Mental Health, you have a right . . . to take or refuse to take medication;"

3. I have feelings of anger about substantial compensable wrongs of defamation committed by my former employer (the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld); and

5. I use the DC Library's computer system consistent with its intended use, unless I am warned that any particular use is prohibited.

For these reasons, and these reasons alone, the Metro DC Police determined that I raised a reasonable apprehension of immediate harm as of April 21, 2004 that was sufficient to bar my access to a public facility. As of the writing of this letter, the status of the above-described risk factors has not changed.

The investigating officer is J.E. Williams, Badge 1226, Second District, telephone number 202 282 0070.

And so on, and so on.

Then I go into all the crap about the violence, the mass homicide, the forgery, the fabrication, the filing of false statements, the threats against President Clinton, the threats against Federal Officers in the U.S. Capitol. I do a "Full Martha" as they say.

What do you think? Will this create an F-3 or will it create an F-3?

What a life! Anyway, as I see it, the conditions on October 21, 2004 will be no different from the conditions on April 21, 2004. Well, one thing has changed. I learned that I should be a teacher. And for that, Mr. Lambert, you should be grateful. We'll see how that turns out!

Just what did William mean in April when he said to me, "We think you should take a break." A break from what? A break from reality? I've been doing that all right, buddy!

My point is, if I go back to the library -- without some statement from some government authority, either the U.S. Attorney or a D.C. official, declaring the order of protection void ab initio -- you could call the cops on me again. And this time I might end up somewhere I don't want to be. If I mention to you that I suffer from depression and so forth, well, you could just as easily call the cops again.

Hey, wait! That's another letter!! I was thinking of sending a letter to Leonard Becker, Esq. He's legal counsel to Mayor Williams. He used to be DC Bar Counsel. He's taking a break from his law practice at Arnold & Porter. Maybe Len Becker could declare the order void ab initio. If nothing else, a letter to Len Becker will create a buzz in the Mayor's office.

But more! There's another set of letters I can write. I could complain that the frivolous and defamatory accusations made against me impose a constitutionally impermissible burden on my ability to obtain employment in view of the fact that in order to invoke the protections of the Americans With Disabilities Act, I am required to disclose pertinent facts about my illness and disability. For example, arguably, I will continue to have a duty to tell a prospective employer that the fact that (1) I suffer from depression, (2) take or decline to take medication consistent with my rights under DC law (the "Consumer Rights Statement), (3) have feelings of anger about past substantial defamation, and (4) use public computers consistent with their intended use resulted in the following: an intelligent and unbiased library manager (namely you, buddy) concluded that I might pose a risk of imminent harm to persons in a public facility. That fear, namely, your fear, buddy, was affirmed as reasonable by the Metro DC police. I would need to tell an employer about that. I would say that if the nature of my illness is that it arouses such fears in a manager, just imagine the fears I evoke in coworkers who are not necessarily as unbiased, intelligent, or as knowledgeable about dealing with many different kinds of people as Brian Brown and the Police are. (It's like Pat McNeil said, quoting coworkers: "He must be crazy or something. He's always going to see psychiatrists." Or something!)

Basically, what the police have done is to affirm that my illness raises a "reasonable" apprehension of violence in other persons. It would be helpful to me if I could get the order declared void. Then I can say, "you see, my illness is such that people are IRRATIONALLY afraid of me. Brian was afraid of me. The police affirmed that he had a reason to be afraid. But they were all wrong. They all reacted irrationally." Don't you know, Brian, the only fear we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance? What kind of Irish Catholic are you, Brian, if you don't know that old piece of Democratic Party wisdom?

Yes, it all comes back to the Cicada Syndrome. I arouse fear in managers. I wonder what protections I can get under Federal law for the Cicada Syndrome? Bugger!

But, of course, if we get together, I probably won't be writing letters, and Dennis Race can get back to the job he was elected to do. It's your choice, Brian.

Check you out next week, buddy. I'll be looking for you on Connecticut Avenue.

P.S. Gotta love the "F" scale!

Monday, September 13, 2004

An Artist Manque


September 13, 2004

Hey, buddy. What have you been up to? I'm in the pre-Indian summer doldrums: that still-summer, almost-fall feeling -- that feeling of being neither here nor there. The feeling that accompanies faded summer hopes and the sight of withering sunflowers.

My thoughts go back twelve years to early September 1992. On September 8 of that year I had a psychiatric evaluation at GW, prior to commencing my ill-fated psychotherapy at that institution. That was so many psychiatric diagnoses ago! Those were the days when I suffered from manic depression. That was before the onset of my paranoid schizophrenia (in February 1996), the later spontaneous remission of that illness, the return of paranoid schizophrenia (in February 1999), the later spontaneous remission of that illness, and the emergence of my delusional disorder. And of course my narcissistic disorder has given way to schizoid disorder. Funny thing. After all these different diagnoses, I still feel the same.

I've concluded that all these psychiatric diagnoses are simply artifacts. Yes, they are artifacts of a sensitive, intelligent, curious and questioning mind that has the means and motivation to describe his various environments; family and employment environments that in both present and historical contexts have been disturbed. To really understand me, to grasp the nature of my experience one must consider it within its environing medium. One may study a plant, a sunflower, say, by separating it from the soil, sunlight, water, carbon dioxide, and other features of the environment in which it lives and is in perpetual exchange. Useful data may emerge from such a study, but they are incomprehensible unless viewed in the context of the sunflower's necessary environment. The very tissues constituting the sunflower have been drawn from the environment and cannot be understood apart from it. Likewise, the very stuff of experience, the ingredients of individual functioning is composed of relations with others, past and present, real and imagined.

The separation of a "personality" from its network of interpersonal configurations is merely a verbal trick, an act of "perverted ingenuity." The individual who describes a disturbed environment with insightful particularity will risk being seen as disturbed himself, if the essential nature of his environment is denied.

The initial assessment chart written in 1992 records that I felt "trapped and hopeless" at that time. My, how things haven't changed in the last twelve years! I still feel trapped and hopeless, though I have to admit I now feel a little more hopeless than trapped. Twelve years of psychotic illness have given me my freedom. I'm free to do and say things I'd never thought possible before. Twelve years ago at this time, I was still a naive babe in the woods. At that time I had not yet learned that I had been determined to be potentially violent by my former employer. I had yet to learn that my former supervisor was afraid I might kill her. You live and you learn.

In any event, though I feel hopeless -- though I'm convinced things will never change for me -- I have the freedom that goes with being psychotic. And for that I'm thankful. For me life is just one big joke. And you know why I'm free to feel like that? I'm crazy! And how do I know that I'm crazy? They (the paranoid "they") told me so. I also have the financial freedom that goes with my eligibility for Social Security disability, something that I never dreamed of qualifying for in the fall of 1992.

Why did things end up like this for me? I had so much going for me. I'm an artist, I suppose. Definitely a failed artist. An "artiste manque," as they say.

From my childhood years to middle age, I have been a solitary and lonely man. Repeatedly I have identified throughout my life with the miserable and the forlorn, and I have clung with a death grip to whatever person, place, or belief that seems the current answer to my anguished and ceaseless search for orientation and structure. You know that death grip well, don't you, buddy?

I was not an easy child. According to family lore I was indulged by "tender-hearted parents" but still proved "troublesome and self willed." Schoolmates who knew me before I was twelve, years later particularly remember my apartness: "He did not play like other children but read all sorts of books insatiably. . . . He liked to go by himself on many long walks across the fields. . . . He went off on his own for most of the time and wandered for hours alone around West Oak Lane and even quite a long way from that Philadelphia neighborhood." My sister recalls that as I grew older I was "perfectly unconscious of having distressed his parents in that he never joined the happy family group, never met people, but always sought solitude." Struggling constantly with melancholia, I as a child and man was an observer rather than a participant.

As an adult my dream of happiness has posed an insoluble paradox. At the same time as I see the world of everyday events and people as infinitely appealing, I see it as overwhelmingly threatening; every corner in the "dizzying tangle" of nature reflects my own internal chaos. The best I can do to keep my tumultuous and unstructured fears and longings at bay is to withdraw from social contacts, retreat rather than merger consistently characterizes my efforts to establish satisfying relations or settle on a career or a job of any kind. Only after committing myself to the art of psychosis -- psychosis, if done well, if done properly as psychosis should be done, is, after all, an art, perhaps the highest art -- did I seem able to overcome a pervasive sense of inadequacy and disillusionment; but even then only in the work of letter writing do I experience feelings of adequacy and fulfillment.

I recall writing to you, Brian, at one point: "The worse I get along with people, the more I learn to have faith in my work of letter writing. The daily work does not change, and it is less dangerous to be absorbed in it than to stare into the fathomless everyday. If I am alone--I can't help it, but honestly I have less need of company than of unrestrained letter writing, and that is why I am rashly purchasing paper, envelopes, and pens."

In point of fact, the above description is a paraphrase of some paragraphs from a paper on the personality of the artist Vincent Van Gogh. I guess Vincent didn't speak Hebrew. "Go to the synagogue, Vincent. You'll meet people. People at your level. You can make friends, I'm convinced of that -- as long as they are at your emotional level." I guess that was Vincent's problem. He should have invested in some Hebrew lessons; he could have saved an ear.

I really don't have much to write about this week, and that is truly sad for me. I need to write. To paraphrase Van Gogh: "The emotional support I derive from writing to you, buddy, has been a hedge or screen between a hostile world and me, and, comparatively alone, I can think with the necessary calm only about my letters and my thoughts are not extinguished by fatally overwhelming material cares."

The Mad Monk, the source of so much of my material these days, canceled my last appointment; she had to attend computer class. (I wonder if they warned her about the dangers of icon manipulation?) She's also canceled my upcoming appointment for this Wednesday for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. You see the irony, Brian? I'm a potentially violent psychotic, and yet The Mad Monk thinks nothing of taking two weeks off with a cavalier "See you when I see you" attitude. Only in The District of Columbia!

In any event, I'm running low on material. "Letter writer's block," I guess you'd call it. Though I did dash off a letter to Williams & Connolly (Ellen's old firm) about a secretarial position. It's been a lifelong ambition of mine to work as a secretary at W&E. Maybe I can take dictation for David Kendall, Esq., former legal counsel for Burpee Seed Co.

Actually, my ultimate goal is to goad Dennis Race into rehiring me. It was the intelligence you covertly provided me back in the summer of '92 that convinced me that it's doable. Do you remember how you and Debra went wild that summer, when I was sending out letters to employers per the requirements of the extended unemployment benefits law? "I want my name taken off that letter! I want my name taken off that letter!" You were re-enacting Dennis Race's temper tantrums. You made it clear (symbolically) that Dennis Race is vulnerable. Thanks, buddy. We make a great team, don't we? You for the acting, me for the brains. We're like Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David.

This Twelve-Year Exile has got to end sometime. I've never given up hope that Akin, Gump ("the lost object") will have me back. Yes, I long for reunion with the lost object. That's all I want. That's all I've ever wanted for the past twelve years. I want my job back. I figure, now that Glickman's gone, there's an empty office just waiting for me. Dan Glickman, as you know, is a former Akin Gump attorney and served as Agriculture Secretary in the Clinton Administration, where he was known affectionately as "the seed-Meister!"

What are my terms for a return to Akin Gump? No back pay. Just a starting salary that's competitive with the market. Remember: I was described as being "as near to the perfect employee as it is possible to get." Can you beat that?

Or, in the alternative, maybe Vernon Jordan could make some calls on my behalf. He's good at that. What I can't understand is this: one five-minute telephone call from the firm's former managing partner, Larry Hoffman, to any of the major firms in the city (and there are tons of them) and I could have been working the very next day after my termination, October 30, 1991. I just don't get it.

What I picked up from my old psychiatrist, Dr. Palombo, is that very early in my treatment in 1990, Dr. Palombo questioned Malcolm about why the firm didn't offer me an associate position. And Malcolm shot back with an earful: "This is a business. A law firm is a business. If we thought it was in our business interest to make him an offer, we'd do it. But it isn't in our business interest. A law firm is a business." Anyway, that's what I picked up. But, again, maybe that's my psychosis kicking in again. And make no mistake. I'm sick. And how do we know that? Because Dennis Race says so. That's how.

Just how was it Akin Gump's business for one of its partners to be calling corporations all over the country to locate a job for a former White House intern, otherwise known as the President's own personal seed repository? (WOW!!--that's a mouthful isn't it? "The President's own personal seed repository.")

The whole Monica Lewinsky thing. Figure that out! Yea. That was the last straw for me in a big box full of straws. I couldn't believe it when I heard about that. (Eric couldn't believe it, either. He was at a basketball game when he got a call on his cell phone. They told Eric about the whole thing while the Deputy AG was at a ball game.)

They kick me out onto the street, and I was a loyal employee -- then they have the balls to say that I was a homicidal maniac! Monica Lewinsky didn't even work for the firm, and they were scrambling all over the country for her. Yessirree, Bob. I will never get over that one. I've got a virtuoso collection of wounds and angers against that firm.

My hope for the fall TV season? "Extreme Makeover: The Law Firm Edition."

Check you out next week, buddy. Mind you, I have no plans to cut off my ear or any other part of my anatomy. By the way, it was really good seeing you this morning on Connecticut Avenue. "Hey, Mr. Freedman." Nice touch.

P.S. Dennis, I'm at 202 362 7064. Make me an offer I can't refuse. In President Jimmy Carter's hometown of Plains, Georgia, neighbors said of the one-time peanut farmer that after an hour you love him, after a week you hate him, and after ten years you start to understand him. I figure by this timetable you should have started to understand me in about October 2001.

P.P.S. Message for President Clinton: Stick with the non-fat yogurt. You have to watch it in Manhattan. A lot of places that advertise as non-fat aren't really non-fat. Ask Rudy Giuliani.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

None But The Lonely Heart


September 7, 2004

Hey, buddy. How goes it?

Labor Day: for me, a day of comparatively unproductive labor. A solemn day for the lonely heart. August has passed away "and another September" is upon us. This month will mark the sixty-fifth anniversary of the death of Sigmund Freud. Do you care, Brian? Does anyone even care? With the passing of his daughter, Anna, who in the Freud family is left to mourn him as she did? For the remainder of her life after her father's death Anna Freud, to quote Joseph Conrad, "carried her sorrowful head as though she were proud of that sorrow, as though she would say, I -- I alone know how to mourn for him as he deserves."

I still mourn the loss of my days at the Cleveland Park library, buddy. For me the loss of my library privileges at CPK was an overwhelming trauma. I don't think I ever worked through the loss. Each of these letters to you is a working through. It is my way of confronting my loss. I'll tell you what I feel, what I have always felt since that cruel day in April when I was escorted from the library: I struggle each day with feelings of betrayal and abandonment and concomitant rage toward you, Brian. I just don't understand what happened. It was all so sudden. So incomprehensible.

My obsession with you has not waned. Every week The Mad Monk asks: "Are you still obsessed with Brian?" "Yes," I say, "I'm still obsessed with Brian." And invariably, in one way or another, she adds: "Well, there are things you can do about that. You can develop other interests, make real friends. You know, if you make a friend, a real friend, you will give up your fantasy friendship with Brian. That's the way it works."

But I see my obsession with you in a different way. My emotional investment in you is my way of dealing with a lifelong struggle with an existential sense of loss; my obsession embodies a fantasy that someday magically some lost primal object will be regained. I see you in my fantasy as a real friend, an ideal friend -- not out of my present loneliness, but rather because my primal loss occurred at a time when my real, lived relations were with idealized objects. You, my friend, are what we call an atavism. My relations, real or imaginary, will always be an atavism: that is, unless I can get myself some "50-minute" Martinizing.

My tendency to loss and obsessive idealization--and my need to experience exile and the associated affect of misery (did you know, Brian, that in the German language the word "elend" means both "exile" and "misery?")--represent ends in themselves. I need to experience and re-experience these states and affects in order to, or in an attempt to, master them. My affects of obsessive idealization and misery are not simply artifacts of my present social isolation, as The Mad Monk would have it. These states and affects are part of my repetition compulsion. I need to re-experience abandonment, loss, and exile no less than Richard Nixon needed to re-experience crisis.

I am attracted to people who will reject me; I befriend people who will abandon me. Or else I will abandon them, but it's the same thing, really.

It's not easy for me to make friends. You know that. Someone like me can count on, at most, one close friend. But then, someone like me only needs one close friend, I guess: a "shadow," a complementary twin. But make no mistake. My social isolation is not simply the product of my introversion. My social difficulties are also attributable to the sheer perversity of my nature.

It's all so clear to me. I don't know why I never saw it before. There is no question about it: I am a willful, moody person who refuses to fit into society. Every so often I display the liveliness of my intellect. When highly stimulated I can be entrancing; my mordant wit sparkles and I overwhelm everyone with the audacity and richness of my sometimes somber inspirations. But basically I am incurable, for I do not want to be cured; I care nothing for coordination and a place in the scheme of things. I love nothing but my freedom, my perpetual disabled status, and prefer spending my whole life as the unpredictable and obstinate loner, the gifted fool and nihilist, to following the path of subordination to the hierarchy and thus attaining peace. I care nothing for peace, have no regard for the hierarchy, hardly mind reproof and isolation. Certainly I am a most inconvenient and indigestible component in a community whose idea is harmony and orderliness. But because of this very troublesomeness and indigestibility I am, in the midst of such a limpid and prearranged little world, a constant source of vital unrest, a reproach, an admonition and warning, a spur to new, bold, forbidden, intrepid ideas, an unruly, stubborn sheep in the herd and to my mind, this is the very reason you cherish me, isn't it, buddy?

Certainly there has always been a measure of pity in your relationship with me. My imperiled and usually unhappy state appeals to all your chivalric feelings. But this alone would not have sufficed to sustain our friendship; after all you have your official life overburdened as it is with work, duties, and responsibilities. I take the view that I am no less necessary and important in your life than William and Barbara have been. Moreover, unlike the other two, I am a dynamic element, a small open window that looks out upon new prospects.

So much for Hermann Hesse's description of Fritz Tegularius (and Friedrich Nietzsche) from the novel "Magister Ludi." You didn't think I wrote that, did you, Brian? The two preceding paragraphs are, in fact, a paraphrase of Hesse.

Be that as it may.

I propose that for the moment we should leave all these questions on one side and pursue our way further along one particular path.

Last Wednesday, September 1, 2004, I met with Israella Bash and Dr. Henry Barbot, my psychiatrist and Dr. Bash's colleague, at the D.C. Mental Health Center on Spring Road, and Dr. Bash, quite predictably, offered the same well-worn (or worn out) advice.

"You should go to the synagogue, Adat Israel," she said. "You'll meet people there. You'll make a friend. (You need some new blood in your life, as it were.)" As if my problems were simply social; as if my problems were simply a lack of social relations. As if my problems were simply "a lack of 'new blood'!"

When I lived in Philadelphia, during my law school days and after, I used to attend services sponsored by Hillel at the University of Pennsylvania. I attended Rosh Hashanah and/or Yom Kippur services there in 1980-1982 and later, after I moved to Washington in 1983, I traveled to Philadelphia to attend services at Penn in 1986-1992. Odd, don't you think? My traveling all the way to Philadelphia to attend services at Penn?

There's a large Jewish student population at Penn. Hillel holds High Holiday services at three venues: Reform services at the University Museum auditorium, Conservative services at Irvine Auditorium, and Orthodox at "God knows where."

I used to attend the Reform services at the auditorium of the University Museum. The University Museum is an archeological museum. The museum's collections include artifacts from the Near East, South America, and such. Maybe it's no mere coincidence that I was motivated to attend religious services (including Yizkor--Malcolm can translate, buddy) at an archaeological museum. Though to paraphrase Freud, sometimes an archeological museum is just an archeological museum. I certainly wouldn't want to attribute a negative meaning to a trivial fact. It's actually unlawful in some jurisdictions to attribute a negative meaning to trivial facts, did you know that, Brian? Ask Ellen.

Loneliness and loss. Loneliness and the structural consequences of loss at a vulnerable age. These are the issues that The Mad Monk confuses. There is a difference between a lonely child who creates an imaginary friend - a lonely child who may become obsessed with his imaginary friend -- and a child who is struggling with the structural consequences of severe emotional loss and who creates in fantasy an idealized substitute for the lost object.

The transient state of loneliness of the socially isolated child -- and the child's compensatory fantasies that may take the form of an imaginary friend -- can be cured by the child's establishment of real social relations. But for the child who suffers severe emotional loss, the consequences take the form of permanent structural changes of the ego; the child who suffers severe emotional loss will experience enduring patterns (or structures) of thought and feeling that have their origin in the trauma of loss. Regardless of the child's social adjustment, a fantasy system based on those structural changes will present a life-long challenge. The lonely heart is a transient state that can be cured by social relations; the structural changes resulting from emotional loss are a permanent state whose reverberations will be experienced and re-experienced throughout the individual's life.

A partial analogy can be found in general medicine, specifically cardiology. Restricted blood flow to the heart caused by blockage of the coronary arteries results in a transient state termed "ischemia." An ischemic state can be cured by restoration of normal blood flow to the affected tissue. There is no lasting damage. On the other hand, severe blockage of the coronary arteries, or near total blockage of blood flow, will result in myocardial infarction -- that is, death of tissue resulting in permanent damage to the heart muscle. The results are lasting structural changes to the heart muscle that take the form of scar tissue, the production of specific enzymes, and a disturbance in the electrical activity of the heart that can be measured in an EKG. It's as if The Mad Monk confuses a transient ischemic state with the consequences of a myocardial infarct. "Restore the blood flow," she says week after week, "and you'll be like everyone else." WRONG!

The lonely child struggles with the transient affects associated with the absence of social relations. The child who suffers severe emotional loss, on the other hand, struggles with the consequences of loss -- namely (and perhaps ironically), the psychological introjection of the lost object.

The lasting structural changes resulting from severe emotional loss in childhood have been studied in the case of the writer Joseph Conrad.

"The deaths of both parents before he was twelve was an overwhelming trauma for the young Conrad. As Wolfenstein (1966) has demonstrated clinically, a child is unable to mourn and to work through important losses if they occur before the central issues of adolescence--such as the reworking of the Oedipal struggle, 'the painful and gradual decathexis of the beloved parents,' and the establishment of an identity matrix--have been confronted. Feelings of betrayal and abandonment and concomitant rage towards the dead parent are crucial considerations in the child's failure to mourn. The introjected object (loved parent) may actually become hypercathected, contributing towards a marked denial of the loss and the formation of a fantasy that someday magically the lost parent will be regained (Jacobson 1965). Nagera (1970) feels that 'the latency child strongly cathects a fantasy life where the lost object may be seen as alive and at times as ideal,' (p. 381) and that this fantasy is often kept secret. James W. Hamilton, "Joseph Conrad: His Development as an Artist, 1889-1910." In: The Psychoanalytic Study of Society. Volume 8: 277-329 at 278-9 (New Haven: Yale University press, 1979) (At the time of publication the author was an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Medical College of Wisconsin).

Hamilton observes, incidentally, that "Heinrich Schliemann, the discoverer of Troy, became interested in archeology as an attempt to master the loss of his mother, which occurred when he was nine. At thirty-eight, the age at which his mother had died, he gave up his career as a successful businessman to begin the archeological exploration that culminated in the uncovering of Troy." Hamilton at 286 n. 3 (citing Niederland, W. "An Analytic Inquiry into the Life and Work of Heinrich Schliemann. In: Drives, Affects, Behavior, vol. 2, pp. 369-96. Edited by Max Schur. (New York: International Universities Press, 1965).

Whenever I speak of object loss, The Mad Monk counters: "Object loss? When did you suffer object loss? Who did you lose in childhood? You didn't lose anybody." Perhaps my object loss was like a "silent heart attack"--an asymptomatic event that left lasting effects that can be assessed.

Think of my autobiography as a kind of EKG, a test that measures the electrical activity of the heart. Perhaps my autobiography can be interpreted as evidence of seemingly asymptomatic events that occurred in my life history: events that left their mark in my psychological preoccupations and associations.

Perhaps there is a deep structural relationship between two unrelated quoted texts contained in a specific section of my autobiography: the section of the writing dealing with the death of Sigmund Freud, his daughter Anna's reaction, and Jeffrey Masson's preoccupation with uncovering "secrets" in the Freud archival collection.

The pertinent quotations comprise one paragraph from Conrad's novel "Heart of Darkness" (which I use to allude to Anna's reaction to her father's death) and, additionally, one paragraph from archeologist Howard Carter's description of his discovery of the tomb of King Tut.

1. Joseph Conrad, "Heart of Darkness:"

For her he had died only yesterday. And, by Jove! the impression was so powerful that for me, too, he seemed to have died only yesterday -- nay, this very minute. I saw her and him in the same instant of time -- his death and her sorrow -- I saw her sorrow in the very moment of his death. Do you understand? I saw them together -- I heard them together.

2. Howard Carter and A.C. Mace, "The Tomb Of Tut-Ankh-Amen."

I found myself, after years of comparatively unproductive labor, on the threshold of what might prove to be a magnificent discovery. It is hard for me to convey the excitement, the fever of suspense, the almost overmastering impulse, born of curiosity, to break down seals and lift the lids of boxes, the thought -- pure joy to the investigator--that you ate about to add a page to history, the strained expectancy -- why not confess it? -- of the treasure seeker.

Well, that's it, Brian, for this week. Who could I turn to? Who could I talk to? Only you, buddy. Brother-Animal, You!

SPECIAL MESSAGE FOR HEART PATIENTS: I myself am concerned about my heart health. "I decided that the best step would be for me to get an outside opinion." Famed heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz recommends a low-fat diet and exercise -- and a regular routine of sex four times a week at a half-hour a pop. I'm not making this up. That's Dr. Oz's prescription for a healthy heart.

By the way, Mehmet Oz is married to the daughter of another outstanding heart surgeon, Dr. Gerald Lemole. Dr. Lemole headed up the surgical team at Temple University Hospital that performed heart bypass surgery on my father "one June" day in 1976. The surgery was successful but the patient died; my father passed away the day after surgery. Actually, that's a lot like my career at Akin Gump. One day I was a perfect employee, but the next day I got fired. Ellen can explain.

Do you think Malcolm and Earl talked to Dr. Lemole? I think they did -- in March 1996, after I mentioned Dr. Lemole to my then treating psychiatrist at GW, Dimitrios Georgopoulos, M.D. Or am I being paranoid as usual?

Check you out next week, buddy.