Carl Solomon – “Pilgrim State Hospital”

February 25, 2013 at 7:07 am (Life & Politics, Poetry & Literature, The Beats)

One enters Pilgrim as though it is the death-house.  One sits down in the ward
and waits.  5 doctors approach, the patient weeps.
Shock treatment is prepared.  One wakes dazed.
Allen comes, he says, “Don’t argue with them, do as they say.”
Time asserts itself again.  You go home.  You tire yourself out sleeping
with women.  Then you pause.  You think, “You are a writer, you should do
something again.”
It is tiring to understand what they are saying to you, you talk about
Nerval and you talk about Proust.
A young man comes up to you.  He is of Arabian descent.  He mentions Nasser
and begins an anti-semitic diatribe.
Dr. Rath is a young man.  Of Rumanian-Jewish descent.  A background more
brilliant than any doctor in the institution as far as I am concerned.
You mention Tristan Tzara to him and he understands what you mean.  He works
through group therapy.  Patients come together and remorselessly cut each other
to pieces.  Fights break out during the course of the group therapy session.
“Solomon, you don’t want to get well.  You’re just looking for a big dick.”
I fight back I knock the boy down.  He screams, “I’ll kill him even if they send
me to Matteawan.”
He had disclosed to me in an earlier conversation that he knew Weinberg,
slayer of Bodenheim.  “Bodenheim was gay,” asserts Davis.
I disagree, not being quite sure of my facts.
Come back to Village years later and find Bodenheim’s reputation as a man
was quite good.  Davis escaped from Pilgrim.  I don’t know what happened to him,
hard-bitten and bitter, I have never forgotten that face.  Dehumanized.
Confused him in my mind with Corso since both had reformatory qualities.
Met Corso again — changed my mind.  Corso is a littérateur and a
Catholic with strong religious sense of right and wrong.
The tendency toward crime among the young men of my generation is impossible
to surmount.  We are all guttersnipes.  Gratuitousness is the spirit of the age.
Gide and Cocteau have made us what we are.  The big dick or “BITE” if you prefer
me to use Genet’s French, this is all that matters.  Make another man submit to
you and you are God.
Ah!  Ludicrous ribaldry.  Hemingway blowing his beautiful understanding face
to ruins with a bullet.  Camus dead in an auto accident.
Of all things, Artaud becomes vogue ten years after his death as a
ridiculous nut.
Berchtesgaden.  The Fuehrer and his blond boys, who is this man Castro?
Very late on the scene.  New young Communist intellectuals in the Village, a new
group, a new element very much involved in politics.
Why, I don’t understand them.  They are good men.
Kennedy seems quite human after all that has occurred.  Maybe he will
restore some kind of dignity to my life.  He has begun already.  He appointed a
Jew to the Cabinet.
He himself is a Catholic, an enormous advance in democratic thinking on the
part of the American public.  Democracy versus Nihilism in daily life.
Motivation or despair.

Carl Solomon

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