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he was playing ate its way into his being and enveloped him--before he actually became what he only appeared to be?
He was glad, very glad, when they moved him downstairs to the other unit. There, he was allowed to sign himself out and roam around the Presidio base and eat his meals at the mess hall in the main building of the hospital. Rhea visited often, bringing him civilian clothes and books from City Lights. Kenny used these books to defend himself against the self-recrimination and guilt which some of the patients in his unit continually displayed, convincing themselves that they were to blame for their illness. Visions of God were also big, and the group therapy sessions struck Kenny as merely self-indulgent self-pity. These guys weren't very sick, they were just flake-outs who liked to think they were ill because it satisfied their masochism. When their wailings became persistent and loud enough to upset him, Kenny would retaliate by reading aloud poetry from the Antonin Ar/;aud Anthology.
God does not exist, he withdraws, gets the fuck on out and leaves the cops to keep an eye on things. He separates from himself 3 cops divided into 3. Okay, but why not 4 or 2 or I or zero or nothing at all? And from where did these 3 incorrigibly filthy accomplices of the father, the son, the holy ghost (the father, mother, son), come to equal 1 and not 3 ?
HANGING FROM THE
wholly of its vitality and put in its place . . . who? [end page 230]
he who was made by Bein~ and Nothin~ness, the way one puts a baby to make peepee.
AND THEN THEY ALL GOT
THE FUCK OUT OF THERE
I tell myself that there's scum and crud abroad and god's sucked Lenin's ass: and that's the way it's always been,
and it isn't worth talking about anymore, it doesn't matter, it's just another fucking bill to pay.
Kenny didn't read out loud any of Artaud's words on electric shock in deference to the truly sick patients in the ward who belonged upstairs. There was no room for them up there because the unit was already overcrowded with casualties from Vietnam-- young guys who were plucked from their farms and small towns and big city tenements all over the country and shipped to the other side of the planet, to a foreign culture where the people only thought of them with hate or in terms of money. Men high on drugs for the first time and memories of fat-backed America, torn by helicopters from some behind-the-lines recreation, and thrown into the mouth of fury, maybe to be hit in the back by a bullet that comes from nowhere, surely to become paranoid and inhuman. Men who shot down women and babies because they were terrified, and who later collapsed with overwhelming guilt--their minds blown by the horror of what they'd done.
Some of these men ended up in neuropsychiatric wards, some more in VA hospitals with their limbs lost and their minds teetering on the brink, others in prisons for fragging officers who ordered them about, and still others, paradoxically, didn't live to regret it. Only the glory boys escaped, but home wasn't the same for them either.
Kenny was quickly sick of looking at the splintered results of his country's insidious scheming in Indo-China. Boredom set in and he was fired from his work therapy at the photo lab for using the equipment and chemicals to process almost ~ooo eight-by-ten prints of a snapshot of his own face taken by one of the other patients! He went AWOL frequently and spent those nights with Rhea. Dope was all over the base and he mixed it with booze. His response to the junior officers who wanted to punish him with Article 1~ fines, was always the same--he said he was crazy. [end page 231]
He was anxious to be discharged and live in the city. He wanted to get involved with theater. He read about the San Francisco Mime Troupe in the newspaper and thought about working with them. They were a radical company who had developed their theater arts into a medium for revealing the lies on which the U.S. Government based most of its foreign and domestic policies. Since Kenny's political awareness had grown into a need for action, he wanted to become a part of that. He knew, however, that most radical groups had a built-in, self-destructive energy that was dangerous not only to their ability to perform, but to the individual as well. They were always too quick to identify themselves with progressive such-andsuch and insurgent so-and-so, and always signing their names to whatever was resisting, defiant of, or agin the government. Kenny didn't think that was too smart. Set yourself up in clear view, and someone is bound to set you down. The one thing he learned, especially during the time he spent in prisons, was how not to satisfy anyone's curiosity. Jails are built to feed the curiosity of the guards and the voyeurism of other inmates. There are few solid doors, and the lights are always on. A prisoner quickly teaches himself to hide his feelings and whatever he's into from everyone, mostly because he knows it's dangerous to reveal anything, but sometimes for no other reason than to spite a prying system and its lackies.
This had become second nature to Wisdom, and because it had, he decided to change his identity before hitting the streets of the counterculture. He thought about it for a while. The longhairs were all changing their names to more romantic-sounding, rough 'n ready, American tags--like William Bonney, Mitzi Gaynor and John Wesley Harding. He wanted to reflect his Irishness and rebellious ancestry. He hit on the name of Robert Emmet but felt it was too corny. However, he liked the sound of Emmet. He played around with it for a time, linking it to various others, until he finally chose to translate his grandfather's name from the Gaelic (~ Gruagain to Grogan. He added another t to Emmet and he had it. Emmett Grogan--double sixes, boxcars and a good, solid, Irish name for someone classified a schizophrenic by the Defense Department.
He had been at the neuropsychiatric ward nearly four weeks when his papers were finally processed and he was mustered out of the service. He was happy it was over and even happier when the army made a considerable mistake in the amount of back pay and travel allowances owed to him by giving him seven hundred dollars, [end page 232]