[Reigian Studies.] [On behalf of the baroness.]


Durable if not immortal - as a seemingly spanking-new fifty year old paperback

The poet, the mathematician, the immortal

Found among the stacks of stuff my father lent me so that I could help him sort out the mess. Inside the pages of The Beat Generation and the Angry Young Men – paperback, 1959 (the hardback edition published the year before) – thoroughly marked by Reig.

This snippet from the Washington Post, 2001, December 18th – [but I understood you told me that Reig had left us in November (a memory slip-up?)] – this clip as I was saying stuck on page 181, marking the end of Carl Solomon’s contribution: “Report from the Asylum” [with in page 182 the beginning of Allen Ginsberg’s contribution: “Howl” – a poem dedicated to Solomon.]

Here the snippet with the annotations:

“Nash’s wife made the painful decision to have him committed to McLean Hospital outside Boston, Psychiatrists diagnosed paranoid schizophrenia. So began a 30-year nightmare of delusions, hallucinations and disorganized thoughts and speech – the hallmarks of one of the most feared mental disorders. Many of the treatments he received have long since been discredited [underlined by Reig.]. In 1961 [Reig’s note: “I in February 1965”] doctors at a Princeton-area hospital subjected him to six weeks of insulin coma therapy – daily injections that sent his blood sugar plummeting and rendered him comatose, followed by forced feedings of glucose to revive him...”

[Reig writes at the end of the clip: “Solomon, el poeta; Nash, el matemàtic; Reig, l’immortal,” no translation needed.]

Now what Reig wrote on Solomon’s essay:

Where Solomon says: “Invariably, I emerged from the comas bawling like an infant and flapping my arms crazily (after they had been unfastened,) screaming: Eat! Or Help!

Reig writes: “Insultant les putes monges: “Totes les monges sou unes putes, totes teniu el cony rovellat!” i tractant de nazis els infermers. En certa ocasió, amb força hercúlia, arrencant una de les corretges i tot...” [Calling the fucking nuns (as nurses): “Rotten bitches with rusted cunts,” and the male nurses: “Damned nazis,” even going so far at least once to manage snapping one of the belts that tied me to the bed and with my free arm tear apart the contraptions and preparations over the rolling metal and glass table, the cups of coffee saturated with sugar, the oils, and the gigantic hypodermics, and the bottles and gauzes to stanch and disinfect the wounds.”]

Next page (175,) penciled, two more remarks by Reig:

Al·lucinant en salvatges crits, pou buit avall [Hallucinating down the empty well with savage screams.]” And: “Upon release, he reads the world anew – all new – “Ah, trees, old friends! How happy to meet you all again!””

Page 179, where Solomon says:

“Antonin Artaud had undergone both electric and insulin shock-therapies during his period of confinement which lasted nine years and terminated with his death in March, 1948.”

Reig writes: “Artaud crazy – believing in afterlives and rubbish like that. While levelheaded Solomon and Reig crazy like two foxes. From the iffy labyrinths of Rockland and Can Pigem, as maybe Nash from McLean, we emerge still nimbler, Theseus-like, ready to dodge (still limberer, yes) the poisoned arrows and twisted slings of a deathly bellicose bureaucratized sold-away duty-and-debt-ridden life.”

Next two pages, Reig agrees with three sparks [“hà!”] of gratifying recognition, where Solomon laughs at Artaud, and where he says:

“I have a small mind and I mean to use it.”

“On the contrary, the real coma administers a fillip to one’s debilitated thinking processes.”

[Reig writes here: “Hà, now you are certified crazy, now you have a tangible ace up your rachidial sleeve. You are allowed to be a non-conformist, for after all you are mildly eccentrically crazy, and who will expect you to dutifully die for the comfort of the blobs?

Two “hà!” in page 187, now on Ginsberg’s Howl:

“Scribbled all night rocking and rolling over lofty incantations which in the yellow morning were stanzas of gibberish.”

“The nitroglycerine shrieks of the fairies of advertising.”

Page 189:

Reig: “Buried or fucked, same thing.”

Ginsberg: “You’re really in the total animal soup of time.”

Page 192:

Ginsberg wooly: “You bang on the catatonic piano the soul is innocent and immortal it should never die ungodly in an armed madhouse.”

Reig transforms it into a forceful command: “Bang on the Catalonic piano whose soul is armed and immortal. [Percudeix el Catalònic piano d’ànima sempre armada i immortal.”

-- -- -- -- --

(And with that merry, slightly askew, anthem, let me retreat, also leaping lamely, as an ungainly enough, alas, cheerleader whose work today is done, even if the suspicion that “we” lost nags on just where the scruff of the neck tingles so.)

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