Monday, February 28, 2005

Flowers for Algernon

Let’s leap forward four years. I decided to start writing a diary again, began it January 1, 1981. I was 15 and in 10th grade. A sophomore in high school.

“Ouch! How stupid. Here I have been planning for days what the first thing written in this diary will be and it ends up being ouch.

“Why did I write ‘Ouch’ as the first word in this diary? Because there is a blister on my right hand. I have a blister on my right hand because I went to a dermatologist yesterday to have my warts frozen to death and today all six of my warts have grown into blisters. How’s that for something gross to write on the first page of a diary on the first day of the year?”


“I want to be able to read these entries years from now and remember what I was thinking when I was writing.

“Mom checked the first volume of Isaac Asimov’s autobiography out of the library in Santa Rosa yesterday – it’s huge. I want to read it, but I’m not sure if I will. I think it’s a neat idea though – to write an autobiography that is. Even if nothing has happened in my life that seems that interesting I’m sure I could make it interesting. I’ve used ‘interesting’ five times now; I think I’d better stop.”


“I just reread this diary entry and realized it reminds me of the progress reports Charlie wrote in Flowers for Algernon. That was a depressing book.”

Updates as of February 28, 2005: Haven’t read either fat volume of Isaac Asimov’s autobiography. I did recently read It’s Been a Good Life which Asimov’s wife Janet edited together after his death. Rather fun, if occasionally repetitive. As to Flowers for Algernon, I was haunted for a long time by Charlie’s fate. Charlie, you see, was retarded. A scientific experiment gifted him with a prodigious intellect. But just as Charlie was discovering his new self his mind began to deteriorate. There’s a scene toward the end of the novel that suggests homosexuality. I recall a male resident of the state hospital holding another youth on his lap, unself-consciously diddling him. Now, I don’t have a copy of Flowers for Algernon to check the accuracy of this memory so that’ll have to wait (I can always update this update), but my budding sexual self was having a hard time with the confluence of retardation, homosexuality, and the unashamed (like a child? like an animal?) public sexual behavior of these grown men.

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