The Freedman Archives: Part II

The following is a collection of letters written by Gary Freedman to his imagined friend.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

A Chemical High

March 25, 2004
Hi, buddy. Or should I say, "high, buddy."
That's how I feel: high. I'm on a chemical high. I take a minor tranquilizer (Xanax) to cure my Nixonian insomnia, an anti- depressant (Effexor) for my Lincolnesque melancholy, and an anti-psychotic to cure my--well, my Nixonian paranoia.
I fear that, like Nixon, I'm an incurable paranoiac. We're both beyond help. Nixon is one dead person I'd like to be friendly with. I think we could share "war stories." How everyone is out to get us, the evil academicians and sanctimonious commentators who have tried to blacken our radiance.
What, you may ask, has anti-psychotic medication done for me? Actually, you have a right to know. You and all the other D.C. taxpayers are footing the bill for my chemical transformation (or lack thereof).
Dr. Cooper--my psychiatrist--admits that the medication will probably not cure me of my delusions, such as my belief that you read the documents I leave for you, and the belief--among my many odd and paranoid conjectures--that the Pope has read my autobiography, and that Malcolm and Earl made themselves comfortable in my apartment on a day in early January 1990.
So, what's left to cure? Well, to tell you the truth, I actually feel better. I feel calmer (or does one feel calmerly? have you ever felt a young lady calmerly?), less agitated, more self-assured and more confident, more optimistic. I'm being dead serious (am I allowed to say that?) If Dr. Cooper said: "Mr. Freedman, I'm taking you off Zyprexa," I would protest. I would say, "no, I think the medication is helping me a lot in terms of my sense of well-being." In fact, if I didn't know better, I'd think Zyprexa is an anti-depressant. I feel a kind of wholeness I didn't feel before.
But everything else is the same. And that "everything else" is labeled psychotic by psychiatrists. That "everything else" would comprise: my social isolation, my lack of interest in normal people, my desire for attachment to a sublime spirit--or Erhabene Geist (and I'm not talking Seagrams, though, possibly, I am referring to Edgar Bronfman and his associates), my non- stop idea production, my need to synthesize facts and perceptions and memories, my need to write letters, my leaving letters to you on the hard-drive of the library's computer, my interest in a friendship with you--buddy, my belief that somehow a friendship will arise between us without my taking any concrete steps, my belief that I am hypersensitive to signals in the environment and extremely intuitive, that I can do things that others cannot (like stringing together thousands of quotations from books), my talking to myself, my 2-hour masturbation sessions, my ruminations about the past, my desire to analyze human behavior, my need to view everyday events as expressions of generalized systems of behavior and thought, my feeling that I was a victim of aggression in my family, my belief that I was harassed at my last two places of employment, my feeling that if I were to get a job other employees would gang up on me and eventually get me fired.
I trust you get the idea, that is, to the extent a paranoiac can trust.
Fundamentally, what the anti-psychotic medication has allowed me to do is everything I used to do (which is mostly nothing) but I feel calmer and less agitated doing it. I still have fantasies about the President of the United States. I think if I were to commit an illegal act in connection with the President, I would be more calm doing it. Upon my apprehension by the Secret Service, I'd be calmer during questioning. At my trial I could face the judge and jury with a sure sense of ease and self- confidence.
At my oral argument before the D.C. Court of Appeals on December 16, 1997, well, you know Judge Terry told The Powers That Be that I seemed "high-strung." Or at least that's what got reported back to Akin Gump. I picked up that signal from you, Brian (that somebody who was present at the oral argument said I seemed "high-strung").
In sum, the great thing is that now, if I were to testify on my own behalf as a criminal defendant, or if I decided to handle my own criminal defense (a la Colin Ferguson), I would be less high-strung, calmer, and more self-assured. I want the D.C. Department of Mental Health to know that: that for me, the thousands of dollars it is shelling out for my meds will make me a more credible and self-assured criminal defendant. But I still satisfy the criteria for delusional disorder. a psychotic mental illness.
What follows, buddy, is a typical morning in the life of Freedman.
Wednesday, March 25, 2004.
I wake up at 5:30. I take a leak. I pull my briefs off, and I "listen to Mozart" till about 7:30. I let my mind wander. Farm animals are my favorite mental image during my intimate moments with the little man from Salzburg. Sometimes a sheep is more than just a sheep. I complete that task. I clean up.
I go upstairs to the lobby for some coffee. I say hello to Tim. I have to be careful to say hello to Tim. Elizabeth--the English lady who used to manage the front desk--understood me: my needs and my limitations. She didn't force any social interaction from me, generally. She knew I'm not into the "kiss hello program."
I hate saying good morning. Claudio Grossman used to talk about his days in The Netherlands. There, in Holland, nobody says hello or good morning, or so Dean Grossman claimed. He said the Dutch would think you were crazy if you went around saying good morning to people. Maybe I'm part Dutch.
Then I work out. Every day I work out on the same exercise machine. The same routine. The same sweat. I've taken to listening to my Walkman radio while I work out.
Wednesday March 25, I listened to a tape of the third act of Wagner's opera, Siegfried.
As I was listening and working out, ideas flooded my mind. It's as if the ideas were water and my brain were a sponge. My brain is just saturated with ideas all the time: that's not genius--that's psychosis. I suffer from this even at 20 mg/day of Zyprexa, my antipsychotic medication.
Maybe Gerald Edelman could address this problem. Edelman won a Nobel Prize in Medicine in about 1973. He's an expert in the way the brain works. He addresses a lot of issues that experts in creativity are interested in. Talk to Professor Edelman, why don't you? Ask him about "The Freedman Mind: How it Works and How it Suffers and Makes Others Suffer."
What follows is a case study concerning my idea production. It is important to keep in mind--assuming your mind has not already glazed over--that I have these ideations, despite my current dose (20 mg/day) of anti-psychotic medication (Zyprexa).
The ideas that flooded my mind during the workout are as follows:
1. Paul Lawrence Rose, a professor at Penn State, once said that the opera Siegfried is the most anti-Semitic opera ever written. He bases this claim on the fact that the hero Siegfried embodies those qualities that the Nazis claimed for themselves as the master race. Siegfried, an orphan of illegitimate birth, was raised by the wicked dwarf Mime, who is seen by many commentators as the embodiment of qualities that anti-Semites attribute to Jews. Marc Wiener, an expert on Wagner's anti- Semitism is in accord with this view.
In the third Act the mature Siegfried pledges eternal union with the heroine Brunnhilde. There's a status issue here. Brunnhilde was once a goddess, but lost her godhead as punishment for an act of wrongdoing.
So what do you have?
Siegfried is the grandson of the chief God (Wotan), but was raised by a lowly dwarf, Mime.
In the relationship between Siegfried and his "stepfather" Mime, Siegfried (son) is the exalted Aryan and Mime (stepfather) the lowly Jew.
Brunnhilde was a goddess, but is now a mortal human.
In the relationship between Siegfried and Brunnhilde, Brunnhilde is a goddess turned human, like Siegfried; her status is therefore a debased one. Further, since Siegfried's conquest of Brunnhilde involved an act of courage by Siegfried (he had to pass through a wall of flames to reach Brunnhilde), Siegfried's holds an elevated status as a hero.
Thus, in the Brunnhilde/Siegfried relationship Siegfried is the elevated figure and Brunnhilde is the debased figure.
Basically, in terms of status, Brunnhilde took a step down and Siegfried took a step up.
So, what do we have now?
Siegfried is superior to Mime (his stepfather)
Siegfried is superior to Brunnhilde (his "wife")
Other issues then flooded my mind:
Germany became a unified political entity in 1871. The Reich was formed, under Prussian hegemony, out of a collection of independent German states. Unification brought about a kind of elevation for individual Germans. A German who was formerly, say, a Saxon (i.e., a citizen of the independent state of Saxony), prior to unification, became, after unification, a citizen of the German Reich, a world power.
It might be said that millions of individual Germans achieved an elevation in status upon the unification of Germany.
There is a parallel in American history. With the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, a resident of, say, Rhode Island became a citizen of The United States, an elevation. (Of course, royalists in the colonies would view American nationhood as a loss of status inasmuch as they were no longer subjects of the British crown.)
Wagner wrote three significant marches. The Kaiser March, which he composed in 1871 to glorify the new Reich. The conclusion of the piece features a chorus that glorifies the Kaiser. "Hail, Hail the Kaiser." Wagner had hopes that the chorus would serve as a national anthem for the newly-created German Reich; that dream was never fulfilled.
Wagner also wrote (on commission), oddly enough, a march commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, to be performed at the Centennial Exhibition (World's Fair), held in Philadelphia in 1876.
A third march, composed in 1864, The March of Homage (Huldigungsmarsch), commemorated the coronation of King Ludwig II of Bavaria.
A common aspect of the three marches is that they celebrate political matters: national unification or coronation. It might also be said that all three marches celebrate elevations in status. The Kaiser March celebrates the ascent of the King of Prussia to the status of Emperor of Germany; The American Centennial March celebrates the elevation of the thirteen American colonies to sovereign union; and The March of Homage celebrates the elevation of Prince Ludwig of Bavaria to the status of King.
Under the Reich, German Jews were granted legal equality with other Germans. After 1871 German Jews enjoyed an elevation in status.
Incidental, but pertinent facts pertaining to the opera Siegfried are as follows:
1. The third act of the opera was completed in 1869, immediately prior to German unification.
2. The first two acts had been written years earlier. Upon completion of Siegfried Act II, Wagner suspended work on the opera to write Tristan und Isolde and Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg.
3. It was while Wagner was working on Siegfried Act III, in 1868, that Cosima, once called the Baroness, deserted her husband Baron Hans von Bulow to live in an adulterous arrangement with Wagner. Cosima delivered Wagner's son in June 1869, while still legally married to von Bulow. The child, Siegfried, an illegitimate offspring, was the grandson of Franz Liszt (Cosima's father), the chief "god" of nineteenth- century piano virtuosity.
4. The Kaiser March, which features a paean to German unification, was written in 1871. In the later 1870s, Wagner, recognizing that the music would never serve as the official German National Anthem, changed the words to serve as a hymn to Cosima, mother of Siegfried. The tune formerly known as "Hail, Hail the Kaiser" became "Hail, Hail the Mother" (i.e., Cosima).
5. The Siegfried Idyll, a work Wagner wrote for chamber orchestra in 1870, is drawn from music employed in Act III Siegfried. The Siegfried Idyll was written to be performed as a Christmas/birthday present for Cosima (whose birth date was December 25).
6. We may state as a matter of fact that Wagner associated both The Kaiser March and The Siegfried Idyll with Cosima. In the former, a hymn to the Reich was changed to a hymn to Cosima. The latter was expressly written as a "symphonic birthday greeting" to Cosima.
7. Siegfried Act III, particularly the martial-like coda, features musical similarities to The Kaiser March.
a.) The Kaiser March features a solo timpani subject: a repeated motive of tonic / descending dominant.
b.) The coda of Siegfried Act III features a timpani subject (in C major) identical to that of The Kaiser March. (The key of C contains no sharps or flats: "no black notes," possibly suggestive of racial purity.)
c.) The Siegfried Idyll contains a melody for which Wagner wrote words:
Sleep, baby, sleep; in the garden are two sheep: a black one and a white, and if the baby will not sleep, the black will come and bite!
d.) Both the coda of Siegfried Act III and The Kaiser March feature an identical (and extremely common) cadence. In the key of C the cadence can be described as "G F E [(trill) F-G-F-G-F- G-F-G-F-E-F] E. The orchestral treatment of the cadence has a similar feel: martial and ebullient.
Buddy, this was one sweaty enterprise. I'm exhausted. Check you out later, Brian. Don't let the white sheep bite.


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