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Legion (excerpt)

Once in a while I think of things too bad to talk about. Bad words, often terrible words, come into my mind and I cannot get rid of them. I am bothered by acid stomach several times a week. I am likely not to speak to people until they speak to me. Often I cross the street in order not to meet someone else. I am often sorry because I am so cross and grouchy. I can’t understand why I have been so cross and grouchy. I frequently ask people for advice. I am liked by most people who know me. I commonly wonder what hidden reason another person may have for doing something nice for me. I believe in the second coming of Christ. I find it hard to keep m mind on a task or a job. I am not afraid of mice. I am not usually self-conscious. I used to keep a diary. I cannot understand what I read as well as I used to. My daily life is full of things that keep me interested. At times it has been impossible for me to keep from stealing or shoplifting something. I don’t blame anyone for trying to grab everything he can get in this world. I would rather win than lose in a game. Sometimes I’m strongly attracted by other’s personal effects, shoes, gloves, etc., so that I want to handle or steal them though I have no use for them. I have been disappointed in love. I have no dread of going into a room by myself where other people have already gathered and are talking. My family does not like the work I have chosen (or the work I intend to choose of my life work). I am more sensitive than most other people. At times I hear so well it bothers me. I have no fear of water. I have periods in which I feel unusually cheerful without any special reason. A t times I feel that I can make up my mind with unusually great ease. I am afraid of using a knife or anything very sharp or pointed. My feelings are not easily hurt. I have no lived the right kind of life. Dirt frightens or disgusts me. It is safer to trust nobody. At parties I am more likely to sit by myself or with just one other person than to join in with the crowd. I must admit that I have at times been worried beyond reason over something that really did not matter. I worry over money and business. When someone does me a wrong I feel I should pay him back if I can, just for the principle of the thing. People say insulting and vulgar things about me. I am against giving money to beggars. I readily become one hundred percent sold on a good idea. I am very careful about my manner of dress. I would like to be a soldier. At times I feel like picking a fist fight with someone. I would like to be a journalist. My memory seems to be all right. I frequently have to fight against showing that I am bashful. My hardest battles are with myself. At times I feel like smashing things. I have very few headaches. It is all right to get to get around the law if you don’t actually break it. When I leave home I do not worry about whether the door is locked and the windows closed. I like repairing a door latch. At times I have a strong urge to do something harmful or shocking. I would like to wear expensive clothes. Someone has been trying to rob me. There are persons who are trying to steal my thoughts and ideas. I often feel as though things were not real. No one cares much what happens to you. Most of the time I feel blue. I am not afraid of picking up a disease or germs from door knobs. I do not dread seeing a doctor about sickness or injury. I sometimes keep on at a thing until others lose their patience with me. When I get bored I like to stir up some excitement. I am sure I am being talked about. I have never had any breaking out on my skin that has worried me. It makes me angry to have people hurry me. I wish I were not so shy. When I was a child, I didn’t care to be a member of a crowd or gang. Except by a doctor’s orders I never take drugs or sleeping powders. I usually work things out for myself rather than get someone to show me how. I seldom worry about my health. During the past few years I have been well most of the time. I have never had a fit or convulsion. Several times I have been the last to give up trying to do a thing. Most people make friends because friends are likely to be useful to them. I have reason for feeling jealous of one or more members of my family. There is something wrong with my sex organs. I do many things which I regret afterwards (I regret things more or more often than others seem to). I have often felt guilty because I have pretended to feel more sorry about something than I really was. There is very little love and companionship in my family as compared to other homes. At one or more times in my life I felt someone was making me do things by hypnotizing me. I think most people would lie in order to get ahead. Much of the time my head seems to hurt all over. I am certainly lacking in self-confidence. If given the chance I could do some things that would be of great benefit to the world. I have difficulty in starting to do things. If I were an artist I would like to draw flowers. I have never been in trouble with the law. I believe I am being plotted against. I like collecting flowers or growing house plants. I would like to be a florist. At times I have very much wanted to leave home. My plans have frequently seemed so full of difficulties that I have had to give them up, I feel like giving up quickly when things go wrong. Horses that don’t pull should be beaten or kicked. The sight of blood neither frightens me nor makes me sick. Peculiar odors come to me at times. I feel uneasy indoors. I do not try to cover up my poor opinion or pity of a person so that he won’t know how I feel. I am troubled by discomfort in the pit of my stomach every few days or oftener. Some of my family have habits that bother and annoy me very much. I never attend a sexy show if I can avoid it. I like poetry. I have several times given up doing a thing because I thought too little of my ability. Most people inwardly dislike putting themselves out to help people. I resent having anyone take me in so cleverly that I have to admit that it was one on me. I believe that my home life is as pleasant as that of most people I know. My people treat me more like a child than a grown up. In school I was sometimes sent to the principal for cutting up. As a youngster I was suspended from school one or more times for cutting up. I don’t seem to care what happens to me. I am a good mixer. I have never been in trouble because of my sex behavior. Sometimes I am sure that other people can tell what I am thinking. I believe that a person should never taste an alcoholic drink. I wish I could get over worrying about things I have said that may have injured other people’s feelings. It makes me feel like a failure when I hear of the success of someone I know well. I am worried about sex matters. I have had blank spells in which my activities were interrupted and I did not know what was going on around me. It is always a good thing to be frank. I used to like drop-the-handkerchief. I have often felt badly over being misunderstood when trying to keep someone from making a mistake. I feel weak all over much of the time. I pray several times a week. I am about as able to work as I ever was. I cannot do anything well. Sometimes when I am not feeling well I am cross. Criticism or scolding hurts me terribly. Sometimes my voice leaves me or changes even though I have no cold. My hands and feet are usually warm enough. These days I find it hard not to give up hope of amounting to something. Once a week or oftener I feel suddenly hot all over, without apparent cause. I sweat very easily even on cool days. Sometimes, when embarrassed, I break out in a sweat which annoys me greatly. At times I feel like swearing. I am embarrassed by dirty stories. My way of doing things is apt to be misunderstood by others. My parents and family find more fault with me than they should. Parts of my body often have feelings like burning, tingling, crawling, or like “going to sleep.” I have nightmares every few nights. My sleep is fitful and disturbed. I can sleep during the day but not at night. I am often afraid of the dark. I am very strongly attracted by members of my own sex. I am afraid of finding myself in a closet or small closed space. I am afraid to be alone in the dark. I have been told that I walk during sleep. I have no difficulty in keeping my balance in walking. I like to let people know where I stand on things. I would rather sit and daydream than to do anything else. I can stand as much pain as others can. I have one or more faults which are so big that it seems better to accept them and try to control them rather than to try to get rid of them. I am often said to be hotheaded. I dread the thought of an earthquake. I have had periods when I felt so full of pep that sleep did not seem necessary for days at a time. When a man is with a woman he is usually thinking about things related to sex. Usually I would prefer to work with women. Once a week or oftener I become very excited. I have a habit of counting things that are not important such as bulbs on electric signs and so forth. At times I am full of energy. Lightning is one of my fears. If I were a reporter I would very much like to sporting news. I am not bothered by a great deal of belching of gas from my stomach. A windstorm terrifies me. I am often so annoyed when someone tries to get ahead of me in a line of people that I speak to him about it. A person should try to understand his dreams and be guided by or take warnings from them. I have often been frightened in the middle of the night. I daydream very little. I feel tired a good deal of the time. I dream frequently about things that are best kept to myself. Many of my dreams are about sex matters. I am often afraid that I am going to blush. I am easily awakened by noise. At times I have worn myself out by undertaking too much. I am an important person. I have often had to take orders from someone who did not know as much as I did. I prefer work which requires close attention, to work which allows me to be careless. I am not afraid of fire. I have never been made especially nervous over trouble that any members of my family have gotten into. I do not have spells of hay fever or asthma. My mother or father often made me obey even when I thought that it was unreasonable. I almost never dream.


Craig Dworkin

CRAIG DWORKIN is author of Reading the Illegible (Northwestern University Press) and editor of Eclipse ( and the UbuWeb Anthology of Conceptual Writing ( His edition of the Collected Poems of Vito Acconci will be published in January.


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2003

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