The Sorrows of Young Werewolf (eyeteeth) wrote,
The Sorrows of Young Werewolf


You might recall from my trip to look through the Freeman-Watts papers that Walter wrote an autobiography, and a fairly long one, though no longer than was merited by his very eventful life. The cover bears only his name and the word Autobiography, and I don't believe he ever attempted to have it published; in it he says more than once that he is writing for the benefit of his children. I'm sure this is true, but it's my guess that he was not writing exclusively for them. The tone is not intimate in the way you would expect a father's tone to be, if he were writing only as a father -- and though he had been a medical author for almost all of his adult life, he had been a very prolific letter-writer for even longer, and he was capable of writing intimately. But he sticks strictly to the first-person form, even in such constructions as "my children, for whom I write this." This is not to say that the details aren't sometimes intimate: he refers to his wife as having been "fecund" and complains that she "suspects me of" numerous affairs. It's this combination of Too Much Information and the detached narrative voice that makes me suspect that Walter really was writing his life story with the idea that it would eventually be published. That, and my general impression that Walter J. Freeman II (don't call him Junior) would never content himself with an audience of only five.

Walter wrote this book in the sixties, when he had a lot of time on his hands: he wasn't working, his kids had all left home, and he and Marjorie weren't getting along. Lobotomy had fallen out of favor -- in fact, I think he lived to see the beginning of the backlash against it that culminated in the general attitude today, when the word itself is enough to make people shudder. But he insisted, to the end of his life -- and he died in 1972 -- that it would make a comeback. And I think he wanted his life story to be around when it did. I think he wrote it for his children, but also for that grateful world that would one day realize his worth and be sorry for how it had treated him.

That's one of the things I'd like to ask Walter J. Freeman III about.

By the way, an e-mail to the speed-dating event's organizer confirmed that there were no matches. The neurologist found me too enthusiastic after all, I guess.
Tags: stix, the other walter freeman, walter freeman
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