Lobotomy did often make people more tractable, but it wasn't brain bleach, as the movies (and, sometimes, books) tend to think it is. Some people were made very passive by lobotomy, and didn't talk much afterward, which (or death) was presumably the desired effect in Suddenly, Last Summer and Sucker Punch, but also very possible was a loud, genial tactlessness that would not have been at all acceptable to Violet Venable (or Joe Kennedy, I bet). Something that happened a lot to lobotomy patients, as it happens a lot to people with frontal lobe damage in general, was witzelsucht, something so weirdly fascinating we needed to steal a German word for it: the irrepressible urge to make dumb pointless jokes. A lot of lobotomized people thought stuff was just generally hilarious and wanted to talk about it. Like remember how freaked out I was that time I witnessed your horrible crime? Haha, what was my problem? Seriously though you probably shouldn't have killed that guy. But whatever. What's on TV?
I think I have mentioned before that all the cool kids preface their lobotomy books with quotes from great literature. I am considerably annoyed that that movie got dibs on "eternal sunshine of the spotless mind" before I could, because that's precisely what so many people hoped lobotomy could give them or their loved ones. Spotless is perfect because the idea was to make your tainted mind acceptable to the world, as well as to make the tainted world acceptable to your mind, and also because there was so often something blank about the lobotomized, something shallow, facile, less-than. "Perpetual marble calm," as Sylvia Plath describes this eerie affect. (And remind me, says Walter, what happened to Sylvia Plath?)
How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd;
Labour and rest, that equal periods keep;
"Obedient slumbers that can wake and weep;"
Desires compos'd, affections ever ev'n,
Tears that delight, and sighs that waft to Heav'n.
Grace shines around her with serenest beams,
And whisp'ring angels prompt her golden dreams.
For her th' unfading rose of Eden blooms,
And wings of seraphs shed divine perfumes,
For her the Spouse prepares the bridal ring,
For her white virgins hymeneals sing,
To sounds of heav'nly harps she dies away,
And melts in visions of eternal day.
See, to me that sounds a bit creepy. Can even Eden's rose bloom, given nothing but sunshine? Of course, being that this is Alexander Pope's Eloisa to Abelard, I think it is supposed to sound a bit creepy: Heloise knew that real desires aren't composed and real affections aren't even. "The pleasures of lovers which we cultivated together were too sweet to displease me, and can scarcely fade from my memory. Wherever I turn they are always there before my eyes, bringing with them reawakened desires. Not even when I sleep am I spared these illusions. Even during the celebration of the Mass, when our prayers should be purer, lewd fantasies of those pleasures take such a hold upon my unhappy soul that I think more on these turpitudes than on my prayers. I should be groaning over the sins I have committed, but I can only sigh for what I have lost. Everything we did and also the times and places are stamped on my heart along with your image, so that I live through it all again with you. Even in sleep I know no respite."
Oh, and there's a bonus panel, because I love the big soda: