Friday, February 22, 2013

83. Back into Darkness

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This is where Charlie’s adventure into Consciousness comes to an end. While feeling grateful for having been smart for a time, Charlie leaves a message of hope for the future of all those people that might come into being thanks to the advances of science.

The questions that have been asked along the deliveries of the short story are – with very few exceptions – left unanswered. Since I really find it difficult to go on writing without receiving feedback, chances are that I will soon sign out of this blog.

The last upload of audios and video episode 9 accompany the rest of the short story text. But wait, there’s more to it – saved for the next post: a cloze test which will check knowledge on details of the story, and the comparison between the (abridged) short story text and the audio novel.
Flowers for Algernon (14) #
Daniel Keyes
[Motor activity impaired. I keep tripping over things, and it becomes increasingly difficult to type.] 
June 23—I’ve given up using the typewriter completely. My co-ordina­tion is bad. I feel that I’m moving slower and slower. Had a terrible shock today. I picked up a copy of an article I used in my research, Krueger’s Uber psychische Ganzheit, to see if it would help me under­stand what I had done. First I thought there was something wrong with my eyes. Then I realized I could no longer read German. I tested my­self in other languages. All gone.
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June 30—A week since I dared to write again. It’s slipping away like sand through my fingers. Most of the books I have are too hard for me now. I get angry with them because I know that I read and understood them just a few weeks ago.
I keep telling myself I must keep writing these reports so that some­body will know what is happening to me. But it gets harder to form the words and remember spellings. I have to look up even simple words in the dictionary now and it makes me impatient with myself.
Dr. Strauss comes around almost every day, but I told him I wouldn’t see or speak to anybody. He feels guilty. They all do. But I don’t blame anyone. I knew what might happen. But how it hurts.
July 7—I don’t know where the week went. Todays Sunday I know be­cause I can see through my window people going to church. I think I stayed in bed all week but I remember Mrs. Flynn bringing food to me a few times. I keep saying over and over lye got to do something but then I forget or maybe its just easier not to do what I say Im going to do.
I think of my mother and father a lot these days. I found a picture of them with me taken at a beach. My father has a big ball under his arm and my mother is holding me by the hand. I dont remember them the way they are in the picture. All I remember is my father drunk most of the time and arguing with mom about money.
He never shaved much and he used to scratch my face when he hugged me. My mother said he died but Cousin Miltie said he heard his mom and dad say that my father ran away with another woman. When I asked my mother she slapped my face and said my father was dead. I dont think I ever found out which was true but I don’t care much. (He said he was going to take me to see cows on a farm once but he never did. He never kept his promises. . .)
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July 10—My landlady Mrs Flynn is very worried about me. She says the way I lay around all day and dont do anything I remind her of her son before she threw him out of the house. She said she doesnt like loafers. If Im sick its one thing, but if Im a loafer thats another thing and she wont have it. I told her I think flu sick.
I try to read a little bit every day, mostly stories, but sometimes I have to read the same thing over and over again because I dont know what it means. And its hard to write. I know I should look up all the words in the dictionary but its so hard and Im so tired all the time.
Then I got the idea that I would only use the easy words instead of the long hard ones. That saves time. I put flowers on Algernons grave about once a week. Mrs Flynn thinks Im crazy to put flowers on a mouses grave but I told her that Algernon was special.

July 14—Its sunday again. I dont have anything to do to keep me busy now because my television set is broke and I dont have any money to get it fixed. (I think I lost this months check from the lab. I dont remember)
I get awful headaches and asperin doesnt help me much. Mrs Flynn knows Tm really sick and she feels very sorry for me. Shes a wonderful woman whenever someone is sick.

July 22—Mrs Flynn called a strange doctor to see me. She was afraid I was going to die. I told the doctor I wasnt too sick and that I only for­get sometimes. He asked me did I have any friends or relatives and I said no I dont have any. I told him I had a friend called Algernon once but he was a mouse and we used to run races together. He looked at me kind of funny like he thought I was crazy.
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He smiled when I told him I used to be a genius. He talked to me like I was a baby and he winked at Mrs Flynn. I got mad and chased him out because he was making fun of me the way they all used to.

July 24—I have no more money and Mrs Flynn says I got to go to work somewhere and pay the rent because I havent paid for over two months. I dont know any work but the job I used to have at Donnegans Plastic Box Company. I dont want to go back there because they all knew me when I was smart and maybe they'll laugh at me. But I dont know what else to do to get money.

July 25—I was looking at some of my old progress reports and its very funny but I cant read what I wrote. I can make out some of the words but they dont make sense.
Miss Kinnian came to the door but I said go away I dont want to see you. She cried and I cried too but I wouldnt let her in because I didnt want her to laugh at me. I told her I didn’t like her any more. I told her I didnt want to be smart any more. Thats not true. I still love her and I still want to be smart but I had to say that so shed go away. She gave Mrs Flynn money to pay the rent. I dont want that. I got to get a job.
Please. . . please let me not forget how to read and write.

July 27—Mr Donnegan was very nice when I came back and asked him for my old job of janitor. First he was very suspicious but I told him what happened to me then he looked very sad and put his hand on my shoulder and said Charlie Gordon you got guts.
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Everybody looked at me when I came downstairs and started work­ing in the toilet sweeping it out like I used to. I told myself Charlie if they make fun of you dont get sore because you remember their not so smart as you once thot they were. And besides they were once your friends and if they laughed at you that doesnt mean anything because they liked you too.
One of the new men who came to work there after I went away made a nasty crack he said hey Charlie I hear your a very smart fella a real quiz kid. Say something intelligent. I felt bad but Joe Carp came over and grabbed him by the shirt and said leave him alone you lousy cracker or Ill break your neck. I didnt expect Joe to take my part so I guess hes really my friend.
Later Frank Reilly came over and said Charlie if anybody bothers you or trys to take advantage you call me or Joe and we will set em straight. I said thanks Frank and I got choked up so I had to turn around and go into the supply room so he wouldnt see me cry. Its good to have friends.

July28—I did a dumb thing today I forgot I wasnt in Miss Kinnians class at the adult center any more like I use to be. I went in and sat down in my old seat in the back of the room and she looked at me funny and she said Charles. I dint remember she ever called me that before only Charlie so I said hello Miss Kinnian Im redy for my lesin today only I lost my reader that we was using. She startid to cry and run out of the room and everybody looked at me and I saw they wasnt the same pepul who used to be in my class.
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Then all of a suddin I rememberd some things about the operashun and me getting smart and I said holy smoke I reely pulled a Charlie Gordon that time. I went away before she come back to the room.
Thats why Im going away from New York for good. I dont want to do nothing like that agen. I dont want Miss Kinnian to feel sorry for me. Evry body feels sorry at the factery and I dont want that eather so Im going someplace where nobody knows that Charlie Gordon was once a genus and now he cant even reed a book or rite good.
Im taking a cuple of books along and even if I cant reed them Ill practise hard and maybe I wont forget every thing I lerned. If I try reel hard maybe Ill be a littel bit smarter than I was before the operashun. I got my rabits foot and my luky penny and maybe they will help me.
If you ever reed this Miss Kinnian dont be sorry for me Im glad I got a second chanse to be smart becaus I lerned a lot of things that I never even new were in this world and Im grateful that I saw it all for a littel bit. I dont know why Im dumb agen or what I did wrong maybe its becaus I dint try hard enuff. But if I try and practis very hard maybe Ill get a littl smarter and know what all the words are. I remember a littel bit how nice I had a feeling with the blue book that has the torn cover when I red it. Thats why fin gonna keep trying to get smart so I can have that feeling agen. Its a good feeling to know things and be smart. I wish I had it rite now if I did I would sit down and reed all the time. Anyway I bet fin the first dumb person in the world who ever found out something importent for sience. I remember I did somthing but I dont remember what. So I gess its like I did it for all the dumb pepul like me.
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Good-by Miss Kinnian and Dr. Strauss. and evreybody. And P.S. please tell Dr Nemur not to be such a grouch when pepul laff at him and he woud have more frends. Its easy to make frends if you let pepul laff at you. Im going to have lots of frends where I go.
P.P.S. Please if you get a chanse put some flowrs on Algernons grave in the bakyard ... 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

82. A Walk in Amnesia

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Flowers for Algernon (13)
Daniel Keyes 

June 19—Sometimes, at night, I go out for a walk. Last night I couldn’t remember where I lived. A policeman took me home. I have the strange feeling that this has all happened to me before—a long time ago. I keep telling myself I’m the only person in the world who can describe what’s happening to me.
June 21—Why can’t I remember? I’ve got to fight. I lie in bed for days and I don’t know who or where I am. Then it all comes back to me in a flash. Fugues of amnesia. Symptoms of senility—second childhood. I can watch them coming on. It’s so cruelly logical. I learned so much and so fast. Now my mind is deteriorating rapidly. I won’t let it happen. I’ll fight it. I can’t help thinking of the boy in the restaurant, the blank expression, the silly smile, the people laughing at him. No—please—not that again.
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June 22—I’m forgetting things that I learned recently. It seems to be following the classic pattern—the last things learned are the first things forgotten. Or is that the pattern? I’d better look it up again.
I reread my paper on the Algernon-Gordon Effect and I get the strange feeling that it was written by someone else. There are parts I don’t even understand.
[Motor activity impaired. I keep tripping over things, and it becomes increasingly difficult to type.]
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Looking forward to receiving your answers to the questions above.


Monday, February 18, 2013

81. The First Signs of Decline

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Flowers for Algernon (12)
Daniel Keyes

[I have already begun to notice signs of emotional instability and for­getfulness, the first symptoms of the burnout.]
 June 10—Deterioration progressing. I have become absentminded. Al­gernon died two days ago. Dissection shows my predictions were right. His brain had decreased in weight and there was a general smoothing out of cerebral convolutions as well as a deepening and broadening of brain fissures.
I guess the same thing is or will soon be happening to me. Now that it’s definite, I don’t want it to happen.
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I put Algernon’s body in a cheese box and buried him in the back yard. I cried.
June 15—Dr. Strauss came to see me again. I wouldn’t open the door and I told him to go away. I want to be left to myself. I have become touchy and irritable. I feel the darkness closing in. It’s hard to throw off thoughts of suicide. I keep telling myself how important this introspec­tive journal will be.
It’s a strange sensation to pick up a book that you’ve read and en­joyed just a few months ago and discover that you don’t remember it. I remembered how great I thought John Milton was, but when I picked up Paradise Lost I couldn’t understand it at all. I got so angry I threw the book across the room.
I’ve got to try to hold on to some of it. Some of the things I’ve learned. Oh, God, please don’t take it all away. 
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