exam

he smells and his skin
crawls with parasites and fleas
— does he value his
intellect? — think carefully
before trying to answer

In 1994 in Manchester (where my mother’s side of the family were originally from, in the nineteenth century), I was homeless and I came upon another homeless person with a beard like me, and about my age, who was visibly infested with some type of jumping parasite, bigger than a flea. But he had a dignity amid it all, and, responding to this dignity, I went up to him and embraced him. As a result, I got infested with the same giant fleas myself. I don’t think I’m going to comment further on why I did this. I’m not sure that I even know. But I suppose you could say that I saw myself in him. In my dream last night, I more or less re-lived this entire scene. Yesterday in conversation it had been mentioned that I used to have a beard. Homelessness, madness, having a beard — one way or another, I am not the same now as I used to be. I was asked a question on Friday at a talk I gave about my ‘mad’ experiences. Did I feel that being educated and cultured gave me an advantage in dealing with my experiences?

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