Thursday, September 08, 2005

Get Outta Here, You Darn Beatnik!

It's pretty well known that novelist and poet Jack Kerouac received an honorable discharge from the military, but the specific reasons are usually made pretty vague in most of the bios on him. The website Smoking Gun has managed to unearth the medical reports detailing precisely why he got the boot in the ass. He went in to see doctors repeatedly for headaches, and was officially discharged for something called "Dementia Praecox", a kind of catch-all psychological diagnosis we might call Schizophrenia today. But the reports don't stop there. They also detail his, umm, solo sexual exploits, dreams of writing, drinking problems, troubles with women, and an extreme problem with responsibility. Not all that surprising to me after reading portions of his published journals last year, but the medical reports create an odd but very fascinating little portrait of one of the great American writers.


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