WRITING BEHAVIOUR*

I slept well in the hospital
and dressed and ate
cleanly at the proper time.

My replies were apposite
civil and even. Yet
there was the matter of the notes.

I see myself under the window
(my chair is of tube steel
and discolouring plastic)
and I am aware of the light
into which I lean back
and the ends of my hair
stand up in millions of tiny
separate glows, and the brightness
travels along my writing arm and down
the one leg that is crossed over
the other (the knee, the notebook)
and I am making notes
which may be no more than my name
written till I perfect it, written
over itself and over the notebook's
edges and over my shirt and trousers
and over my face and the fronts
and backs of my hands
till the whole of me is written
over myself, and I
can slip out of it and they think
they still have me, but I
am leaving, leave it behind me
in the shape of me, and I go.


* " ... as part of an experiment, some American researchers had themselves confined in an asylum masquerading as schizophrenics. In hospital, these pseudo-patients behaved normally, on occasion taking written notes of what they observed. This action was noted in their case histories as symptomatic of their schizophrenia : it was called engaging in 'writing behaviour'. "

Roy Porter "A Social History of Madness"