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tearing the rag off the bush again
Norton Homo PDF E-mail
The Corpse would like to announce the return of Little Man (Norton). Wilhelm Reich's admonition, "Listen, Little Man," seems to have finally found an ear (of corn).

Norton Homo

October 26

Norton works in a city department and is insecure about his
difficult position there.


His relationship with his boss, Mr Lifebestower, is cordial, but
underneath there is a powerful straining.

Emotionally draining.

Every day he fears being fired. Then, one by one, various of his
friends begin committing suicide--an idea that has more and

more than

ever been on his own mind. As if a chain reaction, one suicide
among his circle of friends leads to another.

Oh brother.

He must take time off to go to the succession of funerals, yet
asking for days and half-days creates more emotional strain for him--

like Lord Jim

at the office. The strain is economic--new house, new baby, same
wife, new payments, and though he has always told himself that

unlike a rat

he will not be trapped by these interlocking concerns, indeed he
is finding himself more and more trapped.

What crap!

Ironically, what is for him the ethical necessity of attending so
many funerals is, in and of itself, a major factor,

like a haywire nuclear reactor,

driving him toward psychic explosion. "If only my friends had made
arrangements to be buried within the city's cemeteries," Norton,


says to himself, "then I could attend their funerals as part of
my job." Norton is a cemetery inspector,

not an edifice erector.

His experiences in Ancient Rome have given him a refined
aesthetic when it comes to judging statues, headstones, and tombs.

A connoisseur of gloom.

A Roman reliving the last days of Empire.

A lyric life without a lyre.

November 19

Walking into the ice cream store, Norton--Norton Homo--
sees an insurance salesman whom he does not want to see.

Hide or flee?

It is the man who pesters him about buying a more expensive
life insurance policy. Quietly turning to the door and,

with the intensity of a Lizzy Borden,

running into the supermarket across the street, Norton feels
exhilaration and foolishness mix in the dry cauldron of himself,

like poverty and pelf,

standing in the fresh vegetables section. He notes the bland aesthetic
of fruits and vegetables.

Pale edibles.

Meeting a friend, a friend due soon to take his own life,
Norton explains what he has done.

Old chum.

They laugh together touring the aisles. The products, arrayed
on shelves, make Norton think of the...


dead arrayed beautifully in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge on
a pulchritudinous spring day. There green meets blue on the edge

of a hedge

on a hill, high monuments fraying the simplicity of the line.
The cemetery is quiet. Its mood is atavistic

and mystic.

The supermarket is noisy; its mood commercial and expectant.
Norton's hands pluck products

like hungry ducks.

Would the absurdity of revealing that Norton comes to this time
from Ancient Rome draw too much attention to itself?

Ask yourself.

His name in Latin means "man." Yet, in this century, here in
Boston, Norton's co-workers at the city's Department of...

this you'll love...

Death snicker at his name. A minor thing, but it
contributes to Norton's difficulties,

like irritating fleas.

So do the aberrations of his appearance. Norton's hands are

He's cursed.

His left hand is on his right arm; his right is on his left. An
amateur pianist, Norton has to cross arms to play the melancholy

and never jolly

dirges he so enjoys. His eyes also are reversed, a subtle
reversal: his tear ducts are at the outside of his eyes so when

again and again

he cries, his tears flow down the sides of his face. One more
oddity: Norton's ears have exchanged places, but, upside down,

their covers blown,

they face bell forward as do normal ears. With gravity and the
jounce of Norton's self-conscious walk, the earlobes, curling--

almost whirling--

flop down and up.


January 29

Norton has again taken time off work to attend a funeral in
another city.

Not pretty.

A chill wind stirs the snow in the well-laid-out cemetery as he
watches the coffin of his last friend, also a suicide--

fast track to the other side--

lowered into the frozen earth's gaping maw. Over the past six
months, he has attended seventeen funerals.

What bitter rituals!

He has not a friend left in the world, but, this last death,
the last possible suicide of Norton's last friend, revives

like departing hives,

Norton's enthusiasm. Walking back to his car he notices some of
the fine statuary in the graveyard. Driving to a phonebooth,

grasping a truth,

Norton calls his supervisor. "I'd like to talk with you when I
get back to the office, Mr Lifebestower," Norton says,

feeling fresh.

"I have some concerns about my job that I would like to discuss."
"That would be fine, Norton," Mr Lifebestower replies,

far away as the crow flies,

a deep voice over the telephone.

Then, the dial tone.
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