I’m reading Boswell’s Clap by William B. Ober, M.D. I first started reading it in December 1990 but got distracted. I picked it up again in March, 2002 (I date the pages of what I read, sometimes) and can see by the underlining of text that I stayed with the chapter on Madness and Poetry for a couple days. Now here we are in September 2009 and “Boswell’s Clap & Other Essays: a Medical Analyses of Literary Men’s Afflictions,” may have gotten my attention.
I am aware of the sub-text here. In a small way I am a literary man, one who has a couple three afflictions. It can be kind of wonderful reading a text by a third party that is self-referential throughout, in certain ways. Boswell didn’t just have the clap, he got the clap again, and again, and again. He was perfectly aware that he was getting the clap by going to whores. He understood as did everyone else then and now that that is where you were most certain to get the clap, but for 20, 30 years he chose whores and the clap over a modest wife and good health.
I cannot say that I never got the clap. I spent years knocking around Korea, Japan, central Mexico, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Okinawa and a good part of the 48. It had to happen somewhere along the line. There was a young lady in Bangkok, very pretty, who did me no favor with her favors. Once? It can happen to the best of us. But a dozen, 20 times? James Boswell was a little crazy about the clap, in a uselessly crazy way.
Nevertheless, he may be giving me a theme that I can write about, have an excuse to write about. We’ll see.
At this moment memory recalls that even in Boswell's early years as a journal keeper there were pages torn from his journals, sometimes single leaves, sometimes bunches of pages. Someone was hiding something. It may have been James, or it may have been another who had access to the journals and got rid what they wanted to get rid of. Can’t do that here very well. Once it’s posted, it’s posted. I’ll have to be circumspect.