BELGIUM

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BELGIUM

(Scene: A swank New York apartment in 1917, the door is on the right and the window is on the left. There is a sofa in the middle up against the rear wall, flanked by two easy chairs. A coffee table is in front of the sofa. On the wall behind (above) the sofa is a large framed repro of Flandrin’s “Naked, Brooding Boy” holding his ankles. On the sofa are William Alexander Percy and Gerstle Mack. On the chair to the right is Huger W. Jervey. On the chair to the left is Dr. Enoch Ish-Hurwitz. There is a large book on the coffee table. Early afternoon.)

Gerstle Mack: I wish to thank you for visiting me and my friends, Dr. Ish-Hurwitz.

Ish-Hurwitz: I was in town to visit Dr. Harry Benjamin. How lucky that you ran into me at Delmonico’s. Coming as I do from Amsterdam, I find myself astonished by New York.

Percy: I wanted to discuss Hirschfeld and Freud with all of you. Here is the massive volume by Hirschfeld given to me in Brussels by a German officer.

Jervey: Can you explain more fully how you came across this? We haven’t yet heard of your adventures with Hoover.

Percy: Where do I begin? I wanted to help out with the war effort. Mr. Hoover had created a relief committee to feed the starving Belgians. I found myself in luxury in Brussels, while so many are in the trenches, or starving. It made me feel guilty. I soon intend to offer my services to our army. I met some cultured Belgians who are – What is the word? - Urnings. Georges Eekhoud wrote a novel in 1899 called ‘Escal Vigor’ about a love affair between a nobleman and a peasant boy. They are lynched by a mob. Eekhoud has a pince nez. He is a pacifist and his fellow Belgians dislike him. His novel was prosecuted in 1900, but he was acquitted. Also there is Georges Minne, the Belgian sculptor, who has carved a fountain surrounded by five naked youths. Also Georges Rodenbach…

Mack: Are all Belgians named Georges?

Percy: No, there is also Maurice Maeterlinck, Emile Verhaeren…

Jervey: But what of the Germans?

Percy: I learned to dislike them very much. They may not be the devils of allied propaganda, but they have treated the bleeding Belgians abominably – not only letting them starve, but enslaving them, carting them off to work in factories. Those Huns! Hoover is a saint. He has done so much good. It was an honor to assist him.

Mack: Tell us how you got this book.

Percy: That is a story in itself, a sad one. There was a French soldier fighting in Flanders. He somehow met a Belgian boy aged twelve. I think the family was hiding the soldier from the Germans. The boy’s name was Adrian. He had fallen in love with the Frenchman who was called up. But when the Germans invaded and wounded the Frenchman in his genitals, he was sent to a hospital. Unable to satisfy the boy anymore, he lost him to a German officer, the Freiherr von Sachsen-Pilsner. The boy begged his new friend to let him visit the Frenchman. I met all three in the hospital. The Freiherr liked me and soon gave me this book, knowing that I would enjoy it.

(Percy becomes a bit upset)

Jervey: What is the matter?

Percy: I later was told that the Freiherr’s body was found on the battlefield, along with Adrian, who was also assassinated. The position of the bodies showed that the Freiherr was trying to shield the boy.

Mack: Let us turn from the tragedy and discuss the book. It is enormous.

Percy: Yes, it is an encyclopedia. It covers every possible manifestation of the subject. It includes an excellent discussion of the Greeks and Romans. How refreshingly different from the pruderies of Jowett and the Loeb Classical Library. No comparison. I also was struck, among other things, by the section on the laws. Switzerland, in particular, is a crazy-quilt of such laws, varying from canton to canton.

Jervey: What does Hirschfeld say of us in general? Has he a theory? Percy: Unfortunately, yes. But it strikes me as bizarre. He speaks of us as a third sex. He says we have wide hips and want to play with dolls.

Jervey: We don’t? (Smiles)

Percy: Speak for yourself. I know that some of us are effeminate, but most are not. It reminds me of that passage in ‘Peter and Wendy’, the play called Peter Pan, which Barrie converted into that novel: The boy fairies are mauve, the girl fairies are white, and the silly blue fairies don’t know what they are.

Jervey: We have all met silly blue fairies.

Percy: I happen to be a mauve fairy.

Mack: I’m afraid that we have been ignoring our guest from Amsterdam. I understand you to be a psycho-analyst, doctor?

Ish-Hurwitz: Yes, allow me to explain our theory. A human moves from id to ego to superego, from breast, to anal and finally to phallic. Homosexuals fail to mature to the phallic final stage, remaining immature without a correct superego. You all had close-binding intimate mothers and indifferent, cold fathers. Your parents messed you all up. Worse yet, every man wants to kill his father and rape his mother. The only thing that can save you is long-term, intensive psycho-analytic psychotherapy. You can become normal.

Percy: What if you find an Urning who is happy?

Ish-Hurwitz: There is no such thing! Most commit suicide and the rest remain disturbed. Let me help you.

Jervey: We don’t want help, thank you.

Ish-Hurwitz: I am wasting my time here. (He leaves in a rude manner.)

Mack: The filthy Jew! He wants all our money. It sometimes seems to me that the world is full of imaginary cures for imaginary problems. The priest offers salvation from something called sin: As Robert Burns put it, “The slug lays its eggs on the fairest flowers, and the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys.” The police offer imprisonment for something called crime. The psycho-analyst offers a cure for sickness. They are all birds of the same feather. They demonize the individual. You are in fact the sinners, the criminals and the lunatics. His joys, his pleasures, his desires are sick, sinful, criminal. As Rousseau put it, “mankind is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.” We most of all!

Percy and Jervey: Hear, Hear!

Percy: Hirschfeld leads the movement in Germany to legalize sex between men, that is only males over 21. In Napoleon Law countries where homosexual acts are not illegal, the ages of consent are generally very low so pederasts are generally safe even in some countries pedophiles are safe. Such an organization is unthinkable in America. And yet I must go and fight the Germans. I have seen at first hand what horrors they are guilty of. Wish me well. I must prove my manhood.

Mack and Jervey: Dulce est pro patria mori!

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