A Photograph of a young man in his early thirties surrounded by members of a motorcycle gang. Taken by phoographer Nina Glaser in 1985

An Interview with Harold Norse, Part One Section Two: The Pain of Becoming Literate

I moved in with Norse in 1984 and spent my days writing and studying
film and literature.

Norse was drafting his memoirs.

We lived in a creative stew under the strain of the most devastating years
of the AIDS epidemic.

We both had good reason to think our lives would soon be over.

The pressure I placed on myself brought on the symptoms of florid DID.

My alternates were coming out and writing and Harold was responding
to them as ‘characters’.

A written critique of a collection of poems.
Norse gives me a rundown of what he liked or hated about a collection of poems I left for him one week in February 1985. He calls me ‘Bobby’ in the note and uses ‘Bobby’s’ accent in the opening. What I loved about Norse and his critique was that I always knew I was getting the truth.

In the 1992 interview, I describe the emotional pain of becoming
fully literate.

I asked Norse if that was difficult for him.

“Every day was difficult.” he said, “It was the most difficult period
of my life.”

“Why did you do it?”

“What a question! “ Norse laughed and paused, “I almost never
question that.”

“I think it’s a fascinating question.”

“It is,” Norse replied. “It is. It’s one of the few that’s ever
stopped me cold.”

Part two of the interview picks up where part one ends.

An Interview with Harold Norse, Part Two: The Pain of Becoming Literate

An Interview with Harold Norse, Part 1, Section 3– Saints and Self-Destruction

Photo of Rog Goldstein cropped from the original photo
by Nina Glaser taken May of 1985. I have no idea who
those other people are. I’m the guy in the middle.

Interview with Harold Norse (c) Rob Goldstein 2017 All Rights Reserved







16 thoughts on “An Interview with Harold Norse, Part One Section Two: The Pain of Becoming Literate

  1. Such an interesting piece of audio. The part about learning the meaning of the word “oppressed” and realizing it applied to one’s self is a BOOM moment indeed

    Liked by 1 person

      1. What you wrote is so true. Language is not considered, only taken for granted again and again. As writers, we can play with language but must use it responsibly.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank’s Christy. Language is how we build walls around ourselves and others. What does it really mean to be homeless, not just from the perspective of those who must live without housing but from the perspective of a culture that covertly uses homelessness as a threat and a punishment?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. When I began to seriously write, I examined everything about my psyche.

      One question I asked myself was how could I not be racist, homophobic, and
      anti-Semitic when I come from a culture that treated those traits as normal.

      My guess is that Jew Boy is a self-loathing work that Norse saw it as an
      expression of sickness.

      I’d just started seeing a shrink because the behavior of some of my ‘characters’
      baffled me. He misdiagnosed bi-polar illness but that’s a different post.

      As the interview with Norse continues it sounds as if Norse saw and
      understood the DID and understood that I was clueless about it.

      I don’t know if Norse consciously knew what he was seeing but he instinctively knew which is why he writes that note the alternate that was out most often at that time, and that was Bobby.


      1. No. I can’t call the alternates up voluntarily. When I began with Norse neither of us knew what was waiting when we cracked my head open to find the writing. Norse is a fascinating man and certainly one of the great poets of the 20th Century.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What did you think of Jew Boy when you went back to look at it. Was it as sick as suggested? I wonder which entity wrote it and why. It doesn’t seem one to have come from your hand or heart.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.