"Do you think that Neal, as some have suggested, suffered deep GUILT (& pain) in connection with his children & his inability, finally, to perform a conventional fatherly role. That is, was he aware of it as a "failure" on his part?"
Less see, IF THERE HAD BEEN THAT DESIRE, THEN IT WOULD HAVE BEEN A
FAILURE, but I didn't see that desire at all. I wonder where others got
What he feared before his parole from San Quentin was that without the
support of his family he would very quickly be returned to prison. That
was because he thought that he wouldn't be able to resist the
temptations that would be so easily available to him. Just talking
about tripping with his friends would light his face up with ecstatic
restless excitement. It was clear to me watching him as it was to
himself that that WAS what he was dying to do. That also brought the
fear of the gendarmes on. he also expected the gendarmes to be right on
him. He did not want to be returned to San Quentin. He was not afraid of
work and he was hoping that his family would help him to present to his
parole officer an image of a responsible hard working family man, and to
not scrutinize his life too closely. But Carolyn who had stopped
visiting him had written to him a in letter that she was not going to be
around when he got out. She was planning to take the kids to Scotland
where she had relatives. Aside from various other misunderstandings
Carolyn had no concept of what marijuana meant to him. She was very
angry that he had been smoking marijuana and did not trust him to stop
that or the other escapades with his friends. The scenario which finds
his wife and kids gone when he comes out of prison was a sure invitation
to an early parole violation, he felt.
Neal asked me to plead with her to not leave when he came out. I did go
to see her and she agreed that if I promised to stay in touch and to
help, that she would give it a try. At that point I also did not yet
understand why anyone would risk trouble for marijuana (speed did not
seem to be that much of an acknowledged issue). Neal had shown me that
with all of my training as a Psychologist, I had only seen one small
paragraph which lumped marijuana as one of the narcotic drugs.
When he got out he got the job at the tire company and simply lived a
double life. As soon as he could after work, or on weekends he would be
gone with one excuse or another to do his things. Party, women, drugs,
just to be on the go. There was a Los Gatos man that Carolyn introduced
to Neal hoping to keep him away from his old pot smoking buddies. Neal
would often go to see him, but what she didn't know was that he would
smoke grass with that guy, who also was extremely appreciative of Neal
for turning him on. Neal used to hang out with other ladies and go to
parties to Berkeley, San Francisco and often come to visit me in
Tiburon, before I moved in with the Cassady family. Whatever he did he
was mostly excited about the larger transcendant metaphysical aspects of
things. He moved out as soon as his parole was over.
By the way, I didn't read anything that anyone had written about him.
Maybe I am just repeating things you read about somewhere. But it is all
first hand experience that I am relating to you.
I never knew a Neal who wanted to be a family man. Neal was very much a
ham also, and was always trying to play the roles that people
phantasized about him. Hell, he didn't even try, he'd just naturally and
enthusiastically fall into the roles that he very intuitively saw people
expecting of him. Sometimes he would enjoy playing the family man role
for a bit. There were times when the whole family would be watching TV
for awhile. Of course the family would have to watch the races plus
several other shows that he would navigate. Very often he would
disappear in the bathtub for very , very long periods of time after
work. I did not realize at the time that he was stoned there. I have
never run into a person whose mind was as fast and whose sweep was as
wide as was Neal's. I never saw any guilt ridden Neal. The most guilt
feelings that I saw in him were about the woman who jumped to her death.
He felt deeply about that when he was in San Quentin, but still not with
a feeling of personal responsibility.
Neal confided in me quite a bit and until the end, no matter what he was
involved in, he would stop by often and run through what was going on
with him. He stopped at my house in Los Gatos on the way to his last
trip to Mexico from Oregon and told me about the discomfort that he felt
playing the role around the pranksters and didn't know how to tone
himself down. There also was a woman that he was interested in at that
time who left him for AG's company. That was a tough one for him.
His secret ambition from his youth was to live a life of contemplation.
The life of a monk was a dream to him,and he saw his very intense
sexuality and sexual popularity as a weakness that prevented him from
living that life, but I don't think he felt guilty about it. It seemed
to me to be more like a phantasy about an unattainable chalenge to him.
He did feel sad about not being able to communicate well with his
children. I thought a lot of it was the fact that he had to hide who he
realy was from Carolyn as well. One of the first things that he did
after coming out of San Quentin was to check if the marijuana seeds that
he had hidden in the garage were still there (they were), and to find
friends to turn on with.
He did not find it difficult to be around his children. Before I got a
car he would often take Johnny in the car with him after work and drive
to San Jose to get me. We almost always stopped in the liquor store for
sneaker bars on the way. Both of them were happy to be together doing
small even if Neal wished for a closer understanding. I don't think he
felt guilty, or a failure in what he tried to be although he wished he
could communicate more meaningfully with the kids.
I am trying to give you a feeling for whats and whys of my conclusions
about your question. I will continue to try if you feel I can clarify