For those of you who have started to read Ben Salmon's Magnum Opus and found it to be TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read), relief is now available. But first let me point out that you are in good company. It seems as though the staff of St. Elizabeths Hospital, where Ben's sanity was being evaluated, also found it difficult to read all that he had written. Here are some excerpts from the daily observations made by the doctor and attendants in charge of Ben's ward:
Aug 5, 1920 - Patient was provided with a typewriter and spends most of his time during the day writing an account of himself, consisting mostly of the defense of his attitude to recent war, based on religion, political and moral grounds.
Dr. Karpman assembled all the examination notes, ward clerk observations, and Ben's account of himself and presented the 31 pages to the 28 psychiatrists of the sanity reviewing board. The board met on October 4, 1920 and determined after an hour's deliberation that Ben was sane. The papers contained in Ben Salmon's case file, obtained from the National Archives and Records Administration where St. Elizabeths Hospital records are kept, show that Dr. Karpman at one time considered presenting all 230 pages of Ben's complete statement to the board but finally delivered a 16-page outline of Ben's explanation of his 'extreme attitude'. Apparently the 16 page outline was sufficient for the physicians to reach their conclusion of sanity.
Ben's outline summary read by the physicians is available as either a copy of the original document or as a transcribed version. There are differences between the outline and the complete statement (known on this website as Ben's Magnum Opus). For example, the Magnum Opus contains many anecdotes, news stories, and the sentence-by-sentence rebuttal of Just War theory that are not included in the outline summary. However, the 16-page outline gives the essence of Ben Salmon's absolutist conscientious objector stand in a much shorter read than the 230 pages of his Magnum Opus and is less likely to generate a TL;DR response. Perhaps, reading the outline will whet your appetite for the 'main statement' (i.e., Magnum Opus) Ben often refers to in the 16-page outline.
5/23/2017 09:16:40 pm
Please consider my bias but this is a wonderful idea....more people will discover Ben Salmon.
Leave a Reply.
Friends of Franz and Ben