Extracts from Dr Samuel Johnson’s movement disorder by TJ Murray
British Medical Journal 1979.
was noted by his friends to have almost constant tics and gesticulations, which startled those who met him for the first time. He also made noises and whistling sounds; he made repeated sounds and words and irregular or blowing respiratory noises. Further, he often carried out pronounced compulsive acts, such as touching posts, measuring his footsteps on leaving a room, and performing peculiar complex gestures and steps before crossing a threshold. His symptoms of involuntary muscle jerking movements and complex motor acts. Involuntary vocalisation, and compulsive actions. These would later become known as Tourette syndrome
… while talking or even musing as he sat in his chair, he commonly held his head to one side towards his right shoulder, and shook it in a tremulous manner, moving his body backwards and forwards, and rubbing his left knee in the same direction, with the palm of his hand. In the intervals of articulating he made various sounds with his mouth; sometimes giving a half whistle, sometimes making his tongue play backwards from the roof of his mouth, as if clucking like a hen, and sometimes protruding it against his upper gums in front, as if pronouncing quickly under his breath, ‘Too, too, too.’ All this accompanied sometimes with a thoughtful look, but more frequently with a smile.
“Oh! dear good man!”
One of the ladies said, about his percussions of speech.
“Oh! dear good man !”
So he swallowed it on a rime of whisper, after they have all gone away
and the chair cups half asleep the gibbering bones.
the lopsided detachment of purpose.
dear good man.
Words lie embedded
or on this evening unwoken
but smeared nevertheless away from meaning
on a butter chant to snooze.
Tasted noisy in the english way
grunt bucking a gouty tongue
that whelps and shallows
in forty winks.
regurgitating the last visitors meaninglessness until it either
wools to sleep or catches its own fleece
and foibles a kundalinic stitch.
it is called into waking
In that splintered London darkness horseshoes the cobbles, but do not spark
rather they knapp flint voices in the alleyways outside, making the white wig
curl deeper on its oak nightstand in semblance of dream.
The house creeks more now and the thin floor is wearing invisibly under the weight of a spastic version of the complement retiring.
The interior of words become transparent in examination and rattle against the lumbering.
The bedroom turned into a library blinded by glass.
Making a perfect model of a fretful prayer to hasten dawn.
Dear Good Man.