I was in the army in Washington DC, 1965. I was stationed at Fort Meyer, South Post, which was between the National Cemetery and the Potomac River. I was at Headquarters Company Army and was the Morning Report Clerk, which was the basic personal archival record of every service member in my unit and attached. The Morning Report had to be in by 8 o’clock a.m., so I started at six and finished at two; and I was off and free to do what I pleased the rest of the day. I spent almost all my free-time off-post, across the river in DC proper. I spent most of this time walking around, sitting in the parks, going to museums, reading under trees. I spent a lot of time at the Reflecting Pool, and on Pennsylvania Avenue around the White House. I met a woman at the Reflecting Pool one time. We played house under the trees there. She was really bright. I didn't know what I had there. But I never did see her again.
My concern at the time was my feelings of automation, that I felt half-asleep much of the time. I wanted to feel more alive. I felt I was too robotic and lived in a dream world. By the same token I had decided that automation was necessary to proper function of my physical self. At some point in DC, I made the connection that everything in the army was automatic, and that my experience in it could be thought of as study of automatic processes as actually empirical. The army was a study of the machine.
(1 of 13)