The last volume of the letters and journals of the prototypical mad scientist, Wilhelm Reich (1897–1957).
A prolific writer, erstwhile disciple of Freud and renowned psychiatrist with a special interest in orgasm, Reich left Europe in 1939, when the Nazis burned his books. He immigrated to the United States, where, once more, his books were burned. This final collection of ephemeral material, filled with emphatic italics and capitalization, reeks of transcendent egotism and excessive paranoia. During this time, Reich discovered what he considered to be a mass-free life force, or “orgone energy.” His study consumed him, and all else became secondary. He was driven to calculate how orgone affected hurricanes and drought, emotions and auroras, fleeting sensations and flying saucers, the life of rocks and many cosmic matters. He invented a drought-relieving “Cloudbuster” and proposed to cure radiation sickness. He also devised wooden cabinets lined with steel wool to accumulate curative orgone pulses. These orgone boxes, in which patients, particularly those with sexual complaints, would sit, came to the attention of the FDA. As the lonely investigator’s legal battle continued, his distance from reality, as most of us know it, increased. His defense against the government’s injunction, which required destruction of all orgone-related material and devices, was mismanaged. Convicted of contempt, Reich went to prison in early 1957 and died there before the year ended. Edited by Higgins, the text’s introduction and notes admit no flaws in the master’s thinking, but the book itself is evidence that he was deluded. However, some readers may wonder what he would have said about global warming, dark matter, string theory and other contemporary fields of scientific study.
Raw material on the life of a dissident thinker that does little to enhance or further damage his reputation.