You’re wasting your time. I’ve been impotent for years. … What the hell is wrong with being impotent? Kids are more hung up on sex than the Victorians. I got a son, 23 years old. I threw him out of the house last year. Pietistic little humbug. He preached universal love and he despised everyone. Had a blanket contempt for the middle class, even its decencies. He detested my mother because she had a petit bourgeois pride in her son, the doctor. I cannot tell you how brutishly he ignored that rather good lady. When she died, he didn’t even come to the funeral. He felt the chapel service was an hypocrisy. He told me his generation didn’t live with lies. I said, ‘Listen, everybody lives with lies.’ I grabbed him by his poncho and I dragged him the length of our seven-room, despicably affluent, middle-class apartment, and I flung him out! I haven’t seen him since. You know what he said to me? He’s standing there on the landing, you know, on the verge of tears. He shrieked at me: ‘You old fink. You can’t even get it up anymore.’ That was it, you see. That was his real revolution. It wasn’t racism, the oppressed poor, or the war in Vietnam. No, the ultimate American societal sickness was a limp dingus. My God. If there is a despised, misunderstood minority in this country, it is us poor, impotent bastards. Well, I’m impotent, and I’m proud of it. Impotence is beautiful, baby! Power to the impotent! Right on baby! …You know, when I say impotent, I don’t mean merely limp. Disagreeable as it may be for a woman, a man may lust for other things, something a little less transient than an erection. A sense of permanent worth. That’s what medicine was to me, my reason for being. You know, Miss Drummond, when I was 34, I presented a paper before the annual convention of the Society of Clinical Investigation that pioneered the whole goddamn field of lmmunology. A breakthrough. I’m in all the textbooks. I happen to be an eminent man, Miss Drummond. You know something else, Miss Drummond? I don’t give a goddamn. When I say impotent, I mean I’ve lost even my desire to work. That’s a hell of a lot more primal passion than sex. I’ve lost my reason for being. My purpose. The only thing I ever truly loved. Well, it is all rubbish, isn’t it? I mean, transplants, anti-bodies. We manufacture genes. We can produce birth ecto-genetically. We can practically clone people like carrots, and half the kids in this ghetto haven’t even been inoculated for polio! We have established the most enormous, medical entity ever conceived and people are sicker than ever! We cure nothing! We heal nothing! The whole goddamn wretched world is strangulating in front of our eyes. That’s what I mean when I say impotent.
The Hospital, Dr. Herbert “Herb” Bock