Autodidact: self-taught


Evil Summer

by V. L. Craven

Evil Summer

Evil Summer by John Theodore
-001- p2: Albert Loeb’s third son knew at an early age what he wanted from life. In the dark of his bedroom, before sleep came, Dickie Loeb, age ten, held his teddy bear and shaped his secret life. Picturization, he called it, and it swallowed his ambition:
Each night, they came into his cell. The guards stripped him of his clothing and had their way with him. They shoved him against the bars and whipped him. The cold steel squeezed his chest, and he couldn’t breathe. His back burned as the warm blood ran down his body. But the young prisoner felt no fear, only self-pity. He revelled in the attention. After all, he was a famous criminal, and this was the pleasure all masterminds must endure.
-002- p3: Dickie hid his nightly reading from Miss Struthers. Each night, before picturization, he filled his mind with images of famous criminals and the detectives who chased them. Bank robbers, kidnappers, safe-crackers, they inspired Dickie and became his heroes. The authors and stories varied—Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes in The Sign of the Four, Wyndham Martyn’s Anthony Trent, Master Criminal, and Frank Packard’s Beloved Traitor and Adventures of Jimmie Dale. They possessed him.
-003- p4: As the master criminal mind of the century, Dickie led others. Of course, they obeyed him. He was the ideal fellow: good-looking, smart, rich. And he knew all about being a criminal. He planned crimes all over the world and directed his confederates, who followed his lead to the letter. No detective could solve his crimes, and the country was in awe of Dickie Loeb, who hid from no one. He walked the streets with a nonchalant confidence, consulting with friends at his club and helping newspaper reporters on the crime beat. What a magnificent game—the ideal boy, the master criminal, the perfect crime.
-004- p6: A group of pigeons followed her through Cobb Gate into the grey quadrangle of the U of C. Dickie sprinted through the shadow of the ornate stone portal, but she was gone. He heard the gargoyles and griffins atop Cobb Gate laugh as he headed back to Kenwood.
-005- p8: He manufactured emotional satisfaction by demonstrating intellectual superiority over everyone. This feeling of superiority made him indifferent to the feelings of others. One close friend of Dickie Loeb said, ‘He blended [into] his environment as some moths and butterflies do. Dickie was at home with everybody but looked down on everyone.’
With Miss Struthers out of his life, Dickie became an addict looking for a fix. He frantically reached out for attention, for someone who would idlize him, someone who could fill his extreme needs. He found this in a U. of C. freshman named Nathan F. Leopole Jr.
-006- p8: He considered himself a cold-blooded intellect, so mourning was not an option.
Nathan F. Leopold Jr. looked down on his mother’s grave with no emotion. He stood erect in the early morning mist, not giving in to the chilly are or the moment. His long, oval face carried no expression, no hint.
-007- p9: Babe Leopold’s interest in birding followed his cataloging instinct. As a youngster, he collected stamps, butterflies and birds.
-008- p10: Simple in the beginning, the fantasies grew into complicated plots as Babe Leopold reached puberty and searched for his ideal companion.
-009- p11: Man, Nietzsche wrote, has obligation only to his equals. The superman will be a law unto himself.
God is a cruel and senseless God. Making friends will hurt you. There is no such thing as right and wrong. Justice has no objective existence. Happiness is the only thing that matters. Anything that gives pleasure is right, even to steal or kill. The only way to overcome temptation is to give in to it.
According to Friedrich Nietzsche and Babe Leopold, only superior individuals—the noble ones—can rise above to create a heroic life.
-010- p13: … [Dickie] talked of himself in the third person.
-011- p13: As other U. of C. students revelled in fraternity parties and bootleg gin, two confederates with very different personalities schemed to bring life to their childhood fantasies. Their unholy alliance grew under the cover of night.
-012- p14: However, Dickie abandoned his carefully orchestrated heist when they failed to break into the securely locked home. Dickie was happy with the whole idea. The planning, not the bounty pleased him.
-013- p16: On the return trip, Dickie and Babe were tired, and they argued, but they knew they needed each other. On the dark roads between Ann Arbor and Kenwood, they struck a pact: The Master Criminal found his confederate, and the Slave won a personal premium each time he obeyed his King.
-014- pp16-7: ‘At this time there was an almost complete identification of myself with Dick,’ he would say years later. ‘It was blind hero worship.’
In reality, the fulfilment of Babe’s King/Slave fantasy.
-015- p17: This new compact would now allow Dickie and Babe to live out their childhood fantasies and continue their relationship, albeit within certain parameters. ‘For Robert’s Sake’–this was the catalyst. When Dickie made a request for Babe using ‘For Robert’s Sake,’ Babe had to do what Dickie suggested—usually a criminal act. (Under the pact, though, Dickie never commanded Babe to partake in any activity that would cause trouble with Babe’s family.) This cryptic pact would remain alive until Babe travelled to Europe the following summer.
For Babe… The King, tall and strong, came upon the Slave and saved his life. Under the King’s command, he grew healthy and fit. Each time Babe obeyed the ‘For Robert’s Sake’ edict, Dickie rewarded him. Babe had the privilege of inserting his penis between Dickie’s thighs—once for every criminal deed. He would always serve the King.
Babe quickly bought into the deal. He didn’t care about Dickie’s criminal plans, only that the covenant provided satisfaction for this desires, his own personal gratification. It was enough for him.
-016- pp20-1: How easy it was to become a victim on the streets of Chicago. Violence, like bathtub gin, was everywhere. The front page of the Chicago Daily Tribune kept its readers apprised by publishing a morbid, hand-drawn graphic of a death clock. The ‘Hands of Death’ tracked the death toll in Cook County from automobiles, guns, and moonshine. In the last week of November, 1923, the Hands of Death alerted Tribune readers that 643 persons had died since January 1 from automobile accidents, 234 from guns, and 189 from moonshine.
-017- p25: The thrill for Dickie was in the planning and the more complicated the better. The cleverness of the crime—that’s what aroused him.
-018- p26: The idea—ambitious and complicated—was chiefly Dickie’s. Like the picturization of his youth, the malignant plan grew nightly in his mind, clearly, as though he saw it all unfold through a stereoscope viewer: each phase leading up to the crime a different photo card, each scene a vivid, three-dimensional picture. The plan read like a story from one of his childhood detective stories: ‘Dickie Loeb—Master Criminal—Plans His Perfect Crime.’
-019- p41: Like a spider’s web, the Master Criminal’s ‘fool-proof scheme’ widened during the afternoon of May 22. It stretched from Kenwood to Hegewisch and back again. It had already grabbed and killed a young boy, and now it reached out for more.
-020- p51: For Dickie, the planning—the seduction—that was the thrill. As fas as the sex—the act itself—the Master Criminal could easily get along without it.
-021- p51: Many years after he stuffed the dead body of Bobby Franks in the culvert, Babe Leopold wrote, ‘What a rotten writer of detective stories Life is.’
-022- p65: The splash momentarily disrupted the white ribbons of moonlight on the black water.
-023- p69: Babe left the police station in a hurry. He had a date. Babe dated only because it was the thing to do, but the girl still had to measure up. She had to be intelligent and come from a high social stratum.
-024- p94: ‘I had little respect for the opinion of the crowd,’ Darrow said. ‘My instinct was to doubt the majority view. I have always felt that doubt was the beginning of wisdom, and the fear of God was the end of wisdom.’
-025- p95: Babe proudly told his fellow travellers that he was an intellectual anarchist and an atheist. ‘A thirst for knowledge,’ he said, ‘is highly commendable, no matter what extreme pain or injury it may inflict upon others. A six-year-old boy is justified in pulling the wings from a fly, if by so doing he learns that without wings the fly is helpless.’
-026- p109: A philosophy professor from the University of Michigan said the boys should be classified as ‘antinomians’–people who suffer from delusions of genius. ‘They think they are above the codes they despise,’ said Robert Wenly, ‘that those codes are all right for common people, but not for them.’
-027- p110: An Episcopalian minister said he had talked with Babe at a Boy Scout camp a year ago. ‘He is an atheist who believes he is a law unto himself and that he has a right to commit a crime if he wants to take a gamble,’ Rev. Mr Laurence told the Masons.
The pastor quoted Babe as saying, ‘It’s only a question of whether I want to take the gamble. If I have a better mind than others and choose to do something else than they do, that is my privilege. There is no future life or punishment. If I could commit a crime without being caught, I could do so without compunction of conscience. It is only a question whether I care to gamble on the possibility of punishment by lesser minds.’
-028- p110: [Editor of the Tribune:] The relevant question, apart from the proof of fact, is the question of responsibility… In the Franks case, the accused have confessed to a course of action, involving complicated planning, forethought, and deliberate purpose. Both are of exceptional mental attainments, developed by considerable knowledge and elaborate mental training. If the crime was committed according to the confessions, it was one of the most acute, complex, and thoroughly reasoned crimes in the history of crime, revealing not only exceptional mentality but an even more expectional lack of moral perception or inhibition.
-029- p115: But he told the doctors he often discussed religion and morals with his confederate. Babe advised him that the only wrong he could do was to make a mistake. According to Babe, anything that gave you pleasure was right to do.
-030- p119: The doctors concluded that Babe had always had ‘strong and vivid’ fantasies since childhood. And these fantasies have ‘a definite bearing on his behvaiour, particularly with respect to the commission of crimes.’
Over the past few years, Babe wove Dickie into his fantasies, especially his King-Slave fantasy, in which, as the doctors wrote, ‘one individual was under the complete domination of the other.
‘He brings over certain ideas from his world of fantasy into the world of reality, and from his world of reality into his world of fantasy, This resulted in his becoming pathologically suggestible to ideas in the world of reality which could fit in with his world of fantasy and made him uncritical of abnormal ideas,’ the doctors concluded.
-031- p122: One report indicated the defense would claim the boys were victims of folie à deux, or ‘madness for two.’ This rare mental disease results from the coincidental and intimate association of two personalities in a disastrous manner, such as delusive beliefs or ideas.
-032- p133: Gortland went on to tell an angry courtroom that Babe also told him, ‘ “Up to the age of eight, conscience was drilled into me, but after the age of eight I drilled that conscience out. Murder in my code is not a crime; my crime was in getting caught.” ‘
-033- p133: Babe didn’t seem upset about today’s events in court, including Gortland’s testimony. ‘As far as being remorseful,’ he told Krum, ‘I can’t see it. Life is what we make it, and I appear to have made mine what it is today. That’s my lookout and nobody else’s.’
-034- p134: ‘Dickie, the people on the outside are thinking you are about the coldest-blooded mortal in the world because of the way you are acting in court,’ the reporter said. ‘You laugh and josh and appear to be having a good time.’
Dickie put down his newspaper and smiled, ‘Well, what do they want me to do?’
‘I don’t know, I suppose they want you to act natural.’
‘That’s exactly what I am doing. I sit in the courtroom and watch the play as it progresses. When the crowd laughs, I laugh. When it is time to be serious, I am that way. I am a spectator, you know, and like to feel myself as one.’
Dick stood up and walked to the bars and looked Krum straight in the eyes. ‘You can tell the people on the outside that there is no faking or pretending. I have watched you in the courtroom across the table, and you laugh, smile, yawn, look bored, and all the other things. Why should I do different?’
-035- p137: ‘Is youth a mitigating circumstance?’ he asked. ‘Well, we have all been young, and we know that fantasies and vagaries haunt the daily live of a child. We know the dream world we live in. We know that nothing is real. We know the lack of appreciation. We know the condition of the mind of a child. And has the court a right to consider age a mitigatiing circumstance, and if so, why?
‘Here are two boys who are minors. The law would forbid them making contracts, forbid them marrying without the consent of their parents, wouldn’t permit them to vote, why? Because they haven’t that judgment that only comes with years. Because they are not fully responsible.’
-036- p140: Regarding the killing, Dr White said that from Dickie’s perspective, the motive was to commit a perfect crime. ‘He is the master criminal mind and wanted to do a great job, wanted to commit a crime that would be perfect, that would be thoroughly and completely planned in all details, that would baffle the police, that would be an object of great concern in the immediate community, that would leave no clues, that would be an intellectual feat to accomplish.’
-037- p140: ‘He developed in early life a feeling that he himself was more or less set apart from others and that he differed from others in the direction of his superiority. Very early in life he developed a feeling of antagonism toward tender emotions… because they made him suffer.’ Latter [sic] in life, Dr White explained, this attitude turned into ‘a hedonistic philosophy, a philosophy wholly of pleasure and pain, a philosophy of complete and absolute selfishness, a philosophy of mechanism in where there is no bad, where everything is explained wholly and solely and satisfactory upon the mechanistic property.’
-038- p141: To understand the crime, Dr White said, one needed to understand the relationships between the two killers. Dickie needed an audience. In his fantasies, his criminal gang was his audience. In reality, Babe played the role. ‘I cannot see how Babe would have entered into it at all alone because he did not have criminalistic tendencies in any sense as Dickie did, and I don’t think Dickie would have ever functioned to this extent all by himself. So these two boys, with their peculiarly interdigited personalities, came into this emotional compact with the Franks homicide as a result.’
-039- p142: ‘I have reveled in the fact that I have no qualms of conscience.’
‘I have tried to kill affection for years.’
‘Making up my mind to commit murder was practically like making up my mind whether or not I’d eat pie for supper. The question was, ‘Will it give me pleasure?’
-040- p143: Dr Healy would not be tied down to the legal term like ‘insanity.’ He kept his composure and continued, ‘The crime is possible only because Leopold had these abnormal mental trends with the typical feelings and ideas of a paranoid personality. He needed these feelings and ideas supplemented by what Loeb could give him. There is no reason why he should not commit the crime, with his diseased notions. Anything he wanted to do was right, even kidnapping and murder… In other words, he had established personality before he met Loeb, but probably his activities would have taken other directions except for this chance association.’
-041- p143: ‘But Dickie is affable and polite,’ Dr White said. ‘As I see them coming in and going from the courtroom, and I see them sitting there in their seats, it impresses me as though they were attending a college play of some sort. I discussed with Loeb the possibility of terminating his life by hanging, and he said in a matter-of-fact way, “Well, it’s too bad a fellow won’t be able to read about it in the newspapers.” ‘
-042- p144: …two of the most depraved, conceited, ill-mannered, filthy, hell-begotten monstrosities modern society has produced.
-043- p145: John Abt, also a U. of C. law student, said Babe’s philosophy dictated that ‘pleasure was the sole emblem of conduct.’ Abt also talked about Babe’s loyalty to his friends. ‘He would have no remorse in throwing a friend over, no gratitude or friendship with the one exception of a boy he regarded in the light of a superman, a boy who could do anything until he got caught. As soon as he made a mistake and was caught he would cease to be a superman and would return to the level of ordinary mortals, on the same status as other friends.’
-044- p147: This fantasy had set the pattern of his ambition in conscious life to be the perfect slave of the most perfect person he could find. He found such a person, he felt, in Richard Loeb. He wanted to be Loeb’s perfect slave in any way Loeb should request, even to the point of kidnapping and murder or anything else.’
-045- p151: And shortly after that, a gruesome symbol of death appeared as a house across the street from the Franks home. A human head, a pair of withered arms, and a single discoloured leg—positioned in the shape of a pirate’s skull and crossbones—were discovered on the front steps of a home down the street from the Loeb mansion. An envelope sat between the elbows of the severed arms; written on the envelope was ‘Chicago. City of Crime.’ Inside, a message: ‘If the court don’t hang them, we will. K.K.K.’
-046- p152: Doubt, Darrow believed, was the beginning of wisdom.
-047- p156: [Clarence Darrow] ‘We have a statute in this state, passed only last year, if I recall it, which forbids minors reading stories of crime. Why? There is only one reason. Because the legislature in its wisdom felt that it would produce criminal tendencies in the boys who read them. The legislature of this state has given its opinion and forbidden these boys to read these books. He read them day after day. He never stopped.’
-048- p156: [the murder was] …the act of a child wandering around in the morning of life.
-049- p157: Babe is somewhat older than Dick and is a boy of remarkable mind—away beyond his years. He is sort of a freak in this direction, as in others; a boy without emotions, a boy possessed of philosophy, a boy obsessed of learning, busy every minute of his life.’
It was the scornful teachings of the philosopher Nietzsche, Darrow said, that guided Babe. ‘At seventeen, at sixteen, at eighteen, while healthy boys were playing baseball or working on the farm, or doing odd jobs, he was reading Nietzsche, a boy who never should have seen it, at that early age. Babe was obsessed of it, and here are some of the things which Nietzsche taught.
‘Why so soft, oh, my brethren? Why so soft, so unresisting and yielding? Why is there so much disavowal and abnegation in your heart? Why is there so little fate in your looks? For all creators are hard, and it must seem blessedness upon you to press your hand upon millenniums and upon wax. This new table, oh, my brethren, I put over to you: Become hard. To be obsessed by moral consideration presupposed a very low grade of intellect. We should substitute for morality the will to our own end and consequently to the means to accomplish that.’
Placing a hand on the judge’s bench, Darrow looked directly into the eyes of Judge Caverly and asked, ‘Why should this boy’s life be bound up with Frederick Nietzsche, who died thirty years ago, insane, in Germany? I don’t know. I only know it is. I know that no man who ever wrote a line that I read failed to influence me to some extent. I know that every life I ever touched influenced me, and I influenced it, and that it is not given to me to unravel the infinite cause and say, ‘This is I, and this is you.’ I am responsible for so much; and you are responsible for so much.
-050- pp180-1: ‘Dickie Loeb needed to be respected, to have an audience,’ Dr Cormalleth said. ‘It is part of narcissistic need, particularly to outsmart the smartest detective. Really good crooks adjust to any environment. A good example of this is his essay [in Richard’s Magazine] about random victimization during the bombings of World War I. In his mind, the way to escape the randomness—being this grandiose, narcissitic boy—is to be the killer. Take control of the randomness.’
-051- p181: Babe’s fantasy centred on his Nietzschean belief of genuine autonomy. In this fantasy, the Slave actually refused his freedom. ‘It proves his mastery,’ dr. Cormalleth contends, ‘because he makes the choice.’ Babe believed each individual should live without limits, without moral obligation.

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