Madness Theory

This poem would not be the same without the comments added by Nat, so I have included his commentary.

Madness Theory

“Life doesn’t make any sense.
It is irrational and defies human logic.
We can’t know why there is something rather than nothing.”

The Trickster is always hungry!
The center of the universe is in the pit of my belly.
We are born, not into Sin, but into Madness.
Tyranny is justified by ‘therapy.”
The History of Madness resembles the History of Philosophy.
In excluding madness, philosophy betrays itself.

Madness can be philosophically repressed,
But it makes itself heard through literary texts
In literature, the role of madness is philosophical.
The literary madman is a disguised philosopher.
Madness is an uncivilized preference for solitude.
Madness is impossible desire for a woman.
Madness is reduced to the diminished status of “mental illness.”
Madness is the most subversive of all cultural questions.
Madness implies exclusion – to be outside a culture

Am I inside or outside the madness I discuss?
The question of madness is nothing less than
The question of thought itself:
The question of madness is that which turns the
Essence of thought into a question

Hegel places madness inside thought;
Nietzsche places thought inside madness.

The entire history of Western culture
Is a story of Reason’s conquest and repression
of that which it calls madness.

I can no longer accept ignorance on the part of the masses
As the explanation of fascism – I demand an explanation
That takes into account the desires of the masses

Masses of desiring-machines asking for repression
Not only for others – but also for themselves.

We speak of the masses, the deluded masses –
No! This may not be the case at all
The gorts are not the innocent dupes
We may have thought them to be

Under a certain set of conditions
They want fascism, they desire chains
Chains for me, chains for you,
and worst of all, chains for themselves
But I sense the masses are not innocent dupes

It is the perversion of the desire
Of the masses that needs to be accounted for
If we are to at least be conscious
Of the bars of our cages as we address
The rulers and wardens and guards and bosses
Here in the Prison Colony of Shitting Machines

As you wake up to your true nature,
You will be like a mute who has had a dream,
but is unable to talk about it.

NAT:

Buddha? Pfffft… for the novice. For those further down the road, nothing less than Social Security will suffice. Don’t tell me you’re “liberated” from behind the wall of your cubicle. First join the modern monastery of SSI and get your begging bowl – then we’ll talk.

Life doesn’t make any sense.
It is irrational and defies human logic.
We can’t know why there is something rather than nothing.

Nat wrote:

And beyond that, if we dig all the way down, we can’t even distinguish “something” from “nothing” meaningfully. From one perspective, there is everything, from another perspective there is nothing, and from the perspective that transcends both perspectives there is both, neither, and neither both or neither. But that makes no logical sense, so it’s the same as saying “MU” or “blargyblarg.” Arrrrrrrgh!!!

So, one comes to the end of all that after a while. The intellect is exhausted in order to demonstrate to itself its own limitations. Sneaky, eh? At the end of all the wordplay, there is just THIS, and as you point out, it’s beyond rationality and beyond logic. These tools, around which all human activity in the world is structured, mean nothing in the face of the world itself. The universe, as Sartre, Camus, Zen, and the Tao contend, is simply a “brute fact.”

I AM THAT I AM.

The Trickster is always hungry!
The center of the universe is in the pit of my belly.
We are born, not into Sin, but into Madness.
Tyranny is justified by ‘therapy.”
The History of Madness resembles the History of Philosophy.
In excluding madness, philosophy betrays itself.

Nat wrote:

The forms of madness which hide madness from the mad are considered sane, despite the obvious insanity of self-delusion. The forms of madness which recognize madness are considered insane, despite the obvious sanity of telling it like it is.

I wrote a little note yesterday which might sum it up:

Oh, I’m crazy, alright. In a world as backward as this one, I worry about the sanity of anyone who isn’t crazy.

Madness can be philosophically repressed,
But it makes itself heard through literary texts
In literature, the role of madness is philosophical.
The literary madman is a disguised philosopher.
Madness is an uncivilized preference for solitude.
Madness is impossible desire for a woman.
Madness is reduced to the diminished status of “mental illness.”
Madness is the most subversive of all cultural questions.
Madness implies exclusion – to be outside a culture

Nat wrote:

Yes. Our culture is so throughly crazy that it thinks this life and this universe make sense. To point out that life is logically and rationally absurd is a thoroughly sane act which renders one “insane” in this culture. The illusion of control over the very nature of existence (through logic and rationality) must be maintained at all costs, or the justification for all the elaborate and “honorable” ways of screwing others over falls apart.

Orwell was onto something in more ways than even he might have known.

As for literature, many great works are about this in some sense. Man and his reasoning, questioning, thinking, and believing nature are pitted against a world, a universe, a society,or a system which makes no sense and is indifferent to his machinations. Psychological struggles result. Moby Dick is about this, for example. So is Kafka. So is my unwritten autobiography.

Hegel places madness inside thought;
Nietzsche places thought inside madness.

Nat wrote:

Both are right,of course, and both would likely acknowledge it, since they both understood the essential duality of thought and perspective. Every thought or idea implies its opposite, and that is why thought can never grasp nature directly, for nature has no opposite. Or, to put it another way, Nature IS its own opposite. The infinite must include the finite or it is not truly infinite. The Tao is sufficient to include what is not the Tao. If that were not the case, it would mean nothing to be a Taoist.

The entire history of Western culture
Is a story of Reason’s conquest and repression
of that which it calls madness.

Nat wrote:

And it has made many people so crazy that they actually believe it has succeeded.

I can no longer accept ignorance on the part of the masses
As the explanation of fascism – I demand an explanation
That takes into account the desires of the masses

Masses of desiring-machines asking for repression
Not only for others – but also for themselves.

Nat wrote:

Exactly. Fascism keeps cropping up because there is a part of our society that wants it. Ugly as the consequences may be, it makes sense of things and gives value, meaning, and purpose to our lives. There is almost no limit to what people will stomach for those psychological rewards.

We speak of the masses, the deluded masses –
No! This may not be the case at all
The gorts are not the innocent dupes
We may have thought them to be

Under a certain set of conditions
They want fascism, they desire chains
Chains for me, chains for you,
and worst of all, chains for themselves
But I sense the masses are not innocent dupes

It is the perversion of the desire
Of the masses that needs to be accounted for
If we are to at least be conscious
Of the bars of our cages as we address
The rulers and wardens and guards and bosses
Here in the Prison Colony of Shitting Machines

Nat wrote:

Yes – and until we convince people to be satisfied in living without such “must-haves” as meaning and purpose in their lives, or at least how to find alternative sources for them (or better yet, alternative understandings of what they really are), their desire for these psychological payoffs will continue to be exploited by those who seek their own ends.

As you wake up to your true nature,
You will be like a mute who has had a dream,
but is unable to talk about it.

Nat wrote:

Very true. The ultimate truth of things can’t be talked about because it transcends thought and language. It is experienced directly. But we can at least talk about the psychology of these things, and try to become what Richard Rose termed a “reverse vector” – retreating from all falsehood and delusion until the direct and unclouded experience of reality is all that is left.

Easier said than done, though. Thanks a ton for your post and for giving me the opportunity to babble and philosophize in ways nobody else wants to hear. I’ll have to leave it at that, because others in the household are up now and their disdain for for this sort of thing is very psychologically stifling. These days, I find I can do this when by myself.

From Catch 22 (Bipolar Disorder Explained):

“Well, do you know what you are? You’re a frustrated, unhappy, disillusioned, undisciplined, maladjusted man!” Major Sanderson’s disposition seemed to mellow as he reeled off the uncomplimentary adjectives.

“Yes, sir,” Yossarian agreed carefully. “I guess you’re right.”

“Of course I’m right. You’re immature. You’ve been unable to adjust to the idea of war.”

“Yes, sir.”

“You have a morbid aversion to dying. You probably resent the fact that you’re at war and might get your head blown off any second.”

“I more than resent it, sir. I’m absolutely incensed.”

“You have deep-seated survival anxieties. And you don’t like bigots, bullies, snobs or hypocrits. Subconciously there are many people you hate.”

“Consciously, sir, consciously,” Yossarian corrected in an effort to help. “I hate them consciously.”

“You’re antagonistic to the idea of being robbed, exploited, degraded, humiliated or deceived. Misery depresses you. Ignorance depresses you. Persecution depresses you. Violence depresses you. Slums depress you. Greed depresses you. Crime depresses you. Corruption depresses you. You know, it wouldn’t surprise me if you’re a manic-depressive!”

“Yes, sir, perhaps I am.”

One thought on “Madness Theory

  1. Pingback: Madness Theory Revisited | What Now ???

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