Madness and Modernism: Disturbances in Distance


Madness and Modernism: Insanity in the Light of Modern Art, Literature, and Thought

Patient: Yes, we all have perspectives, everyone does, and then you have to ask the perspective spirit to help you find a home you can live in, if you don’t have one, and so…
Interviewer: Where is this perspective spirit?
Patient: Yes, where is it? As a rule one has four perspectives, one in the head and one in each wrist, yes.
Interviewer: And what happened to the fourth?
Patient: One in the head… no, I don’t really know. Or two in the head… There is at any rate, I don’t really remember. But I, I don’t rightly know it’s arranged. I don’t know how it’s arranged.

Nietzsche’s own perspectivism: “unbelief as an instinct,” “absolute skepticism toward all inherited concepts” and toward “anthropomorphic error” whereby the mind indentifies its own constructs with reality itself. … The more eyes, the more modes of seeing and knowing, the better. But these multiple are only good if they incite action… and overabundance of perspectives to the point of paralysis is stupid.

One needs, among other things, to maintain a certain optimal degree of distance in one’s experiential stance—neither coming so close to the world of sensory or material particulars as to lose oneself in it’s sheer actuality, its infinite minutiae, or its endless mutability, nor moving so far away from the particular objects or sensations as to lose touch with their conventional meanings or practical significance. (149)
Illogical thinking: Thinking that contains obvious internal contradictions or in which conclusions are reached that are clearly erroneous, given the initial premises. (152)

Social contract: accepting the regular definitions of words. Instead Schizophrenics use this as a starting point for a deeper definition of the things.

The thematic apperception test is a test of the temporal ability to tell as story. The Rorschach tests one’s ability to spatially elicit forms, like painting.

past and future are described so perfunctorily that they do not seem to exist. The story has a quality of presentism or timelessness.

Schizophrenics tend to use adverbs of a spatial type to replace those of a chronological type (where may replace when)… they emphasize the static and deemphasize the dynamic/emotional aspects… immobility of time… the past seems like disconnected fragments… infinite present… (156)

Silvano Artieti describes the “seriatum function” in which schizophrenics lose the ability or will to organize acts or thoughts into causal sequence. (156)

They’re delusions relate to the present, not the future.

The schizophrenic: purposelessly stare at a portion of time and space, with no attempt to construe this portion as fitting into a causal or purposive sequence. (158)

time is crystallized into immobility (158)

The hand is constantly different: not it is here, then if jumps so to speak and turns. Isn’t this a new hand every time? Maybe somebody is behind the wall and keeps replacing the hand with another one at a different place each time. You get absorbed in the observation of the clock and lose the thread that leads you to yourself. (158)

“I look for immobility. I tend toward repose and immobilization. I also have in me a tendency to immobilize life around me… Stone is immobile. The earth, on the contrary, moves; it doesn’t inspire any confidence in me. I attach importance only to solidity. A train passes by an embankment, the train does not exist for me; I wish only to construct the embankment. The past is a precipice. The future is a mountain. Thus I conceived of the idea of putting a buffer day between the past and the future. Throughout this day I will try to do nothing at all. I will go for forty-eight hours without urinating. I will try to revive my impressions of fifteen years ago, to make time flow backward, to die with the same impression with which I was born, to make circular movements so as to not move too far away from the base in order not to be uprooted. This is what I wish.”

morbid geometrism: loss of depth and time.

This rendering of flatness or a-dimensionality achieves simultaneously the materiality of objectivism (the object as is) but also draws attention to the process of reflexive rendering (the way the object is represented… that the “as-is” is rendered, subjective, pushed out of the mind). (161)

Rorschach Test;

“thick disconnected dots on the peripheral flanges of the image, what could either happen from a dripping or a smearing effect. On the outer edge of the image, there seem to be some light dots, on the inner part of the image, some darker dots, indicating a build-up of ink. Right at the head of the image, it’s more of a very delimited line, more of a descriptive stroke.” (165)

too close: Goldstein refers to the concreteness of schizophrenics, in which they are bound by, too close to stimuli (infantile subservience to the object) (165)

too distant/abstract: “it’s a symbolic volcano,” “histological plate, the sensation obtaining between light and one’s eyes”

“Should I also see what looks like dirt as part of the picture? See, this is dirt or lint.”

“Then what comes to me is an imaginary—I can’t explain it—is an imaginary figment, a structural figment… You can consider it anthropomorphic. It’s a kinship, you can identify, it’s a system, belief.”

“Blurring of orange and green. I think in the simple blurring there seems to be something archetypal, or an emblem. I don’t really see any purpose in telling you this looks like this, this like this.” (166)

[Tester: You saw a man, but with a face like a penguin?] It didn’t really make sense to me but…I noticed that his face looked like it could resemble a penguin. A penguin may have to do with sharply pressed black and white. Like the idea of cleanliness. Somehow the idea seems bland. Not so much bland, but blasé. [What’s bland or blasé?] The contrast of black and white. And I think blasé fits better, because it’s not bland. [How is it blasé?] Because black and white, white, sharply defined and socially accepted criteria of contrast, whether it be of race, morals, just because we’re told one is a representation. [Why blasé?] Just because of all the colors I could think of, they’re the most comfortable. (167)

Michael Piper said that becoming too aware of the can against one’s hand disrupts one’s ability to use it to explore the world (this is the called the “tactile dimension” in which there is a crucial distance between explicit and implicit knowledge)

This is not a pipe.

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