They are playing a game. They are playing at not playing a game. If I show them I see they are, I shall break the rules and they will punish me. I must play their game, of not seeing I see the game.
I must claim some sort of personal connection here. I once had a girlfriend whose sister was supposed to be schizophrenic. Somehow she got involved with R.D.Laing. When I enjoyed my spell in a psychiatric institution she was a fellow patient. That whole episode occupies about one volume of my epic. So she appears in my epic, along with Hell and Heaven and Purgatory, who also put in a guest appearance.
I suspect the whole of life is a double bind. (My so-called education certainly was.) The 'sane' externalise all that in their wars, etc., i.e. by taking sides. The 'mad' refuse to take sides, and so internalise it in their breakdowns, etc.
As I see it only the artist actually cottons onto the right way of untying the knot. And even there it is vanishingly few who succeed. Some may say that the mystic and the saint do so as well. But unlike artists they fail to leave any sort of trail behind them. So their achievements are difficult to assess, and even more difficult to follow.
Art also provides a supreme mystical methodology, where the feedback is almost immediate. I heartily recommend it. But with the one caveat that, as in all pursuits of the good the true and the beautiful, it is important to choose good, true and beautiful rôle models, and to discipline yourself according to their advice and their instructions. Which they provide only too plentifully in their actual work.
However it is also important always to remain critically alert. After all Christ himself said on one occasion: 'Why do you call me good? I am not good. Only God is good.' So even the best in the final analysis are never good enough.
Wow- read both decades ago. His Knots is a classic.
My Mother struggled with mental illness for the better part of her adult life. As the oldest, I had the benefit of knowing her before she went over the edge. It was something that has shaped me as an adult into a free thinker. What or where is the demarcation point between creativity and insanity? I have no idea but have always wondered who is sane and who isn't? Who gets to decide that? What is the proper treatment for mental illness when we know so little about how the brain functions? I have more question's than answers.
I believe in life after death and have formulated my own version of that, but do not malign the belief systems of others in the process. It is a very personal thing.
Thank you for posting as my mind races with the possibilities.
Excellent and well-researched piece. I think however you are perhaps too hard on mr Laing. It was courageous of him to stand against electroconvulsive therapy. If he represented a more Dionysian approach to things; well, who would not be tempted, being brought up in Glasgow, in the 30s, through rationing, war & the Clydebank blitz.
I am familiar with what was. I am 74. I am white. I am articulate,. I appear normal and I have a PhD vocabulary and a what they a genius in logic.
I am autistic or at least that is what it is now called. I have a giant multicolour keyboard like the ones in kindergarten . The big problem is I keep wearing out the letters on the keys and I can't type without seeing the letters and I can only use one finger at a time..
I am almost 75 and I could never do school. I didn't belong.
I couldn't do many things because I couldn't do them.
I dismissed as lazy when I was simply incompetent.
Incompetency isn't a sin, it isn't an illness it is what it is.
It is the 30th anniversary of John Ralston Saul's Voltaire's Bastards subtitled The Dictatorship of Reason in the West.
Sir John is very much alive and still writing after consecutive terms as head of PEN International.
As Sir John points out it is Hannah Arendt's Banality of Evil that drives Western economic and political thought. We call it reason but we are banal and reason has become utterly and completely banal.
I know schizophrenics but I don't know what it feels like to be schizophrenic.
I understand logic but I also understand reason and logic are two different things.
Thirty years ago Time Magazine called John Ralston Saul a prophet.
My father grew up in Poland, a Jew who attended Catholic schools and understood many languages. I understand Chomsky . He is relatable. I am John Ralston Saul's age and grew up in Montreal and my life has given me an understanding of John Ralston Saul.
To quote an ancient Hebrew philosopher truth shall set you free.
We live in a universe that has no design or purpose.
Schizophrenia sometimes means seeing thing that aren't there. Reason is not logical in a universe where the only constant is change.
Darwin was the Messiah.
All we can do celebrate our humanity.
I can see much clearer now how schizoid tendencies go right along with sectarian thinking, and that disembodiment (disassociation and floating off from the body) is the root of those.
No wonder Puritanisms (in religion, politics, philosophy, etc), despite their productivity and work ethic, are so good at sparking off integration collapses and generating internecine sects. The light ever in denial of the shadow, but keep drawing the vengeance of the repressed (or abandoned) Feminine.
"Purity testing" will be the opposite of Sacred hospitality.
Perhaps Laing is not an exception to this split between (celebrated) abstract brilliance and (closeted) failed instantiation, at least in the Graeco-Christian lineage. It should be expected in a culture that can't see past the dualism it uses to obtain certain powers.
Here's a fact: the Psalms and the Qur'an, are very clear the Creator is Lord of and Source of both Heaven and Earth. The forms of Christianity that won out on the other hand want to call the Creator a "Heavenly Father", and make "Heaven" paradisiacal and "Hell" deeply within the Earth, following existing Graeco-Roman spiritualist dualistic cul-de-sacs.
Acceptance of one's body, and other parts of our "imperfection", was not the same great difficulty for other civilizational streams. Where emptiness is form and form is emptiness, it isn't hard to imagine that in paradise/Jannah ("the Garden", NOT "Heaven") you retain a body and still enjoy sex!
No wonder Descartes could only have arose out of the West. Now, after colonialism that we are all "Graeco-Christian" and have adopted Descartes and joined the "modern world", guilt and double bind games (individual and societal) are all but universal.
"White Man's Burden" indeed, continued now by the same stream to save us all from the mess they brought in in the first place... again. And fair enough now, for that may be the only route left to us in this messed up culture... and so long as that stream repents from it's pretensions and ensuing Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde ways, it might actually work.
...any form of suspected sanity presents the most far reaching challenge to the medical establishment...now more than ever as a consequence reflecting the unholy extent to which such establishments are radically politicized...their moral impetus being compromised and perhaps inverted...