Author Topic: Madness Theory  (Read 1638 times)

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Madness Theory
« on: October 28, 2014, 11:57:47 am »
I enjoy browsing the shelves of the library after dark.  It is open late three nights per week, and I have found that this is when I allow myself to search for a text written by an author that is actually in my orbit.  I found a book that looks promising by Barbara Tepa Lupack.  Insanity As Redemption in Contemporary American Fiction: Inmates Running the Asylum, circa 1995.  The text looks as if it hasn't been read.  There are so many older books there that are tempting to borrow, dating back to the late 1800's and early 1900's, but their pages are brittle and/or loose, and I am concerned that, were I to be reading outdoors near the ocean or leaning against a tree, the wind would destroy them.  Hence, I usually limit myself to the sturdier texts. 

I tried to strike up a conversation about this book with one of the attractive librarians, but she shied away, not understanding anything I said.  It may be a combination of language barriers as well as a total lack of interest in subversive literature on her part.  As Schopenhauer said, not every Hansel finds his Gretel.  I told her that the book looks promising as it insinuates that those who do not “fit into our society” glued together by illusions and hallucinations may be the most authentic.  She simply told me that she does not understand as she backed away …  Schopenhauer had said that a married philosopher belongs in comedy.  I might add to this proposition that a flirting philosopher is rather comical as well.

What initially attracted me to this text is that the author examines five major works, three of which have left deep impressions on me, namely Joseph Heller's Catch-22, Ken Kessey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five – the latter two I was actually required reading in the private high school I attended in my youth.  The head of the English department was evidently trying to tell us something.  When I would try to discuss these and other works, like Ira Levin's This Perfect Day or John Brunner's The Sheep Look Up, with fellow adolescents back in my hometown, they informed me that these were not in their curriculum.  They would insist that “that school is messing up your head.”

My track coach sat me down one day and accused the head of the English department of being a subversive Communist … a rather novelesque adolescence, no?  Dead Poets' Society?  Myths, Dreams, and Cultures: The Real Man's Club.

In the fiction Barbara Tepa Lupack examines, each protagonist is mad or is considered to be mad – but who reveals a special insight into the dangers of social, political, and cultural conformity.  All seek confirmation of their authenticity, and all offer social and ethical remedies that challenge bureaucratic institutions – solutions that amount to inmates running the asylum.  This is what “Holden” and I are attempting to do with a humble little old-fashioned anti-Facebook message board launched in 2014: seeking confirmation of our authenticity.  This is, in fact and in deed, what the Gort Busters website was doing, what the Why Work website was offering.  Is it not rather eerie that these projects were either aborted, died from lack of participation, or were destroyed by some kind of Operation Cyberstorm?  And yet, as with Daniel Quinn's Ishmael, dialogue only requires a truthful mind.  Only the truthful can even see the truth (see poem, Hyperborean Winter). 

I may be taking extensive notes from this text as it is related to one of my favorite books of Critical Theory, Shoshana Felman's Writing & Madness, the book which inspired the poem/principle, Madness Theory, which most definitely resonates with The Inversion Principle which I had been exposed to in “The Real Man's Club” in the mid-1980's.  Here I sit, thirty years later, a full-fledged Steppenwolf typing away in his domicile at 3AM in the morning.

See "Madness Theory" at

Much like my nephew in the gortbusting years and “Nat” in the whywork years, I have to credit “Holden” for personally motivating and inspiring me to continue to document my scholarly activities in such an anti-intellectual environment as we live in this twenty-first century Bizarroland culture called the Space Age or the Machine Age – mass industrial consumerist culture, which is a spiritually bankrupt perfumed corpse.  Now I will continue to develop Madness Theory, a spiritual/intellectual descendant of The Inversion Principle.  It is all interconnected.

I want to implement Madness Theory by commenting on the hypocrisy the status quo, thereby challenging the social order.  This is my living protest and actual historical rebellion against oppressive social institutions (religion, government, big business, the military), i.e., what John Trudell refers to as “the corporate state” - the Enemy.  Know your enemy.

Early in the text (Insanity As Redemption) I come across a reference to R.D. Laing, and I am instantly validated as anti-Freudian. 

Quote from: Barbara Tepa Lupack
Noted British anti-Freudian psychoanalyst R.D. Laing offered an even more radical view of social repression and societal transformation, one that was especially appealing to writers and social thinkers of the 1960's and 1970's.  Influential in shaping the deep current of dissatisfaction with external authority, his works proposed that the distinction between conformity and nonconformity, sanity and insanity, was not always very clear.  Laing conceived of madness as a struggle for liberation from false attitudes and values, an encounter with primary feelings and impulses that constitutes the possibility of the emergence of the “true self” hidden from the false outer being, whose chief function is adjustment to the demands of the society and the family (as its offshoot). 

“True sanity,” he wrote in The Politics of Experience, “entails in one way or another the dissolution of … that false self completely adjusted to our alienated social reality.”  Insanity, Laing concluded, might very well be a state of health in a mad world.

Laing's ideas found their parallels in many novels.  Even the notion that society itself resembles a madhouse has had a durable career in modern fiction.

mad world

I call it, besides Science Fiction Bizarroland and The Perfumed Corpse, The Funny Farm Plantation.

Barbara Tepa Lupack continues:

Quote from: Barbara Tepa Lupack
J.D. Salinger's rebel-hero Holden Caulfield's quest in The Catcher in the Rye ended in an insane asylum and “signaled the end of American quests for the pure Utopia.”

She even mentions John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces, offering insight into the absurdity of Ignatius Reilly's predicament:

Quote from: Barbara Tepa Lupack
And the journey – a retreat from his mother's lunacy – that Ignatius J. Reilly takes in A Confederacy of Dunces propels him into the arms of the equally loony girlfriend he had earlier tried to avoid.  He merely trades one brand of absurdity for another.

[…] in a world as devoid of meaning […] madness is both a legitimate response and an effective challenge to the superficial sanity of the social order and historical process.  Only a person out of step with society has an appropriate vantage point from which to view its failings; only a person who fails to obey the institutions that mandate certain behaviors can appreciate their rigitity and the consequences of nonconformity.

screaming like a baby
« Last Edit: November 12, 2014, 11:31:10 am by { } »

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Re: Madness Theory
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2014, 12:12:55 pm »
I guess it is a good idea to place the original so-called poem here, minus the comments.


“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 ****ting 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.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2014, 01:02:50 pm by { } »

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Re: Madness Theory
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2014, 12:19:33 pm »
Nat responding to the excerpt from Heller's Catch-22:  "Bipolar 'disorder' explained."

The Right To Be Unhappy

Is it time for another overhaul in the psych-ward?

There is not only a sense of shame in "checking in" to a hospital, but there is also the fear of being incarcerated "for our own protection" should we be diagnosed as suicidal. I wonder how many people suffer psychological agony in silence, afraid to reach out to others, isolated in a dimension called loneliness?

There is a stigma that goes along with having "nervous breakdowns" or "losing it" or "blacking out" or just being "too emotional" for polite (phony) society. People may consider emotionally disturbed people as "weak-minded," and this may prevent disturbed individuals from reaching out for help when they feel themselves "losing it."

Besides, I suppose emotionally disturbed people look around and see other people somehow "coping with existence," enduring the anxiety and stress of living in the Industrial World. Many may just suffer silently through their mental anguish from a "sense of duty" ("If others are coping with life without falling to pieces, why can't I?")

I have my own ways of coping, I guess. I have allowed this world to get into my head, so it is up to me to take my mind back from it. We each have to take our minds back. I do this by walking into the woods away from the cars and concrete, but today I think I was able to reach that state of awe and wonder just by holding a little stone in my hand and feeling it, looking at it with wonder at just BEING.

If I can find that state of mind ... where one looks at one's own hand for the first time.

Anyway, it is better to "go crazy" and become more fully alive than to be a well-adjusted drone trapped to schedules and socially-approved opinions and views.

How does one know when one has had enough? On January 3, 1889, Nietzsche suffered a mental collapse. Two policemen approached him after he caused a public disturbance in the streets of Turin. What happened remains unknown, but an often-repeated tale states that Nietzsche witnessed the flogging of a horse at the other end of the Piazza Carlo Alberto, ran to the horse, threw his arms up around its neck to protect it, and then collapsed to the ground.

In the following few days, Nietzsche sent short writings—known as the Wahnbriefe ("Madness Letters")—to a number of friends. I try to be strong, but maybe enough is enough. How much are we expected to endure? Don't we all have different thresholds as far as how much we can endure before we "crack"?

Although most commentators regard Nietzsche's breakdown as unrelated to his philosophy, Georges Bataille drops dark hints ("'man incarnate' must also go mad") ... manic-depressive illness with periodic psychosis ...

Let's see ... A mental collapse, more commonly referred to as a nervous breakdown, occurs when stress levels are so high that your body is unable to cope with them. You become emotionally and physically unable to function on a daily basis.

You may feel highly fatigued and experience panic attacks and breathing difficulty. Victims of a mental collapse may cry uncontrollably and not even know the reason why they are crying. Frequent flashback to traumatic events can make emotions worse. Victims may suffer from schizophrenia and ultimately the breakdown can overwhelm the victim and suicidal thoughts may emerge.

Suicide isn’t wanting to die. It’s not being able to bear living. You are experiencing what are called post-traumatic stress symptoms. Your traumatic experience can make you a stronger and wiser person. The potential is there for you to learn and grow in ways you may not have considered had the trauma never occurred.

Here are some notes I've gathered from the Internet from various sources that may help us value our psychotic "expressions of distress" as cathartic and transformative experiences.

From Wiki:

Laing's view of madness

Laing argued that the strange behaviour and seemingly confused speech of people undergoing a psychotic episode were ultimately understandable as an attempt to communicate worries and concerns, often in situations where this was not possible or not permitted. Laing stressed the role of society, and particularly the family, in the development of madness. He argued that individuals can often be put in impossible situations, where they are unable to conform to the conflicting expectations of their peers, leading to a 'lose-lose situation' and immense mental distress for the individuals concerned. (In 1956, Gregory Bateson articulated a related theory of schizophrenia as stemming from Double Bind situations.) Madness was therefore an expression of this distress, and should be valued as a cathartic and transformative experience.

This was in stark contrast to the psychiatric orthodoxy of the time and is still contrary to the majority opinion of mainstream psychiatry. Psychiatrist and philosopher Karl Jaspers had previously pronounced, in his seminal work General Psychopathology, that the content of madness (and particularly of delusions) were 'un-understandable', and therefore were worthy of little consideration except as a sign of some other underlying primary disorder. Laing was revolutionary in valuing the content of psychotic behaviour and speech as a valid expression of distress, albeit wrapped in an unusual personal symbolism. According to Laing, if a therapist can better understand the person they can begin to make sense of the symbolism of their madness, and therefore start addressing the concerns which are the root cause of their distress.

It is notable that Laing never denied the existence of mental illness, but simply viewed it in a radically different light from his contemporaries. For Laing, madness could be a transformative episode whereby the process of undergoing mental distress was compared to a shamanic journey. The traveller could return from the journey with important insights, and may even have become a wiser and more grounded person as a result.

Laing was involved in research linking development of psychosis to family background. Despite supporting evidence, this has been controversial ever since, and the influence of parents who feel 'blamed' for a child's diagnosis of schizophrenia accounts for most of Laing's unpopularity in many circles. It was an inappropriate attribution by commentators who had not grasped the breadth of Laing's view of the nature of pathogenesis in families, as he had maintained throughout his career that parents are equally mystified, and unaware of the disturbed nature of the patterns of communication. Laing's most enduring and practically beneficial contribution to mental health, however, is probably his co-founding and chairmanship in 1964 of the Philadelphia Association and the wider movement of therapeutic communities, adopted in more effective and less confrontational psychiatric settings.

Laing is often regarded as an important figure in the anti-psychiatry movement, along with David Cooper and Michel Foucault. However, like many of his contemporaries, labelling him as 'anti-psychiatry' is a caricature of his stated views. Laing never denied the value of treating mental distress, but simply wanted to challenge the core values of contemporary psychiatry which considered (and some would say still considers) mental illness as primarily a biological phenomenon of no intrinsic value.

Laing, was, however, a critic of psychiatric diagnosis and argued that diagnosis of a mental disorder contradicted accepted medical procedure: diagnosis was made on the basis of behavior or conduct, and examination and ancillary tests that traditionally precede diagnosis of viable pathologies like broken bones or pneumonia occurred after (if at all) the diagnosis of mental disorder. The notion that biological psychiatry is a real science or a genuine branch of medicine has been challenged by other critics.


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My Dear Theo,

You give me great pleasure by writing-every post of yours means a great deal to me.All I can say is that I look forward to your writing the way van Gogh would have waited for the paints from Theo-with barely suppressed  impatience.Your writing to me is the bread of life.You are the most gifted,honest individual I have ever known.

When I wrote"There's an inherent problem with Mr H's philosophy" my implication was this:

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
or as McLean wrote" But I could have told you Vincent, this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you."

Have you ever felt like some kind of rebellious creature on a high-tech plantation who may be useless to the zoo-keepers specifically because of particular strengths which the engineers and managers find to be "defects of character"?
 :D All the time Mr H,all the time :D

Much like my nephew in the gortbusting years and “Nat” in the whywork years, I have to credit “Holden” for personally motivating and inspiring me to continue to document my scholarly activities in such an anti-intellectual environment as we live in this twenty-first century Bizarroland culture called the Space Age or the Machine Age

Thank*you* for writing to me.Unlike you, I don't have a way with words so I cannot fully express how grateful I am that you write to me.So,let me  just say thank you- a zillion times.
About the Madness theory-does the madman dream? I had a very vivid dream last night,about an ex of mine.In the dream,we met at some sort of business conference,we started talking & I began to feel warm & fuzzy.And then she asked,"How we can improved the performance of the organization"? The question made me angry.I said" I don't give a damn about what happens to the organization.Its not just about this corporation-they are all the same-octopi.

" I am a socialist S.-"."Have you ever read Trotsky & Guevara"?She got annoyed & I woke up with severe pain in my chest.

Thank you once more, and a good handshake in thought.

Ever yours,Holden.

PS-What's wrong with your teeth exactly?Could you not get it remedied?

PPS-I'll see on the dark of the moon..
« Last Edit: October 29, 2014, 02:59:26 pm by Holden »
Life is not a quest for pleasure, but a philosophical task.

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Re: Madness Theory
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2014, 01:19:14 pm »
Insanity As Redemption may very well be the most relevant text I've encountered since Felman's Writing & Madness – relevant to Madness Theory, that is.  Both texts are written by women.  Not surprisingly, most of my literary influences have been male.  Is it significant that both these intellectuals are female?  I'm not sure, but I know I will try to remain open to such voices from now on.  Both text are Literary Theory or Critical Theory.  While, when I had the opportunity to attend university, I was focused on Mathematics and Computer Science, I was thoroughly stimulated by electives in Literary Theory and Sociology, as well as Anthropology.  In fact, I found the professors in these fields to have far more of what I would call “personality” than the professors of more technical subjects, although the Multivariable Calculus professor at Rutgers called these other subjects “touchy-feely”.   I will take the opportunity here to state that I took Calculus III as an “elective” and wrecked the curve.   In my first semester there, most of the courses I needed for a Computer Science major were full, and I was amped for mathematics, so I took a chance with three rough math courses.  I held my own.

I only mention this as evidence of my peculiarity.  I wonder if anyone else in Rutgers' history has taken Multivariable Calculus as an elective and received a 4.0 (A) in it.  I was a maintenance worker in a park, and Matt Damon is a vast conspiracy!

Back to the subject.  In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, McMurphy's “revolution” starts the moment he appears on the ward.

Quote from: Lupack
His rebellion demonstrates to the inmates that anti-Order is [true] sanity, that true madness is not their alleged irrationality but the deadly order, system, and rationality of the institution.  When the rationality is perverted, as on [nurse] Ratched's ward, reason becomes madness, and the only solution lies in the disease.  The society that tries to cure its misfits by standardizing and straightjacketing them only causes the disease it quarentines.

… A vagrant and a self-styled psychopath, McMurphy is not above feigning insanity to avoid hard labor, though he later learns from the symbolic lifeguard at the hospital that his commitment can far exceed the remaining months of his sentence. 

… [McMurphy] drives himself to existential heroism in the face of absurdity.  His genuine compassion for the residents grows until it becomes his sole purpose for being.

… When Big Nurse reads McMurphy's record (including his arrest for having relations with a fifteen year old girl) on the day he is admitted, she subconsciously skips a section that McMurphy immediately calls to the staff's attention: “The nurse left this part out while she was summarizing my record.  Where it says, 'McMurphy has evidenced repeated' – I just want to make sure I'm understood completely, Doc – 'repeated outbursts of passion ...'”

Such passion is exactly what Ratched has eliminated from her life and her ward, and its reemergence in the figure of her new admission is highly threatening.

Markedly unfeminine, she looks and moves like a robot …

Her only recourse is to have McMurphy lobotomized, a last attempt at castration … Yet her victory is Pyrric: McMurphy has already passed his strength and manhood on to the other inmates so that not one phoenix but several rise out of the wasteland's ashes in his stead.  As the inmates begin to check themselves out or request transfers to other wards, she is voiceless – and powerless – to prevent them.  The silenced Madame Sosostris cannot rule the wasteland any longer.  Her icy facade melted by the heat of McMurphy's passionate defiance, Big Mom is no more.

I appreciate that this examination of Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is written by a woman, because, if it had been written by a man, it might be more harshly criticized.  The novel's central theme is the restoration of the inmates' individual and collective potency, and yet, the novel has been criticized  as laboring under a most reactionary myth involving the mystique of male sexuality.

Quote from: Lupack
While it is true that Big Nurse is a towering machine who dwarfs the men and erodes their confidence, her threat lies not in her sex but in her consuming quest for power, which connects her to the all-powerful Combine.  The fact that she resorts to traditionally unfeminine ways to increase her authority suggests, that women's – and men's – roles in the novel are anything but stereotypic and that the deliberate reversal is part of a larger comic pattern. 

… And just as the traditional female and male roles are reversed, so are the traditional black-white roles.  [Even McMurphy and Chief's relationship] is no Lone Ranger-Tonto affair:  It is McMurphy, after all, who has to introduce Bromden to the wonders of the natural world and who lays down his life for his friend, not the more stereotypic reverse. 

Taken together, all these comic role reversals emphasize the underlying principle of ironic contrast and the reason for the novel's universal appeal: that in the contemporary world, madness is sanity and sanity is madness.  It is the inmates who are sane …


Quote from: Lupack
Big Nurse is not a repugnant person because she is a woman; rather, she is a repugnant person because she denies her femininity and her very humanity for the sake of a smoothly running routine.  The Japanese nurse – another woman – is, on the other hand, among the most likeable characters in the book because she does not subscribe to the system's wholly mindless regimentation. 

… Even the argument of latent racism that several critics have raised has a strong counterargument. 

Juxtaposed to the three malicious authority-worshiping orderlies, Mr. Turkle, the Black night orderly, is (like the Japanese nurse) among the most sympathetic characters in the book.  He is kind to the Chief.  He also helps smuggle the whores and the liquor onto the ward and even offers McMurphy the key to escape in the morning. 

Quote from: Lupack
Turkle's humanity balances the other aides' inhumanity and demonstrates that the behavior of Ratched's threesome, who rely on violence and perversion to maintain control, is unusual indeed.  Therefore, to fault Kesey for his treatment of women and Blacks is, as Ronald Wallace correctly concludes, “to miss the comedy of a device that has informed comic art from Aristophenes to Erica Jong.

As symbols of resistance to a repressive system, the mad heroes McMurphy and Bromden show that “it is through their almost divine madness that the real insanity of the asylum – and of contemporary society – is exposed.

Kesey, like Vonnegut, is implementing the principle of ironic contrast.  Fellow American soldier, Roland Weary beats Billy Pilgrim severely.  Billy is, ironically, saved by his German captors, rescuing him from his compatriot's violence.  Even taken as a prisoner of war, an act which places him in the underground barracks, ends up saving him once again when Dresden is firebombed by the goddamned Allied Forces, the British and American Forces.  I know the truth isn't America's cup of tea, and, as per usual, they will most likely shoot the messenger. 

Quote from: Lupack
… Billy is no simple schizophrenic or delusional individual, though intermittingly institutionalized, he is, like McMurphy and Yossarian before him, quite possibly the sanest man around.  His sanity is evidenced, among other things, by his sheer endurance.

So the weak may in fact be strong, the insane may posses the greatest insight, and those bound for the slaughterhouse may be the only ones to survive.

When I got to the chapter on Kosinski's Being There in Insanity As Redemption, since I had never even heard of the book and the library happened to have a readable copy, I decided to first read the novel itself.  I found it a little confusing, but Barbara Tepa Lupack's examination shed some light on it for me. 

Quote from: lupack
Kosinski wrote of, “the inability to escape from others who [attempt] to prove and prove again to you that you are as they see you.”  Contemporary Americans were, for him, the best example of such lack of selfhood.  Possessed by little self-knowledge or self-worth, they readily adopt the view of the world that the fairy-tale magic of television creates for them.  Raised “to the ultimate power of electronic derangement,” says John Aldridge, they perceive life wholly in terms of television situations and “create the personages they see on the screen in the image of their hopes for themselves, their wishful projections of transcendent glamor, wisdom and financial success.   

As a result, they are vulnerable to seduction by whatever powers happen at any moment to be in control of mass media.  Their experience of a public figure is shaped by the manner in which that person is video packaged, and they accept the image as a reliable index of his true identity.

Mr Murdoch

Kosinski's novel, Being There, is a sharp and growing portrait of a growing constituency, the new generation of watchers and followers who suffer a Big Brother dependency on television and whose minds are picture pasteboards – video without audio, all reception, no perception. 

At the Rand estate, his new home, Ben cautions him just before the president arrives to hide his mind because the president's security officers often confiscate “sharp objects.”  Contemporary society's newest god is TV, whose filmic images are modern miracles revered by those who worship celebrity.



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Re: Madness Theory
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2014, 02:37:14 pm »
Much like my nephew in the gortbusting years and “Nat” in the whywork years, I have to credit “Holden” for personally motivating and inspiring me to continue to document my scholarly activities in such an anti-intellectual environment as we live in this twenty-first century Bizarroland culture called the Space Age or the Machine Age – mass industrial consumerist culture, which is a spiritually bankrupt perfumed corpse.

Perfumed corpse... I like that.

Do you still speak with Nat?

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Re: Madness Theory
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2014, 12:53:32 pm »
You remember the catastrophic confrontation between Dimasok and Mr. Naturyl?   It was worse than the YouGetAJob/HermitScribe explosion.   I had contacted him via phone shortly after that to keep some kind of peace, and last year sometime he had thanked me for sending him John Trudell's 1980 Speech ...

... I think we both must go in and out of serious funks.  No, we do not communicate ... but I feel no animosity.   I don't hold too many grudges.   Nat was concerned that too much "defeatist" philosophy might be detrimental to my mental health. 

Anyway ... I am out of time again.  I better log off quick.



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Re: Madness Theory
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2014, 03:32:40 pm »
You remember the catastrophic confrontation between Dimasok and Mr. Naturyl?   It was worse than the YouGetAJob/HermitScribe explosion.   I had contacted him via phone shortly after that to keep some kind of peace, and last year sometime he had thanked me for sending him John Trudell's 1980 Speech ...

... I think we both must go in and out of serious funks.  No, we do not communicate ... but I feel no animosity.   I don't hold too many grudges.   Nat was concerned that too much "defeatist" philosophy might be detrimental to my mental health. 

Anyway ... I am out of time again.  I better log off quick.


Ha! I do remember that! I was involved in that as well. Whatever happened to that "dim" guy? It would be nice to see Nat speaking around here too. I think this place could use some more nay to your yay (or should it be the other way around?) for the sake of balance.

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Re: Madness Theory
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2014, 03:39:01 pm »
I think this place could use some more nay to your yay (or should it be the other way around?) for the sake of balance.

Probably more "yes" to my "no" ...   >:( :D

And yet, harmony is not such a bad thing either ...  :P

It's cool to receive confirmation.  I think Nat actually validated me as well.  I don't remember us knocking heads on too much at all ... except when I gave D administrative permissions which he may have abused ...

If I remember correctly, Nat was repeatedly validating me.

What is the big deal with debates, anyway?  Maybe it is best to just let this message board serve its humble function.  There were many debates at with trolls which actually drained us of a great deal of energy and served mostly as a distraction preventing us from the "work" at hand. 

Look at all the traffic at forums.  There are places for debates and arguments.  Why bother arguing here when our object is primarily to preserve our observations for posterity - as well keeping it as a resource for ourselves should we succumb to being filled with doubt by the tyranny of public opinion? 

Optimistic falsehoods convene the crowds; discouraging truths disperse it.

As far as BALANCE goes, are diametrically opposed worldviews necessary to attain "balance" ?

If you take a look at the dialogue unfolding in the Nihilism thread, you will notice that we are proposing that nihilism can be accompanied by a more well-balanced attitude that includes a sense of humor.  The most crucial, authentic, and honest "arguments" taking place occur within the privacy of our own minds.  No opposition is required when we think against ourselves.

A clear example of this can be found in my own great and simultaneous attraction to the thinking of personalities as diverse as John Trudell and E.M. Cioran, the former urging me to protect my spirit against forces out to destroy my Will to Live, the latter suggesting I embrace extinction as both inevitable and preferable to continued existence. 

These contradictions leave me no alternative but to embrace paradox, preferably with a sense of humor, albeit, a dark one.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2014, 03:52:15 pm by { } »


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Re: Madness Theory
« Reply #9 on: December 02, 2014, 12:35:36 am »
I'd rather stay away from debates, especially those online. I feel you may have put more thought into my "balance" comment than necessary :P But yeah, it would be neat if he gave a few thoughts around here. Maybe invite him over?

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Re: Madness Theory
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2014, 02:11:03 pm »
I think Nat and I both require or demand a great degree of creative freedom, and he is most focused on promoting the idea of a general income, which is great.  Myself, I am kind of "hovering in anxiety" - and I want to be OK with this.  I want to be free to consider unpleasant truths. 

Also, inviting Nat might be like recruiting him, and I don't want anyone to feel obligated to post here.  It can become like a job, and that's not what I want.  I don't want this board to become a burden or a psychological/emotional drain on anyone who participates. 

Holden and I happened to be staring into the abyss, and, well, you know what they say about "deep sea diving."  It's not a bad idea to have someone with you ... when you are in deep waters ... there might be sea monsters ... mind parasites ... who knows?
« Last Edit: December 05, 2014, 05:25:51 pm by { } »


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Re: Madness Theory
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2014, 02:36:14 am »

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Re: Madness Theory
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2016, 02:18:05 am »
How much math will make you go insane?

I remember when I had returned to college full time in 1998, a Physics professor from China told us that we could expect to only get about 4 hours sleep each night.  As a student I could justify the obsession with studying ... and yet now, all these years later, "slipping" back into this obsession, witnessing myself in this mode without "credits" and "degrees" as motivation sometimes has me questioning my sanity.

I would never discuss these doubts with a professional since I do not want to live a "normal life" anyway.

I mean ... I don't want to sit back and vegetate in front of a television or consider seeking some humble employment to "occupy my time".   Too much time is not the problem.  The problem is this unacknowledged fear of some kind of intrinsic limitation of how much I can retain, and trying to remain interested in what I am learning without thinking about where it is leading.  In other words, this entails a great deal of patience with myself ... and dealing with frustrations.

Maybe there can never be any long lasting peace, and I will just have to be content to retain whatever I can thankful for hours of undisturbed leisure.  The only world I have left to defend is the one inside my head!

Also, in the end, even as I do enjoy making the minor breakthroughs in understanding, it does not change the nightmarish quality of existence itself. 

I have this crazy idea that if I can just understand what a differential equation means (not just solve it), I might better understand the underlying workings of nature.  This pursuit will not lead to happiness. 

I am sure that this is a healthier obsession than seeking alcoholic oblivion.  I have witnessed the agonizing misery taking place in the hearts of those chasing euphoria on a daily basis.

Do I have to set aside time to read a novel ???

With My Dog-Eyes is only 59 pages.

With My Dog-Eyes is an account of an unraveling—of sanity, of language . . . After experiencing a vision of what he calls “a clear-cut unhoped-for,” college professor Amós Keres struggles to reconcile himself with his life as a father, a husband, and a member of the university with its “meetings, asskissers, pointless rivalries, gratuitous resentments, jealous talk, megalomanias.”

I did some research on the author:

Quote from: Nicholas Lezard
Hilst's father was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, her mother with dementia. Hilst herself, who had been a great beauty and socialite in her youth, began to write seriously by her 30s, eventually confining herself to isolation in her home built in coffee fields inherited from her parents. She devoted herself to literature, her dogs ("sometimes numbering more than one hundred," we're told in the introduction by the translator, Adam Morris), and, for "many years towards the end of her life, [spending] every evening getting drunk on cheap whiskey, drunk to the point of not remembering the things she said or the fights she provoked. 'I drink because it's the only way I can tolerate reality.'" Insanity, or a radically fractured view of her intolerable reality, is what her work both is, and is about.

I am personally intimate with that route.  Maybe becoming obsessed with mathematics again is the only way I can tolerate a life without alcohol.  I have to justify all this excess consciousness and give it something challenging to investigate.  It's not a quick fix, but I am sure that, on some level, I am reaching for some kind of defiant breakthrough. 

This may all sound rather forbidding, and I wouldn't want to pretend that it's more reader-friendly than it is. There are few concessions to conventional understanding: we get flashes, but they are not comforting. This is a mind unravelling, and through the gaps we see a horrified fascination with the body, a kind of carnal awareness of existential futility.

So here you go: this is the heavy stuff, literature as an assault course, not for the impatient or faint-hearted, or those who suspect they're having their legs pulled. Look on it as not so much a novel as an extended prose poem, written from the edge.

I guess all I can do is let it play itself out.  It's as though I have made a pact that there is no backing out of.  Returning to mathematics and developing an authentic understanding of fundamental concepts may be something I am documenting the process of in order to convince myself not to slip back into the downward spiral that leads into far more agonizing forms of insanity.

I am glad I don't play video games.   That's a whole different kind of geek-monster than the mathematics & programming geek-creature.  Some folks are obsessed with their cars or their offspring or their careers or their "significant others" ... As far as obsessions goe, this obsession, once the used books have been tracked down, as well as remaining settled in some domicile where the books, notes, computers are stored, is not expensive to maintain.

Even if it were some kind of demonic possession, it appears to be a far more peaceful radicalization than the more "religious," "nationalistic," or "ethnic and tribal" radicalizations.

I don't feel like I belong to any tribe and I am not concerned about projecting my "self" biologically into the future.  Is it possible to have a "spiritual connection" to, or as, the Thing-in-Itself, simply by having thought deeply in terms of philosophy and mathematics?

One does not have to be hired or given a position on some faculty to participate in the realms of mathematics or literature.  These passions do not depend on monetization to be validated and authenticated.  One could be in a dungeon or an insane asylum and continue to "access this realm" --- although it would be far more difficult to study more advanced areas, and one would have to settle into and explore what has left the greatest impression.


This is another motivation, and I may have mentioned it subconsciously as a kind of "joke," that I was desperately filling my head with as much mathematics as I could retain and understand so that, in case I were subdued by knuckle-dragging corporate police thugs for the thought-crimes I may have unintentionally committed simply by not bowing down to "the Master," I would still have this realm of mathematics and philosophy within me which could not be taken.

Perhaps this is also the motivation for my concentration on a limited area of mathematics, spontaneously venturing into Number Theory and Abstract Algebra but mainly trying to discipline the "demon" by focusing on areas I have been exposed to but feel I lack enough understanding to "preach it" without access to books.

I want to be able to live as a "mathematics preacher" even were I to be swooped up by corporate psychiatric police thugs and thrown into a "therapy prison" or dogg pound.

(Nice goals, Mr. H.  Now that is a practical game plan.  You just can't lose with that plan.)

Yeah, so, basically, learning mathematics is never a waste of time.   :D

To reiterate:  How much math will make you go insane?

Well, I felt I was swooped along through both Linear Algebra and Multivariable Calculus (as an elective!)  :o, and moved along to other mathematics and mathematically charged "computer science" courses, always learning to program on the side.  Programming is not taught as a discipline in itself.  Then, after the diploma proved not to be the key to the "kingdom," I fell into depression ...

Finally, upon realizing that "the kingdom is within me," so to speak, and that, unlike our great mentor, Arthur Schopenhauer, my mother actually needs me to be very present in her life, once I shook off the alcoholic stupor and understood that I was most myself when sitting alone in a room or outside on the stoop in a rocking chair thinking with pen or pencil in hand, there were some concepts and ideas that I was kind of interested in ...

I think that building a stronger foundation in linear algebra and multivariable calculus will prepare me for being a student of differential equations ... to get a glimpse of where the formulas in physics come from, and what they really mean ... So, regardless of my age, and mostly out of curiosity and lack of interest in mindless entertainment and distraction, the mind is focusing on areas of knowledge it perceives as some kind of holy or unholy grail.

"By filling one's head instead of one's pocket, one cannot be robbed."

Once again, I do wonder, How much math will make you go insane?

The way I am approaching it is on a very personal level.  I am living a kind of unwriteable novel that perhaps can only be encountered on the most subjective level and can not easily be "told as a story," for it is mostly chaos.  I, like so many other millions of our strange species, jot things down so as to reflect upon later, or to document my traversal through specific terrain ...
« Last Edit: February 20, 2016, 10:22:03 am by H »