Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence– whether much that is glorious– whether all that is profound– does not spring from disease of thought– from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect.
In order that we might define “madness,” we would first have to define normalcy. And therein, lies the crux of the biscuit. What the hell is normal? I most certainly do not qualify. I can point out countless aberrations about myself that immediately disqualify me from being normal (and I say that not with an air of superiority, but rather, the opposite.)
As I look out into the landscape of people that I know, I ask myself about “normal.” There are most certainly qualities that a lot of the people I know, share. But as you attempt to put a fine point on any of it, you start to hit the anomalies that make each of us so very different, like snowflakes.
So, then I would ask myself, can normal be defined as a predictable behavior? Say… coming into a restaurant, being seated, ordering, eating, paying and leaving. That is normal. Normal behavior is what a majority of people we know would do under common circumstance.
They often claimed that Poe was mad, due to his erratic behaviors, choice of topics and the way he thought. But, to his credit, perhaps that was an extraordinary gift that facilitated his ability to envision a world or circumstance through a filter set that was special only to him. No different that Salvador Dali or Picasso.
When an artist is able to express themselves in ways that are beyond the norm, they are labelled with whatever a general populace opts to brand them with… if for no other reason than they have broken the norm.
From an artist’s perspective, breaking the norm is the endgame. Art that is traditional fits in nicely with everything else. But a portrait of a person with two eyes on the same side of their face, makes a Picasso what it is. If he were to paint like Rembrandt, then there would not be a Picasso.
This long-winded, and potentially pointless thought is singular. In a world of Poes, Dalis and Picassos, we are expanded into fresh new horizons. With each stretch of the parameters of normalcy, caused by behavior that others would ignorantly brand as madness, our world of interaction and evocative stimuli expands. Personally, I hated Punk Rock. When the Sex Pistols were coming up in popularity, I shook my head and said… I do not get this. But it did not make it madness. Just a new flavor. And just like Gummyworm ice cream, it is not my flavor, but I get why people want to experience it.
The distinction between branding something as madness vs. accepting the new aberration as being appropriate stems with intelligence and experience. The older we get, the more we are able to learn how forward thinking artists and inventors catapult humanity into the future. A perfect case in point is Phillip K. Dick who wrote the stories leading to Bladerunner, Minority Report and Total Recall. I found an anthology on his short stories on Amazon Prime called Phillip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams. It is a Twilight Zone kind of show, but in his episodes, I keep finding inventions that my team has or is creating and in other cases, I find mental stimulation that triggers our desire to make graphic interfaces like Minority Report a reality. The thoughts he put into his films have most certainly influenced our desire to convert science fiction into straight science.
Ignorance will label with a term like madness (not to say that there are not plenty of people with mental illness, but that is not what I am speaking about) but madness is really just a label for an ignorant person to place upon that which they do not understand so that they may feel an infinitesimal moment of superiority for standing back and branding something they do not understand with a disparaging label.
I think Poe’s work is exemplary. Not always pleasant to read or engage with, but if you are of the ilk to enjoy fiction of that nature, he is truly a master of the language. For others to see him as mad, strikes me as a fool’s folly. One that delivers sensationalism, minus anything of substance.
Lessons From The Mountain: Changing the world, one thought at a time.
Lessons From The Mountain: Changing the world, one thought at a time. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B096LYB7PK/ref=cm_sw_r_sms_api_glt_57Q71JXQVA48GAYXHMRX