Monday, November 22, 2010

the sister and the madman

early on, wrote a lot about the artist/poet going mad - van gogh, nietzsche. actually, at times, i felt an alienation so profound it seemed to be schizophrenia. in london one christmas i sat in my room, watching the dial of the meter going round and round. japanese tourists in the deserted city took pictures of the dirty thames. a man sitting across from me on the tube transformed into a chicken, very like the famous scene in chaplin's the gold rush.

i visited an army psychiatrist on the san francisco presidio where we lived. 'i'm sure i'll go crazy,' i said, 'if i have to go into the service.' he didn't blink. obviously, he thought i'd do fine. i did and i didn't. coast guard boot camp the worst experience in my life. i learned what it was like to be a slave. however, i read the new testament - only religious books allowed - and survived.

the only reason for drunkeness onstage: a release from inhibitions. and i believed insanity served the same purpose. much later i gave a talk in an english class on the difference between creativity and delusion. my conclusion: the insane repeat themselves over and over again, the same phrases, the same images. the poet, on the other hand, flows in and out of the unknown. true, some have been crazy, gone crazy, or been made crazy. these weren't their productive periods, the images too arcane for the rest of us.

i'd forgotten the pleasure i once indulged, reading the works of nietzsche. and today i picked up the walter kaufman translation i read long ago. friedrich really a psychologist:

Happiness lies in the swiftness of feeling and thinking: all the rest of the world is slow, gradual, and stupid. Whoever could feel the course of a light ray would be very happy, for it is very swift.

one wonderful thought plucked out of many, this brought to mind the play i wrote about nietzsche while living in berlin. here's a speech from it:

and i've just posted a few pictures which might suffice as illustrations: