Saturday, May 13, 2006


My Gomoto is going nowhere today. In stead I will be using my wife's car in the next hour to drive to the airport to collect my Mother-in-Law, who is coming to visit us for a week.

I am tempted to say that this is the reason why the topic of "Insanity" is on my mind, but truth be told, we tend to call on her when we actually need to establish sanity in the household!

"Insanity" is a major theme in Robert M. Pirsig's "Zen, and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance." In the book the narrator, who is on a motorcycle road trip through America, tells about his alter-ego, Phaedrus, who challenged some of the basic values and tenets of the modern university. An interesting tension is developed throughout the book between the narrator, (who has a history of mental illness) and Phaedrus. The narrator's son, Chris, who is accompanying him on this road trip, is also showing worrying symptoms of latent mental illness.

Though I think Pirsig's development of the theme of insanity is very subtle and complex, I sense that he would have it that insanity is something that becomes very relevant as a person questions and rejects the major values that society is built on. Within these situations there simply are not enough resources to create stability and provide affirmative feedback. This isolation, along with society's need to instill fear against, and shower shame upon such individuals could easily be the catalysts of mental instability.

(In later posts I might want to expand these notions of sanity and insanity as springing from a very specific bourgouis context. I have read some studies that try to describe insanity as a defense mechanism against absurd and depersonalising power relations in society.)

Today, however, I don't know if I'm capable of doing that. I myself feel like I am on the fringe, and I'm busy unravelling.

I'll try to hold on, however, and hope that the final unravelling takes place far away from anywhere where it could cause any damage or leave a big mess. I'll trust my Gomoto to take me there.


Michelle said...

The alternative is to stick around with folk who care for you, and let them carry through your madness. Also ensuring, during such a time, that you do no harm to the Gomoto while foaming at the mouth... :)

Weiers said...

Hehe, a family member read this blog and called me to find out if I was really OK.

Aparently a local Afrikaans newspaper featured a story of a girl who had blogged her plans to commit suicide and then carried it through as they were blogged. This has given blogging a bad name amongst many people who were otherwise ignorant about what it entails.

Personally, I think a little insanity is something that should not be fled from. Some people drink alcohol to enter into a state where they do not think coherently about things. I may be blessed. Being almost a teetotaler, I am still able to experience times when little makes sense and I feel quite out of sink with society.

It might not be nice at the time, but I still tend to revel in it.