Wagging My Redshift Tail – A Philosophy of Madness
A fan of great literature, one of my favorite genres over the years has been the memoirs of schizophrenics, divided into the one kind where the patient just got over, or is hoping to get over, the illness, and then the other kind, the memoir written from deep within the floridly psychotic mind, happy in its own completely different way of perceiving the world, excited about that perspicacity, and just as excited about the perspicuity he displays in communicating this new way of seeing to others. A unique individual with an unusual life story from the beginning, I was first diagnosed almost 26 years ago, not with schizophrenia, but with something called schizotypal personality disorder – schizophrenia-lite or optional schizophrenia, I like to call it. In my early years I had some turbulence and confusion to go through, and the notes I began writing on little slips of paper were my way of figuring out my universe, how to compete, how to be a hero, how to live up to the expectations of others, how to exceed those expectations, how to escape from the box, and how to keep myself inspired. The general direction and ideas, the general issues I was trying to solve, are the issues of the human condition, and of course the journey goes on. But at age 46, I’ve produced some unique ideas and ways of looking at things; One of the few things we can truly offer each other in this world is “Way”, in the Taoist sense of the word, and I think I had some unique things to suggest as “Way”. It’s not for everybody; some friends listen, some tell me to shut up. But for the ones who understand, and tell me I should “write a book”, well, here I’ve collected all my favorite psychoses, arranged in the battle formation that is my 46 year old mind. It’s only of interest to those who study schizophrenia, who study the mind, who study unique ideas, interconnection of ideas that is the tendency of schizophrenics; this is a work of philosophy and literature; in the book “Writing and Madness” it’s suggested that after madness was set free from the insane asylums in the 60’s, it’s new home became literature, where it cannot “talk” directly to us, but instead intimates itself to us through the mysterious altars of the odd lives we read about and try to piece together. And I have given my madness a home here in my memoir of my own madness, “Wagging my redshift tail”. I have woven a coherent reality, a “psychosis”, actually several, and in “Wagging My Redshift Tail” I recount my favorite and most compelling psychoses, like the explanation I have for not believing in gravity – that sales director of mine liked to say “he doesn’t believe in gravity – but he can back it up!”; if I get someone’s willing attention for 15 to 30 minutes, they usually agree with me on the gravity thing. My favorite schizophrenic memoir of all time was that of Daniel Schreber, written from “within the psychosis”, and I mention him in my memoir, I often quote him in postings on the web. He and I have a lot of similarity, except I’m still free, doing IT consulting and supporting a family. Most people like me are confined to institutions; one big rarity about me is that I’ve gotten away with my ways for all this time. I think that I stand at an unusual precipice that most people fall off of and into the abyss of insanity below, without enough time on the precipice to figure out what we’re doing here and how to go about it. I stayed away from the meds, from the institutions, and from the insistence that I had to conform. I grew up in New York City in the 1970’s and 80’s, I moved to California 7 years ago and grew up some more. I have achieved, at 46 years old, some interesting clarity; I expect to achieve more as time goes on, but I think you’d agree, the view from here is truly unique.