Much Madness is divinest Sense–
To a discerning Eye–
Much Sense–the starkest Madness–
‘Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail–
Assent–and you are sane–
Demur–you’re straightway dangerous–
And handled with a Chain–
So I’ve just finished reading a wonderful short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a late 19th century American women’s rights activist, called “The Yellow Wall-Paper.” In this story, a middle-class white woman goes from nervous to insane in a east-coast summer mansion; a vacation that is supposed to improve her condition, but ironically worsens it. Her slow progress towards insanity is outlined in the description of the maddening and illogical patterns and putrid colors of the peeling and stained yellow wall-paper that decorates her chamber. The room, which becomes as much of a physical cell as a psycological one, becomes a metaphor for the opression she feels from her patronizing husband as well as society.
I guess I’m still marveling at how pretty it must be to go mad…crazy….bats in the bellfry…in the alluring Victorian sense. I wonder what it must be like to be accompanied by phantoms within your own mind or how much fun it must be to bounce off the padded walls. This day in age, it would never happen like that… If I were to suddenly go nuts, I would be put on paxil or prozac…and be made to analize the source of my insanity with so many shrinks….a private pleasure that I’m sure I would not want to share with anybody. The beauty of such an affliction of the mind would be lost….wasted on the American insistance on happiness. As we all wander about with our silly archaic grins…as if everything were okay in our frustrated, little, over-worked lives. Remind me never to go nuts….