Random neuron firing, lame philosophy, literary pontificating, movies, sex, clothes & other femme stuff

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Ya learn somethin new every day
Yesterday, courtesy of the Bellona Times, I learned of the fabulous early French feminist thinker Marie le Jars de Gournay (1565-1645), protegée of Montaigne's and eventually his editor, co-founder of the Academie Francaise, and author of The Equality of Men and Women (1641), which I'm now definitely going to read.

Blogs I've recently found bursting with exhilarating ideas and rollercoaster prose performances:

Wood s Lot
Invisible Adjunct
Collected Miscellany
the Banderlog
the Eudaemonist
the Literary Saloon
ad ignorantium

and especially Nathalie Chicha's Cup of Chicha, landing on which is like winning the lottery. She writes brilliantly on depression. Viz.:
I know three or four types of depression, often as different from one another as classmates with the same name. There's depression which simply blocks action, like a finger pressing flat a vibrating string. The brain demands a bodily movement, and the signal buzzes, live, from neuron to neuron but dies before it reaches where it needs to go. I can feel action about to happen, my body preparing itself to move-- but it's just a body jumping up and falling back down on the stretcher when electricity is applied to its heart. The body moves but it's not revived.
Then, there's a more emotional and dark depression, which has some of the qualities of mania: I'm constantly thinking, and easily return to my old habits of reading and writing. But reading and writing now feels like a defensive gesture. Suddenly the world is unlike me, and I have to protect my personality with the authority of language.


Those who suffer from mental illness tend to like the madness-art association. I'm one of those people. Here's why:

1. Depression creates the type of interiority that modernism worshipped and literature continues to value. Depression might not have created the language of interiority, but depressives, borrowing from that language to explain their illness, learn that language well.
2. Mental illness can inhibit creation, but creation allows for the sense that ones mental suffering, otherwise senseless, can be redeemed.
3. Madness may be an interpretation of stimuli that fails to rely on conventional contexts for understanding stimuli. Art may be, in part, the process of making things new. Then, both rely on disassociating from convention-- but one is a partial disassociation, still able to reference itself in terms of convention, and the other is a disassociation so complete, reference is impossible.

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