"Man is not a rational animal, as the old commonplace affirms. Nor is he a sick animal. Man is a mad animal (who begins by being mad) and who, for this reason as well, becomes or can become rational. The sperm of reason is also contained in the complete madness of the initial autism."
Cornelius Castoriadis, The Imaginary Institution of Society
How to extract the object (a) of madness.
Towards the middle of the eighteenth century, Pomme treated and cured a hysteric by making her take ‘baths, ten or twelve hours a day, for ten whole months.’ At the end of this treatment for the dessication of the nervous system and the heat that sustained it, Pomme saw ‘membranous tissues like pieces of damp parchment … peel away with some slight discomfort, and these were passed daily with the urine; the right ureter also peeled away and came out whole in the same way.’ The same things occurred with the intestines, which at another stage ‘peeled off their internal tunics, which we saw emerge from the rectum. The oesophagus, the arterial trachea, and the tongue also peeled in due course; and the patient had rejected different pieces either by vomiting or by expectoration’.
“The Birth of the Clinic”, Michel Foucault.
"The ontological necessity of “madness” lies in the fact that it is not possible to pass directly from the purely “animal soul” immersed in it’s natural life-world to “normal” subjectivity dwelling in its symbolic universe. The “vanishing mediator” between the two is the “mad” gesture of radical withdrawal from reality which opens up the space for its symbolic (re)constitution."
#nau dos loucos
#ship of fools
#historia da loucura
Ship of Fools is a painting by Hieronymus Bosch, completed between 1490 and 1500.
“Navigation delivers man to the uncertainty of fate; on water, each of us is in the hands of his own destiny; every embarkation is, potentially, the last. It is for the other world that the madman sets sail in his fool’s boat; it is from the other world that he comes when he disembarks”(Michel Foucault: Madness and Civilisation).
According to Foucault confinement marked in 17th Century Europe a decisive event in the history of unreason, as “the moment when madness was perceived on the social horizon of poverty, of incapacity to work, of inability to integrate to the group” (Foucault, 1971: 64). In England it was feared that the country could be overrun by the poor, and “it was proposed that they be banished and conveyed to the New-Found Land, the East and the West Indies” (op. cit.: pp 49-50). The above epigraph illustrates the practical and symbolic effectiveness of deporting “madmen” overseas, but what effects would a transatlantic re-location of the “mentally insane” have in our contemporary post-modern world? Could the Medieval Ship of Fools be re-interpreted today through itinerant dramatic, poetic, pictorial and musical performances?