THE NIGHTMARE NETWORK
Go Back   THE NIGHTMARE NETWORK > Discussion & Interpretation > Other Authors > General Discussion
Home Forums Content Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read Contagion Members Media Diversion Info Register
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes Translate
Old 11-12-2006   #1
eth
Mannikin
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 9
Quotes: 0
Points: 6,200, Level: 54 Points: 6,200, Level: 54 Points: 6,200, Level: 54
Level up: 25% Level up: 25% Level up: 25%
Activity: 0% Activity: 0% Activity: 0%
Madness in Literature

Lately I have become very interested in all kinds of literature written by the insane (a term that defies definition, of course, but which I take to mean, in this context, anyone diagnosed with a mental illness or showing obvious signs of suffering from one, e.g. death by suicide). I cannot properly explain my infatuation with the subject, but I feel a certain connection when reading books of this kind, as if the gap between author and text is reduced to the point of almost ceasing to exist. In a way, the poem, short story or novel becomes a slice of the author's psyche ready for me to inspect and, if the writing is good, inhabit. This response is not restricted to insane litterature, but the thrill of it is greater when I know, or can reasonably delude myself into believing, that the hallucinations, the madness, the melancholy being described is, to a certain extent, rooted in actual experiences. I do realise that this is a naive and terribly romantic idea that would make me the object of ridicule in most litterary circles, but it's how I feel.

So far I have read works by Gérard de Nerval (numerous stays at asylums, suicide), Mário de Sá-Carneiro (suicide) and Robert Walser (admitted to asylum), along with some more doubtful cases, such as Franz Kafka and E. A. Poe. For a bit of background I've read Touched with Fire by Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, which I recommend to anyone interested in the influence of manic-depressive illness on the arts, and an anthology, In the Realms of the Unreal, containing poetry and prose written by psychotic patients at various hospital wards in various countries at various times, including excerpts from the Prinzhorn collection and works by notable outsider artists Henry Darger and Adolf Wölfli.

I know of Ann Quin (depressive, suicide), B. S. Johnson (depressive, suicide), Lord Byron (manic-depressive), Virginia Woolf (manic-depressive, suicide), Antonin Artaud (schizophrenic or manic-depressive, numerous stays at asylums), Unica Zürn (depressive, suicide), Sylvia Plath (depressive, suicide), Paul Celan (suicide), Anne Sexton (depressive, suicide), William Blake (possibly manic-depressive), Robert Lowell (manic-depressive, suicide) and probably quite a few more, but their names (and diseases) escape me at the moment.

My list of forums, online or otherwise, suitable for this subject is very short, and I felt that this site might be a good place to ask nicely for recommendations for the second list, elaborations on the names already there or maybe just a general discussion of deranged literature.

... one of them understands, and suddenly it is raining flowers.
eth is offline   Reply With Quote
2 Thanks From:
Doctor Dugald Eldritch (08-23-2017), njhorror (1 Week Ago)
Old 11-13-2006   #2
simon p. murphy's Avatar
simon p. murphy
Mystic
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 119
Quotes: 0
Points: 10,192, Level: 69 Points: 10,192, Level: 69 Points: 10,192, Level: 69
Level up: 81% Level up: 81% Level up: 81%
Activity: 0% Activity: 0% Activity: 0%
Re: Madness in Literature

eth,

I can sympathise with your literary tastes, as I'm sure many other members here will also. Interestingly enough, something in the vicinity of 50% of writers suffer from mental illness (specifically depressive and nervous illnesses) with significantly higher incidences of the said illnesses in poets, who are somewhere about the 80% mark. Don't ask me to quote the study, which I've forgotten - in any case, statistical psychology is often vague and contentious.

There are some pretty messed-up writers I know of who do not appear on your list. I'd bet my favourite pair of jeans that Bruno Schulz would have capped himself if a Nazi didn't beat him to it. Irrespective of whether Schulz would have done so, his fiction is permeated with mental illness. Even his descriptions of beautiful things are too nauseously warm, sticky and gross to be written by someone who was mentally stable.

Another good one is Sartre, although his really messed up stuff is limited to 'Nausea' and 'Words'. Nausea is the square root of mental illness - in fact, I'm surprised Ligotti hasn't mentioned it. Perhaps Sartre's elusive 'optimism' was too care-bears for Ligotti. But still, very, very messed up.

Dostoevsky is highly underrated as a messed-up writer. 'Notes From the Underground' is the most brilliant piece of literary psychology I think I've read. His short fiction almost always demonstrates a profound intimacy with mental illness and suffering. Anyway, enough from me. I hope these guys contribute to your reading pleasure.

-D.

OMNIA VNVS EST
simon p. murphy is offline   Reply With Quote
Thanks From:
njhorror (1 Week Ago)
Old 11-13-2006   #3
Nemonymous's Avatar
Nemonymous
Grimscribe
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 4,419
Quotes: 0
Points: 140,024, Level: 100 Points: 140,024, Level: 100 Points: 140,024, Level: 100
Level up: 0% Level up: 0% Level up: 0%
Activity: 50% Activity: 50% Activity: 50%
There is something very 'Intentional Fallacy' about all this.

MY WEBSITE: www.nemonymous.com
Nemonymous is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2006   #4
eth
Mannikin
Threadstarter
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 9
Quotes: 0
Points: 6,200, Level: 54 Points: 6,200, Level: 54 Points: 6,200, Level: 54
Level up: 25% Level up: 25% Level up: 25%
Activity: 0% Activity: 0% Activity: 0%
Dollglove: Those numbers resemble the outcome of some of the studies discussed in Touched with Fire. Jamison gathers a lot of statistical data from various studies on mental illness and artistic creativity and sums them up quite nicely, not forgetting the methodical problems associated with this (varying diagnostic criteria etc.). The book is rather more scientific than hermeneutic, focusing more on statistics and biographical data, including family history, than on analysis of the creative works themselves.

I'm not familiar with Schultz' background. What makes you think he'd kill himself, other than the nature of his work? Not that it matters, as I'll definitely read his books anyway, but I'm very interested in authors' biographies.

Sartre, 'Nausea' in particular, has long been on my reading list, but thanks for pointing out 'Words' as well.

Dostoevsky is, I think, mentioned in Touched with Fire as an author with issues. I don't know why I forgot to list him. Very nice of you to suggest the short stories, as I think the novels are a bit too much at the moment.

DF Lewis: And there's something very boring about theory. I understand the value of New Criticism, but it's merely one school out of many.

... one of them understands, and suddenly it is raining flowers.
eth is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2006   #5
Nemonymous's Avatar
Nemonymous
Grimscribe
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 4,419
Quotes: 0
Points: 140,024, Level: 100 Points: 140,024, Level: 100 Points: 140,024, Level: 100
Level up: 0% Level up: 0% Level up: 0%
Activity: 50% Activity: 50% Activity: 50%
Re: Madness in Literature

DF Lewis: And there's something very boring about theory. I understand the value of New Criticism, but it's merely one school out of many.


Intentional_fallacy Intentional_fallacy

I've followed this 'boring theory' - perhaps madly! - as almost a religion since I first studied it in 1967.
However, I don't want to turn your thread into a debate about it, Eth. Apologies.

MY WEBSITE: www.nemonymous.com
Nemonymous is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2006   #6
Nemonymous's Avatar
Nemonymous
Grimscribe
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 4,419
Quotes: 0
Points: 140,024, Level: 100 Points: 140,024, Level: 100 Points: 140,024, Level: 100
Level up: 0% Level up: 0% Level up: 0%
Activity: 50% Activity: 50% Activity: 50%
Having said that, some examples of objectively viewed 'deranged literature', whatever the intention or the unknown mentality of the author:

In Search Of Lost time - Marcel Proust
The Pier - by Rayner Heppenstall
Any works by Rhys Hughes
Bleak House - Charles Dickens
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke
Weirdmonger - DF Lewis
Finnegans Wake - James Joyce
Shalimar The Clown - Salman Rushdie
Man Withou Qualities - Robert Musil
The Recognitions - William Gaddis
Works of HP Lovecraft etc etc

MY WEBSITE: www.nemonymous.com
Nemonymous is online now   Reply With Quote
Thanks From:
ChildofOldLeech (01-03-2017)
Old 11-13-2006   #7
eth
Mannikin
Threadstarter
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 9
Quotes: 0
Points: 6,200, Level: 54 Points: 6,200, Level: 54 Points: 6,200, Level: 54
Level up: 25% Level up: 25% Level up: 25%
Activity: 0% Activity: 0% Activity: 0%
DF Lewis: Apology accepted. Allow me, in turn, to apologise for deriding New Criticism. I do see the importance of close reading, but I have some philosophical objections to it (which may not be very well thought out, I admit).

I purchased an old edition of Bleak House by Dickens in an antiquariy just earlier today, before even reading your post, because I remembered the beautiful opening passage about muddy, foggy London and wished to read the rest of it, and now it turns out that it's relevant to my "project". Sometimes the world does get things right.

(And I ordered your book and look forward to reading it. I like how you name yourself amongst authors of "unknown mentality". Know thy self, as they say.)

Edit: Also, The Recognitions is on my shelf. I'll bump it up a bit on the to-read list.

... one of them understands, and suddenly it is raining flowers.
eth is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-13-2006   #8
Nemonymous's Avatar
Nemonymous
Grimscribe
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 4,419
Quotes: 0
Points: 140,024, Level: 100 Points: 140,024, Level: 100 Points: 140,024, Level: 100
Level up: 0% Level up: 0% Level up: 0%
Activity: 50% Activity: 50% Activity: 50%
Thanks, Eth. And LOL. All's well that ends well. Look out for Mr Nemo and also the spontaneous combustion scene in Bleak House.
best wishes, des

MY WEBSITE: www.nemonymous.com
Nemonymous is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-15-2006   #9
ventriloquist's Avatar
ventriloquist
Mystic
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 149
Quotes: 0
Points: 7,454, Level: 60 Points: 7,454, Level: 60 Points: 7,454, Level: 60
Level up: 52% Level up: 52% Level up: 52%
Activity: 0% Activity: 0% Activity: 0%
Re: Madness in Literature

Just thinking out loud here... (or "writing out loud," or whatever the equivalent would be...)

Part of me wants to say all literature is "insane." I think there's a bit in Huxley's "Doors of Perception" that goes, "art is for beginners." If our consciousness were more "integrated," shall we say, then we would accept reality at face value, and so a Klimt would be no more or less interesting or valuable than a kindergartener's crayon drawing, etc. We would perhaps manifest our creativity in other ways, but we would probably not have the same drive to create "art." So maybe the paradox is that we need a healthy dose of derangement to even think about making or evaluating art (however we choose to define these terms.)

I'm obviously not alone, then, in appreciating literature that has an apparent abundance of derangement at its core. But, just as Ligotti wrote that we only get the horrors we deserve, I think the level of perceived madness in any given work is, first and foremost, a reflection on the reader.
ventriloquist is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-15-2006   #10
Nemonymous's Avatar
Nemonymous
Grimscribe
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 4,419
Quotes: 0
Points: 140,024, Level: 100 Points: 140,024, Level: 100 Points: 140,024, Level: 100
Level up: 0% Level up: 0% Level up: 0%
Activity: 50% Activity: 50% Activity: 50%
Re: Madness in Literature

Quote Originally Posted by ventriloquist";p=&quot View Post
I think the level of perceived madness in any given work is, first and foremost, a reflection on the reader.
Exactly.
Indeed, only each reader knows what he or she perceived at the time of the perception. Any memory of that perception could also be falsely perceived by any subsequent self of that same reader.

A work can be about madness or simply is mad (or derives from madness whether it is perceived mad or not mad in itself) etc.

MY WEBSITE: www.nemonymous.com
Nemonymous is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Tags
literature, madness

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
At the Mountains of Madness paeng Lovecraftian Films 6 01-25-2009 01:04 PM
At the Mountains of Madness Malone H. P. Lovecraft 4 01-06-2009 02:24 PM
Only One More Madness Among Many G. S. Carnivals "Masquerade of a Dead Sword" 0 10-14-2008 09:03 PM
The Voice Of Madness G. S. Carnivals "Teatro Grottesco" 0 06-17-2006 07:37 AM


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 12:50 PM.



Style Based on SONGS OF A DEAD DREAMER as Published by Silver Scarab Press
Design and Artwork by Harry Morris
Emulated in Hell by Dr. Bantham
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Template-Modifications by TMS