Posted by harrymonmouth
I was reminded of my byeline today. A sane voice in an insane world or vice versa. When I originally wrote this I saw the truth that lay within but largely wrote is out of a sense of humour. The reason I was driven to think of it today was because of discussion of psychological disturbance in Oliver James’ book Britain on the Couch.
It shows how good my attention span is these days that I have taken to writing a blog by something that was mentioned at the beginning of chapter one. At least I made it through the introduction anyway. James describes the case of Jim, a lawyer who has led a fairly successful life and has had no history of mental illness. He has reached the age of 33 and is progressing well in his career and is married to what sounds like a marvelous and intelligent girl. Things begin to fall apart on a trip to Scotland with an old friend from university.
In Scotland Jim is convinced to try MDMA. The result is a weekend of deep introspection that leads to a crisis. Jim realises that his life does not hold the meaning he had previously accepted it did. The MDMA seems to have pulled the trick of enhancing Jim’s world view so that he can look at his own life from a distance with a far broader viewpoint and what he sees leaves him in serious conflict.
That is as far as my attention span has so far allowed me to read, but it got me thinking. Jim’s life is relatively successful but he has been conditioned like most of us to plug away at his job day after day as one of the cogs in the mechanism of society. It is probable that Jim is giving himself too little credit for his importance but it has led him into crisis. The crisis strikes me as being a sign of having been overwhelmed by an insane society.
We all need to survive and we do that by fitting into our niches the best we can. Sanity is to conform to the standard set by everyone else around us. If we look normal then we are normal. When we stop being normal it becomes pretty obvious to the rest of the world. We become the loony, the mad bloke that everyone avoids. The problem is that in being normal we are conforming to a society that has no objective comparators in our daily experience.
If we look far enough we can see the example of many other different societies but largely they are all in as much difficulty as our own. Corrupt politicians and collapsing economies seem to be a theme to most advanced societies. In order to really make a judgement about the way in which a society operates we need to take years of study at university, perhaps even writing a Phd before our understanding is solid enough to take action. Or we could pop some MDMA on a weekend away like Jim did, and then those years of understanding will hit home in about 20 minutes instead of 5 or 6 years. It is hardly any wonder it caused a crisis.
The things about which Jim was concerned within his life were simply who he was. They were aspects of his nature as a homo sapien and of the world around him. The resultant neuroses was the natural response in someone who has not had the chance to build a coping mechanism to deal with the circumstances in which he found himself. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.
This ultimately led me to realise that the world around us all is mad but only when held up in comparison to our ability to cope with it. If we can cope with the world then it is relatively sane. If we can’t cope with it then we appear to be insane, though really if the world is that difficult to cope with then it is hardly a shining example of balance itself. Perhaps my byeline should read that I am a sane voice in a sane world and an insane voice in an insane world simultaneously. Though that is far less catchy.