Madness as a Cure

Threats to one’s sanity abound. They come in many forms and at any time. Eventually, one or more of those threats will break through the barriers erected to hold them at bay. When that happens, sanity takes on an entirely new appearance, a shape that looks the way madness once did. Sanity becomes the frightening possibility one strives to avoid, building a fortress against it; a mind-set of razor-wire fences and concrete block walls keep out the disappointments that seem to accompany sanity wherever it goes. Yet before sanity lost its hold, the barriers were meant as obstacles to madness. Odd, that.

Earth’s magnetic poles reversed themselves. That is the clearest explanation of the transition from sanity to madness. And vice versa. Attraction and revulsion change places. Creativity becomes dull literalness. Creative juices become fetid pools of stagnant, poisonous sewage. Joy becomes misery and depression shifts into radiant cheerfulness.

The spawn of madness and sanity litter the pages of a thesaurus. Is there any wonder why antonyms live in an edifice built to house synonyms? Language and lunacy are diametrically similar in their common uniqueness, much like silence and sanity. Sanity does call for keeping one’s lips sealed at times, even when the madness hidden deep inside is struggling to issue open-mouthed howls. No, sanity insists, the appropriate reaction is a cacophony of quietude.

These obviously bizarre thoughts are on my mind this morning because I think our default setting—sanity—is sometimes the most obvious outward evidence of madness, whereas the occasional eruption of insanity is evidence of the opposite. Madness is an outlet for sanity; without occasional bouts of madness, sanity cannot survive. Absent periods of mental instability, sanity shrivels into a hard prune, impenetrable except by jackhammers and dynamite. Madness as cure for sanity. Yet I question whether sanity is ever a cure for madness. Sanity, as I ponder it this morning, is evidence of a deeper defect. There’s more to this. And I may write more as my ideas continue to take shape. I have to be careful, though, because madness is not looked upon favorably in this devolving world in which we live. Sanity is valued more than gold and diamonds. Madness is derided, as if it were a carrier of rabies and the plague.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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