Monday, February 27, 2012

Implied Insanity

Insanity, I would suggest to you, is an involuntary separation from the implied reality of the social contract. Were you given a wide open road in the middle of nowhere in which to drive which side of the centerline would you stay? The social contract in this country says to you to stay on the right side of the centerline, as opposed to the left side which implies you would be wrong were you to be over on that side. Were you in an empty building would you use the bathroom nearest to you or would you use the one assigned to your gender? If a colleague died and you discovered their password as you were cleaning out their desk would you look through the files on their computer? On a very hot day would you wander around your yard nude in full view of the neighbors?
The social contract changes over time so our concept of what is right and what is wrong changes with it. When I was a child any adult could spank any child. When I was a child people who were black could not eat in the same restaurant as I did. (They could and frequently did cook the food, but they couldn’t eat in the same room with whites) I remember a time when vehicles had to have a yearly inspection sticker and no one dared not get one because there were stiff fines for not having the sticker.

To be a writer of fiction is to voluntarily separate yourself from reality. A writer must be able to create things as they are not and convince people the way things are being written might be untrue and fantastic sounding, but nevertheless perfectly sane inside the context of the story. Yet there is no guarantee of safe passage back to the real world once a writer crosses the Styx. If a writer leaves the social contract behind and invents a new one then that writer is already questioning what is right and what is wrong, and by definition, what is real
Now imagine that your mind is filled with these thoughts, constant, never ending, and sometimes frightening thoughts, each and every one of them preying on some part of reality. Imagine that you know people, and know them very well, each detail of their lives known, and suddenly you remember they are not real at all, but fictional, creations of your mind and no more. Sometimes, when I am not writing, they are hidden from me, as if they are asleep in the next room. At other times it would seem that I could pick up a phone and call, to see what they are doing and when they might come visit.
Then there are times they seem more real than those people with whom I have entered into this social contract with, in reality, such that it is.

We know the contract is not inviolate but we do not acknowledge the reality we create shifts, changes, and on occasion disappears. Yet we are quick to condemn those out of touch with reality. We look upon the mentally fractured as if they too should be able to function within a reality that we create, destroy, and declare inviolate all at the same time. We teach children to train their bodily function around an arbitrary time; they are told to sleep when they are wide awake, they are told to wake when they are sleepy, and they are fed whether or not they are hungry. With this we are teaching them what they perceive is not real, what they feel is not real, what they desire is not real, but rather, reality is something given to us by others, by our parents, society, work, church, friends, family, and the government. We are taught at a young age to act as if what we discover in the world is not reality and as adults we pass that on, as if we cannot remember being young at all.

Creativity, I would suggest to you, is a voluntary separation from the implied reality of the social contract. It is no more and no less a function of the mind that has been truncated very much like our natural ability to navigate in the dark, or to sense the feelings of those around us in the manner in which dogs do. More and more often I am certain the function of the canines is not of security system or alarm devices against cave bears and tigers for ancient humans but as touchstones of reality. What is not real the dogs will not react to at all. These things that the insane and the creative see, and sense, and hear, and feel, are not experienced in the range of canine perception. This is the thing, the thing that will really blow your mind when you think about it; dogs are immune from our loss of reality.

I see things that are not there and in the past month this has gotten worse than normal, if you’ll forgive that expression. The creatures of the periphery are crowding in on me, flashing into bits of my field of vision like mental meteorites. I know them when I see them, but I have to react, I have to look, just in case, but when the dogs are with me I ignore the gremlins. In the presence of the mutts these creatures are damned to the ethereal. Better guardians we do not know, but not for the reasons we have been led to believe. The sounds they make do not touch the ears of the dogs so I know they do not exist. I watched the ears and heads of the dogs for they look at the real, and leave the rest to my senses, and we all sleep better at night for it.

But you know I do not sleep.

This demon haunted existence is not an easy one. There is a reason parents teach their children the reality of the social contract for in that their sanity is safer, their minds more cluttered so as to prevent the weird, and their lives predicable as a calendar. They will not long speak to those not there. They will not linger in the presence of the invisible. They will not chase the leaves of the whirlwinds when they are older.

Creativity, I would suggest to you, is a voluntary separation from the implied reality of the social contract. In finding no peace in that world, I feel obligated to look in the one torn from me so many years ago.

Take Care,


  1. I don’t equate the rules of acceptable social behavior with reality. Sure, “No shirt, no shoes, no service” is one of those rules, but it doesn’t apply everywhere, whereas no punching people pretty much does. You know what’s acceptable with some friends won’t fly with others, so the rules vary. That’s why social interaction rules are not reality.

    I know a couple that raised a son letting him eat and sleep when he wanted and do pretty much whatever he felt like, as long as it wasn’t dangerous. He turned out (now 35ish) to be a pretty good person, as far as I can tell, but I’m not sure his imagination or creativity was enhanced. I think most kids have plenty of time for that, while still following the folks schedule. Forget coulda, shoulda, woulda, that was then, this is now.

    If your life is full of private enhancements the dogs don’t share, they shouldn’t be a threat. Use them for amusement, or ignore them like strangers on a big city street. Don’t assume it’s a curse when it may be a gift.

    Even though they don’t see color, the dogs will protect you from real threats... except stupid comments. ;o)

    1. Better writing is the means to get better comments I have discovered...

      Yet your evidence is as best anecdotal while mine is merely speculative. But I suspect the link between creativity and sanity is a weaker one than most imagine.

  2. The same can be said for creativity and insanity, although the latter may provide more material.

  3. Mike-I'll say this and you can take it for what it's worth. Perhaps what you see, or experience in these uninvited "guests" are for real. Perhaps your creativity also indicates a certain sensitivity to other "worlds" if you will, to other beings not of this world.
    Please don't think I'm patronizing you or that I've lost my mind--I have had such experiences with other beings (sometimes to be construed as "ghosts") and others I can't begin to explain, all my life, since I was a child.
    I didn't talk about them for a long time because, no one around me would have has only been in the last 5 years that I've truly come to understand and to accept what my "gift" is. Writing about it is especially difficult for many reasons, but I have been fortunate enough to find some people around me now, who do understand and even believe me when I speak about what I've seen, heard, experienced.
    I don't believe it is a matter of "insanity" being what you experience...but more that you are experiencing others from past lives who want their stories told. Does that sound far-fectched to you...I know, I don't talk regularly to many about what I have experienced, but everything I had experienced up until Micah's death was, I believe, a preparation for that hugely painful loss.
    If I had not had the support the prior 3 years before he died from someone (do you remember Tammy (TK) from Gather?) I don't think I could have come through it as well as I did...nor would I have been there for Micah when he needed to "pass" from the place where he was killed on that highway.
    It will definitely make you think you are insane, or on the way to being insane...but I know in my case, that's not what it was at all.
    Of course, I don't know what your specific circumstances are..but I just wanted to put this out there as food for thought for you.
    It may be worth checking out the history of your house, especially if this has gotten worse since you've lived there. We lived with an very unhappy spirit in Statenville for a first Wayne didn't see or hear anything, but eventually he too was made aware. I even wrote a story about it eventually that I posted on Gather a few years ago.
    OK, I've gone on long enough, just give this some thought. Miss you on FB.

    1. I remember you Statenville story. The house eventually burned down after you left.

      Someone did die in this house before I lived here, did you know that?

      As far as you losing your mind, I think you know where to look for peace of mind when you need to, Rose. I go there for the same reason.

      I can't say what is happening in my mind right now but I do claim that as long as I can write about it I am okay, at least to some degree.

      I fear the loss of my Muse much more than I fear Death, or the dead.

  4. For a long time, I didn't know where to go, I just didn't talk about it to anyone...I felt deep inn my heart that what I saw, what I experienced, was real but too taboo to talk about. Fear of the unknown silences us all, but especially when we are young.

    Since making the connection with TK, I've come to understand where my sensitivity, or gift, comes maternal great-grandmother (who was a midwife) and my paternal great-grandmother (who was part Native American). TK told me so many things about myself in our first phone conversation that NO ONE knew...except for me, and a few things, Wayne. SO many things I had experienced and talked about, much less written about. But she did encourage me to write about it, start a journal, give myself someplace to voice all those many years of unsaid things that had "haunted" me.

    So yes, as long as you can write about it you should...but I guess what I'm trying to say is that there are explanations for what you are seeing, hearing. Keep writing, just don't hold too tight to your Muse or it will slip away from you so as not to be smothered. That is a lesson I have learned the hard way.

  5. Your muse will not leave you, because you have a bond that is soldered.