The Tyranny of Normality and the Unsanity Defense (1.03.12)
God himself is crazy, and being is his fine madness. This was the opinion of no less a gnut than Meister Eckhart, who observed that "God's idiosyncrasy is being" (quoted in Perry) -- Being being the first exteriorization, or precipitate, of the creative Godhead beyond being. Which is why, as Plato expressed it, "the madness that comes of God is superior to the sanity which is of human origin."
Now, typically, it is the extreme bhakta --the God lover -- who most exhibits the signs of the divine madness -- weeping, pining, carrying on. But the way of the Raccoon is to filter that same madness through the jnanic, or contemplative, temperament -- which results in the sort of linguistic post-normality you have come to expect from Dear Leader. Rules of grammar, or spelling, or sentence construction -- well, we just don't care. But we always break the rules from above, never below -- unlike, say, the barbarian shorthand of the instant messengers.
If you look at culture as a sort of boundary -- a necessary boundary, by the way, because a King Bee can't do no stingin' without a hive -- anyone who does not stay within the lines will be regarded as "mad," or a fool, irrespective of whether they fall below or above its expectations. Think of our jester as a particularly nasty case of chronic, even terminal, normality. A Normotic Personality Disorder, if you will.
As a matter of fact, back when I myself was hoping to be more normal, I considered publishing a paper on this topic, because it is something one routinely encounters in clinical practice, not to mention day-to-day life. In a certain sense, to be "normal" is to be partially dead, unless one is aware of the fact that one is only behaving normally in order to "pass." To put it in Raccoon argot, "if you're not eccentric, you're wrong." But we do not necessarily advertise our eccentricity in the wrong circles. That's not proper madness, that's just stupidity.
Perry also cites the example of Omar Khayam, "whose wisdom clothed in frivolity is opposed to Pharisaism clothed in piety." As Schuon put it, "if religious hypocrisy is possible, the contrary paradox must equally be so." In other words, if I were to pretend to be normal, I would be a rank hypocrite.
Christopher Bollas discusses what he calls the "normotic personality," which might very well describe the anti-Coon. On the one hand, therapists often deal with patients who are limited by a weak sense of reality. But just as often, one encounters people who, as Winicott expressed it, "are so firmly anchored in objectively perceived reality that they are ill in the opposite direction of being out of touch with the subjective world and with the creative approach to fact" (quoted in Bollas; keep this in mind when we discuss the next arcanum, The World).
Bollas elaborates on the concept, describing "a particular drive to be normal, one that is typified by the numbing and eventual erasure of subjectivity in favor of a self that is conceived as a material object among other man-made products in the object world." Hence, the oft-mentioned spiritual autism of our scientistic jester -- and all such jesters who, ironically, are "anti-fools."
You might call it a "blank psychosis," in that, instead of positive symptoms -- e.g., delusions, hallucinations, etc. -- these people have only negative symptoms that are characterized by their absence. As a result, a person who has these non-symptoms will be the last to notice, since they are "not there." In order for them to become sane, they must first "go crazy."
As I have mentioned before, back when I was undergoing analytic psychotherapy, I said something to my analyst to the effect that, " I don't think I'm cut out to be an analyst. I might be too crazy." His response was, "nonsense. Not only do we permit such craziness, we demand it." Which is true. In order to become a psychoanalyst (which I ended up deciding not to do), you have to enter analysis five days a week for a number of years, so as to undergo an "elective breakdown," so to speak. But there are other ways.
As Bollas writes, the normotic person may enter therapy because "they are unable to to resolve that psychic pain which derives from the annulment of internal life. They are usually aware of feeling empty or without a sense of self, and they seek analytic help in order to find some way to feel real or to symbolize a pain that may only be experienced as a void or an ache."
Notice that in order for a person to feel real, they must live in the very opposite of what most people take to be "reality," that is, the objective or material world. One can also understand how this type of person could be prone to various forms of addiction and pseudo-addiction as a means to gain a spurious sense of freedom and subjective reality -- to escape their cramped prison for a while.
Speaking of which, because of the magic of counter-transference, when you are in the presence of this kind of individual, you will notice that they cannot help psychically infecting others with a kind of persecutory banality. This is the real reason why newspapers and TV news are so odious to the Raccoon. Can you imagine anything as stultifying as having, say, Katie Couric instruct you on the nature of reality -- i.e., what is "important" and how we should interpret it? Whatever else TV news is, it is a hell of pure banality.
Katie Couric is no doubt normal. But it is strictly insane for such a person to "feel good about herself." Her first step toward recovery would be to feel as repulsed and hemmed in by her banality as we are.
"A normotic person is someone who is abnormally normal. He is too stable, secure, comfortable, and socially extrovert. He is fundamentally disinterested in subjective life and he is inclined to reflect on the thingness of objects, on their material reality, or on 'data' that relates to material phenomena." Tell him that a child needs a mother and father, he'll say "show me the data." Tell him that "homosexual marriage" undermines the basis of civilization, and he'll say "show me the study."
The normotic personality has a particular affliction that prevents them from appreciating the irreducibly poetic, analogical, and symbolic nature of reality. Instead, they project their own psychic deadness into the world, and then insist that the world is dead. In turn, they re-introject what they have projected, which, psychically speaking, amounts to eating rocks and expecting to be nourished.
This is one of the reasons irreligious people tend to worship at the altar of art, because they idealize the artist as someone who has escaped from this trap. I know people whose houses are filled with expensive art, but who's heads and hearts are full of kitsch. As Bollas says, "such an individual is alive in a world of meaningless plenty."
What makes the normotic person such a burden to be around -- again, think of our jester -- is that they cannot help treating you in the same manner they treat themselves and the world. As a result, to bear their presence is to have to live without the full array of your own psychic life. You know what it's like to have to be around people who cannot possibly appreciate you. It's noxious. They cannot conform to you, so in order to get along at all, you have to conform to them. The burden is always on the Raccoon to adapt to the dreary world of the Normals.
The normotic person lacks genuine introspection, and even has a kind of automatic defense mechanism that deflects such inquiries. Bollas: "Such a person appears genuinely naive if asked to comment on issues that require either looking into oneself or the other in any depth." It is very frustrating to deal with such a patient, because they constantly bring the subjective back to the objective. One cannot psychically "play" with them.
Such a person may outwardly appear "unusually steady and strong." But outside their comfort zone, they soon betray their shallowness, whether it is in a discussion of art, religion, film, literature, whatever -- anything that requires subjective depth, i.e., soul.
The normotic person forecloses the Mystery and reduces reality to the "laws" and regularities he is capable of comprehending with his object-mind. "He is sincerely incapable of reading and commenting on a poem," much less scripture. (Look at the grossly literal manner in which the radical atheists interpret revelation.) He collects knowledge for the purposes of reassurance, not creative living. Instead of going off the deep end, he has gone off the shallow end, head first. And we all know what results from that.
These words are not drunken as ye suppose, seeing as it is but the eighth hour of the day. Be ye fools for Toots! --The Acts of Petey