Thursday, June 30, 2011

the mad doctor

This has gone on for years, the outbursts and the incarcerations. Every year some fresh reiteration of some great wheel with-in a wheel, some cosmic truth or ghastly redress. His mind grinds down its gears, all the noise and smoke some new enlightenment, some message from heaven. His mind wrecks, rerunning the same races, changing the names and vectors, changing devils and saints. He is the Buddha, he is Jesus, he is Carlos Castaneda aloft. He is hounded by enmity all around him, he gnashes and bites and drives wildly at any who would help him. He is hospitalized yet again.

We called him "the Mad Doctor" for years, his giddy obsessions seeming like sport to us reckless hedonists and alcohol enthusiasts. Years went by without major episodes or tell-tale troubles. Just some telling difficulty perceiving the objectively real, a stubborn insistence on his own fantastic reasoning despite evidence and testimony to the contrary. He was well into his cycle of containment and collapse, though most around him weren't aware of this yet. I had thought of him as proof of the triumph of psychiatry and psychotherapy, the wild tide of his youth leveed and contained, the shores of his professional success nothing but sunny days to come. I hadn't a single clue.

He will tell you there is nothing wrong with him. He will explain at length how everything is falling apart according to his plans, and that the friends he has attacked and alienated are the crazy ones. It is like Wile E. Coyote explaining the wisdom of his continued pursuit of the Road Runner, without the self-awareness that a cartoon character may muster. He is trapped in a recursive loop, that snake devouring its tail, that dissolution of the eternal climax, the timeless dyad of him versus the world. His sickness slowly consumed his self. That madness so feared and so triumphant, a soul boiled down to mere symptoms.

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