Thursday, September 30, 2010

Psycho and Language

Courtesy of Alex's remarks about Psycho in class I had to re-watch it with the parallels of language in the back of my mind. However trite it may be I couldn't help but relate language to the murders in the film. How many times do we butcher or slaughter what we feel and think by trying to say it. Bad writing/poor speech is the equivalent of "the shower scene." Or could it be the other way around? Spectacular writing is "the shower scene?" You decide.

In one particular scene in the movie Norman is talking to Marion about his mother. Norman speaks about the illness his mother has and how much he hates it. Marion suggests that it might be better to put her "someplace..." referring to an asylum. Norman perks up and says, "You mean an institution? A madhouse?" This got me thinking about the concept of the institution/madhouse of language. In class we refer to language as a prison, however I think a madhouse would be a better term - especially in the light of The Sorrows of Young Werther and The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick. We must either live in the madhouse of language or go mad trying to get beyond language.

Language strives to explain the madness but only adds to it. Already I have done no justice to the ideas and thoughts I wanted to communicate. Ultimately all we've done is brutally murder truth. (Cue shrieking violins...)


Carmell said...

Ty, I really love your perspective--the Madhouse or the Asylum of Language... I thought of Foucault's Madness and Civilization, of course, and the legitimate although liminal place madness used to hold in society before it became a pathology we could assign along with a zero (0) on our social credibility scale.

My experiences with people who suffer from mental illness, however, leads me to see that if we are patient and listen, we will hear truth in what is said. A person in my life who had spent involuntary time in a mental hospital out of state after a bad psychotic episode that stemmed from being prescribed Prozac, told me an interesting story. While there, the effects of the Prozac wore off within a couple of days and she found herself entirely lucid and unable to communicate with the hospital staff. She was a nurse too, but in sharing this and asking for her diagnosis and chart info, was treated as though her asking was caused by delusions of grandeur and her lucidity simply a psychotic state.

She also shared about a woman there who really was psychotic with delusions of grandeur who saw herself as famous and interacting with all the stars and celebrities in the pop culture magazines. She shared elaborate stories that wove in and out of the stories and lives of those in the magazine articles. At the same time, while carrying on this continuous dialogue with herself or whoever else might listen, she also wove in commentary on all that was going on around her. She was excruciatingly sharp about what the staff were doing or talking about. About what was happening to this patient or that. Or what crisis was being quietly glossed over or hushed up. She took it all in and it all came out uncensored through the ribbons of her psychotic world.

I would add to what you said, Ty, and propose that in the midst of our madness, truth speaks out for itself. I don't know if we can't actually speak it for trying, though. It might just be a happenstance between our mental meanderings. A lucid moment that breaks like the sun through fog before being swallowed again, with or without Prozac.

Scott Abbott said...

prisonhouse of language, asylum of language -- aren't these two ways of looking at the incredible tool we have developed in ways that will help us keep it sharp?

critique through those kinds of words -- and they both make good sense to me -- allow us to return to "language as our home" or something like that.