Madness is the deja-la of death and Life's Banalities

After a weekend full of ups and downs, I decided to do something I frankly should have started doing 10ish years ago— actually read Foucault. I’ve read bits and pieces here and there, and I’ve certainly read plenty about Foucault but never any full works. With some guidance from Kate, I jumped into Madness and Civilization tonight.

I suppose I should start with my predispositions. I think reading Foucault, and frankly any theoretical text, is fucking hard. I enjoy it and theory certainly informs my reading of most any text. Also, after teaching psychology and sociology for a couple years, I have some strong beliefs on mental illness and social structures.

My first thought after reading the first chapter is that I really should get my masters in history. Foucault’s discussion of madness through the Middle Ages appeals to me on several levels. His discussion of the literature of the time appeals to me, and as an added bonus, furthers my own understanding of New Historicism (which I should probably understand since I’m lecturing on it in a couple of days and haven’t been able to adequately distinguish it from pre-critical historicism) Snaps for stabbing Formalists in their backs.

So far, it’s not as difficult as I expected it to be. Sure, I’ve made ample use of both a dictionary and wikipedia, but MandC is much more readable than I had imagined it. I’m really enjoying it. Maybe it’s just nice to mentally engage in history and criticism again.

Mostly, it’s been fun thinking about madness, conceptually. Foucault’s discussion on how fools/the insane/the mad lived in physical, spiritual, and political liminal* spaces got me thinking already on the nature of hospitals. The protected barrier between the ill and the outside world is still there. The transition from how society viewed and treated the afflicted of the Black Death to the afflicted of madness made sense to me.

Ok, so that’s about all I have to say on this. I suck at writing without a prompt.

*I love that Microsoft Word doesn’t recognize liminal as a word. I love this word. I picked it up in college and use it more often than I probably should. I refuse to add it to the MSW dictionary—liminal will itself continue to function in a liminal space between being a word and not being one on my computer.

Life’s Banalities:

-I bought some clothes today. 14 new pairs of socks and a hoodie. I’ve made some executive wardrobe decisions. New socks are sweet. I love how they feel. Generally, I hate wearing anything on my feet, but new socks are the exception to that rule. I also now own 10 hoodies—two of which were purchased in the last week. I don’t think you can have too many hoodies. My favorite hoodies are the ones with both pockets and a full-length zipper. They’re deliciously functional. Some of my friends have a different outfit for each day of the school year—my goal: a different hoodie for each day.

-I’m finally coming to a stage of disequilibrium I should have come to awhile ago. I’ve politically defined myself as a Marxist for a good 9 years now. Simultaneously, I will acknowledge that I’m a shameless consumerist. Well, I guess you could say I’m developing shame. Being a technophile doesn’t help. I’m realizing I need to do something about this contradiction. I have made some progress- my TV viewing has dramatically shifted from a couple hours a day, to a few hours a week. That’s a step, right? Sadly, I think I’m probably headed in the direction of political reorientation. Maybe I’ll revisit my 6 month stint as an anarcha-feminist from high school. Emma’s pretty sexy.

-I miss Coffee Club. Aside from my week in New Orleans advocating for public education and teachers, it was probably the highlight of my summer. I need to go to Brewed Awakenings more. I’m more productive there anyways.

-I need to start my MA. I really want to be a student again. I can't decide what to get it in though. I like Iowa's Social Studies education program, but I even then I'd have to make choices. Possibilities include in no particular order: Counseling, Educational Leadership, Educational Technology, Social Studies Education, Literature, History, Sociology, American Studies, Communication Studies, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Sociology is probably out now-- I love it, but I don't know how promising a career I can make out of symbolic-interactionism.

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