Wednesday, May 5, 2010

We've got to get ourselves back to the Garden

God was the first schizophrenic. In India every god has a "terrible form" as well as a benevolent one. The Bulgarians say that Satan arose from God's shadow and convinced God to divide the world between the two of them. The Finns say that God asked his reflection in the water how to make the world. Reflections and shadows are schizophrenic images; when they step out of their relation of dependence and seize their own autonomy, a split occurs (in Greek schizein means "to split").

Prior to my reading very much about theories of schizophrenia, I had a crazy intuition that Chris and others like him had been there when our world was created. His sense of the dark forces of the universe while struggling with hallucinations was so profound that I found it incomprehensible that someone so young (19 or so) with so little life experience could be so aware of ancient forces. His struggle seemed Biblical, centering around the creation myth but also the quantum Big Bang. There is a Forrest Gump quality to Chris and others. They were there when it happened. I can't explain it.

The key here is when they step out of their relation of dependence and seize their own autonomy, a split occurs. For most people this is the period of young adulthood.

If the action of "splitting" or the state of "being split" isn't explicitly present in the concepts of God of most primitive peoples, it is virtually present in all their creation myths. Creation is always a "fall" from wholeness, a separation, a dividing. When divinity is pictured as an indivisible totality, the creation of the world becomes a breaking down of this totality......This kind of process, the movement from wholesness to splitting, is a universal one in the act of being human. Erich Neumann sees in it the birth of the ego and the origin of human consciousness

Modern science has labelled the sometimes violent and often frightening process of becoming human, a pathological illness. Is religious preocupation or seeing the world in shadows and light really an illness or is it a journey? Chris became extremely preocupied with the concept of sin, and that he had sinned. Later on, he began to make amends to his childhood friends, whom he felt he had sinned against. I have no idea how this idea entered his head. Childhood sins? When he had his first psychotic break, he was reading Karl Menninger's book, Whatever Became of Sin? Religious preoccupations and androgeneity are just part of the territory of psychosis. Yet, people still persist in calling this a disease of the mind, where others might see it as the disease of the fall from Grace.

In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve live in a proximate, and fluid environment. There is an aspect of wholeness to this life, a naive and direct participation of all forms of life in each other, a synthetic function to all of experience.....The world after the Fall, outside the Garden, is essentially colorless, neutral, impersonal. It has been separated from the person. There is no longer a synthesis....The sense of the unity of the body in the Garden has found expression in the assertion that Adam is androgynous. One rabbinical commentary asserts that Adam "was a man on his right side, a woman on his left; but God split him into two halves."

From The Garden and the Map: Schizophrenia in twentieth-century literature and culture, by John Vernon, University of Illinois Press, 1973

1 comment:

  1. I e-mailed my response.

    "I had a crazy intuition that Chris and others like him had been there when our world was created."

    You are right: They were there.


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