Date: Thu, 5 Jul 2001
Subject: Re: Hannah's
Camille Martin wrote:
> I read that she was
diagnosed with schizophrenia ... I'm less interested in
> the label of an illness than I am with what was happening in her
> during her visions. . . . I'd appreciate any comments
> on this or sources to read.
Interest will go where'er
it wilt, but---
You might find greater
amplitude by not taking that label to be a "label of an illness"
per se but a label of a condition, to start with,---
along the lines of (predictably)
Deleuze-Guattari Capitalism and
Schizophrenia, etc., or the similarly neutral use of the term Fredric
made in applying it to Language Poetry.
First off, to de-pejoratize
your own notion of schizophrenia, which can be a
useful descriptive signifier, and treat it with greater equanimity.
widen your critical applicability.
Or even Szasz, The
Myth of Mental Illness, and the whole R.D. Laing British
Or the Semiotexte
back issue on "Schizoculture": a broader approach that sees
schizophrenia as endemic to America that's only emblematized in its
Her Language friends whose
Weiner eulogies I read seemed to treat the matter
(evidently "discovered" late) with unbiassed candor.
Her ongoing political relevance
may lie partially in exactly the fact of that
label,--- much like the pellucid clarity after James Schuyler's
episodes of psychosis: high-functioning, basically adaptive individuals
found a position in embracing communities, who lived pretty much happy
given baseline existential angst --- as opposed to the more malevolent
models" Sylvia Plath or Anne Sexton became by yielding
to self-murder in the
In light of Plath/Sexton's
relation to Confessionalism versus Weiner's to
Language Poetry (and with the unfortunate, after-the-fact revelation
Qureshi's similar condition viz-a-viz "post"-Language),
I have, rather than
waning interest, in fact wondered whether there isn't some way that
Confessionalism's aesthetics of a concretized, reified self and ego-exposure
weren't intrinsically contributory to the high rate of suicides in that
Roethke, Berryman . . .
Poetry's literary high tolerance for deviation, its
virtual enthusiasm at aberration, apparently coincides with a
degree of pathologization of its poets, generally speaking. Rather the
mystique of the "professionalized" poet generation: careerist,
Know what I mean?
Illnesses can be fatal,
but they must be potentially curable, even where a cure
has not been found. Schizophrenia, like narcissism, by being "incurable"
onto a different diagnostic axis than, say, garden variety neurosis.
AIDS, which is not an illness, but a "Syndrome."
Weiner's success could
be very valuable in the empowerment or treatment of the
similarly diagnosed, and the consciousness raising of the self-styled
"normal." (There is no such DSM-IV category as "normal,"
Despite the unique prominence and notoriety of (violent) schizophrenics
press, in a sense you cannot be schizophrenic in America, . .
. any more than
there could've been such a person as, say, an obsessive compulsive Medieval
monk, or an obsessive compulsive Kabbalist, . . . or a histrionic