Tuesday, September 16, 2008

this table-land is so narrow

Madness, grief, and despair seem to be the themes of the week. Oliver Sacks's review of Hurry Down Sunshinecovers titles that have looked at manic depression over the past 100 years.

The special qualities of mania have been recognized and distinguished from other forms of madness since the great physicians of antiquity wrote on the subject. Aretaeus, in the second century, gave a clear description of how excited and depressed states might alternate in an individual, but the distinction between different forms of madness was not formalized until the rise of psychiatry in nineteenth-century France. It was then that "circular insanity" (folie circulaire or folie à double forme)—what Emil Kraepelin later called manic-depressive insanity and what we would now call bipolar disorder—was distinguished from the much graver disorder of "dementia praecox" or schizophrenia. But medical accounts, accounts from the outside, can never do justice to what is actually experienced in the course of such psychoses; there is no substitute here for firsthand accounts.
Anne Lamott addresses how one can handle election season fury. Register voters, hit the streets, pray. Stop talking about her. Talk about Obama.

I hate to criticize. And I love to kill wolves as much as the next person does. But this woman takes such pride in her ignorance, doesn't have a doubt in the world about her messianic calling, that it makes anyone of decency feel nauseated -- spiritually, emotionally and physically ill.

I say that with love. As we say in Texas. (Also, we say, "Bless her heart.")

We felt this grief and nausea during the run-up to the war in Iraq. We felt it after the 2004 election. And now we feel it again.

But since there are still six weeks until the election, and since the stakes are as high as the sky, which should definitely not be forced to endure four more years of the same, we have got to get a grip. There are millions of people to register to vote, millions of dollars to be raised. We really cannot go around feeling flat and defeated, with the need to metabolize the rotten meat that this one particular candidate and the media have forced upon us.

The Cold War Kids just know something is not right.