Tag Archives: mania

Marya Hornbacher

Myself and I continue to converse while I put the vacuum away in the hall closet. “You really should clean this closet,” I say, wandering into the thicket of ball gowns and coats and suits as if I’m heading for Narnia. I pick my way over several suitcases and climb up a ladder and down the other side, having realized that it is important to find my bathing suit right now, but I trip on a broken television and land with a thud in a pile of boxes. “Oh, for God’s sake, don’t get me started,” I shout, and crawl back out, finding my hiking boots on the way. I go down the hall to collect all my shoes. “The thing is, probably everyone talks to themselves now and then, don’t they?” I sweep everything off the closet shelves and begin arranging my heels in order of color and height. “But perhaps they don’t talk to themselves quite this much. Time to do the laundry!” Abandoning the shoes, I pull all the bedclothes off the bed, upending cats, and go out my back door and down the staircase of my condo, singing a little laundry song, and I trail through the basement with my quantities of linens, note that my laundry song has taken on a vaguely Baroque sort of air, and note further that, to my regret, I do not play harpsichord, though my first husband’s mother did, but she was really fucking crazy, and once called me a shrew. “A shrew!” I cry. “Can you imagine! Who says shrew?” I laugh almost as hard as I did when she said it. I continue my efforts to stuff my very large, very heavy brocade bedspread into the relatively small washer. “Perhaps it won’t fit,” I murmur, concerned, but then realize that if I just leave the lid open, the washer will, in its eminent wisdom, suck in the bedspread in its chugging, “obviously,” I say, rolling my eyes at my own stupidity. I pour half a bottle of laundry soap over the bedspread and turn the washer on. I stuff the sheets and attendant cases, pillows, etc. in the other washer and wander back upstairs. “I’ve locked myself out,” I say grimly. “Fucking idiot.” I lean my forehead against the door and become curious as to whether I can achieve perfect balance by tilting myself just right, “On the tips of my toes, with the forehead just so, and she does it!” I cry, balancing there. “People, she does it again! Will she never cease to amaze!” I shake my head in wonder, and laugh riotously. “Probably time to stop talking,” I murmur. My neighbor comes out his back door with a bag of garbage. Real casually, I lean my cheek against the door and sort of right myself with a shove of my face. Hi! I wave dramatically, as if he is far away. He smiles nervously. I can’t decide if he smiles nervously because I am acting weird, or because he is getting his PhD in philosophy, which would make anyone nervous.

Marya Hornbacher, Madness: A Bipolar Life, New York, 2008, pp. 230-231

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

J’allais voir Diderot, alors prisonnier à Vincennes ; j’avais dans ma poche un Mercure de France que je me mis à feuilleter le long du chemin. Je tombe sur la question de l’Académie de Dijon qui a donné lieu à mon premier écrit. Si jamais quelque chose a ressemblé à une inspiration subite, c’est le mouvement qui se fit en moi à cette lecture ; tout à coup je me sens l’esprit ébloui de mille lumières ; des foules d’idées vives s’y présentèrent à la fois avec une force et une confusion qui me jeta dans un trouble inexprimable ; je sens ma tête prise par un étourdissement semblable à l’ivresse. Une violente palpitation m’oppresse, soulève ma poitrine ; ne pouvant plus respirer en marchant, je me laisse tomber sous un des arbres de l’avenue, et j’y passe une demi-heure dans une telle agitation qu’en me relevant j’aperçois tout le devant de ma veste mouillé de mes larmes sans avoir senti que j’en répandais. Oh ! Monsieur, si j’avais jamais pu écrire le quart de ce que j’ai vu et senti sous cet arbre, avec quelle clarté j’aurais fait voir toutes les contradictions du système social, avec quelle force j’aurais exposé tous les abus de nos institutions, avec quelle simplicité j’aurais démontré que l’homme est bon naturellement et que c’est par ces institutions seules que les hommes deviennent méchants !

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Letter to M. De Malesherbes, January 4, 1762