So we gave the afternoon some sanity after all and I wonder, Uncle Andrew, is life sane, as we tried to make it? Or is it insanity, as it was yesterday on the Gerard plantation? And why don't more people try to make it sane? Or if it is full of sanity for them, why do they try to rip that sanity to pieces and impose their form of insanity? Can you help me understand?
Sanity, as the project of keeping ourselves recognizably human, therefore has to limit the range of human experience. To keep faith with recognition we have to stay recognizable. Sanity, in other words, becomes a pressing preoccupation as soon as we recognize the importance of recognition. When we define ourselves by what we can recognize, by what we can comprehend- rather than, say, by what we can describe- we are continually under threat from what we are unwilling and/or unable to see. We are tyrannized by our blind spots, and by whatever it is about ourselves that we find unacceptable.
There is an area of the mind that could be called unsane, beyond sanity, and yet not insane. Think of a circle with a fine split in it. At one end there's insanity. You go around the circle to sanity, and on the other end of the circle, close to insanity, but not insanity, is unsanity.
I'm not a fool, I knew from the beginning what couldn't happen. What couldn't happen didn't. The enterprise is abandoned. But half our life is dreams, delirium, everything that underlies that feeds that keeps alive the illusion of sanity, semi- sanity, we allow others to see. The half of me that feeds the rest is in mourning. Mourns. Each time we must mourn, we fear this is the final mourning, this time mourning never will lift.
What's the difference between sanity and madness anyway? We all play headgames with ourselves. We all have baggage. We all cope somehow. I'm not sure if I'm mad or sane. I mean, I hold my life together, I pay my bills, I raise my kids. But the world is so polarized and bizarre now that for some people, none of these these things matter if they're not wearing the right shoes or don't have the right credit score or a fancy family car. Some people think the most important things to worry about are handbags and tan lines. Meanwhile, war and crime and poverty unfold all around us, and we ignore it. In that environment, how can we even begin to talk about sanity and madness?
Every isolated passion, is, in isolation, insane; sanity may be defined as synthesis of insanities. Every dominant passion generates a dominant fear, the fear of its non-fulfillment. Every dominant fear generates a nightmare, sometimes in form of explicit and conscious fanaticism, sometimes in paralyzing timidity, sometimes in an unconscious or subconscious terror which finds expression only in dreams. The man who wishes to preserve sanity in a dangerous world should summon in his own mind a parliament of fears, in which each in turn is voted absurd by all the others.