Ruthpadel.com EXTRACTS FROM WHOM GODS DESTROY

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Madness is central to Western tragedy in all epochs, but we find the origins of this centrality in early Greece: in Homeric insight into the "damage a damaged mind can do."

Greece, and especially tragedy, gave the West its permanent perception of madness as violent and damaging. Drawing on her deep knowledge of anthropology, psychoanalysis, Shakespeare, and the history of madness, as well as of Greek language and literature, Ruth Padel probes the Greek language of madness, which is fundamental to tragedy: translating, making it reader-friendly to non-specialists, and showing how Greek images continued through medieval and Renaissance societies into a "rough tragic grammar" of madness in the modern period.

This intensely poetic and solidly argued book is a rare source of "knowledge that it is sad to have to know." It focuses on the problematic relation of madness and God, discussing en route such topics as the double bind, black bile and melancholy, the Derrida-Foucault debate on writing (about) madness, Christian folly, "fine frenzy, " shamanism, psychoanalysts on tragedy, St. Paul on God's "hardening the heart, " links between madness and murder, pollution and syphilis, and the Irish for "mad."

CONTENTS

Appendix ATE IN TRAGEDY: THE THINNING OF THE WORD

Aeschylus: from “Recklessness” and its Punishment to “Doom” or Instrument of Doom
Sophocles:“Calamity”, “Disaster”, “Grief”
Euripides:“Doom,” “Death” and Agent - or Instrument - of Destruction
Works Cited

Preface and Acknowledgements

CHAPTER 1 "HE FIRST MAKES MAD"

  • Quem Deus Vult Perdere
  • A Theater of Mad Gods

PART 1: Language and Timing

CHAPTER 2 TRAGIC MADNESS WORDS

  • Normality
  • Compound Nouns
  • Oistros and Io
  • Lyssa and Heracles
  • Mania: A Fit of Madness
  • Adjectives

CHAPTER 3 GOD OF THE VERB

  • Madness Verbs and "God of"
  • Participles: The Pre-Eminence of the Verb
  • Madness is Temporary and Known by its Appearance

CHAPTER 4 TEMPORARY VERSUS LONGTERM MADNESS

  • Chronic Susceptibility
  • Io and Orestes
  • Cassandra
  • Temporary and Long-Term: the Differences
  • Narrative

PART 2: Darkness and Vision

CHAPTER 5 INNER SHADOW

  • Madness is Black
  • Hellebore and Black Bile
  • Anger
  • Melancholia

CHAPTER 6 THE AFTERLIFE OF INNER BLACKNESS

  • Problem 30
  • Black Star, Black Sun
  • Where there is Lytel Light
  • Black Tragedy

CHAPTER 7 DARK TWISTED SEEING

  • Darkness; Consciousness or its Loss?
  • Ajax: Madness and Sight
  • Ajax the Shadow
  • Destroy Us in the Light
  • Twisted Seeing
  • Bad as Good, Beloved as Enemy

CHAPTER 8 TRUE SEEING

  • What Others Cannot See: Cassandra, Orestes, Io
  • Fine Frenzy and Plato’s Phaedrus
  • Mania Classified by Human Activity
  • Mania Classified by Gods

CHAPTER 9 A LEGACY OF TRUE MAD SEEING

  • Seeing A Country of Truth: Democritus at Abdera
  • Melancholic Divination and Christian Folly
  • Who Gets Any Good from what Madness Sees?

PART 3: Isolation: Wandering, Disharmony, Pollution

CHAPTER 10 STONE: MADNESS IS OUTSIDE

  • Distance
  • Stone
  • On the Aleian Plain
  • All through Ireland
  • Madness as Wandering

CHAPTER 11 ALIENUS AND MAD WANDERING

  • Resonance of Wandering
  • Centrifugal, Centripetal: Two Patterns of Punishment
  • Alienation
  • Idios: the Black Bird Goes Alone

CHAPTER 12 INNER WANDERING

  • Inner and Outer
  • Para and Ek: The Mind Aside, Out of Place
  • Ekstais and Shamanism
  • Entheos, Enthousiasmos
  • The Mind Damaged, Lost
  • Outside and Inside
  • The Wandering Womb

CHAPTER 13 DAEMONIC DANCE

  • "Der Rhythmus der Disharmonie"
  • Joined-Up Dancing
  • The Song of Erinys
  • Disorder through Order
  • Stage Syntax of Madness
  • Unmusical Music
  • Non-Human Passion

CHAPTER 14 SKIN: POLLUTION AND SHAME

  • Boundaries
  • Skin-Sores
  • Miasma and Divine Hostility
  • “In the Conjunction”
  • Purifying
  • Shame

CHAPTER 15

  • Disease as Daimon
  • Madness as Disease
  • Phaedra: A Diseased Lying Down
  • Eros Doubled: Madness as Passion

PART 4: Damage

CHAPTER 16 MIND DAMAGE BEFORE TRAGEDY

  • Atè as Harm
  • Inner and Outer, Concrete and Abstract, Mental and Physical
  • "I Was Damaged"
  • Something Lost, Something Added

CHAPTER 17 HOMER’S DAMAGE CHAIN

  • The Atè-Sequence
  • Personifying the Damage-Chain
  • The Two “Stages” and their Divine Options
  • Homeric versus Archaic Weight
  • Penalty, Harvest, Daughter

CHAPTER 18 THE TWO ROLES OF MADNESS

  • Atè’s Replacements: Deception, Erinys, Madness – and Tragedy
  • Tragedy as Atè-Sequence
  • Madness as Instrument and Punishment of Crime
  • "Hyperbolic" and "Real" Madness

CHAPTER 19 HAYWIRE CITY

  • Some Big Hamartia
  • Tragic Mistaking
  • Ignoring Gods, Fighting Gods
  • Atè, Madness, Hamartia
  • Self-Neglect, Self-Damage
  • Child Murder

CHAPTER 20 DIVINE DOUBLE BIND

  • Daemonic Self-Conflict
  • Divinity is Conflict
  • Double Bind
  • Caught in the Cross-Fire: Orestes and Io

PART 5: Madness: A Rough Tragic Grammar

CHAPTER 21 MAD IN ANOTHER WORLD

  • To Feel for Bearings: Other People's Madness
  • Divinity versus Moral Mismanagement
  • Self-Validation: Psychoanalysis and Anachronism
  • Retreat from Truth
  • Making the Smoke a Door: Respecting Tragedy’s Terms

    CHAPTER 22 KNOWELDGE THAT IS SAD TO HAVE TO KNOW

    • Terrors of the Earth
    • In the Mad God’s Theater: Taking Illusion for Reality
    • Tragic Fall
    • Disease of Heroes
    • Truth from Illusion, Truth from Pain
    • Madness and the Tragedy-Producing Society
    • The Scream

Pages 92-96

Democritus sitting in melancholic pose in a garden, the classic locus melancholicus, is supremely associated with seeing more truly: the "ancient seer who put out both his eyes in order that he might be given more to contemplation"...

Though it might seem its polar opposite, the idea of Christian folly worked with the image of melancholic divination to provide the early modern imagination, and ultimately our own, with a vast jungle floor supporting the notion of mad seeing. Pure madness or dark, simple or complex, genius or "fool": visions of the laughing philosopher mesh with fascination over the vision and speech of fools and madmen.

Plato's Phaedrus and fine frenzy, Aristotle's Problem 30, melancholic divination, Christian folly and mystic vision: how could we escape this compost of ideas: how not inherit some feeling that madness can see truth? These are seams of thought deeply embedded in the quarry of ideas that underlie our attitudes to madness: its goods, its values, its ways of seeing. They are alive and at work in us. They may seem like archetypes, universally true, because they have worked into the skin of our minds. They were shocking, passionately argued over ideas when they were new. Then they lived on as cultural constructs, forming attitudes in subsequent societies. Now they are wraiths in our less learned imagination, potent shadows of long-past controversies. We may react to them as if they were our own ideas; which they are not. We use them as coin of the realm but they were there before us. They own us and ride us, rather than us owning them.

WHO GETS ANY GOODS FROM WHAT MADNESS SEES?

This fall-out from the Renaissance is one element in our own attitudes to mad seeing which separates us from attitudes in fifth century BC tragedies, written before Plato. Divination and poetic inspiration were around in the fifth century but no one then wanted to see madly or be mad. "The Blessings of Madness" is the title of a wonderful chapter in E R Dodds’s book The Greeks and the Irrational where he considers prophecy, inspiration and maenadism in the classical age. But to line up all the material under Plato and call it "Blessings" does not do for fifth century tragedy. What Cassandra has is not a blessing...

After the revisions of psychoanalysis, it is possible to believe that true seeing in madness is not necessarily good for the person doing it. "The insane person is not cut off from reality. On the contrary, the insane person is inundated with reality, overstimulated, over-receptive, completely porous to the outside world. He is a crustacean without a shell, a warrior without armour." In tragedy, the maddened person may perceive more clearly than usual the god-haunted world within which human beings really do, according to the tragedians own terms, exist. Orestes and Cassandra see the Erinyes when they are mad because the Erinyes are really there.

Madness’s capacity to see truth is in Greek tragedy connected, like all its other aspects, to the mad person’s relations with divinity.

If there are "goods" in it, it is other people who get them, not the maddened person and ultimately the audience. They see a truth about human lives, about divinity in human life: light from the dark, a truth it is sad to have to see. But not the mad person. Cassandra's last vision before she goes off to her death is of human life as writing blotted out by one dab of a sponge.

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