Madness as “hyperreflexivity”

Sass suggests that the phenomenology of madness should take its bearings from the concept of “hyperreflexivity”: the madman layers and categorizes his experiences in self-reflection so delicate and dense that it obscures the ordinary course of life. This is an obvious intimacy with the self-referentiality and irony of the modernist aesthetic. Both, as Paul Griffiths would say, are creatures of the “inner theater”; unsurprisingly as it relates to schizophrenia, and only a little less so in the case of the modernist aesthetic, Griffiths concludes that the inner theater will not feature in the life of heaven, a place where everyone is utterly without affectation or self-consciousness.

Sass’s mention of hyperreflexivity makes me think of the Lewis’s image, in the Great Divorce, of Napoleon muttering and pacing circles around a musty room in a house a million miles from anyone else, reliving his every failure and betrayal in agonizing detail, a repetitively static (Griffiths’ phrase, again) inner drama set on an infinite loop.

This entry was posted in C.S. Lewis, Madness and Modernism, Paul Griffiths, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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