The Idiot

Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed.
Luke 8:35-36

Come on, we live in madness. For just one example, as a culture we blithely compensate for the environmental suicide all around us as horror creeps in from the edges: the swill of plastic in the Pacific ocean, deforestation, melting ice caps, torn ozone. The overall scope of American food from growing practices to eating and waste. Or this oil spill. Human folly, greed, lack of imagination, graft, arrogance, our character failings adding up to a legion of madnesses. A Greek tragedy. Or comic farce. Choose your simile of incomparable self-destruction.

We’re like a man afflicted with emphysema stepping ignorantly on his own oxygen cord.

Some madness can’t be prevented or helped. Chemical imbalances in the brain. Stress. Genetic disorders. Disease. Tumors. Dementia and deterioration of tissue. Head trauma.

Or the sight of trauma. I remember the Cambodian women blinded psychosomatically from seeing horror in the killing fields. Their brains shut down the optic mechanism.

Daily, and in the natural order of things, the brain regenerates. Neurons find alternate paths to get the work done, sparks light up our gray matter like the milky way over a desert landscape. Every healing, every positive thought, every compassionate action testifies to human resilience.

I love the image of the madman clothed and “in his right mind.” Oddly, I’m most in my right mind living like a fool: eating green leafy vegetables from the garden, writing pieces for practice and not to publish, growing flowers for bouquets which will wither in a day or two after folks buy them at the farmer’s market, working on my character so that I’m more bearable to the seven people with whom I live.  And, with them, repairing these few acres of earth upon which we live.

And praying.

But I’ll add though that there is something at the bottom of every new human thought, every thought of genius, or even every earnest thought that springs up in any brain, which can never be communicated to others, even if one were to write volumes about it and were explaining one’s idea for thirty-five years; there’s something left which cannot be induced to emerge from your brain, and remains with you for ever; and with it you will die, without communicating to anyone perhaps, the most important of your ideas.

Prince Lyov Nikolayevitch Myshkin, The Idiot
Fyodor Dostoevsky

image: Alexander Master, c. 1430

2 Responses to “The Idiot”

  1. claire Says:

    I’m most in my right mind when I live like a fool. Oh, how wise, and how far of this I am…
    Thank you for this.

  2. la mama Says:

    I so enjoy/relish reading your blogging, ammaguthrie!

    It’s one of my bookmarked favorites, and whenever I need to breatheeeee, I go here. Thanks, dear heart.
    (You are my favorite don’t-flaunt-it intellectual.)

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