Well, I know I am. I'm willing to own up to it, but are you? What gives you the right to judge others in such an aloof manner? Who are you? What are your credentials? Are you qualified to judge the mental capacity of others when your own is definitely in question - as is everyone's? Where are the guidelines - the requirements for sanity - the stated points of reference - do they exist and if so where? If they are so easily defined then shouldn't we all be handed a leaflet or two so we can keep an eye on our own judgements and mental developments? Trouble is, who is in a fit state to spell them out, and would you trust them anyway? If we consider everyone is unbalanced to a certain degree then no-one person, or committee, can be allocated with the task, as it would be biased in some way however eloquently expressed.
Have you read the news lately? I read the reports diligently each and every day. By the time I have visited all my news related bookmarks I am practically suicidal or incensed in a way that isn't healthy for me. If I wasn't a raving loony beforehand I am either during or after. The world is undoubtedly in the grips of mass insanity, but hasn't this always been the case? If so, then, by association, I apparently consider all human beings as being somewhat off-kilter from day one of their creation - or from the time we could string sentences together and form abstract thoughts anyway. Thing is though, isn't imagery just another form of language? and many creatures dream with their minds awash with them so they too have to be considered in the same light. I'm beginning to creep myself out here. Where is sanity in amongst all this?
Does it pay to be off your head in some way is the thing? Are you all the happier for it? Obsession is wonderful if you ask me. Gets the blood flowing and the heart pumping - a person can feel very much alive whilst in its grip. Not all obsessions have such a pay-off though - some are debilitating, obviously. There is a big difference between being interesting in some pursuit to the exclusion of all else - being goal orientated, as opposed to be having to do something for the sake of it without the will to put a stop to proceedings, I grant you that, but even so when obsessing about something you can be firing on all cylinders - figuratively speaking of course. Isn't much of our life just pandering to some obsession or other - be it based on an idea of your own or on someone else's?
I think it is time we considered the dictionary definition so all our reasoning has a reference point as previously mentioned else we could well be flailing around in the long grass of confusion - lost in some imaginary maze where logical thought has no way to take hold, no foothold, that is, to help unravel the question raised in the title. Well, there we are then - anyone who could easily string such an expression together is surely a lost cause - I am completely loco by all accounts. Am I in like company is what I'm trying to establish here? Regardless of the previous, how do learned minds spell it out for us. Here we are then, Oxford Dictionary style ...
"In a state of mind which prevents normal perception, behaviour, or social interaction; seriously mentally ill."
Darn - not a lot of help, is it. Not a bit in fact. Each of their fundamentals is open to some serious questioning and all are of very dubious origin.
Mass hysteria - mass confusion - mass worship - mass this and mass that - one huge body, where each fragment is a part of something much bigger - where the singular is being dictated to by the collective; or, worryingly, where the whole lot is under the guidance of just the devious few, themselves the most crazed of all. Once you start prodding and probing away at the building blocks of civilisations, and especially the social influences of the day, you realise there is far more to everything than meets the eye - 'the game is afoot' as the most famous sleuth once stated - how right he was.
Oh well, I suppose I have to pay some attention to the dictionary definition above, considering each aspect of the explanation on its own merit. 'Normal perception', eh. Right, where do we go with this one? What the hell is 'normal perception' in the first place? I know what it should mean - what you see is what you should get - as in, we all see the same thing, but I proved to myself only five minutes ago this is not always true - far from it, one's perceptions can be misconstrued in all manner of ways. Let me explain further ...
I have been knocking out stories at quite a rate of knots, lately. I read them over and over - as you would - in an effort to weed out the spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Doesn't seem to make a blind bit of difference though, as some glaringly obvious ones remain - obvious to other, less involved eyes, that is. My brain rearranges sentences - fills in missing words, on the fly. My sister just pointed out a sentence in a previous story where one word was totally in the wrong place and yet I couldn't see it. Even after I was finally able to see the problem I had a hell of a job correcting it - the damn word seemed to have a mind of its own and I kept thinking it was somewhere it wasn't - exasperating to say the least. So 'normal perception' is never that but something else - a personal view by all accounts.
Still, I shouldn't be so rash and dismissive. Just because each person sees something a little differently the difference could be considered of little importance in some instances. If someone is acting at great variance to set norms then they would definitely stand out in certain respects which would cause concern in others. This behaviour could manifest itself in all manner of ways, from the extravagant to the subdued, and from the sublime to the ridiculous, but, of course, always within the confines of what 'acceptable behaviour' is construed to be by other members of the immediate society. Fair enough - I get the point - it makes perfect sense to me now. So a person is only considered 'mad' when they act outside of set norms. Problem with this is 'set norms' vary from one country to the next - oh, and what about belief systems? Getting a bit out of hand now. Let's start with a clean slate and work our way from there. I think we can gloss over 'behaviour, or social interaction' as the same reasoning regarding 'normal perception' applies to those too - if they don't conform then they are not acceptable.
There are all sorts of implications to speech, language and thought. If a person is really 'mad', crawling up the walls mad that is, then fair enough they can definitely be considered mad. But, this isn't the case with regard to the rest of us. We all have our hang-ups, our intense loathings and our unique foibles, which set us apart from others, but I think we can all agree everyone is born without this baggage, so then it follows these have been introduced somehow - our environment has been the cause of them, including those of a close, parental, physical nature. Fair enough - pretty simple to understand. I suppose the point I'm trying to make is that even though we are not as previously described - 'crawling up the walls', we are still subject to forming ideas, or being influenced by ideas, which, if taken to the extreme, could lead to full blown paranoia or delusion - the seeds of madness are within us at all times.
The real crux of of this piece - this mental gymnastics - I'm slowly approaching I think. Might seem odd to you, but I didn't have a set idea in my head as to what the content would be when I started out writing this - just a vague idea to warrant the title. As this piece unfolds though I can see why I thought of it in the first place - I do have a point to make. Shouldn't be too long before I make it either. Sorry for not producing something which could be considered a 'story' in the true sense of the word. This attempt has deteriorated into a psychological treatise, which was not what I expected, but I have to finish it come what may.
How about we take a look at the world at large - the recurring themes, where a great deal of similar disturbance is apparent, manifesting itself in all sorts of atrocities - mayhem, in effect. You haven't to look far. You will find the same driving force on your own doorstep - even within yourself - should you care to look, that is. How many are being assaulted and much worse in all corners of the world each and every day? And what is common denominator between such disparate peoples? Ideas, plain and simple. Just because a person appears outwardly level-headed they can still be in the grip of some powerful belief driving them to extreme measures. And some of these measures have shaped history, filling many a graveyard along the way. But, they are only ideas, nonetheless.
I don't really want to drag this out so I think I will wrap up proceedings right here and now ...
We all function fine on purely an existence level and behave accordingly on a survival of the species level, but we don't function fine when indoctrinated with all sorts of esoteric knowledge, imprinted in such a way, and so deeply, as to make it practically impossible to change our minds on a subject. We have to be always on our guard, questioning every thought within us with the detached air of an official inquisitor. To blindly follow is an insult to our own standing in the world. To join the mob without cross examining the facts of the matter is to reduce yourself to the level of a protozoa, itself just a single cell, though still capable of joining forces with others of the same ilk.
Don't be a victim or an accomplice. Be someone only too aware that at one time only gurgling, giggling and smiling was your lot in life - when that head of yours was as nothing but an empty vessel waiting to be filled. Consider then that every person who has ever set foot on this earth started out the same. Conclude that somewhere along the way someone formed an idea or two, and some of these ideas become rigid, inviolable beliefs; but they, and every thought since, has its roots in brain matter similar to your own - your own brain being no different in its composition from any other. Why did the person think in such a way? Why did the idea form? Surely we must always ask 'why'?
Dictionaries might define insanity in blatant, obvious ways, but there are levels of behaviour where it is more or less impossible to distinguish one from the other - the sane from the mentally ill. Are you sure you are not in the grip of someone else's delusion? Can anyone be so confident their version of how things should be is the reality suitable for all? Go back in time when life was simpler and less confusing - back to when your life made sense - back to when your cranium matter had space aplenty and wonder at the thoughts which have been parked there since and by whom. Has someone invaded the space and set up shop? Should you have allowed the incursion in the first place? Were you aware it was an invasion at the time? Ignorance is no defence. Insanity can spread as sure as night follows day. Your actions will be judged in the course of time. Delayed guilt can be far more cruel than any judge and jury.
As I previously stated: I KNOW I AM INSANE? The big question to surely ask yourself at this juncture, now that I have laid it all out in plain speaking terms, is: are you?