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bear by san

March 2017

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sf farscape d'argo's your daddy

semi-detatched in our suburbanness, we're living in these hard times

Book report #65: Mark Vonnegut, The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity

Originally published in 1975, The Eden Express is Dr. Vonnegut's first-person recollection of commune like of a farm in British Columbia in the early 1970s, and how he went mad, and what going mad was like. In the 2002 afterword to the book, he points out that what happened to him would now be considered an episode of manic depression; at the time it was schizophrenia, and a life sentence.

Except for the part where he got better, and lived to tell the tale.

It remains a fascinating book, which manages to be unflinching, poignant, humane, and dryly funny--obviously qualities that run in the family--and full of items of tremendous interest to anybody interested in the period, the disease, or both. Of most utility to me, because of the sorts of things that are hobbyhorses of my own, are some throwaway comments--Vonnegut's "grace addiction" in earlier life, his description of the disoragnized thinking, the ideations of schizophrenic patterning, and so forth.

Also, the level of snark is really high. Dr. Vonnegut on the then-current idea that schizophrenia was a product of repressed homosexuality: "Food was horrible to me too*, but I have yet to hear anyone say that schizophrenia is a repressed fear of food."

Go, Mark.

And now, I really ought to see if I can fall asleep yet.




*(Context: in addition to sex being horrible to him, not in addition to homosexuality being horrible to him)

Comments

Re: It was not easy to go from being one of the seven righteous pillars holding up the whole planet

What he is is anti-long-term-maintenance-Thorazine.

Which, yanno?

See above, re, remembering where you put the damn gun.

He does allow as how it probably saved his life as an interventionary treatment, however, what with the unfortunate starving himself to death thing.

Re: helpless little mothers

The whole brick/head thing is one of the new treatments for post-partum depression, actually. Except for "brick" read "massive amounts of sedatives."

Turns out that for this particular mood disorder, sleeping for 48 hours gets you to a point where it's no longer a acute emergency and is now a chronic, treatable (mostly) problem. Like a couple of days of zzzzs is a psychic reset button. Wacky place, the brain.

Re: helpless little mothers

Yanno, a snack and a good nape really does fix many things.
Ah, schizophrenia, society's cesspool catch-all term for crazies. Of course, it doesn't help that there's like four widely different varieties of schizophrenia.
I'll have to go check that book out, I've never heard of the repressed homosexuality thing. I wonder if that's why my mother (who was going through shock treatment/thorazine hell at that time) is OBSESSED with homosexuality. Were they zapping her and saying, "stop being a lesbian, stop being a lesbian!"
Oh Vonnegut. He was amazing. I really wish that he had published a memoir, but I guess his last book + this one are the closest we'll ever get to his whole life story. He writes about himself in his characters + books, but I guess it's pointless to want Vonnegut to be straightforward + literal, right?