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The Insane Man

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"The forming of societies or any other artificial combinations IS the first, greatest, and most fatal mistake ever committed by legislators and by reformers. That all these combinations require the surrender of the natural sovereignty of the INDIVIDUAL over her or his person, time, property, and responsibilities, to the government of the combination. That this tends to prostrate the individual - To reduce him to a mere piece of machine; involving others in responsibility for his acts, and being involved in responsibilities for the acts and sentiments of his associates; he lives and acts, without proper control over his own affairs, without certainty as to the results of his actions, and almost without brains that he dares to use his own account; and consequently he never realizes the great objects for which society is professedly formed." - excerpt from Manifesto by Josiah Warren

The Insane Man

"Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence - whether much that is glorious - whether all that is profound - does not spring from disease of thought - from moods of mind exalted at the expense of general intellect." - Edgar Allan Poe

I met an insane man once, while walking down a hall. He was sitting in his room, approved for the insane, playing his guitar, also approved for the insane. The room was furnished with trappings equally proven healthy for the insane, a plastic end table, a plastic sippy cup, a window (barred, of course), bedding that had seen its share of insanity, and very little else. He sat upon his insane bed, strumming his insane guitar, nodding his insane head.

The tune was simple and strong, it flowed through him. I watched the music take him over, much like the joy of this sight had overcome my wonder at an insane man playing a melody that made so much sense. He moved expertly over the guitar, an obvious old companion of his. Perhaps they shared their insanity.

The melody broke, became disjointed, as though a novice had occupied his hands. The insane man took on an aire of pain and gently closed his eyes. With breath pulled deep, a mixture of anguish and ecstasy swirled about his face and he began to play again, the perfect melody from before returning as though it had never left, only been inaudible to the insane man for a moment.

"I'm not crazy."

"I know."

"How do you know? How could you know?"

"I don't."

The Insane Man

"If you're going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you're going to be locked up." - Hunter S. Thompson

I met an insane man once, while sitting at a desk. He was seated across from me at this same desk. The room we occupied was furnished with trinkets of opulence. The desk in which we sat was made of a wood he was very proud of, it was foreign. The rug upon which the desk sat was made of a thread he was very proud of, it was foreign. The chair he sat in was a throne, made of a leather he was very proud of, it was foreign. I remember feeling lower than him, though I could never truly figure out if that feeling was fact.

Surrounding this parade of foreign finery were certificates of achievement from many an institution, each bedazzled with gold sparkles that shone bright in the artificial light. He pointed to the one he was most proud of...it was foreign.

He talked at me. He told me of his many successes and how I could achieve all he had with a little hard work and determination. He had spent his life gaining people's trust, so that they would allow him to invest their money. He had done this well apparently.

"I'm not crazy. The system works."

"I know."

"How do you know? How could you know?"

"I don't."

The Insane Man

"It appeared that it was nature's own inherent law of diversity that had conquered us...our 'united interests' were directly at war with the individualities of persons and circumstances and the instinct of self-preservation." - Josiah Warren

I met an insane man once, at an event labelled "community." He rushed to me as I entered the room, and embraced me, though we had never met. The smile was happy and broad, but his eyes were devastated and hollow. They told of a man so very lost. They told of a man so very frightened. They told of a man so very willing to offer himself up to a thing larger than what he believed he was. They told of a man no longer a man at all.

He paraded me through an ocean of gleaming smiles and devastated eyes. Each smile greeting me with a gentle embrace and a warm hello, though the delivery struck me as so cold. I watched from the shore as this ocean of warm smiles and hollow eyes crashed upon each other, throwing out loneliness in the hopes of fulfillment in return.

The insane man, drenched in the spray of warm smiles and hollow eyes, returned to my side. He asked if I was having fun, and I gave him the reply he desired, not strong enough to see that hollow nature overcome that broad smile.

"This place could be good for you. I'm not crazy, I promise."

"I know."

"How do you know? How could you know?"

"I don't."

The Insane Man

"We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I met an insane man once, in line at a grocery store. He wore a deep gray suit of many pieces, though I don't know exactly how many. As we waited silently, he inched further toward me, though the line was very still. He would intake large gulps of air and exhale them very slowly, and very loudly. He inched closer to me yet, as if the strength of his impatience could will the line to move.

He moved close enough to me that I began to feel his anger. He touched my shoulder and spoke loudly a complaint at the speed of this line. I watched the clerk wince at the lashing and only nodded, not wanting to encourage this man so hell bent on moving forward with his life.

From the breast of the insane man came "Cherry Pie" and he answered a cell phone. Mere seconds into an apparent conversation, this man began to berate the store from which he was about to buy product, ending the apparent conversation with a small fit of rage directed at his wife and children.

"This place drives me crazy," he said, nudging me with his elbow, letting slip a hollow and fear filled chuckle. "But I'm not."

"I know."

"How do you know? How could you know?"

"I don't."

The Boy of Genius

"To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, that is genius." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

I met a boy of genius once. He sat in the corner of a gymnasium during what appeared to be lunch time at this school. Surrounding him lay the lunch time trappings of a child, water, food, paper, pen. He was focused on the piece of paper, a look of complete calm upon his face, almost contentment.

I sat beside him, not uttering a word. For 30 minutes we sat there, neither speaking nor acknowledging the presence of either body. When the bell rang, he handed me his work.

Drawn upon this paper were a large collection of stick figures, enough to cover the entire page, all drawn in black. In the middle of this sea of people stood one red stick figure. When I asked him who the red figure represented, he replied, "He is you. He is me."

"I'm not crazy."

"I know."


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