June 22nd, 2005


schizophrenic cats

it just occurred to me while looking at the cat paintings by Louis Wain, famous for being a window into the world of a schizophrenic, that these are not representations of what Wain saw when he looked at cats but rather the plastic results of his efforts to represent cats. two quite different things: rather than assume that these are photographic images of hallucinated cats it seems one has to wonder what is happening at the level of representation that might result in disordered--or spectacularly hyper-ordered--images. it seems less likely that these pictures represent what he saw than that they are the results of a kind of hyperactivity of associational representation occuring during the process of painting.

I suppose one would have to ask if he ever recovered and was able to say whether or not these were the things he actually saw. this all occurs to me because the act of representation itself requires visual feedback, and if the artist is hallucinating while he paints, what is painted will not be the hallucination but a kind of redoubled representation of the disorder of hallucination. you know? like a hallucinated hallucination: a feedback loop of obsessive obsession. how do you paint what you see when you cannot even see the paint?

I don't know if this has anything to say about "mental illness" and honestly I don't care so much but it might add a layer of subtlety to, say, Deleuze's "schizoanalysis" which occurs at the level of representation and calls into question any representability whatsoever, and makes of schizophrenia a kind of representational/associational analogy rather than a constellation of symptoms.

in any case, clearly I drank too much coffee this afternoon and I hope I can go to sleep by 8 because I have to get up early and grade papers.
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