"In order that the mind may not be taxed, moreover, by the manifold and confused reading of so many such things, and in order to prevent the escape of something valuable that we have read, heard, or discovered through the process of thinking itself, it will be found very useful to entrust to notebooks ... those things which seem noteworthy and striking."

[Commonplace books: Thomas Farnaby, 17th-century]

hysterical fugue: an affliction not known to have struck any Baroque composer, but first diagnosed in the late nineteenth century.

"Ambulatory automatism, by whatever name--dromomanie, poriomenie, Wandertrieb, determinismo ambulatorio, psychogenic fugue, or, in the parlance of the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, dissociative fugue--is exemplary for, even a caricature of, late century madness. It is also a distorting mirror of one of the middle class obsessions of the modern world, the world of Thomas Cook and Son, the world of the comfortable traveller. For les alienés voyageurs--to use the title of the first medical thesis about these men--were compulsive travellers, solid artisans or honest men of the laboring classes, who on hearing the name of a distant place would set out, on foot, or by fourth class carriage, not knowing why they went. So far as casual passers-by could tell, they behaved, en route, quite sensibly, yet they knew not what they were doing, or, in some cases, who they were."

[madness: Ian Hacking, Modernism, Modernity 3:2]

Posted by Daniel on 07.13.2008


  • 1
  •  Per page: