Inmates in Charge
December 14, 2007
On David Rochester’s blog, the discussion has focused on his mental health. David explains how crazy he is; explains how his therapist is trying to help and maybe cure him; explains how he is (so far at least) incurable; his readers (for the most part, an intelligent, caring, supportive group of people, except for the two stupid, clever, and wicked people who are trying to harm David) make helpful, intelligent, supportive suggestions.As one of the two bad people among his readers, I make sarcastic, unhelpful comments.
Cheles (one of the helpful people) wrote, in part, on a comment on David’s blog:
I vaguely remember walking in on a radio program a few months ago. The speaker spoke about his beliefs that the planet we currently live on, is a “Prison Planet.” His take on this was that our souls had chosen to be here to work out a past karmic “sentencing.” Apparently, something bad happened and we were given a choice for our punishment: to be sent here to do pennance or follow evil and be doomed forever…
The entire post and the rest of Chele’s comment.
This all ties in with something I was going to write about anyway. As I was growing up, I often wondered whether or not I was a sane person. I have had various emotional problems over my lifetime. At a fairly early age I encountered the distinction between neurosis and psychosis. My childish interpretation was that a neurotic person is really irritating and a psychotic person is really dangerous. Later I amended that a bit to argue that a neurotic person is someone who never really “grew up.” One problem with that definition is that I am not sure that anyone knows what a “really grown up” person would look like or how he or she would behave. (It may be that there are no grown-up human beings.)
Another thought I had was that maybe our entire species is insane.
When I was a child, I read a lot of science fiction. One of my favorite science fiction writers was the British writer Eric Frank Russell. Although British, he mostly wrote for the American market and his writing conveyed what seemed to me as a lively American diction. Although there was a certain amount of melodramatic “space opera” in his writing, he also had a sarcastic sense of humor, a disrespect for bureaucracy and hierarchy, and and a humanistic concern for sentient beings (who might be portrayed as “humans” or might be portrayed as “aliens”) that verged on the sentimental. As an impressionable child and immature teenager, I liked Russell’s writing a a lot.
A few years ago I re-read some of his writing, and also read some works I had missed when I was young. Sometimes when we re-read a writer we liked as a child again as an adult, the author does not hold up that well. This is particularly true with science fiction, a genre that does not usually “age” that well, and Russell’s sarcasm does not always hold up that well, either when re-read after a few decades have passed. I’m not sure I would encourage anyone to search out and read much of his work. However, one of his novels, Dreadful Sanctuary, does have a “high concept” that might be worth some contemporary author taking and redrafting in contemporary idiom and perspective.
Hold on to your hats. The four inner planets have long been inhabited by human beings, and each planet has produced a different subspecies or “race”. Black people come from Mercury, brown people are from Venus, yellow people are the only native humans from Earth itself and white people are from Mars. Sounds like one of those simplistic relationship manuals, eh? Once the stunning audacity of this concept sinks in…. that different ethnic groups had their skin tones determined by how close they were to the Sun (?!)… things get steadily even more bizarre.
The reason our little planet has so many specimens of the different human varieties is that, a hundred thousand years ago, the Martians developed a machine which can determine whether or not someone is insane. They (the Martians, the white people, remember) deported all their lunatics to the Earth to get rid of them as a humane solution. Sheesh, we are the Botany Bay of the Solar System! Kind of explains all the war and crime and perversions and pop music, doesn`t it?
All the descendants of the Martians who have been tested and found sane by that psychotron gizmo have formed a worldwide society with cells in every major city. Forget the Si-Fan or the Illuminati or even HYDRA, the real hidden power behind governments is the insidious Norman Club. (“Norman” for “normal man”…do you think Russell was familiar with the Great Shaver Mystery with its teros and deros?) Complicating things still more is that those who know of their real ancestry back on Mercury or Venus have different agendas than those descended from Martians. It`s quite a tangle, with three different ET clans plotting and scheming behind the scenes.
Although Russell was not a racist, the stuff about skin colors was silly and unnecessary (and not really that good a contribution to his satirical purposes). I’m not going to write the book, but I think a modern retelling of a novel based on the idea that our entire species is insane could be an interesting project.
One possible route to go would be to base it on the idea that one person alone among all humans is sane, but thinks he is crazy because he is so out of step with all the crazy people.