Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Art in Madness

I know I have been doing a lot of these lately, but I am quickly running out so...
Anyway, it is an essay about Madness in Art from my freshman English class.

Art portrays madness as an ever changing subject, fluid to the definitions of the artist. The art produced by the artists on the subject reveals much more about the artist and his environment than it does about the true state of madness. With the presence of the mad witches during the dark ages it becomes apparent that the madness is a projection of societal fears at the time. In the art of the witches it should be noted that they hold the staff of madness until they evolve into whimsical flying mystics that can destroy order in a tenuous world. This is especially intriguing because, the witch and the mad man are obvious distortions created by the church to help it accomplish its ends. The Catholic Church is notorious for denying women equality and for excluding pagans. The pagan women were mad for being free and bringing independence to a fiefdom. If the church could demonize the woman, such as Eve, then it could control the serfs by explaining their freedom as possession and the way of the devil. No person would dare harbor Satan-spawn, and thus no person could take in an alternative to the Catholic Church
Similarly, men of the pagan religion were made into pariahs. The drawing of the stick of madness as a tree branch hints strongly at the tie between worshippers of the earth and madness. Mad-men would carry trees and love the earth, whereas the good Christians would shun temptation and live a joyless, sinless life tending small plots of land under an oppressive monarch chosen by God to rule. The mad men, those who carried tree branches were in reality sinners that were in a desperate bid to reap a man’s soul for the devil. Thus the Pope could comfortably sit and reduce opposition through superstition. Christianity was allowed to flourish and paganism was slowly assimilated into a gloomy culture that spoke of a distant paradise beyond life. It was fortunate that the bible has no definition for a witch, just a recommendation as to a witch’s treatment—death. The Pope was free to define his most pressing societal enemies, bands of free-thinking earth worshippers that believed in an earthly paradise instead.

The mad-man as a tool of otherization makes him an extremely important figure historically. The madman is the societal scapegoat and a “cure” would be to release him of his wild sloth and turn him into an obedient worker. The madman’s cure was to become slave labor, like everyone else.