MADNESS AND CIVILIZATION - FOUCAULT
"(...) In the margins of the community, at the gates of cities, there streched wastelands which sickness had ceased to haunt but had left sterile and long inhabitable (...) Leprosy disappeared but these structures remained. Often in these same places, the formulas of exclusion would be repeated, strangely similar two or three centuries later (...) and we shall see what salvation was expected from this exclusion (...) rigorous division which is social exclusion but spiritual reintegration" lazar houses -XIII
Renaissance and the ship of fools "(...) He has his truth and his homeland only in that fruitless expanse between two countries that cannot belong to him. It is this ritual and these values which are at the origin of the long imaginary relationship that can be traced through the whole of western culture? (...) water and madness have long been linked in the dreams of the european man. (...) The melancoly of the english man was easily explained by the influence of a maritime climate, cold, humidity, the instability of the weather; all these fine droplets of water that penetrates the channels and fibers of the human body and made it loose its firmness, predisposed it to madness (...)"
Narrenschiff, alegory: "(...) crew of imaginary heroes, ethical models, or social types mbarked on a great symbolic voyage whcich woudl bring them, if not fortune, then at least the figure of their destiny or truth"
(the ship of fools is only an alegory, or not? did people indeed send the madmen away? apparently ye, but not alone in a ship full of other madmen (...) "for they did exist, these boats that conveyed their insane cargo from town to town")
(despite the ancient link between madness and water) why does the 'ship of fools' appear only and suddenly in literature and iconography of the XV century? 1494 - narrenschiff, Brant | 1509 - Praise of Folie, Erasmus | 1497 - Ship of Fools, Hieronymus Bosch
madness or folie assumed a role in representing the complexity of truth, reason, human condition "if folly leads each man into a blindness where he is lost, themadness, on the contrary, reminds each man of his truth (...) even the old feasts of fools, so popular in Flandres and Noerther Europe, wre theatrical events, and organized into social and moral criticism, whatever they may have contained of spontaneous religious parody"
"the mockery of madness replaces death and its solemnity (...) fear in the face of the absolute limit of death turns inward in a continuous irony"
"the Gothic forms persist for a while, but little by little they grow silent, cease to speak, to remind, to teach anything but their own fantastic presence, transcending all possible language. Freed from wisdom and from the teaching that organized it, the image begins to gravitate about its own madness. Paradoxically, this liberation derives from a proliferation of meaning, from a self-multiplication of significance, weaving relationships so numerous, so intertwined, so rich, that they can no longer be deciphered except in the esoterism of knowledge. Things themselves become so burdened with attributes, signs, allsions that they finally lose their own form. Meaning is no longer read in an immediat perception, the figure no longer speaks for itself (...) room for dream and the symbolic"
the criptic nature of madness is going to be seen as a potential vessel for the deep complexities of truth.
"madness fascinates because it is knowledge. its os knowledge, first, because all these absurd figures are in reality elements of a difficult, hermetic, esoteric learning"
madness in shakespeare and cervantes
"this world of the early XVII century is strangely hospitable, in all senses, to madness (...) but new requirements are being generated..."
--THE GREAT CONFINEMENT--
XVII houses of confinment all over europe. in paris, on in each 100 inhabitants was in confinement for at least a few months. madmen, unemployed, beggars, dissidents where all taken away from the streets and keep in isolation. they would be forced to labour as a necessary moral re-take. this cheap labour would eventually, in its turn, pressure the normal market and generate more poverty. This consequence was not clear back then though, in the roots of industrialization. Labor was seen as a remedy for all sorts of poverty; it was ethically, morally, religiously seen as such. The need of work was a curse man fell into when he sinned. Production was not really necessary, but continual labor yes.
this confinement would keep the poor under control and avoid social unrest in the worst economical times and provide cheap labor in the best ones. Hopital general, not a medical institution, but well and a sort of jurisdiction with great authority "quasi-absoulte sovereignty"
houses of correction: punishment of vagabonds and relief of the poor. the beggars were a serious problem... in the beginning of the XVII century in Paris roughly one third of the population was begging. they were prosecuted, publicly punished, expelled from the cities. There was a severe economical crisis and the labor system was also being restructured: the guilds and their associations were forbidden and the large manufactories developed. The institution of the confinement house was a possible solution and it was introduced with the support of the church. The unemployed and the poor would no longer be expelled or punished, but taken in custody and forced into labor under surveillance.
houses of confinement dissapeared as such (correctional, labor, structures) in the beginning of the XIX century, being used then as mere prisons of poverty and centers for indigents.
In the history of reason this was the moment when madness became "perceived on the social horizon of poverty, of incapacity of work, of inability to integrate with the group; the moment when madness began to rank among the problems of the city"
Confinement shows a different way of handling punishment and example. It became better to keep most of the crimes in secret and punish them privately within the legal institutions. "There aspects of evil that have such a power of contagion, such a force of scandal that any publicity multiplies them infinitely (p.67)" the secrecy of punishment was supposed also to lead the criminal to oblivion and free their relatives from a social burden.
But even though hiding scandal was a priority for the houses of correction, it didn't apply to all the prisioners. madmen were considered apart. Their madness would actually be displayed in public like an entertainment for the bourgeoisie. In london lunatics were exhibited for good money every sunday (1815). some of the madmen would react to the whip performing trained tricks. the most ethical shows would be the ones in which madmen would be allowed to exhibit each other. The public would have a vicious pleasure on these shows and would mock them and insult them. Madness as pure spectacle.
Confinement aimed at hiding unreason and organizing madness. "In the Renaissance madness was everywhere and mingled with every experience by its images or its dangers. During the classical age madness was shown, but on the other side of bars (...)" Madness had become a think to look at: no longer a monster inside oneself, but an animal with strange mechanisms (...) Madmen were considered as being closer to beasts than to humans and therefore strong and extra resistant. They 'could endure' anything: cold, darkness, dirt. there was no need to protect, feed or warm them.