‘I am mad’

I am mad to be in love, I am not mad to be able to say so, I double my image: insane in my own eyes (I know my delirium), simply unreasonable in the eyes of someone else, to whom I quite sanely describe my madness: conscious of this madness, sustaining a discourse upon it.
   Every lover is mad, we are told. But can we imagine a madman in love? Never — I am entitled only to an impoverished, incomplete, metaphorical madness: love drives me nearly mad, but I do not communicate with the supernatural, there is nothing of the sacred within me; my madness, a mere irrationality, is dim, even invisible; besides, it is entirely recuperated by the culture: it frightens no one. (Yet it is in the amorous state that certain rational subjects suddenly realise that madness is very close at hand, quite possible: a madness in which love itself would founder.)
   For a hundred, years, (literary) madness has been thought to consist in Rimbaud’s Je est un autre: madness is an experience of depersonalisation. For me as an amorous subject, it is quite the contrary: it is becoming a subject, being unable to keep myself from doing so, which drives me mad. I am not someone else: that is what I realise with horror.

— Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse (trans. R. Howard)


One response to “‘I am mad’

  1. ‘But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ Alice remarked.
    ‘Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the Cat: ‘we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.’
    ‘How do you know I’m mad?’ said Alice.
    ‘You must be,’ said the Cat, ‘or you wouldn’t have come here.’

    Alice in Wonderland

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s