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The Problem with Madness

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     People who romanticize Van Gogh –like Madness mostly likely have never met

him. He’s not the easiest guy to get along with. And he comes out of the blue, when

you least expect him to. Most sophisticated aficionados praise the insanity…the

intensity…the originality…that’s because they never met Madness…if they did they

would think twice about adoring him. I never adored him, because I know what he's really like.

He’s not the most pleasant or accommodating of entities. Experiencing

him firsthand is liking losing your virginity to a decrepit ,sagging ,and aging

prostitute with syphilis-scary. Being in his company constantly will drive anyone to

suicide…just ask Van Gogh…he knows all about it. He breaks up your mind and

pretty soon you will not know up from down. You’ll want to sleep and try to, but he

comes at you that much stronger like lead and cadmium. You writhe, you squirm,

but he nags at you and rarely lets go. When he does let go Clarity comes and she is a

godsend. She is the goddess of reprieve…the angel of mercy…the bringer of

solace. She rarely visits, but when she does she is not taken for granted. Not by

me. Most do not grovel at her feet. They think her to be passé, un-hip, and boring. I

know better and worship her. She is the eternal hope and guardian against Madness.

She is my one true friend who can desert me at anytime, anyplace, and anywhere.

She comes and goes as she pleases. And that is what is really upsetting about her.

I’m obsessed with Clarity for I know Madness is always nearby… stalking me and

watching me. She is my only means of defense against him, but like anything

feminine she is unreliable, goes her own way, and does her own thing.

       Smoking is a makeshift weapon against Madness…it really doesn’t work that

well. It will hold him at bay for a while, but only for a short duration…then he comes

back stronger than before, which means you have to light up more. Clarity came to

me for a while ,but then only for a little while. She’s a real busybody. Whenever

Clarity wasn’t around Madness was sure to follow. It was frustrating. There was no

stability. No balance. No tranquility. The odds were stacked against me and I knew I

had to do something. I had to confront Madness and resolve this vexing issue. I laid

down on the grass and let my mind begin to wander as I was gazing off into the

starry night. Madness gradually appeared and I told him I couldn’t go on like

this…being pulled this way and that. “We have to resolve this issue once and for all!”

I declared. Madness stared at me and began his defense.

    “For people like you”, he said. “You need to express yourself… not want, but need

to…if you didn’t you would wind up in an asylum or be staring at the end barrel of a

revolver. Those are the kinds of people that really interest me.” he said

adamantly. “That is why I am always following you…that is why I relentlessly attack

you. I want to be your muse but you constantly shun me in favor of Clarity and that

is why I am neurotic about you.”


         “Can’t always get what you want,” I stated coldly.

“No… I most often get what I desire and that is people like you…can’t you see? I want

to be your friend… your companion…your eternal love…what’s wrong with that?””


      “It’s frightening,” I replied. “You have serious dependency issues.”


“Isn’t that what real love is all about?” he asked innocently…”no one wants the real

me…they just see a façade… an image…but not you.”


      “I think you’ve mistaken me for someone else.“ I said.”I think you have the

wrong number!I love Clarity and not you! Don’t you get it?! I’m not crazy about you

and I don’t swing that way!”


”Maybe you should be more open minded”, he said boldly…”I’ll see you later…and

with that he left…Clarity came to me after Madness departed and started gossiping

to me about him...”Isn’t he scary? …I never liked the bugger…he’s so strange and

deranged…I don’t see how anyone can put up with him…even his brother.”


   “ His brother? ” I asked.


“Oh yes.” she said. “He has a younger brother…his name is…well I forgot what his

name is?” She paused for a moment. “He’s not as well known as his brother.” I

started laughing…“Well I'm not my twin sister.”, she said slightly

offended…” anyways his younger brother is always concerned about him and his

well-being…which to say …well he doesn’t have much in the way of well-being…let’s

be honest”...she started cackling…I didn’t see anything funny about that…I began to

feel sorry for him…no one genuinely wanted Madness and he knew it…I could begin

to see his point of view. Poor Madness. There was nothing delusional about him…he

knows what he is.

        Clarity briefly left me and then returned, but only for a short duration. That was

her way-always coming and going. It was frustrating. There was nothing consistent

about her. She returned once more only with Madness accompanying her. It was

brilliant I thought…now we would permanently resolve the issue which had been

vexing me all along. Madness and Clarity looked and assured me that my problem

would end tonight under the sea of blinking stars. I felt relieved and told them how

grateful I was for this…I could not go on another minute living like this .Everything

was so unstable. I dropped my cigarette and crushed it beneath my heels. “Begin,” I

said…Madness spoke.


        “To be mad or not to be brilliant…that is the underlying question.There can be no

brilliance without some form of madness.Anything mad has some insight and

profundity to it.You must realize this.I can be at your beck and call, but she

won’t…his finger pointing to Clarity.”She will desert you on a whim”.Clarity briefly

looked away…”she’s an unreliable tease…a naysayer whenever she pleases…I am

here at your disposal for the remainder of your days…a true friend…a lifelong

comrade...one who would never leave you! I am your brother to the end! And then

some! Who could love you as much as I? Who could obsess and give you visceral

verve to an otherwise meaningless existence?”His argument was right.His

diatribe in order. His words held such heavy weight and became so convincingly

apparent I quietly replied.


      “Can’t I have both of you at the same time?” They both looked at each other and

started laughing. “That’s very kinky.” replied Clarity teasingly.I stammered and

was about to utter something when Confusion appeared.It was vexing that he was

there.He said nothing.And, for once I felt something odd.Memory came to me and

reminded me of that peculiar feeling I had when I was caught stealing a chocolate

candy bar from a grocery market when I was a youngster… she made me recall every

nuance of reddening emotion I felt when I was exposed for the theft…it was an

unpleasant feeling and I rushed into Madness’ arms knowing that I would be

relieved of any conscious guilt and doubt… it was the easy way out and I took it.

Comments (3)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Great read! I enjoyed the metaphor that was teased at different levels.

Joshua Hennen
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I second that! Well done

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Madness and Clarity--that makes for a delicious love triangle. I enjoyed this very much and really connected with the implication of the message overall.

A.L. Harris
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