Though I feel hopeless — though I’m convinced things will never change for me — I have the freedom that goes with being psychotic. And for that I’m thankful. For me life is just one big joke. And you know why I’m free to feel like that? I’m crazy! And how do I know that I’m crazy? They (the paranoid “they”) told me so. I also have the financial freedom that goes with my eligibility for Social Security disability, something that I never dreamed of qualifying for.

Why did things end up like this for me? I had so much going for me. I’m an artist, I suppose. Definitely a failed artist.  An “artiste manqué,” as they say.

From my childhood years to middle age, I have been a solitary and lonely man. Repeatedly I have identified throughout my life with the miserable and the forlorn, and I have clung with a death grip to whatever person, place, or belief that seems the current answer to my anguished and ceaseless search for orientation and structure. You know that death grip well, don’t you, my friends?

I was not an easy child. According to family lore I was indulged by “tender-hearted parents” but still proved “troublesome and self-willed.” Schoolmates who knew me before I was twelve, years later, particularly remember my apartness: “He did not play like other children but read all sorts of books insatiably. . . . He liked to go by himself on many long walks across the fields. . . . He went off on his own for most of the time and wandered for hours alone around West Oak Lane and even quite a long way from that Philadelphia neighborhood.” My sister recalls that as I grew older I was “perfectly unconscious of having distressed [my] parents in that [I] never joined the happy family group, never met people, but always sought solitude.” Struggling constantly with melancholia, I, as a child and man, was an observer rather than a participant.

As an adult my dream of happiness has posed an insoluble paradox. At the same time as I see the world of everyday events and people as infinitely appealing, I see it as overwhelmingly threatening; every corner in the “dizzying tangle” of nature reflects my own internal chaos. The best I can do to keep my tumultuous and unstructured fears and longings at bay is to withdraw from social contacts, retreat rather than merger consistently characterizes my efforts to establish satisfying relations or settle on a career or a job of any kind. Only after having committed myself to the art of psychosis — psychosis, if done well, if done properly, as psychosis should be done, is, after all, an art, perhaps the highest art — did I seem able to overcome a pervasive sense of inadequacy and disillusionment; but even then only in the work of writing do I experience feelings of adequacy and fulfillment.

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