It is not the fear of madness which will oblige us to leave the flag of imagination furled.
The case against the realistic attitude demands to be examined, following the case against the materialistic attitude. The latter, more poetic in fact than the former, admittedly implies on the part of man a kind of monstrous pride which, admittedly, is monstrous, but not a new and more complete decay. It should above all be viewed as a welcome reaction against certain ridiculous tendencies of spiritualism. Finally, it is not incompatible with a certain nobility of thought.
By contrast, the realistic attitude, inspired by positivism, from Saint Thomas Aquinas to Anatole France, clearly seems to me to be hostile to any intellectual or moral advancement. I loathe it, for it is made up of mediocrity, hate, and dull conceit. It is this attitude which today gives birth to these ridiculous books, these insulting plays. It constantly feeds on and derives strength from the newspapers and stultifies both science and art by assiduously flattering the lowest of tastes; clarity bordering on stupidity, a dog’s life. The activity of the best minds feels the effects of it; the law of the lowest common denominator finally prevails upon them as it does upon the others.
Andre Breton was heavily inspired by writings and scientific inquiry into hysteria. Read his entire manifesto here.
“I based “Concepts” on a huge nursery close to where I live. I wanted to write about a father who requested a conversation with the nursery staff because he is worried about his daughter. I had recently read that autism is noticed much later in girls than in boys, because girls often act out less. And for autism, early intervention is of the utmost importance in order to help children achieve a good quality of life. Just because girls are often more easily handled by the nursery staff, they don’t get the help that they need. It made me very sad.”
"The nervous women of the fin de siècle were ravenous for a fuller life than their society offered them, famished for the freedom to act and to make real choices. Their nervous disorders expressed the insoluble conflict between their desires to act as individuals and the internalized obligations to submit to the needs of the family, and to conform to the model of self-sacrificing ‘womanly’ behavior.”
- Elaine Showalter (genius), The Female Malady
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