All Nonsense Cancels Itself
In AIR InSILo, the invited artist and writer Bernhard Kathan will work on his sound piece "All Nonsense Cancels Itself", which will be presented during the Open Studio Days on 16-17 October.
The piece is dedicated to Daniel Paul Schreber (1842 - 1911) who is considered the most prominent case in the history of psychiatry thanks to his book "Memoirs of My Nervous Illness." Among many others, Sigmund Freud, C.G. Jung, Elias Canetti, Jacques Lacan, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari occupied themselves with his bizarre imagery.
Kathan recontextualizes the "Memoirs of My Nervous Illness," and by the means of sound and graphic art, reveals meaning in the chaotic. By refusing to see Schreber as a "case", just a madman, he points that the patient to facilitate his doctors was by purpose producing all the signs he was expected to.
Daniel Paul Schreber (1842 - 1911) is considered the most prominent case in the history of psychiatry thanks to his book "Memoirs of My Nervous Illness". Among many others, Sigmund Freud, C.G. Jung, Elias Canetti, Jacques Lacan, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari occupied themselves with his bizarre imagery. But he always remained a case, just a madman. And yet concrete and violent institutional experiences break into his "delusions". Strikingly, these have been suppressed in most interpretations, which are largely due to psychiatrists, until the recent past. In the psychiatric asylums he found himself in "conditions contrary to world order." On closer reading the theology outlined by Schreber - he thought that if he became a woman, he would, when mated by God, bring forth a new human race - turns out to be very this-worldly. He put masks of his two gods on the doctors who treated him. God would know living people only in their external appearance; their inner life, i.e. their real thoughts and feelings, remaining completely unknown to Him. God is incapable of understanding the human as a living organism. He does not need to know the living person, since he only associates with corpses.
The illustration by Berhard Kathan
Getting involved with Schreber would have meant for doctors to leave the safe ground of scientific medicine. It was easier to see Schreber as a case among cases, to regard his strange images as an expression of an organic disturbance and to deny them any meaning, any human experience. In his "Memoirs", Schreber tried to regain the authority to interpret the experiences he had made. It is commonly thought that doctors are trying to understand the sick. Schreber's story teaches us something else: In fact, the sick are required to understand the doctors who treat them. And thus Schreber produced all the signs he was expected to. Schreber's end reveals that the medical gods can approach only corpses without danger. For them, the world was all right again with his death. Now it was possible to count and measure - which can be learnt from the detailed dissection findings. But all the counting and measuring did not reveal anything that would have been of importance for Schreber's story of suffering. The autopsy protocol only confirms his successful and final fitting as a patient.