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Oscar Janiger

just master it, while allowing the rest to flow freely so that the creative spirit can take it’s own course. The artist is faced with the dilemma of allowing this uprush of material to enter into their conscious mind, much like trying to take a drink from a high-pressure fire hose. This allows them to integrate their technique and training, and still be able to keep relatively free of preconceived ideas, formulated notions or obligatory reality. In that state they were able to harness it enough so that the overriding symptoms of psychosis were not present, but every other aspect of their being at that time seemed as though they were in a semi-psychotic state. So I evoked the term, “dry schizophrenia” where a person was able to control the surroundings and yet be “crazy” at the same time, crazy in the sense that they could use this mode of consciousness for their work and creative ability. There’s a lot of documentation about psychopathology and creativity but I think it’s all from a central pool, kind of a well-spring of the creative imagination that we can draw from. It equally gives it’s strenth to psychosis in one sense, or breaks through in creativity, theological revelation in the world of the near-dying and people who are seriously ill, and so on. All of that provides us with a look into this cauldron, this very dynamic, efficacious part of the brain, that for some reason or other is kept away from us by a semi-permeable membrane that could be ruptured in different ways, under different circumstances. I recall reading that James Joyce had a daughter named Lucia who schizophrenic. She was the sorrow of his life. Upon persuasion from Joyce’s patron, both of them were brought to Carl Jung. This was against Joyce’s wishes because he didn’t like psychiatrists. Jung examined Lucia, then finally came in and sat down with Joyce. Joyce said to him that he thought Lucia was a greater artist and writer than he was. Can you imagine? So Jung said, “That may be true, but the two of you are like deep-sea divers. You go into the ocean, a rich, interesting, dramatic setting, with your baskets, and you fill them up with improbable creatures of the deep. The only difference between the two of you is that you can come up to the surface, and she can’t.”

DJB: Basically it’s like the difference between being able to swim in the ocean or being….

OSCAR: Caught by the waves and dashed to pieces, right. There’s a wonderful book that describes the process of this ever-changing remarkable flux of consciousness that Sherington called “the enchanted loom”. It’s called The Road to Xanadu by John Livingston Lowes. I recommend it highly as an exercise in the ways of the imagination.

DJB: Could you tell us about the thought-experiment that you devised to categorize what you refer to as “delusions of explanation?”

OSCAR: Imagine that someone is taken quietly at night while they’re sleeping, out of their bed, and are then deposited in one of the most unearthly places on the planet – Mammoth Cave. We found by repeated experiments that upon awakening, there are only five explanations that someone in a Western culture would come up with and I refer to these main headings or rubrics as “delusions of explanation.” They are: (not in order of frequency) I must be dead, I must be dreaming, someone or something has played a trick on me, I’ve gone crazy or I am in Mammoth cave. Through my experience in mental hospitals, I’ve found that schizophrenics will try to explain the extraordinary nature of their experience by using one of these basic rubrics. In our culture explanations for unexplainable phenomena are rather sparse. My supposition is that other cultures may have different explanations for such phenomena.

JEANNE:: What are your thoughts on the mind-body problem?

OSCAR: This is related to the problem of consciousness, but isn’t quite the same thing. The mind-body problem is, I guess, as old as the human race. It has to do with how the “soup becomes a spark.” How is it that the material world, and the material substrate of ourselves, can give rise to something that seems to be of a different universal order, that of thought? Obviously consciousness stands somewhere between this maneuver of going from material things to thought. There are several different propositions that occur. Brain function simultaneously coexists with thought processes, and this interacts in a dynamic fashion. That’s one theory. Another theory is that the brain, being so complex and convoluted, spawns or gives rise to what we experience as thinking, which seems to have a semi-independent existence. This is a dualistic approach to the problem. The third notion is simply that mind is also spirit, and this is imposed on the brain from the outside in some strange way. This is a theological sort of explanation. The vitalist notion claims that the life-force gives rise to, or at

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