John Ruskin and Chamounix: The Convenient Teleology of Insanity

extremely interesting article


“All great and beautiful work has come of first gazing without shrinking into the darkness” – John Ruskin

John Ruskin, crazy only in retrospect? John Ruskin, crazy only in retrospect?

When we see or experience the bizarre in the universe, but cannot explain it within the bounds of science and rationality, society in general prefers to attribute our recognition of them to apophenia (a posited human tendency to seek meaningful patterns within random data) or alternatively, insanity (a loose term for abnormal mental or behavioral patterns).  Apophenia rather obnoxiously presumes a randomness that may or may not exist, but as we frequently observe, translating a Nazi neurologist’s (party member Klaus Conrad coined the phrase to describe delusional thinking in psychosis) term “Apophänie” back into Greek gives it an air of comfortable authority and reasonableness.  Or at least makes it slightly less threatening.  Now, I’m clearly not suggesting that those skeptics that explain away millennia of observations…

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