The mad woman leaves the attic
1 October 2009 6 Comments
My Sun-Mercury-Saturn in Gemini and Moon in Capricorn frequently struggle to understand insanity. I don’t mean clinical insanity (though maybe it’s not exempt!), but the calculated insanity imposed upon moderate people — crazy-makers, rather than crazy people per se. Just look at all the loonies shouting and crying out against Obama’s ‘death panels’ and ‘socialism’. The more reasonable he tries to be, the more hysterical they become. My theory is that this is one public manifestation of the current Saturn (reason) and Uranus (unpredictability) opposition. Much has been said about how Uranus (maverick) will break the shackles of Saturn (tradition), but I think the other view is highly plausible as well. Oppositions seek out balance after all, and it is the balance between the two that we must find. However, that’s not quite the subject of today’s post.The more I get through life, the more I wonder whether the crazies will always capture the space simply because they shout louder and the adrenalin carries them further than the reasoned moderates who simply get tired and want to hide under a rock.
I mean, isn’t my turn to Buddhism, to astrology, to psychotherapy an attempt to maintain some sanity in a crazy world? But I sometimes suspect my secret fear is going mad myself. In other words, while I watch others perform their madness, I am not entirely certain of my own sanity. It doesn’t help that Mercury/Geminis are frequently too open to suggestion — Is it X or is it Y? Or maybe Z? Or all three!
I had an ex who had two psycho ex-es (yeah, you think I’d have picked up the signals earlier). You know, the sort of woman who would make a scene in public, scream and shout and throw carrots at the supermarket. No, I’m not exaggerating. At the point of splitting up, I wondered what was so desirable about them that he tried to stay with them (for a while at least) and what was so undesirable about poor level-headed, no-drama me? Then I realised, that’s precisely what he’s doing, albeit unconsciously, making me question my sanity, and many a time I did feel as if I was going mad. However, I’m glad to report that I left way before the carrot-flinging stage. I abhor public scenes.
I spent the past three days fixing something at work. Basically a very important document was released on our website without anyone proofreading it (during Merc rx, of course). It was riddled with all manner of errors — spelling, grammatical, formatting, you name it. It looked like something put up by a grade schooler. This is symptomatic of how my department is run: we discuss things, we think we have consensus, then there is invariably a forgetting of what was agreed upon, and then there is a mad scrambling at the end to recover lost ground. Most of the time, I am exasperated but I take it in my stride. This time, with Mercury stationing direct in my tenth, I snapped. Of course no one took responsibility for it, most content to shrug, or say they had been too busy with other things. I insisted it be taken down, and spent the past three days editing it. Result? The company’s image is momentarily salvaged, and everyone thinks I’ve escaped from the attic. How come I’m mad, but the people who couldn’t care less aren’t? I don’t think I’ll ever understand but I wouldn’t mind some advice on how to continue to operate without getting an ulcer.
More and more I am realising that crazy-making is about power. For some reason I tend to enter into relationships (platonic, romantic or professional) where the other person often insists on altering the terms of the conversation, either by pretending not to understand, looking at me as if I’m mad, or talking about something else altogether. Because I’m so open to communicative possibilities I don’t often recognise the manipulation until much later, and not before I have expended much emotional energy trying to counter it. And the more my Mercury tries to speak and explain, the more my opposing natal Neptune pulls the other way and dissolves my efforts.
The original madwoman in the attic, Bertha Mason in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, is reimagined in Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea as Antoinette, a white Creole woman from the Caribbean married off to a nameless husband (Rochester, Jane’s husband in Brontë’s novel). In Jane Eyre, Bertha the ‘mad Creole’ is described as an animal, with wild hair and eyes, clawing, dirty and dishevelled (I don’t have the book with me so I can’t quote it but I recall the passage), and thus has to be locked away in Rochester’s Gothic mansion. Rhys’ novel tries to explore how Antoinette (Bertha) went mad, and the thrust of her argument is that it is Rochester, the repressed English husband, that drove the woman to insanity, by denying her identity and voice. He changes her name, takes her out of her homeland, and shuts her up in a cold house.
This is Antoinette in England:
There is no looking glass here and I don’t know what I am like now. I remember watching myself brush my hair and how my eyes looked back at me. The girl I saw was myself yet not quite myself. Long ago when I was a child and very lonely I tried to kiss her. But the glass was between us—hard, cold and misted over with my breath. Now they have taken everything away. What am I doing in this place and who am I?
Is madness born or made?