Sanity is Relative

In my opinion there is no character more interesting than the Cheshire-Cat. He raises so many interesting questions that one can wrestle with for hours and never exhaust. One in particular that piqued my interest came up when reading Alice’s argument with the Cheshire-Cat on the subject of Sanity. An amazingly simple and childish comment,

“I don’t want to go among mad people,”

soon becomes a whimsical and intricate conversation proving the madness of a grinning cat. And one must wonder, does this strange happenstance conversation have any bearing on a world outside of the dream-scape of Wonderland? I feel that it can, since truly the Cat’s comment is only an intriguing lead in to a whole new argument.

“We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

This interesting line pulls you into a whole new realm of possibilities. Who can truly say what is ‘not mad’? How many times have we heard the saying that no one is truly normal? And if that is true then are we truly ‘sane’.

I would argue, that first one must define madness. By mad do we mean truly insane; straight jacket, asylum, nut house crazy? Or are we referring to a more mild form of madness, the strange quirks we all have. The harmlessly eccentric or the dangerously twisted?

For the sake of argument let us say we mean the more innocent form of madness. If that is true then of course, we are all mad. For how boring would one be if they were normal. Plain, boring, white bread indistinguishable from the multitude, but very happy within our sphere of normalcy. Furthermore, if one was “sane” how could we possibly survive surrounded by the delightfully strange people we meet everyday? We couldn’t, to live surrounded by the harmless eccentricities of today we must learn to accept these quirks much the way Alice has accepted the strange realm of Wonderland.

A sweet and endearing thought to be sure but one quite useless if we are referring to the darker side of insanity. We, or those who consider themselves to lead normal banal existences, need only pick up a newspaper or flip on the TV to be able to, within moments, say with horror or righteous incrimination, “Why they must be mad!” or any variation thereof; sick, twisted, psychotic, sadistic…in a word what we personally consider evil. But how many of those that we label would actually consider themselves “mad”? Very few it would seem, as they all justly or unjustly defend their actions as being deserved, incited or in defense of a greater good. So perhaps no one can truly say they are “not mad” for in the end one must admit that if they are not mad then we live in a truly twisted and sick society….

In the defense of madness sanity is relative.

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2 Responses to “Sanity is Relative”

  1. I am sorry I meant to leave this comment as a reply to A Hundred Different Roads and No Destination, sorry for the confusion.

  2. How interesting, I was just pondering similar questions when I stumbled upon your post. I am inclined to say that you have added new perspective to my thoughts. Relating Alice’s habit back to the real world was something unexpected for me. It does seem true that in wonderland each person follows a path themselves, almost like an adult in our terms. I was also contemplating the question of how Alice could get to where she wanted to be, if the destination is unknown to her. Perhaps a bit of madness, under these circumstances would help? I also read your other post on Sanity is Worthwhile, and I quite enjoyed the points you mentioned. I love the question you posed of “what is not mad” for we have no means to compare madness to, in fact our madness may be quite ordinary in the eyes of another.

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