public sanity, private insanity

I’m working on a job at the moment, translating a lecture by Didi-Huberman on Aby Warburg. Warburg fascinates me. He tempts my romantic side, my Gnostic side. Warburg was the son of a very rich banker who decided to go into anthropology and art history – who traveled to Taos in the 1890s to observe Pueblo rituals and who traveled to Florence in the 1900s to study Renaissance art. Already his work is disturbed by a strange spirit, a spirit that drove him into a five year stay in the insane asylum in the 1920s. He hallucinated that bits of the flesh of his family were mixed in among his food. And he also hallucinated that the Jews were going to be annihilated. Yes, among the flotsam and jetsam of symptoms, there was that one, that prophetic craziness, spilling out in his sessions with Dr. Binswanger. And I think that there is something about the voice of the most sane, our governors, about how they speak and think, that one has to go a bit crazy to hear. For it is something that isn’t sane at all, it is a mechanical grating, a noise from the underworld.


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