Literature as philosophy of psychopathology: William Faulkner as Wittgensteinian

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I argue that the language of some schizophrenic persons is akin to the language of Benjy in Williams Faulkner's novel The Sound and the Fury, in one crucial respect: Faulkner displays to us language that, ironically, cannot be translated or interpreted into sense . . . without irreducible 'loss' or 'garbling.' Such 'garbling' is of an odd kind, admittedly: it is a garbling that inadvisably turns nonsense into sense.. . . Faulkner's language is a language of paradox, of nonsense masquerading beautifully as sense. When this language works, it generates the powerful illusion that we can make sense of the 'life-world' of a young child or an 'idiot'--or a sufferer from chronic schizophrenia. But this remains, contrary to Louis Sass's claims, an illusion. Thus, drawing of the thinking of Wittgenstein and of the Wittgensteinian literary critic James Guetti, I argue that the most impenetrable cases of schizophrenia may be cases not of a sense being made that we cannot grasp, nor of a different form of life, but, despite appearances, of no sense, no form of life, at all. This is an option that has not really been considered in the literature of/on psychopathology to date.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-124
Number of pages10
JournalPhilosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2003

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