A Call to Madness by Monique Wittig


Raving has become reason, madness the norm. With sheer inconsideration for those poor creatures often put away for life because of it, the proclamation is heard on all public squares: Long live hysteria. And the people could not be happier; obliged to immediately fall into convulsions, delirious outbursts, to tremble, lash out on all sides, howl, roar, tear out one’s hair, grind one’s teeth, clench one’s fists, drool, foam at the mouth, gaze around with wild eyes, jerk one’s arms, stamp one’s feet, choke, roll around on the ground and… (I won’t go on). Any unfortunate passer-by is set upon, summoned to loosen their chains, get over themselves, abandon their aloofness. Their bad luck if they refuse. The people are quick to drag them to one side, where they have their methods to titillate the nerves. Although they use no physical violence to do this, the passer-by is soon seen to leap from between their hands, to rage onwards, yelling their fury. So they get what they wanted: to blow one’s top is proof that one cannot escape the empire of madness.

Originally published as ‘Les appels à la folie’ in Paris-la-politique et autres histoires (P.O.L. Paris 1999.) This translation appeared in Chroma Journal, Issue 7, Summer 2008.


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