The Twilight Zone
The old TV program Twilight Zone once aired a show in which the protagonist wakes up one morning and, for some inexplicable reason, finds he has difficulty communicating. When he requests a glass of milk from his wife at the breakfast table, he gets his first indication that something is wrong.
“Could you get me some eloscope?” he states, as he motions with his glass towards the carton of milk.
“Eloscope?” She asks, baffled.
It is one of many such incidents that day. Most of his sentences are not as easily decipherable as the request for milk, and he has difficulty making himself understood. What is even more confusing is that his words are perfectly clear to himself. He struggles to be understood but keeps getting the same baffled reactions. Something has gone horribly wrong and he hasn’t a clue what it is.
As the days progress, his speech becomes even more garbled and is increasingly dominated by strange words no one understands.
“Blowies tutam en crotaw estrago?” He desperately pleads. And now, instead of confusion, he is greeted with apprehension and fear. People move away; he has stepped over the line of what is acceptable behavior, locking him into a reality that no one else can grasp. Terrified, he tries even harder to communicate with others and ends up getting into trouble because of it.
Think of the frightened child who pleads not to be sent into her bedroom because there is something lurking in the dark. Is this the product of a fanciful imagination, or is the child's vision real? And what does real mean? For the child, the experience is very real, but not to most grown-ups. The adult will look very carefully around the room, bring the child along and point out to her that there is nothing there. Still the child insists . . Now, something interesting happens in face of the child's insistence; the adult becomes uneasy and may even be upset with the child. "I tell you there is nothing there; we have checked the whole room carefully. Now go to bed!"
The adult is beginning to doubt.
Perhaps there really is something, and it is the grown-up who has lost the ability to perceive the child's world of spirit beings. Sorcerers, witches and some tribal groups are capable of sharing the very perceptions the little girl speaks of, and have ready explanations for them. I have always thought it to be the ultimate of arrogance for society to dismiss these explanations as the workings of archaic, primitive minds.
The story of the man who wakes up and suddenly finds himself speaking words no one else comprehends could well be a description of what happens to a person we euphemistically call “mentally ill,” and which I prefer to call crazy. It seems to me, what occurs during those instances is diminished when it is labeled mental illness, and by extension, so is the person experiencing these special states of awareness. Crazy is a powerful word that encompasses the unknown and expresses something mysterious and fearful about life and the human condition: you are not in charge; you were never in charge. It's an illusion.
One can easily fall in such a trap. But it's not a trap if you know how to handle yourself in such a situatiom, a situation in which every idea, opinion, conviction, belief you've ever held are of absolutely no help. Yes, it could happen to you out there sitting complacently in front of your TV stuffing your face. You could meet someone . . .