Stalked by crazy

"Parable of the Blind," Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1568

“Parable of the Blind,” Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1568

My friend lives in a town of 3,000 people. She is the mail recipient for a defunct rod and gun club. When it folded, she agreed to let any mail be forwarded to her.

Rod and gun clubs are made up of people who like huntin’ and fishin’. Their corporate interest in any kind of social question is pretty much nil, although they will give you an earful about the latest changes to the Assessor’s Office if given half a chance. In other words, they are local, limited, and laid back. Heck, even Jimmy Carter was a member of a rod and gun Club.

I say all this because some of you might try to draw a line between gun ownership and battiness. But the closest this group ever got to batty was holding contests to see who could load and shoot a flintlock, blunderbuss or matchlock in under 30 seconds.

"The Madwoman," Giacomo Balla, 1905

“The Madwoman,” Giacomo Balla, 1905

Today they received an anti-Semitic hate screed of the saddest kind: it is delusional but also consistent and organized. (You can read it here.) While not exactly personalized, it was addressed to the former secretary of the group by name. I worry that a person who could write such a letter is capable of doing worse.

My friend thought so too, which is why she took it right back to the Postmaster. While it doesn’t qualify as hate mail (because it wasn’t directed at anyone in particular) it did end up flagged in the “crazies” file.

We are all surrounded by threats. We pity the poor fools who act out on them, while fearing them at the same time. We despair of finding a good solution.

"El perro," Francisco Goya, oil on plaster.

“El perro,” Francisco Goya, oil on plaster.

We live in a society I would describe as “lurid.” We watch TV about sex in all its permutations, zombies eating people alive, mass murderers, Donald Trump—isn’t that stuff crazy in itself? Our so-called ‘real news’ is so slanted and unreliable that only four in ten Americans believe what it says. We allow ourselves to be molded by dreck of the worst kind.

That leaves the most vulnerable of us open to the worst delusions. In the case of this letter writer, I suspect that he is less intrinsically anti-Semitic than that he is influenced by the current rise in anti-Semitism.

As a society, we’ve already seen our liberties proscribed in response to threats—who wants more of that? All I can suggest is, as individuals, we stop watching art about sex, death, violence and hate. It’s the only way to get it off the airways, and perhaps that might make room for something healthier.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the barriers preventing poor people from engaging in high culture. Perhaps you thought it was fluff. But the fine arts don’t titalite, they talk about values and ideas. That can’t prevent mental illness, but it might change the messages the mentally ill are bombarded with.

Carol Douglas

About Carol Douglas

Carol L. Douglas is a painter who lives, works and teaches in Rockport, ME. Her annual workshop will again be held on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park, from August 6-11, 2017. Visit for more information.