In what ways does the writing in “The Eden Express” capture the mental state of the schizophrenic mind/experiences?
The Eden Express: Capturing the mental state of the schizophrenic minds/experiences
“The Eden Express” is a must read book written by Mark Vonnegut addressing his experiences in the late 1960s. The author has shown his expertise in accommodating different styles of writing and grammar and diction that is clear for his intended readers. The syntax, diction, and word choice clearly depict the books ability to communicate effectively on the author’s memoir and as he calls it, “Memoir of insanity.” The book also narrates the author’s experiences with a well-developed structure and real characters. This paper, therefore, focuses on these issues as portrayed in the book as well as the disorder of schizophrenia (Marvin, 54). Other areas of discussion here include the correlating themes Mark Vonnegut proposes, for example, writing as therapy, the creative/crazy mind, and insanity in an insane world among other interesting themes.
Precisely, the author’s grammar is well articulated in that he uses figures of speech and it is clear that his book is a narration of events that took place. In fact, the he chooses a word that he is sure would be understood by any of the readers that wishes to understand insanity from the inside. His plot also plays a very significant role is developing the books structure such that each chapter subsumes a remarkable amount of his midlife experience. He claims that “Knowing that you’re crazy doesn’t make the stupid things stop happening” (Vonnegut, 56). Direct statements such as the one in the quote explain to the reader a lot about the book and the author’s viewpoint. More importantly, diction is the distinctive tone or tenor used by the author in his/her writing. In this case, the conversational tone achieves the intended articulation especially with the help of simple grammar and right word choice.
Unlike many authors in the olden days and age who used archaic words like thee, they and wherefore, Mark Vonnegut uses ordinary English, which is enriched with appropriate vocabularies. The book, however, has a Shakespeare’s mood even without the archaic words. One finds it interesting to read the book since the writer uses a lot of humor to portray his attitude towards his subject matter (Gorman, 17). In other words, the book depicts the author as a humble and solicitous person. He is portrayed as a recent college grad who lives communally on a farm with a father who is not only famous but also doting. The book goes all the way to explain the nervous breakdown, taste for mortality and opportunity for humor that the 1960s provided (Vonnegut, 68). These are some of the choices made by the author that make the book appear funny and true. Its syntax illustrates how the author moved on to find the meaningful life that had seemed beyond reach for a while.
However, the book had the story broken into long chapters but has a conversational tone that make the book more interesting. The book also has more echoes of the writer’s father’s style and wit. Mark, mentions some characters in his book for example Vincent, Virginia, Gloria, Mitchell and Nixon among many others (Vonnegut, 145). Each of the characters is depicted differently depending on the influence and role he played in Mark’s life and his “expresses journey to Eden.” Most importantly, the most of the characters seem to affect the author negatively until the time he realizes that his life could take a different turn (Freese, 109). For anyone that has ever gone through the trails of mental illness, the book holds numerous authentic examples of things that no one else can ever appear quite to get a grasp. Mark uses his characterization to illustrate the small and secret thought that makes the world seem so crazy and agonizing at times.
Some sources claim that Mark forgot that the mot inscribed in one of the greatest travel book of those years called “where ever you go, there you are.” Schizophrenia is expressed as the seed of self-destruction in the marks brain. The dictionary definition of the term is a long-term mental disorder that involves the breakdown of the relation between thoughts, emotions and behavior. Typically it leads to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings not to mention withdrawal from reality and personal relationship (Vonnegut, 07). Some sources claim that he was hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital in Vancouver in 1971 for what he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Schizophrenia came into full broom on the farm for the farm was off in the boonies. The farm had little more than shacks, trees dope and was totally isolated. There was also a lot of rain and gloom and to be specific, it rained nine months in the year.
Mark’s first bout of lunacy was a mild one. The seed depicted in this book seems to have been implanted by the departure of mark’s soulmate as well as the entrance of some heavy mescaline. Mark Vonnegut puts together a very remarkable of a person going batty. It is easy to notice that he does not introduce the term schizophrenia until the end of the book. That is one way of telling the readers how strange it is on the farm though no one has a label to pin on it (Vonnegut, 124). Why else do you think the author the author gives such an excellent and acute account of the kind of life he went through in those days? Schizophrenia had made the writer and his friends to be bitter but at the same time awash in helplessness at their chosen path of their nation-state (Vonnegut, 34). The condition they were in had made them confused about the place they belonged in the world. They had so much in their brains, more than they could bear. They had so many problems that needed to be handled that they found the only way to register their confusion was through the haze of drugs.
The self-destruction of the brain that the author wants to inform his readers about is the same “syndrome” that had attacked him and his friends. They were not only buried in the confusion of drugs but also acted in a very weird manner. The author claims that they dressed in funny clothes and had weird hairstyles. The reason that he gives on why they had to do that is that they wanted to distance themselves from the ordinary world. Proponents of the arguments stated in this book give those among the readers who have had personal knowledge of most experiences in the 1960s to indulge in the author’s memory to understand drug use and its effects as well as mental illnesses associated with it (Vonnegut, 99). However, critiques claim that there is a problem with the way Mark describes his schizoid state as his mental condition in the 1960s. In his statement below Mark helps readers understand why he was in that state. He says, “After my first few tastes I was pretty much hooked. I’d have dry spells, months without any or only piddling amounts of grace, but I never forgot about it or stopped wanting it.” (Vonnegut, 126).
The author suggests the latest schizophrenic treatments and diagnosis in his build-up of different themes. More precisely, he said that to meet the criteria for diagnosis, the medical expert must have predetermined the patient’s symptoms for at least six months. The author’s book is both an explanation of his observations and a suggestion for the effective treatment. However, he put more emphasis on writing as his therapy (Gorman, 55). Occasionally, the author addressed psychiatric meetings as “living proof” of the efficacy of the orthomolecular therapy but something worked out for him. He admitted that his cure was also the result of blind luck, the right hospital, and the good friends. He says that it was never a feat of self-knowledge thus his argument was that he found a bag of tricks-diet, sleep, and meditation. Writing therapy made Mark adamant about avoiding drugs. It made him get a lifetime supply of that frame of mind.
Funny enough, at one point in the book the author seems to have believed that drug taking acted as his trigger to his breakdown. On the contrary, he says that experiences with the hallucinatory drugs made it easier for him to handle the psychotic experience (Gorman, 17). The writer claims that his daddy had PTSD and Faulkner was an unhappy narcissist who drank much. However, he seems not to care for the important point is that they managed to write magnificent transcendent literature in spite of whatever they had (Vonnegut, 78). The research, he says, made them a little smarter and less lonely. The author tells the reader how effective writing therapy was on his drop of his drugs addiction. He says that art stabilized the likes of his father and other writers and gave them purpose just as it did to him.
In the theme of creative/crazy mind, the author claims that most people have the wrong way of relating creativity and mental illness. He says that most of the creative minds are the ones that seem crazy. Nevertheless, crazy people do not create high art unless they are getting better. Many are the times that the illusion that a person in early recovery can chuck meds and produces great art has misled many talented young people. The point in being creative is to lead a healthy life and sustain loving relationships (Vonnegut, 100). An author is an optimistic person which is why on regular bases the book portrays him as one who lives on hope of seeing someone who does not rely on medication staring at him when he looks in the mirror. The theme here shows the distinction between creativity and being crazy (Marvin, 54). Most crazy people find themselves very creative in almost everything. These are the kind of individuals who think they can fly even when they have never entered into a plane.One can be impulsive and grandiose with flighty ideas and think everything they see on TV is about him/her without being crazy. Being mentally ill does not allude to being able to attend to day-to-day life or even being part of healthy relationships. That leads the reader to another theme evident and proposed by the author on insanity in an insane world. The book title already gives the reader the idea of what is discussed even without reading it (Vonnegut, 210). The title “A Memoir of Insanity” suggests that the book presents madness in a real life story. In other words, it is an honest witty and vivid depiction of frequently life that is in between the interruption of mental illness. That is why the whole book is about how much a person can accomplish while he/she is being followed by a history of insanity. He claims, “Once you’ve been talked to by voices, it’s not possible to go back to the world where speaking voices is not feasible,” (Vonnegut, 56).
It is, therefore, sensible to conclude that the author does not only give the story of his life in addiction and mental illness for the pleasure of writing for commercial purposes. The author does help someone who is already in that situation to cease as well as presenting the dangers in schizophrenia. It is not easy to predict the extent to which the author had been addicted to drugs use until one reads the whole book. Although it is very evident that he had experimented with LSD and mescaline and marijuana, he did not seem to be comfortable with mescaline and neither did he find marijuana pleasurable (Freese, 46). Such a level of addiction can only call for hoping that an individual ceases out of his will. Hope and reality, another theme used in the book, explains to the reader why exactly the writer wrote this book. It gives the readers, especially those that have been in a similar situation as the author, hope for change and rehabilitation.
Freese, Peter. “The Critical Reception of Kurt Vonnegut.” Literature Compass9.1 (2012): 1-14.
Gorman, Michael E. “Using The Eden Express to teach introductory psychology.” A Teaching of Psychology 11.1 (1984): 39-40.
Marvin, Thomas F. Kurt Vonnegut: A Critical Companion. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2002. Print.
Vonnegut, Mark. The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2002. Print.
Vonnegut, Mark. The Eden Express: A Memoir of Schizophrenia. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2003. Internet resource.
Vonnegut, Mark. The Eden Express. New York: Dell, 1975. Internet resource.