By Thomas McNeight
ISBN: 978-1-84747- 913-6
Key Themes: mental illness, philosophy, psychiatry, paranoid schizophrenic, spirituality
Tom McNeight’s book Into the Fantastic explores the vicissitudes of mental illness. He deals with this broad topic from both an academic, philosophical and a personal viewpoint. Tom feels he has been unjustly treated by the mental health authorities ever since he was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic at the tender age of nineteen years. Tom subsequently spent most of his adult life being heavily drugged upon what the psychiatrists refer to as anti-psychotic medication. Despite such huge challenges, Tom has risen up to become a successful artist and writer and he has gained deep spiritual insights into his life.
About the Author
Thomas Edward McNeight is a published author on mental health issues. He draws on his background in philosophical studies with the university. He lives in Wanganui, New Zealand, where he writes and paints. And gathers insights into the plight of the mentally ill, amongst his many acquaintances. Tom is impassioned in his endeavours to highlight the plight of the emotionally affected and he would like to see the status of the psychiatric institutions be raised to a level befitting that of the twenty first century. His experience has been bleak: As with many of his friends, Tom feels that psychoanalysis is a much healthier option available to psychiatrists than is the current ubiquitous use of harmful chemicals to treat mental illness.
The synchronicity of one’s primal emotions, the interplay, the co-ordination of one’s instinctual urges; the thrusting forward of one’s primitive drives, combined with their retention; a complex operation loosely referred to as thinking, or a human brain’s normal functioning. All going hand in hand with the out thrusting of life, of existence, of the great cosmic experiment, the explosion, the grand drama. When one is at one’s lowest ebb; when one has been this way for weeks; when one is seemingly climbing through a dark black tunnel, where there is only one’s own self for company; when one only wants death; there may come a time, a short time, admittedly, when one will see hovering in the inky blackness, the intense glimmer of what appears like a diamond. There it is, before one. In the gloom: glittering, in all its insane glory. In all its terrible beauty. In all its tremulous joy. And that is its life. The Spirit. The Holy Spirit. The glory of living. The beauty of being. Of existence. Of something, one knows not what. And this is the spiritual essence of being. The spiritual essence of all that is. It is the inner meaning, the inner core, the inner flame of life. It is the inner meaning of what we, in all our ignorance and naivety, refer to as courage. And this inner light, that gleams in the blackness, like a diamond shining in the gloom, is the physical manifestation of courage. It is the material representation of the inner meaning of the word courage. It is what we all acknowledge to be the spiritual essence of all that is. This plane, appearing before us, in the gloom, in the blackness; as such it stands in direct opposition to the meaning of nothing. There is nothing more hideous than nothing. There is nothing more beautiful than this flame. Burning, ahead of me, within me, deep within the confines of my subjective imagination, deep within the gloominess before me. This gleaming fire within me and far up ahead of me. The fire of life. The fire of our passions. Of our emotions. The flame of existence. Of love. Of being. Of courage. Of spirit.
Of course you, gentle reader, will immediately respond to the above with words like “balony”, “rubbish”, “drivel”, “doggerel’, “balderdash”. Well, do so, by all means. Call it rubbish if you will. It’s your loss. If you cannot see anything of beauty in the life that you live then you know what you can do. If you have the bottle. But I wouldn’t if I were you. Sure enough, I am not a philosopher. I am an old nutter. But be that as it may; I have profound thoughts about things. Profound insights. And the purpose of this book is to attempt to portray to you, the kind readers, something of the intensity of what I have come to see as being part and parcel of life’s perilous journey, a beautiful journey no less.
To be mentally ill. To be depressed. Paranoid. Psychotic. Suicidal. Well, take a leaf out of my book. You may find some solace. You may even find it a source of inspiration. The difficulty with life is to know how to find joy whilst still retaining one’s health, one’s self esteem, one’s self respect, one’s sense of security in this wild world. How does one do it? How does one achieve a state of bliss? How does one enjoy one’s life without being too rugged about it? The secret of living; what is it? Who knows? All I know, in all my ignorance, in all my wisdom, is that the more one puts into life the more one gets out of it. But everyone knows this. But I tell you what, dear reader, if there is one thing I have learnt about life, it is this: life is very precious. So if you are thinking of committing suicide because you’re feeling down, just remember what I have just said, that life is incredibly precious. And think of what you’ll be throwing away if you decide to top yourself.
A cynically disposed logical positivist would, I imagine, describe life as having no meaning at all. An existentialist one could well feel similarly inclined. But be that as it may, I, in all my ignorance, maintain that in spite of the ugliness of existence, the sheer hideousness of life in its myriad manifestations, which would make anyone faint were one to choose either to live or to die, I subscribe to the view of most of my mentally impaired associates, that life, by virtue of its extreme difficulty and hardness, actually presents one with challenges and obstacles and adversities that lend to one’s life a certain degree of joy, of bliss, of happiness, of euphoria even. Joys that one would never obtain otherwise, were one to abscond from life altogether.
Is life an adventure? Some would describe it as such. I would. But then, to many, if it is an adventure it would have to be an adventure of unbelievable forlornness. Of incredible dullness. But never mind. That is how it has always been. For ninety nine percent of the human population life is incredibly dull. So what is the book that I am writing saying? ‘Into the fantastic’; what a bizarre title. As if to say, there is something mysterious and exciting always lurking around the next corner in one’s adventurous journey through life. Well, be that as it may, gentle reader, the upshot of all this is that the title “Into the Fantastic” refers not so much to the inane realities of life at its most bestial level but instead to the inner subjective world of our imaginations, to the fantastic worlds that await us within our subconscious and far out beyond the furthermost realms of the cosmos rather than to the clouds at the bottom of our coffee mugs.
If I were to bellow out at the top of my voice the words “fuck life”, whilst sitting down in a crowded pub, I would very shortly find myself sitting down instead in the gutter outside the side entrance. If I were to look at life from a logical perspective, intensely, like a scientist observing the behaviour of a species of bacteria through an electron microscope or like an astronomer observing the behaviour of an exploding star in a distant galaxy through a telescope, then I would be forced to disagree with the sentiments I might have so virulently expressed in a pub down town. I may not resign from life’s trials, but rather learn to see just how fantastic a thing life really is.
Fortunately enough, it has occurred to me often throughout my life that life is indeed a fantastic, fascinating affair. In spite of its innate dullness and its hiccups, the truth of life is something we will never know. But suffice it to say, looking up at the stars on a cold frosty night one sometimes feels as if one were looking at the light burning at the end of the tunnel. A fantastic feeling, to be sure! Putting all untoward doggerel aside, the true meaning of life is simply this: put one foot in front of the other and head for the stars. Hanging upside down from the rafters like a vampire will not be very conducive to one’s realising such cherished ambitions as putting one foot in front of the other. And success at the billiard table with a billiard cube will only lead to bad luck. Inside of one’s brain is a light. It is the light of God.