NOVEMBER 16 ― Normal folks believe that 1+1 is 2 because they’ve been properly “installed” into society; such straight-forward Maths formulae is what society has established, repeated and verified over the centuries.
These folks would feel basic concern over a landslide along the Karak highway, face-palming annoyance at the idea of racially segregating supermarket trolleys and utter outrage at co-ordinated Friday-night attacks on Parisian civilians.
All fine and good.
Except that if writers like Freud, Lacan, and so on are even half-right, then none of us are 100 per cent “normal.” We’ve all got a bit of abnormal inside us. What follows are four common forms that our abnormality may take:
Psychotic folks believe that 1+1 is 4 or a burger or the Penang Bridge because the required “installation” hasn’t yet occurred or is faulty. Therefore, people in the grip of psychosis are experiencing a different world entirely.
Reading about a landslide may precipitate a fear of diarrhoea. Being told there could be Chinese-only trolleys at Jaya Jusco may invite ideas like, “I haven’t had bacon in a long time.” Paris attacks? That’s it I’m avoiding mamak shops entirely. Tonight Paris tomorrow Puchong. The Christians are plotting against us; it’s a Jewish scheme to rule the world and destroy all the Gentiles, beginning with the attire of Malaysian celebrities and sportswomen.
And, oh, the Starbucks cup? It simply must represent that malevolent being sent by the Devil to deceive the world by masquerading as Jesus Christ ― why else would it be red?
Hysteric people believe that 1+1 is 2 but are never satisfied with the reasons why. Why, why bloody why?!?! Why is Maths the way it is? Why must the numbers be written in this form? Why is Alwyn using an example like this instead of 2+2? Why is “plus” shaped in the form of a cross?! Is the world trying to tell me something?!
These people have been correctly installed but are never satisfied with the motives of the “installer” (or the world itself). They always feel that they’re not being told of a crucial “something”, without which the world feels out of place.
Landslide ― why that part of Karak and not another? Why did that particular family suffer and not another? What, specifically, is the mountain trying to tell me?
Racial trolleys (Con) ― what more do these fundamentalists want? What do they want??!! Racial trolleys (Pro) ― why do these irreligious liberal-minded keep mocking our ideas for Islamic purity?! What’s their problem?! Apa lagi Cina mahu?!
The hysteric would also feel “victimised” by the Paris attacks, even if she couldn’t find the city on a map and knew nobody there. She’s dead sure that the attacks mean something to her personally, and will never accept any suggestion that she’s over-thinking the whole thing.
The lead-heavy pull of uncertainty, anxiety and mystery would cause the hysteric to seek constant refuge in asking. The only answer to her questions is… more questions.
The obsessive, like the hysteric, is also properly “installed.” No problem of an alternate reality here. What he struggles with, though, is the fear that the installation is inadequate. The obsessive never feels he has enough control of the world. He is a micro-manager par excellence, feeling insecure at the slightest typo.
1+1 is 2, yes, but the obsessive needs to be absolutely sure it’ll remain this way. He doesn’t like the fact that it’s not carved in stone somewhere and that anybody who challenges the equation isn’t executed on the spot.
He’s the kind of person you see closing (and opening) his car doors three times “just to be sure.” If you have to touch your pockets a million times a day to check that your wallet is “still there”, then you’re at least mildly obsessive. Sheldon Cooper in Big Bang Theory is the poster-child for obsession. Monday is Thai food day, Wednesday is Halo night, Saturday is for laundry ― everything has to be 100 per cent the way they are to be (not 99 per cent, not 101 per cent) or else the world could implode.
Landslide ― more controls, more barriers, I’m never driving along Karak again, I’m turning my car into Optimus Prime, etc.
Racial-trolleys (Pro) ― not just trolleys but highways and breathing space, too. I want Malay oxygen, Indian air and Chinese haze all perfectly segregated. Racial-trolleys (Con) ― I’m gonna run for PM and abolish the very idea of ethnic difference! All ethnicities, like trolleys, are the same!!
Paris? Enough of this nonsense ― I’m giving Putin a call.
In some marriages, you witness the stereotypically hysteric wife and the obsessive husband. The wife always wants to know where the husband is going, who he’s with, why he’s doing whatever he’s doing, etc. And few explanations are satisfactory.
The husband’s No.1 concern (or shall we use “obsession” instead) is ensuring that the house’s four walls don’t collapse in on themselves. He wants control and gets totally pissed when the wife does or say things which threaten his control of the household.
Voilà! The obsessive man and hysteric woman in a dance of mutual affliction.
We come at last to the pervert. This person knows and agrees that 1+1 is 2, but he’s got an undying itch to get caught giving the wrong answer. One might say that the social “installation” for this person was started but was incomplete, hence the desire for more authority and more law. In other words, a pervert is someone who wants to make the Law “see” him and take him seriously.
Ergo, the flasher and music artists who can’t help parading their genitalia on stage. Why do people enjoying showing off their private parts in public? Could it be that deep down they long to get “caught”? Ditto with some characters who can’t help a) breaking the law in a majorly manner and b) bragging to the country that they can. It’s almost as if they’re crying out to the Law, “Come and get me!”
Landslides. “See, Ma! I’m driving to Karak in the god-forsaken thunderstorm! And I’m going to stop the car and climb a tree at the cliff’s edge, and do without a raincoat!!”
Ethnic trolleys. Okay, video cam? Check. Skin-tight pants underneath my clothes? Check. Spray-paint? Check. Key to Cold Storage back-door? Look, you only start recording after I strip and start dancing and not before, okay? And make sure you super-impose Putrajaya in the background.
Paris? That was us.
*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.