Tilting at Windmills
Perhaps the most famous of their escapades is what is now commonly referred to as quixotic fighting with windmills. Arriving on a great plain, the adventurers see thirty or forty windmills which Don Quixote mistakes for ‘lawless giants’. Sanscho cannot convince him that their turning wings are not mighty arms. Don Quixote charges to do battle with these giants, is unseated by the turning of the giants arm, and ends up badly battered, on the ground, with broken lance. But consider for a moment what it took for him to do battle with these illusory forces of evil. After all ‘Who doubts that the courage to face giants is both more admirable and more rare than the ability to recognize a fulling mill when one hears it?’ Distorted views of the world do not always constitute corruption of the purpose of ones quest.
I do not mean to suggest, by all of the foregoing discussion of the value of madness, that craziness as such is a good thing. Rather, I wish to point out that in a world in which true madness masquerades as sanity, creative struggles against the ongoing myths will seem eccentric and will be labelled as ‘crazy’ by the challenged establishment in power.
My hope would be not be to totally avoid madness, but rather to hold out against that face of it that turns me away from the courage I need in the presence of threat, away from Hemingway’s ‘Grace under pressure’. AS for its other face, I value my own craziness and the creative places it can take me, free of the constraints of pedestrian Reason and unimaginative predictability.
– two more of my favorite passages from, If you meet the Buddha on the road, Kill him! – Sheldon B. Kopp, Chapter 6. Tale of a Mad Knight.