Voyage to Kazohinia: A Diametric Dystopia

"Voyage to Kazohinia: A Diametric Dystopia" by Christopher Badcock, Psychology Today, May 6, 2017

"The diametric model of mental illness was anticipated in a novel of 1941."

Badcock summarizes the schema of Szathmári's novel. He notes that Gulliver proves incapable of recognizing the similarity between his Britain and the irrational Behins. Later Badcock notes that the behins are tangled up by their own mental constructs, unable to engage objective reality.
"But by now many readers of these posts will already have noticed that to present-day eyes the Hins look very much as if they collectively suffer from high functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD); while the Behins are afflicted with diametrically opposite psychotic spectrum disorder (PSD). This remarkable book, in other words, prefigured the diametric model of mental illness by a full fifty years. In Szathmári’s words, the Hin and Behin represented “Two worlds, which could never perceive each other simply because the other was not a separate entity but the reverse of itself…” Like mentalistic versus mechanistic cognition, these were “opposite worldviews,” the former the “positive” of the other “negative.”"
Badcock finds the translation somewhat wanting, but also regrets that this "masterpiece" so relevant to psychological understanding and today's world has been overlooked.
"But its author deserves full credit, not only for writing one of the most brilliant satires of modern times, but also for implicitly understanding the diametrically opposite nature of autism and psychosis, mentalistic and mechanistic cognition—not to mention the threat to sanity and civilization of hyper-mentalism."
Badcock was informed of this novel by one Simone Hickman. Perhaps it is possible to learn more about her?

This is a unique and remarkable tribute. I am not familiar with Badcock's work or the concepts he uses, but if he recognizes a psychological dualism here, he, or we in any case, should recognize that this mirrors an ideological and rock-bottom societal dualism patterned in the modern world.

No comments: