Greetings from the Asylum

Looking into the history of madness, one soon comes
across these gentle, tinted images of gi-normous,
amazing,  uber-gothic buildings.

They are asylums.
Psychiatric institutions.
Hospitals for the Insane.

They are booby hatches.
Bughouses. Funny farms.

aughing academies.

this is the old asylum on Queen Street in Toronto

In our time, thanks to Ronald Reagan and his spawn,
they are
closed. Their former tenants became the shock
troops of homelessness - pioneers of a new American
frontier that's been expanding ever since...


Dark, empty, rotting,
these buildings now are mythic,
the repositories of our deepest, darkest fears about others,
and about ourselves. Small wonder they are one of
Hollywood's favourite cliches.

Now these facilities are home to rats and pigeons
and mould, disturbed from time to time by urban explorers, pseudo-satanistas and video crews packing EMF meters,digital thermometers and digital video cameras, hoping
for a sign from the great beyond


But there are things about these images that haunt me
much more than
cold spots, orbs or fuzzy green videos...

Look again at these buildings.

They are enormous. They are beautiful.
They are profoundly optimistic.

They represented an enormous investment of money
and imagination. They were state of the art.
They were filled with staff and equipment and grew
their own food.

Yes, their methods were often crude, and as the
commitment diminished over time, they were
over-crowded and under-staffed...


But who in their right mind would even dream of
a commitment like one of these buildings today
for a bunch of mental cases?

On a more intimate level, the more of these postcards
i ran into, the more i found myself wondering...

Who sends someone a postcard

     from an asylum

"FORGIVE The Faults of others

"This is where I have been sent at last. If they turn me loose,
I will go back Mon. Am having a "mad" time."

"This is where we are going to send Ma."


No comments:

Post a Comment