The Shaggy, Sharp-Toothed Thing With Thin Skin

“‘As a concept,’ Wang writes, ‘the schizophrenias encompass a range of psychotic disorders, and it is a genus that I choose to identify with as a woman whose diagnosis is unfamiliar to most — the shaggy, sharp-toothed thing, and not the wolf…

…’the liminal’ as a space in which ‘thin-skinned’ individuals — those who ‘have perceptions that are wide-open; they perceive what is happening in the other realm’ — can access the numinous and the non-rational, that which lies beyond the surface of the apprehensible.”

—Emily LeBarge, “The Shaggy, Sharp-Toothed Thing.” The Los Angeles Review of Books.

I’ve been hearing that Esmé Weijun Wang’s The Collected Schizophrenias is excellent. I think it will be top on my list for next year.

The first bit brought to mind people raised by psychopaths and sociopaths but who are not like their parents. They may have characteristics or behaviors they developed as children in that environment, becoming shaggy and sharp-toothed. But, a person living with a pack of wolves may learn to act like a wolf, but it does not make them a wolf.

Second part draws in the relationship between sensitivity and mental illness. If you normally feel things like the muscles in the pupils of your eyes moving, the movement of food through your intestinal tract, can hear electricity in power outlets, and so forth, it’s going to change how you develop as a person and how you relate to others, e.g., you might find hugs to be a different experience than most people. As you get further from the common experience of others, you start to develop a perspective that is unknowable to them.

How do you explain the ability to see ultraviolet light to those who can’t see it and don’t believe there is more going on than they percieve? Being thin-skinned is to be misundersood.

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