Monday, January 28, 2013

The Saddest Photograph

He's had his bouts with craziness, the Complete and Total Loser, but no true madness. A boring level of dysthymia, which he tried to pump up to a level of manque worthy of an art major while in college, but failed to cause alarm or interest when he did. It's just as well. He's had enough trouble getting the simple jobs he's existed on in the thirty years since without having to explain a stint on the funny farm to potential employers.
Female Patient, Surrey County Lunatic Asylum, c. 1850. On view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Look at this photo. The title is "Female Patient, Surrey County Lunatic Asylum." Hugh Welch Diamond, a British psychia- trist known for pho- tography, took it circa 1850. The poor woman no more belongs locked up than anyone you'd see in a supermarket or walking down a street. She's just sad.