Genet’s life, from the accounts we have of it, shows no signs of “extraordinary madness”: no fully formed delirium of the Schreberian type, no elements of schizophrenic dissociation with hallucinatory episodes, no catatonic withdrawal, no disturbances of language, no delirium of influence or of persecution—none of the classic elements that in psychiatric semiology characterize the phases of grand psychoses. “On a Question Prior to Any Possible Treatment…” does not at first blush offer a pertinent grid for reading this case, although in its details it can be very useful.
The major symptom, which appeared at the age of ten, is the symptom of theft. It will be followed by flights, then by larger thefts that lead to imprisonment. It is in the penitentiary that the symptom of homosexuality accompanied by various forms of social dis-insertion and wandering becomes marked and effective.
Art: Ryan Trecartin
Re’Search Wait’S (Edit One: Re’Search Missing Corruption, Budget) - video still, 2009
courtesy The New Museum, New York City.