Saturday, April 25, 2015

Sinclair Beiles on mental illness and being an outcast

In 1975 Sinclair Beiles gave an interview to Michael Butterworth, shortly after he had completed a lengthy in-patient treatment for mental disturbance at Bowden House.

The conversation allowed Beiles to speak about his illness and treatment:

“Conditions inside an asylum [being] ideal for a poet, because of the lack of personal responsibility living in the clinic. Somebody would arrive with a tray for my breakfast…and take it away again. Somebody would come and make my bed. I felt I was in a very congenial environment. The people were responsive to poetry – sometimes out of boredom, sometimes out of their own madness.”

Asked, “How do you cope outside, then?” Beiles responds:

“Well, I cope with difficulty. All sorts of things like washing, and all the chores of living like cooking and buying a chop and things like that, I find alien to me. But this time out, I’m trying to spend my time out altogether, and not go back.”

Do you mind me asking how your personal ‘madness’ started?

“It’s a chemical thing.”

Beiles considers being outcast in ‘The Conspiracy,’ and for him the boundaries become hazy under examination:

A conspiracy against us
Everything is a conspiracy
The grocer who wants to be cured of his
The frailty of our bodies
The sun
The light
Getting out of bed in the mornings
Our sex which cannot be satisfied
Which overwhelms us in the underground
And in libraries
A conspiracy of doctors
Who invite us to eat with mute children
Of Austrian mountains
Of getting lost
Of vigorous climbers
Who hug and kiss us
Of the society for the Prevention of
Of making love on Turkish trains
O[f] parents who insist on dressing us up
In the clothes of their absent sons
Of typewriters with their metallic clatter
Of lost letters
Of Summer armpits.
We want nothing
Nothing of this life
We do not want children
We do not want our mothers-in-law
To buy us houses in London
We do not want to live on the rent in
Make 8mm films
Pose in the nude
Attend cocktail parties in our honor.
This conspiracy is never ending
Spiro and I will die of it

But at least we will die together.

First published here

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