Roy Sydney Porter
Born: 31 December, 1946 - London, UK
Died: 3 March, 2002 - St Leonards-on-Sea, UK
historian - wrote or edited over 100 books
I wish to explore what mad people meant to say, what was on their minds. Their testimonies are eloquent of their hopes and fears, the injustices they suffered, above all of what it was like to be mad or to be thought to be mad … My points of reference, therefore, are language, history and culture.
In the culture of madness ‘reality’ and ‘representations’ endlessly played off each other. What a crazy world in which the poor had to pretend to be mad in order to get a crust!
Every age gets the lunatics it deserves.
- A Social History of Madness: Stories of the Insane (1987)
The emergence of this high-tech scientific medicine may be a prime example of what William Blake denounced as 'single vision', the kind of myopia which (literally and metaphorically) comes from looking doggedly down a microscope. Single vision has its limitations in explaining the human condition; this is why Coleridge called doctors 'shallow animals', who 'imagine that in the whole system of things there is nothing but Gut and Body'.
- The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity (1997)