SELF IN SOCIETY
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From: Robert Harsh
Time: 9:42:03 AM
Remote Name: 188.8.131.52
You ask a very interesting question in comparing Kaysen's and Kesey's books. I think at least one answer can be found on page 93 of Kaysen's book where she talks about the cultural conflicts outside the hospital substituting for the conflicts that instead take place within the hospital in "One Flew Over...." Kaysen says, "So it went on, month after month of battles and riots and marches. These were easy times for the staff. We didn't "act out"; it was all acted out for us. "We were not only calm, we were expectant. The world was about to flip, the meek were about to inherit the earth or, more precisely, wrest it from the strong, and we, the meekest and weakest, would be heirs to the vast estate of all that had been denied us." In Goffman's terms, this is the "outside" influencing the role-playing and dramaturgy inside the institution. In Kesey's book/movie, the outside is not in the process of radically transforming and in fact reinforces the oppressive control in the institution, so the rebellion within the institution plays out symbolically instead against the outside world as an extension of the inside tyranny. In Kaysen's book, the revolution is already happening in the outside world, so that the inmates can remain weak and meek inside. And talk about "wresting" the world "from the strong"! Remember that scene where the Chief yanks the sink from the wall and throws it through the bars? In contrast, Kaysen's small rebellions are much more diminished struggles with the etiquette and rules of the institution (though Goffman well understands both types of rebellion as "secondary adjustments" that regain the integrity and "moral" rights lost in the asylum).