by Ali Hammad
In The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, Edgar Allan Poe relates the story of a lunatic asylum where the patients have taken over, but the visitors to the asylum are unable to discern the switch. The narrator of the story is unable to recognize that the superintendents are the actual inmates, and vice versa.
The story, I think, is a call to examine the relativity of sanity and, too, of truth itself. That truth may be relative isn’t a new idea. Many have propounded it. Protagoras, an ancient Greek, may have been one of the first ones. Some of his views are documented in an eponymous dialogue within Plato’s Dialogues. But the views that I find the most engaging are those of the Sufis.
Here’s a Sufi tale. Once a prophet told a man of an impending change in the nature of…
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