James Tilly Matthews and the Air Loom Gang

Well I went looking for classic schizophrenia cases and came across Gogol’s short story “Diary of a Madman” which is considered to be the first description in literature and so far I have got through most of the other stories. Gogol has a disarming style, he makes you feel comfortable and then he pulls away the veil and there we are disarmed and a tad vulnerable. He neatly dispenses humour within his stories only to describe a corpse but it isn’t pure horror just a version of realism that Gogol mastered though it is said he was a perfectionist and continually edited and burned, rewrote then burned again all to get to what he felt was worthwhile. Then I saw the wikipedia entry for the first recorded case of schizophrenia documented and my daughters school tells the kids not to trust wikipedia but I love it especially the inaccurate bits because unless it is ridiculous I wouldn’t know any differently. And ridiculous it was, The “Air Loom Gang” and I thought this is gold, what an interesting thinker I would have loved to have met this guy. He was a conspiracy concoctor of big proportions and when a political disaster appeared he was convinced it was all due to the “Air Loom Gang”

see illustration of Air Loom Machine below


I have always donated to wikipedia over the years and boy is it worth it. The book though of Gogol is slowly being read and I can’t wait to get to the really mad bits.

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