After reading this, I’m too sad and overwhelmed to really say much, except that it’s a great piece of work. Mitchell was one of my early writing heroes. Joe Gould’s Secret is probably his most famous story.
“Meo Tempore. Seventh Version. Volume II” also contains an essay written in Gould’s hand. It is titled “Insanity.” I peered at the page of white with veins of blue. And there I read, “If we could see ourselves as we really are, life would be insupportable.”
“Insanity is a topic of peculiar interest to me,” Gould explained. He had toured New York’s insane asylums as part of his eugenics training. He’d met a woman in a ward at Central Islip: sometimes she thought she was a cat, sometimes a mouse. “Is there really much difference between her and a sane person, after all?” Gould asked. “We all spend our lives chasing into darkness.”
Special reader’s bonus: Joe Gould and the Baroness