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Literally Reruns – Breakfast at the Hospital for the Criminally Insane by Harrison Kim

Leila has chosen a story by a writer who rapidly became a very good friend of the site. Not only does he write wonderful short stories but he makes interesting, entertaining and amusing comments as well. this is what she said.

It’s unknown if Harrison Kim likes walks on the beach, guys who make him laugh, s’mores over champagne or harbors a secret desire to cavort uninhibitedly with the ghost of Hugh Hefner at midnight. If he does like that combination of things, then he might be Playmate of the Month timber as well as a fine writer. Now, nothing stated previously is meant to make fun of Mr. Kim nor is any of it intended to start strange rumors about the fellow; it’s just that after sixty or so trips into the vault, amazing delusions have taken shape in my mind. I’ve become–if not criminally–at least minimally insane. It goes with the territory.

There is nothing, however, unclear about Kim’s Breakfast at the Hospital for the Criminally Insane, at least not in its presentation. It provides a fair look into a damaged mind, the sort of person who is usually demonized by authors for the sake of the story.

Q: Quan tries. I give him that. And within context, he actually functions sanely, although how he functions makes him dangerous. This raises serious questions about the nature of reality. Do you believe Quan would be judged sane if a majority of people thought the same way he does, or would that majority be as mad as Quan–or is “sanity” just a popularity contest?

Q: Your stories show sympathy, even empathy for the–oh, for a lack of a better word–downtrodden. It would be awful lame to ask “How has your life experience shaped your

perceptions as a writer?” wouldn’t it? But there are times in my dreary little life when it’s either awful lame or monumentally lame. So, I guess you’re stuck with the experience and perception question.

Q: For the record: Rumor says you’re Playmate of the Month timber. Any comments?

Leila Allison

***

Breakfast At The Hospital for the Criminally Insane by Harrison Kim 

***

Harrison’s response:

Question One:  Sanity is indeed relative to majority thinking.  The problem with Quan was not his message, but his method of delivery, and the fact that despite being refused, he kept persisting.  His behavior was unacceptable, but of course, his thoughts did lead him there.
People believe a lot of irrational stuff, the COVID conspiracy theories, faith healing, but they’re usually not considered insane.  If they pursue violent action on behalf of their belief, then they cross a line.  However, if the belief is acceptable enough to a majority, then the action might be too.  That’s rather a scary thought.
Critical theory says there’s no objective truth.  Science is a “Western Concept.”  For critical theorists, “Lived experience” is as close as reality gets.  Therefore, according to that theory, anything can be true.  For me, I’d travel over an engineer designed bridge as opposed to one planned by a critical theorist.


Question Two:  I worked thirty years at a Forensic Psychiatric Hospital.  I had to become
absorbed with the patients’ stories, and have as my purpose active learning, or I’d never have been able to deal with a lot of it. I recall a teacher from the community visiting the hospital.  I pointed out a patient industriously working on his Grade 12 equivalency.  I’d known the patient for several years, and thought he was much improved.  “Don’t you think that guy seems totally normal?” I asked the teacher, who observed for a few moments.  Then he turned to me.  “No,” he said, “That fellow is not normal at all. In fact, he looks totally insane.”  I was used to the hospital environment; the scene was integrated into my concept of normal.  The teacher, though, saw everything unfiltered by “lived experience.”


Question Three:  Must be very old photos.  Maybe March, 1980.

4 thoughts on “Literally Reruns – Breakfast at the Hospital for the Criminally Insane by Harrison Kim”

  1. Re science as a western concept: I’m reminded of Alain Sokal’s rebutting cultural studies critiques of his Intellectual Impostures: ‘anyone who believes that the laws of physics are mere social conventions is invited to try transgressing these conventions from the window of my apartment. (I live on the twenty-first floor.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Leila,

    What can I say, your choice is inspired as always.
    And your questions continue to get the best from the writer.

    Harrison,
    I really enjoyed seeing this on the site once again.
    I remember being so impressed with the pace and the scenario. When using these types of characters in this environment so many set up situations and thinking to magnify and exaggerate. The realistic understated scenarios tell us much more about the characters and more importantly, the writers understanding.
    It was very interesting in reading your comments regarding sane thinking and crossing the line into violence. You are totally right. Only the violence is what becomes unacceptable, not the thinking. If it did, a lot of us would be in trouble!!
    Sanity is relative to everyone’s own personal madness. Crossing that line is a whole different issue.

    Hugh

    Liked by 1 person

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