Erik Larson

Feb 18, 2009

Not Just Madness

A scene in the eminently watchable Michael Clayton shows a bedroom wall adorned with a message from lawyer-gone-mental-patient Arthur Edens (played by Tom Wilkinson): “Make Believe It’s Not Just Madness”.

What is it supposed to mean? I won’t get into the movie, but will offer the following interpretations:

(1) It’s not only madness, it’s also something else, unspecified. It could be madness and indigestion. Or madness and foot rot. Pretend it’s so.

(2) It’s not only madness, it’s a mix of madness with other explanatory factors, like jealosy, or shame, or guilt. Pretend it’s this larger web of humanizing factors. Not just madness.

(3) It’s madness, but it’s not just . He had no right to go mad. So, make believe it’s madness point blank, without just cause.

Is it ((not just) madness) or (not (just madness))?