“In the cathedral in Florence, there’s a beautiful clock designed by Paolo Uccello in 1443. Now, the curious thing about this clock is that, although it keeps time like all other clocks, its hands go in the opposite direction to that of normal clocks.”
“What’s that got to do with my illness?”
“I’m just coming to that. When he made this clock, Paolo Uccello was not trying to be original: The fact is that, at the time, there were clocks like his as well as others with hands that went in the direction we’re familiar with now. For some unknown reason, perhaps because the duke had a clock with hands that went in the direction we now think of as the “right” direction, that became the only direction, and Uccello’s clock then seemed an aberration, madness.”
Dr. Igor paused, but he knew that Mari was following his reasoning.
“So, let’s turn to your illness: Each human being is unique, each with their own qualities, instincts, forms of pleasure, and desire for adventure. However, society always imposes on us a collective way of behaving, and people never stop to wonder why they should behave like that.
Have you ever met anyone in your entire life who asked why the hands of a clock should go in one particular direction and not in the other?”
“If someone were to ask, the response they’d get would probably be: ‘You’re crazy.’ If they persisted, people would try to come up with a reason, but they’d soon change the subject, because there isn’t a reason apart from the one I’ve just given you. So to go back to your question. What was it again?”
“Am I cured?”
“No. You’re someone who is different, but who wants to be the same as everyone else. And that, in my view, is a serious illness.”
“Is wanting to be different a serious illness?”
“It is if you force yourself to be the same as everyone else. It causes neuroses, psychoses, and paranoia. It’s a distortion of nature, it goes against God’s laws, for in all the world’s woods and forests, he did not create a single leaf the same as another. But you think it’s insane to be different, and that’s why you chose to live in Villete, because everyone is different here, and so you appear to be the same as everyone else. Do you understand?”
“People go against nature because they lack the courage to be different, and then the organism starts to produce Vitriol, or bitterness, as this poison is more commonly known.”
– Paulo Coelho