Of that “season in hell” I very well remember the twenty days that I was interned in the military mental hospital. The reason? One morning in the barracks at a very early hour, in less than ten minutes I very methodically drank a bottle of cognac, smoked hashish and kef, and took five amphetamines. Two hours later during the military drills, under the influence of that ferocious mixture, I shot my gun at the clouds. They asked what had gotten into me and I explained that I was crazy.
—ENRIQUE VILA-MATAS, “The Literature of No”
Hunter S. Thompson said “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” To us this means, when the world is at its most chaotic, problematic, and inscrutable, that is when the outcasts, misfits, and true artists are able to make sense of the senseless, or at least transmogrify the disorder into their own order. Emotional turmoil—even pain—promises renewal, renaissance, new journeys, new projects, fresh ideas. In this Winter Reading, we celebrate our weird heroes, upheaval, and the surfacing that must precede art. After all, if anyone can find meaning in entropy and turn to freeze into a flower, she’s an artist.