Some three decades ago Michel Foucault sought to reestablish communication between “madness” and “non-madness” by going back to what he called the “zero point” in history at which the distance between reason and madness was first established. In Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason, Foucault suggested that returning to this point of initial differentiation requires renouncing all that we as modern persons know to be true about madness and reason. If we are to locate “that realm in which the man of madness and the man of reason, moving apart, are not yet disjunct,” he wrote,
we must speak of that initial dispute without assuming a victory, or the right to a victory; we must speak of those actions re-examined in history, leaving in abeyance all that may figure as a conclusion, as a refuge in truth. … Then, and then only, can we… begin the dialogue of their breach, testifying in a fugitive way that they still speak to each other.