Timothy Berg & Rebekah Myers

This way lies madness is an excerpt from King Lear. In this quote from Act 3 of Shakespeare’s tragedy Lear is considering his madness. We changed the quote so that it reads This way lies madness lies. The looping of this statement, the circle, acts like a tautology. It is a repetition that one gets caught (up) in and can’t see outside of, and in this way it mimics confirmation bias and the tribalism that has infected society. The form itself acts as a portal, which narrows one’s focus.

Lear’s madness increases over the course of the drama and in this statement Shakespeare emphasizes how obsession over a worry or point of view can cause one to forget everything else. Our piece expands on this point through both its form and the multiple meanings that can be read into it. In effect it is an anti-manifesto, which is meant to encourage one to escape the “madness” of insular ideology.

The text is adapted from Shakespeare’s tragedy King Lear. The original quote and context is:  

No, I will weep no more. In such a night

To shut me out? Pour on; I will endure.

In such a night as this? O Regan, Goneril!

Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all—

O, that way madness lies; let me shun that;

No more of that.
King Lear Act 3, scene 4, 17–22

This Way Lies Madness Lies (2018), Neon sign, 22 x 22 x 3 in.