Rheumatic Irony: Questions of Agency and Self-deception as Refracted through the Art of Living with Spirits
The story of a young man from the Western Indian Ocean island of
Mayotte who was prevented from a career in the French army by an
illness sent by a spirit who possesses his mother inspires reﬂection
on the nature of agency. I suggest that spirit possession and the ill-
nesses it produces are intrinsically ironic. The prevalence of irony
implies not that we should disregard agency but that perhaps we
should not take it too literally.