Monday, February 02, 2004

what if Henry Miller had taken Zoloft?

Looking for an article my mother had mentioned about childhood insomnia, I learned that scientists have discovered that creativity and mental illness appear to be linked!

My first response: no shit. As someone who has skated on a few ponds that weren't frozen entirely solid, and makes a (small, small) living as a creative type, it makes perfect sense to me. I've heard people say that they write because it's the only way to keep the demons at bay. I wouldn't go that far, but I would certainly say that a certain pressure starts to build up if I don't write, or draw, or push my art supplies around. I start to feel a little like a cassette tape left out on the dashboard. And the point about openness really hits home.

That said, the commonly-held idea that you have to be suffering to be creative gets in my craw. And all the corollaries: Creative geniuses shouldn't be held responsible for their behavior (Michael Jackson, anyone?) Happy people can't make good art. And so on. It's a little like saying that all redheads are hot-tempered. Not only is it an insult to redheads, but it gives people a reason to cut redheads more slack on behavior that wouldn't be tolerated from brunettes or blondes. Which creates a feedback loop for the redhead in question--or the artist.

Speaking of artists, I am delighted to see that Neil Gaiman has a blog--and that he has also dealt with online plaigirism. Much more gracefully than I, I must admit. His take on it is that the plaigirising party knows they're doing something wrong, and they can't feel good about it. And that exposing them doesn't really help things. The situation with my own... follower... has taken an interesting turn, but I don't feel that I'm at liberty to talk about it right now. Anyway, it's wonderful to read Gaiman talking about playing in the woods in the snow. I guess I thought he just moped around at a vintage typewriter all the time.