Fragmentation and creativity
A good friend of mine sent me an article that dealt with mental illness and creativity. This essay immediately caught my attention, for perhaps it could answer the reason for my desire to write and the inner healing I experience from it.
Creative works can often take on a dark aspect that can cause some people discomfort. Edgar Alan Poe comes to mind. In reading his story titled “The tell tale heart”, it is easy to get the impression that for someone to be able to write that masterpiece of horror, they had to be bit mad themselves. Literature often deals with the shadier aspect of what it means to be human and the better the book the more it points to the author having a certain understanding of his own inner dark nature. Perhaps it is the inner fragmentation, the inner clatter of voices that leads to this ability to portray aspects of our nature that we would rather not look at. Is our creative urge a form of therapy and nothing more? Probably not, for many of our most famous artist have a bad end, their self destructive tendencies getting the better of them.
Why do people love art anyway? Why are so many attracted to the darker forms of art as well as the violent aspects? Do artist speak for us, giving us a peek into our own unconscious minds. Taking us on a journey to have some kind of a dialogue with those nastier parts of ourselves, which is safe…, .like going on a roller coaster ride at an amusement park; being afraid but also protected at the same time and because of that feeling more alive?
I did not start to write until I was 50 and there are things that flow to the surface when writing that have scared some of my friends when they read it. Most of it was some of my darker poetry. I delighted in writing it and in finding the proper art to go with it. It was freeing for me to write it and also to send it on. It was like setting something free in me. Others, well a few have told me that I speak for them. So perhaps someone who can write about such things is just a spokesperson for others? The more I write, the less demanding my inner fragmented self demands my attention, since in writing I am allowing them to speak. I don’t identify with the voices, they are bits and pieces of me and perhaps if I did not give voice to them my own inner division would have continued and expressed itself in more self destructive ways. Perhaps when some others read me they may find some healing as well. Is our Art, all of art, speaking for those who either can’t, or are afraid to express their inner darkness, which again is only an aspect of their selves?
This is something I wrote almost three years ago which may illustrate my point a bit:
(Quote)To say we are a species prone to violence is an understatement. We entertain ourselves with violent images. “Guy flicks”, of which I still enjoy from time to time and of course are overflowing with themes of revenge, often accompanied with a great deal of humor. Also with a large dose of violence and a very high body count…. in some movies hundreds are mowed down by the star of the movie….the good guy. Though amazingly in these guy flicks, little blood is actually shown. When these scenes are being depicted there is often laughing and clapping so as to spur the hero on in his attempt to get justice. I can say that I am one of those who cheer the hero’s on their course. I am not against these kinds of flicks, though I wonder what need is being fulfilled in watching them. However I can’t get myself to watch ‘slash’ movies. Perhaps it is a generational thing. Which are filled with blood and gore and no humor at all, that I could discern (yes I have seen one or two movies in this genre). Just unending terror and pain for the victims, all done for the entertainment of the audience, helped along perhaps, with a soda and of course with a large bag of popcorn. (Unquote)
I once gave a talk on the 11th step and in the process of giving that talk, I came to the realization that the alcoholism that some in my family have did not pass me by like I thought. All my life I have sought to bring my many disjointed parts of myself together. In the Navy I partied a lot, drank more, mostly because I was alienated and lonely. However the alcohol did not take hold of me. I continued my presentation, putting my notes aside, I shared with these good men on a 12 step retreat that as deeply as alcohol touched me something touched me deeper. Perhaps out of self preservation, or grace, or both, I knew from a young age that if I did not develop a loving relationship with “my higher power” I would disintegrate. So God, grace, love, whatever some may want to call it, touched a part of my self that was healing and not just numbing. So no matter how much I drank the call to go beyond the pain in trust, or to not run from it was stronger than my desire to numb myself.
I think we all walk on the edge and many will never experience this reality. Many will experience their own inner demons and perhaps art, or just plain hack writers like myself, my help them to deal with it. Being fragmented and perhaps just a tad from being mentally ill, has its advantages. Those who go over the edge for whatever reasons need our compassion, love and empathy. They also need to be listened to. Not that reality is only dark and that we are only fragmented, no, we are much more. It is in relationship with something bigger than ourselves that we can bring these parts together. We are never alone, even in our darkness moments, never alone. God is not Santa Claus, nor can we demand that the world be a certain way, it just is and I believe there are reasons for what we go through that we at this time cannot understand.
Journeying with us
Inner serpent and rage,
cold and dark,
(Light supreme journeying with us),
pulled here and there
in scattered parts,
a whirlwind at times
no place to rest.
(To observe with the light supreme)
love and hate sit down over coffee,
lust and chastity dance together,
faith and doubt are best friends,
and the world a mirror reflecting back,
in love of self and the love of the light supreme
the puzzle comes back together.