Sunday, February 22, 2015

February 22, 2015
This weekend I saw another writer posit the question as to whether we as writers perform better in the task at hand with a drink or three; you know, follow the famed "advice" of Hemingway to write drunk. Remind me again how his life went? Sure, he was one of the best writers of the modern era, but there are bad things that can go along with the whole concept of artist creativity enhanced by drug of choice.

He, you know what, I am by no means a saint. Been drunk. Far too many times. Driven drunk. I was an idiot those times. And lucky. But that is not the point. Those occurred prior to my decision to write fiction as a novelist. Would any one have thought me some kind of ironic hero? If I drank myself to death, a stupor of existence looking for that creative muse, would it make my writing any better? Who the fuck knows because I am not going to go down that path.

I still enjoy a drink, and sometimes more than one. I sometimes write after having a drink or two, but I do not consider the drinking an enhancement to the process or a source of my muse. I happen to enjoy red wine - which also happens to have some positive health effects.

Would my writing be improved if I drank more frequently? Maybe, but I guess the muse inside me does not feel the need to have her thirst quenched with alcohol. Despite that, there is a compulsiveness that may drive my muse. There is a reason that much of my writing tends to drift towards men with dysfunction regarding their sense of the world around them. The heroes and villains struggle with sexual desires, power and avarice, so maybe all art does still come from tortured minds of tortured souls.

The tortured soul. Throughout recorded history, there have been tortured souls.

The strange part is that it is the tortured soul that has made the world a better place, only to take away their gift all too soon. Art, that very act which took an uncivilized people and created a vast and deep culture, is the province of tortured souls. From the very first symbol drawn on a wall, the artist has been a part of every major development.

That first symbol; the first hand gesture; was the beginning of communication. Without their angst and need to create a form of communication, later forms of art would not be possible. All art has evolved from those first pictures; those first grunts.

There would be no Mozart without the first words and no Shakespeare without the first written word. There would be no Monet, no Picasso without those first pictures. Throughout it all, it seems, art has been permeated by tortured souls.

Maybe it is the very nature of the muse which inspires the artist. Each artist has a unique muse; one that gives a message either visually or verbally. It is often just a hodge-podge of stimuli which is processed uniquely by the artist. Oftentimes that creation is something so entirely unique that no one else is capable of interpreting the initial inspiration in such a beautiful or haunting manner.

Whether it be from the epic poems of ancient Greece, the beautiful music of Mozart. Even in modern times, music, art and acting have provided a vast number of tortured souls.

Some are capable of overcoming the dark side of the muse and find a way to triumph. In reality, all souls have a form of their own torture. The duality of existence creates a form of tortured soul in us all. We are all conscious of our existence and we are also very conscious of the fragility of that existence. Most of us simply go through each day without ever really digging into the depths of our duality.

We simply exist.

The artist, though, takes that digging and creates something that brings joy to many. If they cannot bring themselves joy, they take great delight in bringing that joy to others. It is a tenuous existence at best. From the Greek sculptors, Bupalos and Athenis, who were rumored to have been driven to suicide by unflattering commentary from one of their subjects, through contemporary artists like Kurt Cobain, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Williams, the list of artists who committed suicide is too long to detail. Suffice it to say, though, that the list is inclusive of all forms of art.

What is it that makes the artist unique? They use their pain to bring joy to others. By exposing their pains to the world, though, they are in a constant state of edge. Living life always on the edge can be a dangerous choice. Add in the somewhat strange need to medicate their pain while not performing through other addictive behavior and the tortured soul is perilously close to the edge of oblivion on  a regular basis.

We will never be able to understnad the tortured soul. After we lose an artist of immense talent, many, many people will talk about what we can learn. The truth is, we realty cannot truly learn what it is like to be that tortured soul. It is a loneliness that only he or she will ever understand. Their torture is unique to them. There is nothing from Kurt Cobain’s tortured mind that will translate to Robin Williams. Though they may have had the same ultimate end to their torture, the arrival at such a place bears no resemblance to one another.

They were each tortured souls.

What we are left with are memories. Memories of music, laughter, beautiful pictures and beautiful words. We must only embrace the beauty they left because they are like shooting stars. Their time here is short; how short only they can ever tell, but short nonetheless. Take their words, their music, their life and enjoy their beautiful souls while you can. Even if they were not tortured souls, their time is still short.

Their tortured soul, though, has made the world a better place. Duality creates so many questions with so few answers. Why is it that the tortured soul brings so much joy to the world around them, yet cannot find joy themselves? That is a question that cannot be answered in this life.

Enjoy what they gave us. Hope they find the peace in the after-life they could not find on Earth. But know this, the artist give their tortured souls so the world might be a better place, even if only for the briefest of moments.

Thank those tortured souls. Enjoy their gifts. There is not much that lasts forever. Not even the tortured soul. But their gifts will always be.


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