Friday, July 8, 2016

We’re All Mad Here
Fun With Quotes

So how, exactly does one have fun with quotes?
Glad you asked! If you’re like me, you start by exchanging quotes on a daily basis with your Best Bud. But not just any quotes, writing quotes, to give each other inspiration. And then you pick the two best quotes of the week to share with the rest of the world - because ... why not? :-D

Today’s theme is madness. It’s been said there’s a fine line between creativity and madness and today’s quotes seem to support that. From Jamie we have the following:

Madness is terrific I can assure you, and not to be sniffed at; and in its lava I still find most of the things I write about. It shoots out of one everything shaped, final, not in mere driblets, as sanity does.
- Virginia Woolf

Throughout her life, Virginia Woolf suffered from severe bouts of depression and it has been argued that she was in fact bipolar. Her mental instability landed her in a private nursing home several times and in 1941 she committed suicide, by drowning. She was 59 years old.

I’m pretty sure Jamie sent her quote earlier in the week than the one I sent to her, so I may have been influenced just a tad when I picked mine.

If a man comes to the door of poetry untouched by the madness of the Muses, believing that technique alone will make him a good poet, he and his sane compositions never reach perfection, but are utterly eclipsed by the performances of the inspired madman.
― Socrates

Studies have shown a number of strong if indirect ties between an original mind and a troubled one. A genetic variant of some psychoses may be related to creative achievement and it’s believed that creative professionals are a bit more likely than others to suffer from some form of mental illness.

Ernest Hemingway suffered depression and shot himself after a series of electroshock treatments. Jack London was believed to be bipolar and killed himself with a morphine overdose. David Foster Wallace was severely depressed and hung himself. Tortured genius Edgar Allan Poe attempted suicide in 1948 and then died the following year of mysterious causes. Sylvia Plath was only 30 when she killed by herself inhaling fumes from her oven - she had severe depression.

Scientific American does not support the link between creativity and mental illness, calling such studies inconsistent, although I found it interesting that it does support the notion that relatives of people with schizophrenia tend to have highly creative jobs or hobbies.

So, is there a link between creativity and madness? Personally, I think you’d have to be at least a little crazy to be a writer. You work in isolation (for the most part), the hours are long, and frankly the pay-off is seldom worth it. And it’s not just writers who suffer, artists, musicians, and geniuses also tend to have a reputation for being ... odd.

As the Cheshire Cat says, “We’re all mad here.”

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