I just watched At Eternity's Gate, a biopic about the life of the master painter Vincent Van Gogh. It's a beautifully intimate art film, shot in a way to bring the audience to experience Van Gogh's life through his eyes. I love the story of his journey, and the dialogue. So much of what the character says about painting can be applied or interpreted in the light of writing, and also generally, living a creative life.
Some themes I extracted from the quotable quotes:
4. Madness and genius
Madness & genius
Are all painters crazy? Only the great ones.
Sometimes they say I'm mad, but a grain of madness is the best of art.
I paint with my qualities and faults.
I am my paintings.
This is usually a difficult topic. Mental health is something that society conventionally want to medicate and forget about. Deviance have to be mainstreamed, not accepted. Neuro-diversity is still pretty much an unfamiliar issue. So, perhaps we can talk about it as embracing our weirdness and eccentricities. I think to do something truly creative means bringing your very own unique perspective to things; a perspective that only you and you alone see. That's why, "a grain of madness is the best of art."
Sometimes in a bid to feel accepted as part of society, to conform socially, we push that little voice back down. It's actually really difficult work, to be able to bring that voice up, to express it and use it. So very often, that weirdness is a microcosm of all our qualities, virtues and faults thrown into the mix. And showing our faults to others is hard. It does take a certain craziness, a certain level of not caring, or 'sociopathy', to be able to do that. Amplify that weirdness a hundred or thousand times with the raw driving power of genius, and you will get why so often genius is mistaken as madness.
We may not all be geniuses in our fields, but I believe we can all do more to embrace our own weirdness, find ways to bring it to life. After all, what's wrong with a little madness in this insane world? Sanity doesn't seem to have worked that well, so perhaps some healthy eccentricity, some cheeky trickstery is the solution.
I, for one, am sold on the trickster. And I sure hope to bring more of that in my making and my writing.