Artists in Isolation

IMG_0041Cody C. Delistraty, https://wordpress.com/read/blog/id/13044204/ recently shared an interesting blog post in which he discussed the link between creativity and loneliness. Vincent Van Gogh (among others), and his struggle to find balance between fits of “unproductive hallucination and extreme visionary ecstasy”; isolation and social engagement, was used as an example.

I often wondered if Van Gogh’s “gloomy, cold and sterile youth” (as he described it himself) wasn’t the root of his depression? Could it be that the young Vincent was so disappointed by his surroundings, circumstances and the people in his life that he trained his imagination to go on fantasy flights and in the process create mind-pictures of a less dense, more flowing, fluxing world, with colours more brilliant than those found in reality?

The trouble with painting mind-pictures is two- fold. Firstly it takes time. Time, which is difficult to find, between daily routines and social bonds that need to be sustained. On top of that, productive thinking cannot be effective in distractive social situations, therefore the necessity for isolation.

It is however possible to change gloomy, cold and sterile circumstances, environments and relationships into acceptable ones, in the seclusion of a thought-world.

Secondly a brilliant, developing mind, capable of “extreme visionary ecstasy,” like that of Mr.V, shouldn’t dare share his mind-creations with anyone who does not understand, simply to avoid the risk of being called crazy, hallucinating, or less harsh: “the different one.”

Finding someone with whom to share a weird and wonderful inner-world is never easy. Finding someone interested in, and willing to have meaningful conversations about the impossible possibilities that spring from a personal frame of reference is rare. Most people don’t want to go too deep.

When there seems to be nobody that can satisfy the need for discussing novel ideas; when everybody else condemns alternative ways of looking at reality, it leaves the artist who “sees things the way others do not see”, (Nancy C. Andreasen) with little other choices but to withdraw.

The “thinkers” of this world are usually also introverts because extroverts prefer social endeavours above creative pursuits. Although introverts are mostly shy they also have the desire to stand out like everyone else. Extroverts, with their excellent verbal-and-body-language skills, have no problem to satisfy this need for acknowledgment in social situations.

Introverts are also very self-conscious because of their social incompetence. They therefore tend to turn to alternative pursuits like cognitive or creative projects and stop caring about finding someone with similar interest.

I therefore want to propose that artists who withdraw into isolation are not necessarily social outcasts; they may well have chosen to rather be alone for the lack of finding someone to share their passions. Isolation may lead to self-discovery. If the person discovered is likeable, loneliness ceases to matter, but if that person is despised, depression is likely to set in and drag an artist down into the darker realms with it. The need for company may return but once again company may criticise, steal away creative thinking time and/or may not fully satisfy the need for mental cognition.Vincent may have got trapped in similar cycles.

As Cody pointed out in his blog, balance is the key because artists and introverts, just like everybody else, need periods of inspiration, periods of isolation as well as periods of social interaction.

Which writers do we read?

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We read for the same reason that we travel, socialise, listen to music, invent or create something. We read because we are addicted to the excitement that novelties can make us feel.

The need to explore and uncover new things is part of our essence. Possibilities drive our curiosity to experiment with physical things as well as abstract ideas. Good writing satisfies this craving for unusual discoveries that might tickle our fancy.

We read because we have the need to feel something, if not excitement, shock, fear, anger, even sadness will do.

Some of us are amazed by new factual information bits that science can provide. Others are attracted to sensational news reports. Most of us love to read real life or fictional stories; a distinguished few are touched by the unusual word order found in poetry.

These days information, news, stories, poetry, art and music are freely accessible on the internet. The written word has to compete with visual and audio media. This means that writers have to be more creative than ever before to satisfy their reader’s addiction for something fascinating. The challenge is to write something that has never been written before. Something that cannot be searched on google, something written by an writer who knows secret things.

Artists Stirs

The unfamiliar illustration of a flowing Yin Yang symbol (posted in the previous blog post) was born from many meditations on the laws of nature, removed from the traditional explanations of the symbol and it’s meaning. It is not meant to criticise a belief system or challenge the original Yin Yang but was merely created as an observation from an artists’ alternative viewpoint. Baring in mind that artists are thinkers who cannot help but represent their mind discoveries visually, audibly or in words. Artists are urged by the Muse in them to say: “things that are tranquil and balanced need to be stirred in order to see what could emerge.”

The State of Existance

A Theory of Everything yet to be verified
A Theory of Everything yet to be verified

The Yin and Yang symbol, a minimalistic depiction of a dual existence. The whole, stripped to the core. A clear, simplified illustration, whispering harmony, order and structure. Loved by the human brain for its simplicity, clarity, and symmetry.

The deeper meaning behind the Yin Yang symbol is that everything is made up of opposites: darkness-light, male-female, matter-space, sound-silence. However, the opposite poles cannot be isolated; they are connected to each other, like the two sides of a coin or magnetic bars. When a magnetic bar is cut in half the two opposite poles are not separated (as suggested by the idea of monopoles) because the two halves will both remain to have opposite poles. In the human dimension we can perceive these opposites with our five senses. We can even see the shades, hear the scales and feel the levels between opposites that connect them.

Yin and Yang goes beyond the physical. It also represents our abstract (metaphysical) worlds of mind, emotion, moral values and consciousness in which the opposites of positive-negative, good-bad, love-fear, happy and sad exists.

The symbol as such, is a beautiful, meaningful illustration of balance and structure but balance to a point of stagnation. Structure to a point of stagnation. Opposites that are connected but limited and contained. Just like a perfectly pruned, formal garden, in which one cannot see the underlying movement unless each plant in that garden is allowed to grow freely, like the rest of nature.

The Yin Yang symbol as it is, seems to be constrained within a balanced state of structure. What if the circle that contains the symbol is removed to render existence infinite? What if it could show movement causing a state of unorganised entropy?