Cody 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.