The Artistry of Mania

One night I had a conversation with an ex-air force man or pilot or militant, eh? Whatever the technical term is for one who was in the air force, well, he, the best man in my wedding, and I were discussing the creative process. 

Josh, the one who flew and flies noted, after we watched a documentary on Patti Smith (whoa), the disturbed life of the artist. He questioned if it is a necessity to have had a traumatic life in order for the fruition of creative ingenuity to transpire. 

It seems as though yes, yes it is true. But no, I hope not…that made me think of the TedTalk with Elizabeth Gilbert, which I realize most people have seen it. BUT if per chance you have not, click on the link–it is worth the minutes. 

Then I recalled a dialogue I had with a lawyer on my flight to Chicago a few weeks ago. She prosecutes other lawyers’ misconduct or unethical pursuits within their practices. She gushingly informed that her law firm employs a dreamy, Denzel Washington-esque psychologist to give his opinion on the mental status of the defendants. One of the common diagnoses is that they often suffer from Bi-Polar Personality Disorder, in which their episodic mania allows for impeccable, brilliant performances. However, the downswing or depressive state is when they make really poor, mentally unstable decisions for their lives. 

So lets keep tabs thus far: air force dude, best man, lawyers, mania, and creativity.

Somehow the conversation was guided into my creative process and consequently mania. It dawned on me that there are these moments in my life where I feel this impending something. It has frightened me at moments because of how much bigger than I and yet incredibly euphoric this something feels. I realized in this exchange of words with the air force man and best man that I have had manic moments whilst creating. This brought a lot of relief.

And, since I have not known what that feeling was, I have tried to contain, play ignorant, or become consumed by it, thus generating daunting anxiety over what will happen.

Let me declaratively and demonstrably say, containment, ignorance, or being swallowed have not worked out so well. Indeed not a bit.  

Because I have kept it a frightening foreign feeling (please note the alliteration. thank you) it has held power over me, hence the bewildering anxiety. I have had a difficult time channeling the mania in a way that does not defeat or truncate me. Giving this, at times, unmanageable feeling a cheery name such as MANIA inadvertently brings an equilibrium to my soul. 

Now, how many of us are struggling to take care of those moments that are clearly impregnated, wonderous, exhilarated passages of time that could behold sweet articulated experiences through various artistic mediums, without plummeting into a depressive chasm? 

I think, due to our great ability to sever our creative faculties from ever fully functioning and flourishing, produces a polarized split in our minds. Furthermore, creativity surges and bursts through, needing space and yet there isn’t space conducive to hold that which may come. It’s similar to holding a heavy object and having no other option, but to carry the burden to the right and safe location. If the T.V. or hot plate or jug of water held above my head drops then there will be a small disaster to recover from–mildly put. 

Give me space. I do declare. Give us, the people, space to roll in paint or scribble nonsensical musings upon paper on a rooftop in the middle of the night or uniquely perform your personal parable in a public arena for any to hear. 

Fool me no more for the space is here and awaiting for embodiment. May you and I move towards the mania that calls forth life, not resignation or bitter loss and watch as we become insanely acute, lovely, full, and revived.

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Filed under art, ODD, Uncategorized

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