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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Sandy Andina The 'Artistic' Temperament- (128* d) RE: The 'Artistic' Temperament- 02 May 06

Must it be an "either/or" proposition? Look at Yeats and Wallace Stevens--one made his living as a middle-management civil servant, the other as a high-echelon insurance executive; yet both devoted their energies to their art fairly late in life and ultimately achieved greatness and fame while living relatively comfortable (by "artistic" criteria) standards of living and making their way in the "mundane" world. Look at the scores of talented art, drama and music teachers who choose to make their living by passing on the torch via imparting their skills and passion to the next generation, as well as those who earn good livings as journeyman musicians. Are they any less the artists for living within conventional societal norms and not self-destructing? Must one be a tortured soul to be an artist, or is it a convenient cop-out for those artists who are troubled? And do artists have a lock on such suffering? There are perfectly sane and happy talented artists (and no, they're not hacks just because they happen to make a conventional living) and there are troubled addicted executives and members of the professions. Being bipolar or addicted or depressive is not a prerequisite for the "artistic temperament" (if indeed such a thing exists, mutually exclusive to being able to cope in societally accepted ways); neither is it something to be proud of, a special hallmark of talent nor even a badge of membership in the artistic community. It is a disability just like any other and seeking to alleviate it is no more or less desirable than a myopic person wearing corrective lenses or the motion-impaired using assistive devices such as crutches, canes or wheelchairs. What does seem to be true, though, is that since most artists' incomes are low and they don't have health insurance (at least not Stateside), self-medication with alcohol or recreational drugs--or no treatment at all--is more common. But treating it as an acceptable excuse by romanticizing it as a desirable trait rather than recognizing it as a treatable disability is a cop-out.

There are plenty of us who choose (and are lucky enough to be able to afford) to conventionally treat our mood disorders (with medications and talk therapy) and still consider ourselves artists and continue to create quality works of art.....we just don't get any press because we aren't famous and we don't self-destruct. We are no less "artistic" than those who very publicly flame out.

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