Dec. 31, 2007-- Many artists fall into the deceptive seduction of drugs and alcohol. It is not to pay our dues, for we only end up further in debt. We seek the euphoria and illusory confidence we believe it provides. It sometimes fools us into believing we can't create without it. But to create with it brings forth many demons of the damned that thrive on our weaknesses. Then we're tortured by the constant sinner inside tearing at our higher pride; so we try really hard to be normal and moderate. Yet we are extremists and thrive on tragedy and drama, and sometimes we live in the illusion that the passions in our lives become muted as we moderate.
In New York City, I met musicians who were considered to be some of the best in the business - the cream of the crop. They were talented and brilliant players, loved and admired for their gifts. But they were also drug-addicted, reckless, inconsiderate derelicts, many of whom ended up losing in life in a big way. After awhile, my admiration of their talents waned. I'd changed my mind about them. I decided that I had no respect for these people who, on one hand, were stubborn nonconformists and would never compromise their artistic integrity for any reason; yet, on the other quite opposite hand, had no sense of humanity, loyalty, conscience... I didn't care if they were known and respected as the best musicians in New York City or the world; they were still human beings. I'd seen the side of them that cancels out any "good" they could ever do to inspire people around them. I don't think a talent excuses someone from accepting the responsibility of being a decent human being.
Someone like Vincent van Gogh probably couldn't help the way he was. He had serious physiological/mental illnesses that plagued him and eventually caused him to take his own life. For his productivity and creativity in spite of such debilitating handicaps, we must applaud him. Vincent started out in life with an attitude on the same lines as Mahatma Gandhi; he sincerely wanted to be a useful, productive and helpful member of society. He just didn't know how to go about it. Thus, the reason for him starting to paint so late in his life. He had a purpose to fulfill and it wasn't, as he originally thought - to be an evangelist and live amongst the lowly, aiding and comforting the weak and suffering. He was meant to be a mirror of his times, to create a record of all that we may otherwise never have known.
The artist's life may be a tragedy, but this should not be celebrated. It is to overcome these tragedies the mystic artist must strive for daily. The tragic element lurks deep within and we may let it destroy us, as have so many Hendrix's, Cobains and Presleys... or we may rise above it all and reinvent time.
--Excerpt from The Mystic Artist by Sandra Frazier
Recommended Reading: When Walls Become Doorways by Tobi Zausner