If I search the recesses of my memory
I can recall a time before childhood trauma
was all the rage and we were blissfully
ignorant of how those we looked up to
as mavericks and rebels with or without causes
who opted for the crazy life suffered genuinely
from one or another personality disorder,
a schizo-this or complex-that, and the substances
they helped romanticise were really just
non-prescription meds helping them regulate
wild emotions or sedate their inner demons.
A time when each of us felt empowered to
do as we pleased and to go our own way,
not knowing how these choices, in truth,
were the dictates of neurological damage
or that our carpe diem paths were actually
well-trodden tracks leading to reservoirs
of shame which would overwhelm our mid-
life sense of self-worth while contributing
to the freakiest nightmares and breakdowns.
Today there are more than two hundred
classified forms of mental illness – so many
you feel like if you’re not getting with the whole
credential-accumulation game with your
little Fitbit and ultra-woke attitude then
you have a responsibility both to yourself
and others to reassess your life or get used to
being told you’re in denial.
Oh, rewind me
back to the nineties, when dysfunctional
was so much better than just functional,
critics didn’t begrudge artistic catharsis
and to be an in-your-face fuck-up –
yeah, nah, that was sweet as.
I have enjoyed listening to these two lectures about Kierkegaard’s attempt to solve the problem of having a duality of soul and body, an abstract and a concrete, by relating to another, or, as he puts it, to have infinite passion for the finite.
This “other” could be a person, or it could be a cause, path, practice or ideal, I think.
It made me think of how Michael J Fox shared the existential crisis he went through after being diagnosed with Parkinsons. This would be what Kierkegaard calls “despair”, which he theorises has been present all along, but was previously covered up by the distractions of addiction, celebrity, and work in Fox’s case.
The crisis was resolved by transforming despair into bliss, by relating to the cause of promoting Parkinsons awareness and raising funds for research in order to find a cure.
Getting diagnosed with Sjogrens Syndrome definitely caused me some despair, but when I embraced the idea of making positive changes to improve my condition, options began to appear.
Through relating to this healing journey, my approach to art has also changed, as I now look for non-toxic mediums, and find the constraints of my RA and a low budget actually inform my art.
So transforming despair into bliss by having passion for both the healing and artistic journeys, while sharing it with you here can hopefully give the relationship the additional aspect of inspiring others to do a similar kind of thing.