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  1. #81

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    4x5 Format

    Artists and mental illness

    One of the things that I have noted about depression is that there is often a sense of urgency. There is a feeling that one is running out of time and that nothing of value has been accomplished up to the point of depression. This often compels the suffer toward large amounts of productive output. Like a condemned man the world seems clearer and there is so much that needs to be recorded before life runs out. Since I am not a doctor I would guess this is a type of manic behavior. Yet surprisingly high quality work has been produced in such a mental fever. Handel's Messiah is a good example.
    Other depressed people seem to lose energy completely. They cannot move, they cannot function, and often cannot find the energy to get out of bed. Depressives in this class are not as productive for obvious reasons.
    Of course, there are other mental extremes that have been present in creative people. Love for example. People in love have produced some of the most amazing works in all fields. Indeed, it might be argued that love is the ultimate insanity. Edward Weston seemed to do his best work when enthralled with a woman.
    As a sidebar to the discussion. Most people realize that mental illness is real. Most people would agree that drugs can alter the behavior of users. Anyone on street drugs can attest to that. At the present time there is no definitive test of mental illness but that merely shows a current lack of knowledge. There is no definitive test that would show a person in love. Yet we all know that love exists. The brain is very complex, it is little wonder that we have not really begun to plumb its depths.

  2. #82

    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Large Format
    Outstanding points, Jerry. I recognize both of the traits of depressed people you describe in myself. Some days I feel too lazy to do anything at all. Other times I'll go out and make a dozen or more negatives on a weekend, and then get on such a roll that I'm hauling my 4x5 gear to work with me to head out with during lunch. Thank you for describing and illustrating your observations so well.

    And it's too bad that Jerold's critics aren't around to read your notes on love and its lack of definitive proof in the brain.

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