the mudpond

It's good to let things breathe in your imagination because often your initial response to it is not the best thought-through response. I savour little glimpses of life. Mine and those of people who turn me sideways and around. Friend or stranger. Even a child. (the world looks different from down there) Sometimes an author, photographer, artist. I let things saturate and incubate here. Hopefully, deeper meanings can percolate up and flower.

Name:
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

A stray cat.

5/25/2005

Romanticising Depression

I HAVE A 'Starry Night' replica hanging on my bedroom wall. And on some starlit nights, I listen to 'Vincent' on my old mini-compo. I am very, very much in love with both of them.

Don McLean wrote Vincent after reading a book about the life of artist
Vincent Van Gogh. In the 70s, the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam played the song daily. A copy of the sheet music, together with a set of Van Gogh's paint brushes, is buried in a time capsule beneath the museum.

Paint your palette blue and grey,
Look out on a summer's day,
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul...

van Gogh's Starry Night
Posted by Hello

Vincent was thirty-six when he painted Starry Night, in an asylum with a window through which the constellation Aries and the planet Venus appeared. Venus is the brightest star-like object in the sky. I can imagine the way it may have beaconed to a visually gifted genius on the edge of sanity. The spiral currents are imagined, but he could reproduce them because he knew that these currents run through the universe though we couldn't see them.

Vincent was suffering, no one understood, and through his color and brushstroke he was alive with feelings and emotions that the world only understood after he was gone.

Genius fired by madness.

It’s been speculated that the manic phase of his bipolar disorder (manic-depression) likely provided the power surge he needed to complete an incredible 400 or so paintings in the last three years of his life.

Via salon.com:
What if Prozac had been available in van Gogh's time? Would the paintings be less revelatory if van Gogh himself were not so miserable? Would they even exist at all?

There are
perhaps, many people who can relate to his high energy and identify with his creative zeal brought about during manic phases. In their minds, depression is integral to the creative temperament. We might lose some of the triumphs of art and culture if it were wiped away.

Great wits co-exist with madness

Virginia Woolf, British novelist, essayist, and critic helped create the modern novel. Her writing often explores the concepts of time, memory, and people’s inner consciousness, and is remarkable for its humanity and depth of perception.

One fine morning, she left her home, taking her walking stick, and crossed the water meadows to the river, where she put a large stone in the pocket of her coat. Thus, she drowned herself at the age of fifty-nine.

And closer to our times and cultural sphere...

Life imitating art ?

At age forty-six and dogged by depression, wildly successful actor and singer Leslie Cheung took a dive from the 24th floor of Hong Kong's Mandarin Oriental Hotel two years ago, on April Fools Day. "In my life, I have done nothing wrong" wrote the star of the canon of Beijing Opera, 'Farewell My Concubine’"Why does it have to be like this?"

It’s no wonder we romanticize it. We make such virtue of it. We are infatuated with it

"A good therapist, knows that a persistent preoccupation, however superficially banal, suggests a significant underlying problem.",
says Peter Kramer, a professor of psychiatry and author of “Against Depression”.

"The depressed will often swear that they have at last perceived
the fundamental futility and drudgery of life,
a brutal fact that the rest of the world chooses, idiotically, to ignore…"

Is depression the only honest, thoughtful response to a cruel world?

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12 Comments:

Blogger Juno said...

I remember seeing "Starry Night" for the first time at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. I was amazed that such a powerful piece was actually so small!

Nice blog. . .

4:00 PM  
Blogger 5xmom ~chanlilian.net~ said...

Dare not comment and prefer to stay on the fence. I know two person who committed suicide due to depressions.

But hey, Vincent is my son. This song is also his memorial website signature theme.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Kamigoroshi said...

As you said before, maybe it's the those that are in touch with their darker feelings this way that drives them to create the biggest impact despite the inability for the society to understand, let alone stand by these people.

It's just sad how people these days tend to avoid facing off melancholy because they fear being melancholic themselves. It's like cutting off a part of yourself from the world. it doesn't really work that way.

5:13 PM  
Anonymous ah pink said...

You can't really know what depression's like until you get there. Pray that you won't.

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Vincent" is a great fav of mine. A great classic piece. Not one of those written for adolescent only like most present day offerings are.

"Depression"? I'm no stranger yet one must come to understand the nature and source of it all and be better able to handle it eventually. If we individually cannot handle it, no one else can do it on our behalf, no?

Conventional human values, unfulfilled ambition and expectation are some of the possible causes.

Learn to sometimes think apart from the maddening Crowd. Be more self-aware. No choice.

~wits0~

8:34 PM  
Blogger Lucia Lai said...

'vincent' is also one of my fav. song. whenever i listen to it, it never fail to stir the emotions in me. sad. touching.

the other touching song is 'tears in heaven' by eric clapton (right?) which he composed after his young son died falling off a window (or was it suicide?). sorry i'm so blur on the facts here... the singer... the songs composed for who... correct me, please.

9:56 PM  
Blogger percolator said...

juno,
awesome eh? it simply vibrates with rockets of burning yellow cartwheels. Yet against the blue sky, the swirls are somehow restful.
thanx for coming by..

5xmom,
nice song huh?

kami,
I'm not sure people can actually avoid melancholia. I believe we all have different 'set points' for happiness.

ah pink,
your blog looks so cool in a funky way. Love it!
depression is probably in the genes.

wits0
absolutely right, there. and I do consider the song a Classic. They sure don't write songs like they used to.

lucia,
I loved it even long before I ever knew it was about van Gogh. And when I found out, it's beauty and meaning multiplied manifold!

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try : http://www.geocities.co.jp/HiTeens-Penguin/4332/EyesOnMe.mid
(its actually an MP3 by Faye Wong)

You can write songs for kids in good taste rather than s**t one like 'I can get no satifaction'.

Then it becomes great for kids for all ages. Love this Anime - Final Fantasy 8 ;)

~wits0~

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correct URL is : http://web.mit.edu/mokang/Public/mp3/eyes%20on%20me.mp3

~wits0~

12:35 PM  
Blogger percolator said...

wits0,
obviously you can't get no satisfaction from shit! lol!! corny me.
yeah, I just don't dig the newer songs. I like some of those canto pop, though.

9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chinese songs have always maintained that degree of maturity unlike the music industries of the USA and Europe who found they could make big bucks and get away with it by churning out trash. After the Beatles, only trash songs came in great abundance. Like it or not, this trend id linked with the general LLL practises in other aspects of everyday life. I think however that things may be slowly changing for the better.

~wits0~

6:24 PM  
Blogger desiderata said...

My sympathy about these "genius" creatives is often the genius in them is also the cause of their "depression" -- is it the Creator's way of balancing the gift of one's "out of the world" talent with the punishment of living on the touching edge of insanity?

Mayhaps, It's just that people like Vincent and Wolfe think too much! I still ponder over this, occasionally.

11:47 PM  

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