Art:Suffering

One last thought regarding creativity:

Something I’ve observed is how pain can be important to the creative process. I have heard it said that many artists find profound insight in deep pain, sadness, or despair. Some truly astonishing works of art have come from the pain of the artist (consider Vincent van Gogh or Henri Nouwen).

Art can be a safe outlet for painful emotions. Yet I wonder if it is possible to become stuck in that pain. Imagine that an unknown poet loses her daughter in a car accident. Soon after, she writes devastatingly beautiful poetry out of her loss. She becomes recognize and esteemed. People the world over are moved to tears by her poems. She becomes a Poet. She begins to identify herself with her work. She finds meaning for her life in her poetry. She tries to write more, but her new work lacks the same intensity. The only way to find that spark is to return to the pain of the loss of her daughter. Again and again, she returns to that grief. It begins to haunt her. The grief is a well of inspiration, but she finds herself drawn deeper into it, drowning. For the sake of her sanity, she needs to get out, but she can’t bear to lose her sense of purpose as a Poet. This is the only life that she knows now, and can’t bear to part from it. The grief consumes her.

I imagine that some artists may start to identify so strongly with a particular event or emotion that they can’t escape from it, even for their own sake. Then again, I could be wrong. I haven’t dived into the creative process as intensely as artists that I know. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

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