Simmering on Slippers post (actually, Slippers and Anna’s comments at Migrant Art Worker) and whether art is blunted by the application of chemical happiness, the Wench began listening obsessively to music. Two kinds: blues by women and extremely loud and explicit rock. Hmm. What do these have in common? What does Money Honey or Honey Hush have in common with Bad Girlfriend? The answer is, dirty girls–bad girls who want sexy boys, easy money, and freedom.
How, the reader who is not on musical acid asks, does this relate to chemical happiness? Bear with me… it will get there, eventually, because my subconscious says so.
I have been calling back my shadow, and it has been making me physically sick, giving me night fevers and tearing apart my ability to write lucid prose. And now, the shadow of my unlived life is reminding me that one of my favorite things used to be writing poetry and lyrics. Dark, angry poetry. Lyrics that make me cry. Suddenly, I want to write songs that tell everything I know about love and sex and getting what I want out of life.
I read Lynn‘s fabulous Facebook post about karaoke last week with horror. None of that for me! I said. Except that I actually want to shake my lovemaker in front of an audience. Maybe for real (I love to dance, at least, the old me did), but maybe in print.
When I was very, very depressed (1978 through 1998, give or take a few good months) I wrote a horde of poetry. Hard for me to tell, but I think it was pretty good. In my good times, I even wrote essays, stories, and a novel that were not embarrassing. Then came Effexor, Wellbutrin, St Johns Wort, and four different mental health professionals. In time, I stopped thinking regularly about how I could commit suicide without anyone knowing. (Would they believe it if I “accidentally” drove off a bridge? Was the bridge high enough to kill me for real, not just in a brain dead kind of way?)
Over the 12 years since I started getting help for my whiteout (I always associated depression with white instead of black) I thought I had lost my desire, my edge. I became a cog in the machine, working so hard for just money and not living for myself. I would have put it down to chemical assistance tamping down my fire, but I have been off that for years, now. I could have said that depression squeezed the beauty out of me better than happiness, but how did that account for the four novels I have written since, the gorgeous man I share my life with (a creative endeavor every day) and the literal garden I move around every spring, trying to find the perfect configuration?
My answer to whether chemical assistance deadens art is NO NO NO NO. At the worst, it calms the pain to let the art happen more slowly, because the urgency to create-or-suicide is gone. At the best, (and I think, usually) it keeps the artist ALIVE to create more art, different art; to get older and consume the shadow; to finally be wise enough to be happy and be creative at the same time.
Now, if I could sing like Katie, bang drums like in a Rob Zombie song, and dance like… a 20-year-old me.