“A great number of creative artist use antidepressants. Some of them do it to find their inner calm. To other it boost their creativity. Some speak about trendiness and swallow the drugs with great satisfaction , and finally there are those, the addict, who cannot live without them.”….. Those lines are a loose translation and quote from the article ” Seroquest my love” writen in Hebrew, by Gon Ben Ari published in the Israeli newspaper “Yediot Aharonot”, (October 20, 2008)
Britney Spears on drugs
Well, after taking into consideration the above quote, I as a visual artist don’t take any drugs. Does it mean that I am not creative enough? Or if I am never in the depressed mode is my work as good as the artist taking drugs ? I can only quote this “My mind is already hallucinatory enough, and my natural Amazonian amphetamines give me the energy, confidence and hyper-alertness that others bankrupt themselves to achieve through coke.’, see here [or in my case without Prozac..]
It seems that art, jazz, pop art and any sort of creativity is sanctified as true art if the artist is a drug swallower. This is considered as a respice, and bon fashion for succsess, perhaps a snobbery. If it where the case, then the artist not taking drugs, prozac for instance, and creating innovative work, are to be suspected as manufacturing some sort of ‘ inner prozac’… a fact that may ruin the prozac industry?.
But looking back in time I found those common or not so common news, I quote, …”50 years ago, a minority of students and creators absorbed stimulators to expand their intellectual performance. The prolific philosopher-author Jean-Paul Sartre could engulf an entire tube of corydrane per day, or a mixture of aspirin and 144 milligrams of amphetamine, recounts his biographer Annie Cohen-Solal (1905-1980 Sartre, Gallimard, 1999) . The corydrane classified toxic product in 1971, has been banned since.” …see here.
And adding a few more details I quote, ..”When he wrote the ‘Critique’, Sartre, a lifelong caffeine fiend and serious drinker, was also frying his brains on corydrane, a form of amphetamine mixed with, of all things, aspirin. The philosopher was using corydrane on a daily basis, first to cut through the fug of the barbiturates he was taking to help him sleep—and he was having trouble sleeping not least because of all the corydrane he was putting away—but also to keep him at his desk, churning out the “Critique.” “To put it briefly,” he told Simone de Beauvoir some time later, “in philosophy, writing consisted of analysing my ideas; and a tube of corydrane meant ‘these ideas will be analysed in the next two days.’ “see here, a wonderful article by John Lancester from the “The New Yorker”.
Camille Paglia, Professor of Humanities at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, wrote on Prozac (11/25/97) in the magazine Salon …”Unlike Prozac, which is an all-day, all-night wet blanket, liquor can be measured out and taken at will to light up whatever hours or evenings one chooses. Its effects, even in excess, rarely last long. But Prozac flattens mood, robs creativity and turns you into a bourgeois clone of everyone else.
What a bore!
Check out the Manhattan magazine culture. Do you wonder why the writing is so stale, the thought so derivative, the graphics so cluttered and clichéd? It’s Prozac, the favorite pick-me-up for whiny, passive-aggressive, drag-ass, scribbling moles. “…see here.
But the truth is more complex than simply reducing the facts to the artist as a happy Prozac swallower. From a Literature Annotation on the book “Poets on Prozac: Mental Illness, Treatment and the Creative Process” I quote:
… “Physician and poet Richard Berlin, has gathered [these] essays in order to examine, and shatter, the long-standing notion that madness, particularly madness in poets, enhances creativity—we need only think of the myths surrounding writers such as Sylvia Plath and Dylan Thomas to understand how the relationship between madness and creativity might foster both fear and longing in novice writers.
Sylvia Plath reads “Daddy”
In his informative and comprehensive introduction, Berlin poses these, and other, questions: “Do poets need to be mentally ill to produce great work? What is the influence of substance use/abuse? Does a person have to be ‘crazy’ to write good poetry? What do poets themselves define as crucial elements in their creative process?” (p. 2). He goes on to site current evidence that madness actually impedes creativity, as well as evidence that “some forms of mental illness may enhance, or at least coexist, with creativity” (pp. 4-5); he reviews the findings of researchers who have looked at “The Myth of Inspiration” and “The Myth of Very Special Talent” in creative persons (pp 6-7)”.., see here.
A musical emotional diversion is the lyric “Army Of The Damned ( The Prozac’s Generation )”, from the album ‘The Worst’ performed by the Sarcofago band in the Death Metal genre, lyric not allowning, from their point of view, any doubt about the ‘damned prozac generation’:
Sometimes you think that your life is sick
and everything is going bad.
You can’t support the pression in your head.
There is clouds of tormentsin your heart,
let me say something:
You are not alone in this journey.
We can easily understand your laments,
’cause we are brothers in suffering.
We are army of the damned,
corpses without a soul…
creatures from the land,
devil’s toys in this world.
In fact I am ‘toggling’ between depression and Prozac, as perhaps boosting artists creativity, and depression as an illness inhibiting the depressed artist’s creative process by changing his mood and feelings, or an other combination: creativity and drugs without depression. But the creative talent, if existing, will produce in any of these combination, his own idiosyncratic art.
For example, from the Israeli local scene, Alona Kimhi an Israeli writer,said in “Seroquest my Love”, ….”Many people .. like ordinary people, foolish people, not artistic people take antidepressants. The drugs brings reliefs to the illness and has nothing to do with sensitiveness or artistic deepness. Most of the writers I know don’t suffer from depression and are good writers”.
Another quote from the same article, gives more credit to the drugs, Yonatan Gefen said …”The pills I used to to taken, like Adronex and Prozac, did block my writing. The pill I am taking now, Cipralex, is good because things are not shaded as only black or white. In overall, a writer has to be depressed if he wants to write and there is plenty of this stuff in Israel”. A rather ‘funny’ statement..
Professor Yoram Yovel, psychoanalyst and psychiatrist from the The Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Emotions, brings a rather speculative stance ..” I think that the seat in the soul from where creation starts is the primal unconscious . This is the same place from where comes the emotions and our instincts. This is only a speculation, but in my opinion, from the same place in the brain generating the sensitiveness to depression, comes creativity and the will to create”…(translated from Hebrew from the article ” Seroquest my love” from the Israeli newspaper “Yediot Aharonot”, (October 20, 2008)).
And what is the ‘Prozac Paradise’ situation with Arab singers?
Well, for one of them, the Syrian-Lebanese singer George Wassouf , a major music star in the Arab world, if judging after his arrest in Sweden on suspicion of drug offences,( if the charges are true !! see here), then for him singing and recreational drugs are perhaps his close and intimate friends, just as for Sartre, Britney Spiers and many others…