Recent research published by the Karolinska Institute of Sweden seems to confirm a long-held belief that there are tangible and significant links between mental illness and creativity. Certainly, when we consider the the great creative geniuses of the past, they seem to have had more than their fair share of conditions that we would generally consider to be detrimental to a productive mind and yet the evidence seems to say quite the opposite – having something a bit screwy with your brain can be a positive asset to the artistic temperament. (Before i get a bashing by the way, mental illness is not one of those subjects i take lightly, so please don’t get on your moral high ground and lambast me for being insensitive, it’s just that i write about such things in exactly the same way as i’d write about anything else).
Some time ago – in March 2011, in fact – i wrote a piece for Moonletters commenting on how sl seems to attract creative people of all types, in a far greater concentration than we tend to see elsewhere. Anyone who’s spent any great length of time in sl will have noticed that the virtual world appears to have far more than its fair share of artists, musicians, writers, poets, photographers and practitioners of the performing arts. Equally remarkably, sl is able to bring out the creative streak in even the most artistically challenged of us – i can think of several people off the top of my head who would never have professed to be particularly talented in creative expression before they discovered sl, yet are now accomplished in one or more disciplines that could well be tagged as creative or artistic, even in some cases, ‘genius’! In that regard, i can do no better than speak about myself, (not the ‘genius’ bit, of course!), since – apart from a few angst-ridden teenage poetic jottings – prior to sl i’d never done any sort of creative writing at all.
i suppose it should come as no surprise that sl should be a playground for the creative, particularly when the real world can be so judgemental, stifling and even ruinously expensive for the artist who wishes to express themselves. After all, sl is a world with few limitations, where we can manipulate our surroundings and ourselves in ways that are impossible to achieve in real life – it is immersive and immediate and extremely forgiving of errors and slips – no wonder creative types are able to revel in its delights and push the limits of what is possible.
One of the great attractions of sl for me, and no doubt for many others also, is the anarchic, playful and crazy environment that being imbued with such rampant creativity tends to create. Many times in this blog and in the course of discussion with friends i’ve commented on the madness and sheer craziness that i constantly find myself surrounded by inworld – experiences that would make the most psychadelic acid trip seem like a walk in the park and visions that make Dali seem tame in comparison. All of which makes me wonder… maybe there is something to this madness and creativity link after all. It begs the question, that if sl is so choc-a-bloc full of creative, talented geniuses, then is it – by definition – also populated by more than its fair share of crazy, (in the nicest possible way), people?
At the risk of being chased out of town by hordes of pitchfork-wielding avatars, incensed to the core at my temerity, i’d say, it’s quite likely.
Oh, and i’d definitely count myself amongst the crazies. i’m certainly not what people would tend to call ‘normal’ in every way – i’m far too quiet, i’m introvert to the point of oddness, i have character traits that make me insanely difficult to communicate with one-to-one and a complete nightmare to live with, i can be methodical and perfectionist to the point of obsession – (i count the number of steps i take on the walk into work!) – i can swing between wild extremes of mood and, when i did one of the internet test things, it said there was a 90% likelihood of me being psychopathic! (But you can never trust those online tests… can you?) If anyone is nutty as a fruitcake, has bats in their belfry or is a few lindens short of paying tier, it’s me – and, frankly i may as well accept it, because there’s not a lot i can do about it – the good news though, is that no matter how barmy i may be in rl, i can always find acceptance and a place to play in sl… and that can’t be a bad thing.
I got wild staring eyes. And I got a strong urge to fly.
Pink Floyd – Nobody Home