|Gate into Malahide Castle|
"Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear which is inherent in the human situation." Graham Green, quoted Solitude, p. 123This, then, is the substance of this chapter in a nutshell. Yes indeed, we do use our imaginative capacities to escape from the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune," or simply to unwind or deal with day-to-day stress. This is one very worthwhile role that the immagination plays, but it is a decidedly negative one in a sense as it is a way of coping with or escaping reality. Of course, that is no bad thing - in fact it is a very good thing. However, the imagination also has a more positive role, too, in that, when we follow our creative pursuits, we literally help to make our souls whole, to nourish the child within, to express our deepest feelings and to unlock the treasures of our more intimate visions and dreams. Let us listen to the illuminating words of Anthony Storr here:
By creating a new unity in a poem or other work of art, the artist is attempting to restore a lost unity, or to find a new unity , within the inner world of the psyche, as well as producing work which has a real existence in the external world... In Winnicott's phrase, 'creative apperception' is what makes individuals feel that life is worth living; and those who are gifted are perhaps more able than most to repair loss in symbolic fashion. The human mind seems so constructed that a new balance or restoration within the subjective, imaginative world is felt as if it were a change for the better in the external world. In thus linking objective and subjective, we are approaching the limits of human understanding; but I believe that the secrets of human creative adaptation are to be found at just those limits. The hunger of imagination which drives men to seek new understanding and new connections in the external world is, at the same time, a hunger for integration and unity within. (Ibid., p. 124)Once again Storr illustrates this chapter once again with copious references to authors like: Graham Greene who suffered from manic-depression; Alfred Lord Tennyson who had bouts of depression on regular occasions, and was a heavy smoker and drinker; to John Donne who likewise suffered from such bouts and was recurrently suicidal; and to William Cowper was also manic-depressive. Storr goes on to list many others, too: S.T. Coleridge, Edgar Allan Poe, John Berryman, Louis McNeice who was also an alcoholic and Sylvia Plath. All of these last mentioned here lost a parent before the age of twelve. Of those listed Berryman and Plath committed suicide.
|Gas Lamp in The Phoenix Park|
Now, I'd like to finish with a short quotation from Storr which is very relevant to my psychological explorations:
The creative response to loss is only one example of the use of the imagination. Onlt those who exalt human relationships to an ideal position in the hierarchy of human values could think that creativity was no more than a substitute for such relationships. (Ibid., p. 144)