I’m not sure what it says about me but most of my closest friends are on some kind of medication to make them less wacky — and when I say “wacky” I mean it in the best and most admirable way. A few of the medications my friends swallow every day include Paxil, Wellbutrin, Effexor, Zoloft, Luvox and Prozac. I am not on any kind of antidepressant or any other daily medication. I am uncertain if I should be overjoyed or sad my good friends need medication in order to operate in the world. 50 years ago if you were a little loopy — and I mean “loopy: in the best and most admirable way — you were institutionalized or given electric shock treatments or you committed suicide. Suffering is the brand of the true artist.
Do we today repress emotions and expectations and innovation with medication to “even out” people or is medication really intended to control minority behavior the majority decides is detrimental to their agenda? True artists are driven by demons not of their own choosing. Demons demand expression. Sometimes demons can overrun a life.
The inspiration to create things out of nothing for others as a living requires a certain instability of the brain because no one in their right mind would paint or write or draw or act or sing for a living because you can only make a killing in the Arts or die poor trying. The life of the true artist can never be grounded in a stable, mainstream, life.
Every breath of the true artist is a wager against overwhelming odds. If to create is to dare against mortality, is the penalty for that wager a revocation of imagination with drugs? True artists are born, not made. If you chemically alter that inborn ability to see the world in a way that goes against the shared interests of society in order to fit into a pre-determined expectation of behavior from others are you not giving up your birthright claim to destiny?
Are my friends dulling their creative edge by taking these medications? Is it better to live a long, but dulled, life than to quickly and brilliantly knife through the ordinary even if it means slashing your wrists instead of letting nature wither you from the outside in? Does curing the madness kill the true artistic impulse?
Is a dulled good friend better than a dead true artist? Am I being cruel by even asking these questions and by “cruel” I mean that in the best and most admirable way.