Yesterday we discussed how the “true artist” in society can sometimes be tamped down and placed on medication in order to fit into the mainstream world. The price of that tamping is the loss of the birthright inspiration to create art that magnifies and enchants experience.
So today we are required to at least address the other end of the gun and examine “true artists” who choose to forego professional help in getting a prescribed medicine and who instead choose to take the much more deadly route of “self-medicating” as their own “doctor.” First, let me beg a moment of clarification.
Yesterday’s post and today’s post both narrowly deal with what I call the “true artist” and the difference between the “true artist” and the “artist” and the “ordinary” person is that the “true artist” is born not made. The True Artist creates art for a living and not as a side endeavor. The True Artist is unconcerned about wealth or stature or fame or dignity even though all are earned through deeds.
The only thing that matters to the True Artist is creating effective work. Many professionally medicated True Artists can have their muses and demons dulled and while that can lead to a happier life it also usually leads to a medicinal revocation of their inspired ability to change the world. However, True Artists who choose to self-medicate with weed, booze, Meth, Ecstasy, coke (with a small “C”), inebriation of others via sexual addiction, over-intimacy and co-dependency cause the most damage to the spirit of everyone because we rely on the True Artist’s inspiration to help interpret the world.
As their own self-prescribing doctor, the self-medicating True Artist’s clarity of mind is directly influenced by their abnormal self-medicated behavior and more and more junk is required to be taken by their bodies in order to keep their mind on what they believe to be an “even keel.” The self-medicating route is pitted with danger and guaranteed failure and, oftentimes, death. You’ve probably seen the dangers of self-medicating more than you’ve seen the dulling of personality by prescription drugs. Self-medicating is the larger danger because there is no third party control — like a doctor or even a pharmacist — who can keep an eye on dosages and help answer clinical questions and monitor behavior.
True Artists who self-medicate are more culturally accepted in the mainstream world than those who choose to live a natural life of demanding exception — the three Martini lunch is a prime example of a socially approved self-medicating experience — and in the artistic world, self-medicating is wrongly seen by many as a necessary rite of passage. The True Artist’s job is to alter reality for us, not them.
By giving us an alternate interpretation of what is thought to be real, but may really be false, is to continually re-define what we think we know and what we mean to each other and how we can better help each other survive. If that vital job of the True Artist is overly medicated via the self, or the prescription, we lose cogency as a society and are forced to turn within ourselves to find individual meaning for issues that affect groups of people.
That kind of self-interested introspection of “Only I know best” against the greater good is the first warning shot the moral stitching of society is beginning to fray at the lines of the liquor store and along the seams of the pharmacy counter.
I was alcoholic many years painter. I am now Paxil. No drinking. I do feel less but good to be to paint.
Thank you for letting us know the successes you have found in life. I am happy to learn you are off alcohol and are now on a medication that is helping you.
We should also remind folks to NEVER drink alcohol if they are taking an anti-depressant. They do not mix. They can push you even farther downward. It can take up to a week to get your chemical balance back again after just one drink while on meds.
I also like your point that taking Paxil clears you up so you can create great paintings. That is important. Some people get stuck and cannot create anything and medication brings them back to the world of the True Artist.
Okay, David, now I gotcha. This post made the other one a little more clear for me. I’m what you call a ‘true artist.’ I self medicated before my diagnosis. Even did it afterward because my ‘drugs’ weren’t necessarily alcohol and drugs so I could get away with it. (well, I didn’t actually, but you know what I mean)
When I wasn’t on ‘real’ medication, I had flights of fancy and racing thoughts for days on end creating all kinds of glorious ideas. Some of them even saw the light of day! As a freelance writer, I could work frenetically and my clients couldn’t keep me busy enough. Then would come the crashes.
But you’re absolutely right about how we use stuff to get by. The substances kept my muse happy and my demons, though I feared them, close by as well. Somehow, I knew I needed those demons as prods behind the muse in case he left me.
Gosh, it’s great you are so open and willing to share your rough experiences here.
These articles and comments are read by a lot of people even though few actually post a comment.
I know your words mean a lot to the unspoken and to me as well! 🙂