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is the artful life an alleviator against the madness of conformity?



commentary • 11.03.05  

I’ve come to think that many normal people are actually teetering on the verge of madness. Maybe the reason they cling to conformity and hold so steadfastly to the straight-and-narrow is because if they didn’t they would not know what to do with themselves and soon enough go spectacularly off the rails unable to come to terms with their inner conflicts.

This is in some ways a reversal of the conventional wisdom that reasonable, psychologically well balanced types conform and the messed up ones, like many artists, don’t. Perhaps such creatives living their lives off the beaten track are able to do so because their internal contradictions are worked with rather than suppressed.

The potential madness that is tied up in deep-rooted conflict can be partly alleviated in an unconventional life. Artists might use the conflicts as source material for their work and in so doing help to contain the demons. They might also choose a vocation more suited to their core. Driven by that internal compass they might be less prone than the normals to heap more mental instability on to the pile.