Thesis Blog #2

Directly from my notes while book shopping for thesis things:

  • cult of genius
  • loneliness
  • the desert
  • solitude and contemplation
  • madness and eccentricity
  • What defines genius?
  • What defines creativity?
  • How do we determine what is "creative"?
  • "authentic" or "original"?

Feedback from my thesis mentor:

  • I believe that creativity requires the capacity to tolerate ambiguity. 
  • For many that produces anxiety, for others exhilaration. 
  • I believe that capacity to tolerate such ambiguity firmly comes down on the side of mental health, not mental illness. 
  • For individuals who are suffering from mental/emotional challenges, and are involved in creative endeavors, I would say that healthy aspects of their psychological structures are allowing them to do so. From such endeavors they may experience self-cohesion, even if temporarily, from the creation of an external form that gives shape to subjective experience. 

Things are definitely starting to shift into a more "thesis" structure and thought process. I was interested in the 2003 study done by U of T and Harvard about the link between mental illness and creativity. I am now shifting outside of just that link and instead to defining the nebulous concept of mental illness and what can be considered an "illness". I have a lot of scattered thoughts that need addressing before I can fully come to a structured thesis for this project. I am listing the questions below for my own records:

  1. Poor mental health and mental illness are very very very different.
  2. I have severe and often debilitating anxiety; am I mentally ill?
  3. What is the threshold that qualifies mental illness?
  4. What does something require to be "artistry"?
  5. Art can be self-expressive but is self-expression always art?
  6. What is art, anyway?
  7. Who decides what art is?
  8. Who decides the broad aesthetics of what is art, what is considered artistic, what is genius, etc.?

I have included some Dictionary.com definitions because at the base, all of these terms require examination and clear definitions before they can be used.

ART
noun
1.the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.
2.the class of objects subject to aesthetic criteria; works of art collectively, as paintings, sculptures, or drawings: a museum of art; an art collection.
3.a field, genre, or category of art: Dance is an art.

MENTAL ILLNESS
noun
1.any of the various forms of psychosis or severe neurosis.

PSYCHOSIS
noun
a mental disorder characterized by symptoms, such as delusions or hallucinations, that indicate impaired contact with reality

(E/N: isn't imagination an impaired contact with reality? or at least the ability to see reality as something different that what is?)

DISORDER
noun
1.a disturbance in physical or mental health or functions; malady or dysfunction

DYSFUNCTION
noun
1. malfunctioning