Part of my entertainment is Western podcasts from all over the English-speaking world. All in the Mind is a psychology and neuroscience show from ABC Radio National in Australia. I’ve listened to for several years, and a recent episode on the mind of the writer caught my attention. In today’s post are a few excerpts that I hope will put the world to right for you– or at least someone who is convinced you’re just plain mad.
World renowned psychiatrist and doctor of English Renaissance literature Dr. Nancy Andreasen studies the creative brain. What emerges from personality testing and interviews with creatives, she says, is “Creative people tend to be very curious about all kinds of things. They tend to be adventuresome. They tend to be a little bit iconoclastic, which is related to being original, of course. They perceive things in a totally new and different way that other people are simply not able to see…. They’re a little prone to getting in trouble because they’re original and seem rebellious.”
”Do creative people actually think differently (from) people who aren’t highly creative?”
“At least sometimes yes,” Andreasen said.
Check out the podcast to learn more about the writers mindset
In fact, she said, in her study of writers at Iowa University’s Writers Workshop , she discovered an “astonishing” 70 to 80% of them had mood disorders such as depression and manic depression.
When I find myself envious of someone’s education or writerly experiences, especially because I wasn’t allowed to attend Ohio University to study writing in undergrad, I remind myself that Da Vinci and Michelangelo both came from somewhat modest upbringings.
How do my fellow creative readers see themselves in relation to this?
Since her start in the 1980s, American artist Jenny Holzer has put a stamp of art in architecture. Her medium is language– cultural, political, sexual, autobiographical. though. Form and content “are at odds with one another in many of Holzer’s works,” as the documentary About Jenny Holzer says. “Architecture, text, and rhythm merge, creating perfect symbiosis.”
Around the world Jenny Holzer has shown art in architecture in a multitude of ways. Image courtesy of Eugene Yoo
“I’m always grateful when I have good architecture to work in or work against. Part of the content is carried by the text… other information has to do with what the particular installation has to do with the building,” Holzer says in the doc about her installation at the New National Museum of Art in Berlin: “After I made many, many trips I finally realized that the roof is really all there is here. The glass walls are simply protection against the elements. The roof and the columns that support it are really the only structural things.”
In short she had the installations removed from the square building made seemingly entirely of glass. She programmed onto the ceiling what she calls “truisms” into LED machines like those you’d find at your local bank’s tellers. From the inside and outside then viewers could enjoy the installation.
Photo courtesy of Sprueth Magers London gallery , where Holzer is showing through 12 August.
“I don’t protect myself when I write because I’m not a professional writer. However, my texts aren’t entirely or in many cases…autobiographical, so on purpose because I want them to be as much as possible generally accessible and somewhat universal. But of course…I show much of myself, and that’s how it should be,” she says.
Some of what she writes seems so universal that people might mistake them for “Anonymous” aphorisms or adages. In truth, she wrote most of the content for some 20 years, then started adding poetry, and has also used redacted military documents (available freely on the public domain). Here are some of her aphorisms/truisms that resonate for me:
“Protect me from what I want”
“It is man’s fate to outsmart himself”
“You are a victim of the rules you live by”
“Knowing yourself lets you understand others.”
Image from TheCentreOfAttention.org
She has projected her truisms into marquees in Times Square or Las Vegas, on parking meters, on plaques above water fountains, in sports arenas— even on park benches in cemeteries. In the mid-1990s she started working with xenon. From there she could project her words onto building facades and cruise boats and museum interiors, sort of like how we might project a family film onto our living room wall.
“She has this formalist way of thinking about space, almost like an architect,” says her friend, poet Henri Cole, whose work Holzer has also used in her installations.
Another note of interest: Holzer had a pavilion of her own, the only solo artist ever to represent her country at the 1990 Venice Biennale. She was the first woman ever to have such an honor.
Follow Holzer in cyberspace, at least until her next show where you can see her art in architecture. A thank you goes out to Holzer’s communications rep Briana Halpin for sending this info on forthcoming exhibitions.
Sprüth Magers London, through 28 July
L&M gallery, Los Angeles, 13 Sept. through 27 Oct.
VAN HAERENTS ART COLLECTION, Brüssel. Sympathy for the Devil, 30. through 30 Nov. 2013
Hayward Gallery, London. 22 January through 28 April 2013
Temporary & Permanent Installations:
GWANGJU BIENNALE, Seoul. 7 Sept. through 11 Nov.
U.S. GOVERNMENT FOOD & DRUG ADMINISTRATION CAMPUS, Silver Spring, MD, completion Fall 2012
EKEBERG SCULPTURE PARK, Oslo. Prospective inauguration date Fall 2013
An American writer hoping for fun with a Peruvian artist as a horizontal dictionary finds there’s truth in Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
When dating another creative person, the possibility of our following in the footsteps of Joan Didion and John Dunne creeps into my mind. Then just as soon it runs for the hills, howling with laughter as it’s replaced with more realistic images of the notoriously tempestuous match between Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
My current exploration of Peruvian men comes at a time of not-so-magical thinking. Age threatens to thicken the wall around my heart, while life fights that instinct by widening my wisdom and travel navigates my experiences. I’m a 37-year-old American born to independence and a strong female character. It’s now that I’m fighting the biggest battle in my life over culture and gender issues. But at least it’s a fun one.
It started innocently enough. While looking for an apartment in Lima I met a tall, attractive, abstract artist whose soft-spoken grace presented a predicament. Rather than get stuck sharing rent with a man who I could possibly love or just as easily loath, I opted instead to familiarize myself with him romantically rather than residentially, the likelihood of a Vicky Cristina Barcelona disaster never far from mind. Juan Antonio and I debated in Spanish about Jackson Pollack, Klee, and de Kooning over some mota and pisco sours. We watched Julio Medem’s Vacas and “Life Lessons” from New York Stories about love-stricken artists. He turned me into Woody Allen’s Vicky with his intellectual massage. He did not, however, perform like the Don Juan Antonio.
Now here’s where I should have paid attention. Here’s where I should have heeded the sentiment that George W. Bush once butchered but Sex & the City’s Samantha Jones articulated very well: “F*ck me badly once, shame on you; f*ck me badly twice, shame on me.”
“Don’t you have any condoms?” he asks me when our night enters its third act.
I look at him, too mollified to do anything but poorly say in Spanish, “Do you think American women have a practice of keeping condoms in our purse?”
He shrugs and excuses himself to buy the shields at the convenience store downstairs. He returns moments later, as if he’d run, with something called retardantes. I’m thinking it’s a curious word for the object in Spanish but let the event run its course until the retardantes work their lack of magic.
He shows signs of nervousness. I display signs of boredom. We try again.
He shows signs of embarrassment. I display signs of frustration. We call it a night.
Over the next week he keeps my intellect piqued with banter over text messages and emails. He doesn’t have to coerce me back to his apartment the following weekend, though before leaving my own apartment, I do consider coming armed with condoms that don’t retard.
The self-professed “gran pintor” rejects my growing interest in his art. He then insists I pick which of his pieces I’d have in my house. He rejects any discussion I start about American art, in favor of his Euro-centrism. I talk about an architectural tour that took me to the house of Victor Delfin, the Picasso of Peru, and Don Juan calls him a tarado (idiot). He then all but disguises a smirk while pretending to need my assistance in translating an English invitation from Miami’s Art Basel. I’m shaking my head like a cartoon character, trying to remind myself of gender roles when dating fellow creatives.
House & Art of Famous Peruvian Artist Victor Delfin
With a little patience and appreciation that perhaps there’s a culture gap here, too. It pays off. Soon it’s time again for Vicky to read Juan Antonio as her horizontal dictionary.
This time he has condoms unmarked by the loathsome word. We’re good to go…or so I had hoped.
He flopped. I rolled my eyes.
He struck out. I suggested other methods.
He refused. I dressed.
Two weeks later, his text message reads, “Quieres coger?”
“You’ve got to be kidding me. F*ck me badly once…” I want to write back. Instead, I practice a little Joan Didionism and skillfully play dumb. Interpreting his statement not for the Spanish slang it is, “Wanna have sex,” I translate it literally as “to meet up.”
“Sure,” I text him, suggesting we coger at a café where I’ll be later that week, in the middle of the day.
“You want to coger at a café?”
I wait. He becomes more literal. I thwart by continuing clever wordplay in Spanish by saying I prefer tarados to retardantes. He readers between the lines and we bid each other ciao. It wasn’t a divorce or even a knock-down-drag-out fight. It didn’t lead to war or break an engagement, but it’s over.
I’m glad I had the sense not to move into that apartment before inspecting for leaky pipes. I’m also glad I evacuated before having my hand shot, provoking a war, or becoming a drug-addled amputee. At this rate, I have no chance of widowhood leading to a year of magical thinking.
I will remind myself, as I’ve done with musicians and writers, not to tread the path of romance with another creative.