Saturday, July 09, 2005

Ann Berg d. 1973

See Ready Steady, Book

Her first novel was Berg. In "Reading Ann Quin's Berg" (Ready Steady Book), or Context in an un-hypertext version, by Giles Gordon:

Ann Quin was born there in 1936,and swam out to sea there, in 1973, drowning herself in the process.

Another case for Prof. Kay Redfield Jamison to add to her study of manic-depressive writers, artists and musicians Touched with Fire: Manic Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament. My favourite bit of that book: the histogram showing the number of compositions Schumann wrote per year. I happen to have the book to hand and can now tell you....yes...ah...tell you this was between 1829-1856. Two maxes, one 1840 the other 1849, both during serious manic bouts. P. 147 Free press ppbk. edn.

The best chapter? 5, no doubt: The mind's canker in its savage mood: George Gordon, Lord Byron.


Having had a dose of Nietzschian ranting from Fred's collected works - allbeit from an incongruous, yet melifluous, audio evocation by Herr Heston, I reckon Fred must have been as manic-depressive as they come. He was said to be syphilitic. This was later said to be untrue and the work of his enemies, but that he might have had "the same brain condition as his father". Never, anyway, heard of syphilis being a spur to creativity. Though 'spose if you knew you were for the chop, you might get back to writing desk more often.

One of the things to be considered about creative people, nay people in general, up till the development of effective anti-psychotics, was the acceptance of the mad as a part of life. In other words, though they were just as problematic then, and little to nothing was known about the causes of schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorder, the madman was reasonably 'integrated' into society. As soon as these conditions were medico-politicised - and this has no bearing on R D Laing's sane is mad, mad sane lunacy - the mad got separated off in a separate domain as had the poor, at least in Britain, roughly a century before.

Strangly, though this has no bearing on how much creativity there is or isn't, now the mental hospitals have been closed, and more and more mentally ill are left to cope on their own, they are in effect still kept separate from the rest by drugs. It is only natural these people feel they don't want to keep taking their medication: maybe, seeing they are in the normal world, there is an urge to fully part of it. The artist so often tries to do the opposite, and distance himself in some way from the hustle and bustle: though he must be of the world in some way to write about or paint it.


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