Anxiety & Creativity

Friday, May 4th 2012

He thought that grandiosity was heroic. A heroic response to the essential pointlessness of existence.

He died of a heroin overdose in 2010. Which is pretty much according to script.

Apparently Sebastian Horsley had a tough upbringing. I wonder if all his hyperacuity, artistry, beautiful writing, outrageous hats, amusing philosophy, pithy way with words, etc, was the product of something as simple (or complex?) as a tough childhood?

Sometimes the simplest explanation is also the most vexing one. Because it usually doesn't actually tell you much once you look past the initial satisfaction of its simplicity.

Walter Isaacson, writing about Steve Jobs:

Most people have a regulator between their mind and their mouth that modulates their brutish sentiments and spikiest impulses. Not jobs. He made a point of being brutally honest. "My job is to say when something sucks rather than sugarcoat it," he said. This made him charismatic and inspiring, yet also, to the use the technical term, an asshole at times.

Andy Herzfeld once told me, "The one question I'd truly love Steve to answer is, 'Why are you sometimes so mean?' "

Jobs just said it was who he was. And that was it. Isaacson expands further:

When he hurt people, it was not because he was lacking in emotional awareness. Quite the contrary: He could size people up, understand their inner thoughts, and know how to relate to them, cajole them, or hurt them at will.

(Steve Jobs Biography, p. 564)

Did Jobs behave so cruelly at times because he was adopted? Is that it? Were all the attempts at control of products, people, of the world, the product of a need to avoid being abandoned? To abandon before he was abandoned?

Okay, that's trite, too. Shallow and ill informed. I know about as much as bout these two blokes as I know about electrical engineering!

But it raises a perennial idea.

People who crave success, or produce art, or otherwise have an overwhelming urge to do something, are are often inspired to do so by a peculiar state of anxiousness - fear of being adandoned, trying to please long dead parents, and so on, etc, blah, dressed up as a fear running out of inspiration. The thing many creative people secretly fear most is losing that anxiety, which they confused for inspiration. But, really, all it does is gradually rob them of vitality.