The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

History shows us that the pleasures of creative expression invites equally strong perils in life. Read on to know how some of the great artists in this creative world faced the perils and enjoyed the pleasures of their life.

6 min read

Creativity is the originality in a person’s imagination and his ability to envisage images, ideas and sensations in the mind without actually experiencing them through senses like hearing or seeing. Imagination, unlike belief, understands that what is personally invented by his mind, which doesn’t necessarily affect the course of action taken in the apparently shared world.

The pleasure lies in the ability to think different.

Imagination is the power of an artist or a philosopher which is often ahead of one’s own age and thus is likely to get criticized by the contemporaries. An artist can express his imagination through various means of communications like writing, painting, delivering speech or modelling a new machine. The pleasure lies in the ability to think different. Creative individuals are the one who often detests and defies the existing laws of society or sometimes even the social order and discover something logical and reasonable to eliminate the wrong perception of the mass and to illuminate them.

But the ideas put forward by a person are often questioned by the society. If it is against the contemporary beliefs or the existing conventions of the people, the artist suffers dishonor and his reputation gets ruined.

GALILEO GALILEI had to face trial and condemnation by the Roman Catholic Inquisition because he supported the concept of heliocentrism. He made surprising discoveries scientifically which was banned and opposed by the then existing religious leaders because it hurt their religious dogma. When a creative intellect looks upon an object or the world differently, accepts his vision and establishes some concepts which are strong enough to change the way people think; he is condemned – because the society is not yet ready to accept the vision.

A person who creates also continues his research and furthers his vision for gaining self satisfaction. He nurtures his ideas as an inception of originality. Can those who have not yet undergone a phase of trauma be not claimed to be creative? They were even abandoned from the society.

Oscar Wilde, the renowned poet and critic was arrested on charges of “gross indecency” because he was homosexual and had an open affair with a young man. He died in poverty after tolerating imprisonment for two years. He said “All the art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath, do so at their peril”. The diligence and power of knowledge in such great a writer was dishonored only on the grounds of one’s personal affair that was unacceptable in the conventional society.

There have been a number of instances when serious one’s physical incapability tried to hinder the execution of the creative performances by the artist. But there can be no greater pain that being forced to conceal a talent with one’s own self and let it die. The pleasure itself lies in the art of creation. And creation can never be based on the pre-conceptualised norms and regulations. It gets evoked and provoked on itself. It has a widened horizon,a vision, a foresight.

Beethoven, the great German composer with a wonderful insight for music composition had become completely deaf by forty six. When such an innovative persona lost his precious capability of hearing, without which his talents would perhaps remain unrecognized; he still found his own way to overcome the struggle. He sawed the legs of his piano and used the floor as a sounding board. The quest is for the ultimate satisfaction of oneself with the thirst for ideas of innovations. He is ready to undergo perils, fight and even give up his life to gain pleasure from his inventions.

There would be people to adore one’s work and to vilify it as well. But an artist is not bothered about the accolades nor the criticisms that he faces because he believes that there will arrive a time in future when his works would be restituted and he would be remembered.

One of the greatest Romantic poets of all times, John Keats was humiliated for writing poetry during the initial years of his blooming career. Outside the circle of liberal intellectual, the general conservative reviewers of the day attacked his work, with malicious zeal, as mawkish and  mannered as the work of an upstart “Vulgar Cockney poetaster” and defined as a poet ” consisting of the most in-congruent ideas in the most uncouth language”. As he had no literary education, he was looked down upon by the contemporary aristocrats and scholars including Wordsworth. But beyond his difficulties and humiliations, he successfully presented himself in his own literary – historical monument.

The pleasure itself lies in the art of creation

Creativity sets one apart and distinguishes him from the box. There is a certain pleasure in self awareness and expression. There is no “correct” and “incorrect” for an artist. That which is reasonable to oneself is always acceptable to him as well. A creative person gets an opportunity to engage himself with the world, without being judged by them.

The twenty seven club pens down the names of several popular musicians who died at age 27 often as a result of drug, alcohol abuse or violent means such as homicide, suicide or assassinations like John Lennon. Self destruction is a common form of peril for most of the creative artists. Frustrations, family turmoil, lack of financial power forced them to indulge in self destructive activities. Musicians like Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Amy Winehouse, Brian Jones and Jimi Hendrik belong to this group. Their short lived life was interesting and meaningful. Several talented and acclaimed poets like Kazi Nazrul Islam and Madhusudan Dutta, dramatists like Nikolai Gogol, writers like Edgar Allan Poe or painters like Van Gogh died penniless. An art cannot be paid but preserved.But their poverty could not hinder their quality in talents.

The person who doesn’t receive accolades for his inventions in his lifetime, can’t enjoy the pleasure of getting acknowledged for his creativity. But any art would get restituted even after years if it is original and worthy. Even Rabindranath Tagore and Leonard Cohen, both of whom lived for a substantial period of time faced innumerable miseries in their lives. Tagore’s literature flourished a great deal after his beloved family member including his son, sister-in-law and siblings died. What can be a greater peril or greater tragedy?

The one who does not face peril, can’t master the power to overcome it, either. They would lack maturity and experience. Thus, an artist’s life demands struggle, indulges in taking risks, thinking outside the box and enduring perils. However brutish the jeopardy may be, it can’t bring a threat to one’s creativity. The creative life is itself not a blissful journey, but a venture. The pleasure lies in fighting the tornado and winning the war. The scars of criticism or the blessings of adoration cannot overshadow the self satisfaction which is the ultimate source of happiness.

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