How shocking that a person like me would dare to call emotion a curse, right? How dare I blaspheme against it, when it is the very thing I feed on? But by now, the multifaceted nature of issues should be clear. Each coin has its two sides. In the same way, this apparent blessing can also be a curse.
We are the creatures who are cursed to feel deeply, and be touched strongly by matters of the heart. We are the ones who cannot help ourselves from reacting to things, whether ‘trivial’ or profound, even if we tried. And because of this, it is so easy to be misunderstood. It is difficult for people who do not react as deeply to comprehend why we do, and that causes conflict.
Why is the term ‘tortured artist’ so popular? Is it sheer coincidence that great artists suffer? Is it an unspoken rule that artists should suffer? Or, as some people suspect, do we deliberately force ourselves to fit the mould of the term’s criteria?
The values of society should be questioned, and I question them over and over again. The same adjectives keep being thrown about everywhere – in brochures, posters, presentations, websites – and whatever you apply or are a candidate for, those are the characteristics they want you to show. I don’t even know what they mean anymore. Levelheadedness is valued. Passion is superficially demanded. How far can the two coexist, and how fair is it to demand both out of one person, all the time? Levelheadedness is equilibrium. Neither hot nor cold. Neither freezing nor fiery – whereas passion is all that levelheadedness is not. I fear we may either be misusing or misunderstanding the word itself. Passion is, by nature, deviant from any median that levelheadedness rests on. What we forget is that, like every coin, nearly everything else has two sides. When you say ‘passion’ and mean intense devotion, you are not allowed to forget that it could also mean intense hatred – or any other emotion in the space below the equilibrium line. We cannot just take half of its meaning.
We are the passionate ones, and passion isn’t always rational. You look at the world and say passionate people are necessary, but are too scared to put us in positions of power, because it could be like handing nuclear weapons to terrorists. Like terrorists, we terrify you, because you never know what we might do next. At every moment, we are capable of euphoria. At every moment, we are also capable of depression. And so you call us neurotics.
Have you ever considered that we also terrify ourselves? We are unable to keep ourselves from reacting when it happens, and we do not know when we will do it positively, negatively, or when it won’t happen at all. And afterwards, when we don’t like what we can’t help, we cannot prevent our shame. When it works in our favour, we congratulate ourselves for speaking the matters of our hearts.
Though it is a curse of uncontrollability and unpredictability, ask around and see how few of the people who have been blessed with it would consent to it being taken away. We feel our emotions in different ways and, artistically, it manifests itself in different ways as well.
The emotion behind work is what makes it different. Everyone is fully capable of achieving mastery over some skill or the other. You can be a guru with lighting and make spectacularly aesthetic movies, you can string the most beautiful words together in a sentence that sounds like part of a music verse, and you can master breakdancing until people think you’re a freaking automaton. But it is never the same as when there is genuine emotion attached. And that is where the actual ‘passion’ comes in.
Passion is the spice of life. The unwillingness to accept all of its sides and corners could be the very thing that drives tortured artists off the edge.
[Note: I wrote this in March 2015]