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What causes an artist to feel so passionate about his work? What leads the artist in his choice of an outlet for his creativity? What is it that inspires the artist? Is it possible that all of this is formed completely in the artists mind? Is it the case that the "gift" of creativity and genius is given to some individuals and not others, or is the gift of creativity merely the plague of a mental disorder? Do these artists even have anything in common?
Whitman tends to believe that someone does have something in common with him. This is best demonstrated through his poem "Among the Multitude."
Among the men and women the multitude,
I perceive one picking me out by secret and divine
Acknowledging none else, not parent, wife, husband, brother, child,
Any nearer than I am,
Some are baffled, but that one is not – that one knows me.
Ah lover and perfect equal ,
I meant that you should discover me so by faint indirections,
And I when I meet you mean to discover you by the like in you.
Here Whitman demonstrates a similarity between people because of some common ground. Although this poem is meant to express a hidden love between a man and a woman, the idea of a common ground work between people can be positioned between artists. In this work Whitman is saying that people with this tie between them know that it is there and can recognize it in an instant. Great artists with a creative nature share a passion for their art as well as a unique way of expressing it. Where does this passion and ability for unique expression come from?
There seems to be a myth encompassing the artists with "madness." Could it be that this genius is only the result of a mental disorder? Diana Applegate seems to have explored this in her paper "Toward a Neurobiology of Creativity? Making Connections Between Art, Manic-Depressive Illness, and the Frontotemporal Dementia." She uses Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison’s book, Touched With Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament, as a main resource. Her final conclusion from this is that, "Jamison's book does not provide us with any answers, but it raises several new and interesting questions. If the behavioral characteristics of the creative process are similar to those of a genetic, neurobiologically-related disorder, then it is conceivable that creativity arises from the interaction of certain neurons in the brain.
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So, an artist is as I see it a unique variation of the common man. A common man, is this an artist? I have no direct conclusions only ideas from myself and others because of the nature of this topic. When no scientists have come up with sound theories and scientific evidence to support them, we are left with only one choice. The choice is to come up with our own ideas and thoughts on the topic.
1) "Toward a Neurobiology of Creativity? Making Connections Between Art, Manic-Depressive Illness, and Frontotemporal Dementia", by:Diana C. Applegate
2) "Creativity and Psychopathology", by Rachel Friedman, on the Harvard Brain's Website
4) SCIENCE magazine archives "Artistic Creativity and the Brain" Semir Zeki.
5) THE GIFT OF SATURN: CREATIVITY AND PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
ANTONIO PRETI, MD
6) Metacognitive Musings, by: John Dalton http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/local/suminst/bbi01/projects/dalton/
7) Untitled, by: Elaine de Castro
8) Synesthesia: Phenomenology And Neuropsychology - A Review of Current Knowledge by Richard E. Cytowic
9) Precis of "THE CREATIVE MIND: MYTHS AND MECHANISMS", What is creativity? - by Margaret A. Boden, School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences, University of Sussex, England