17 Chapters
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Chapter Four - Creativity and Madness

Zindel, Bonnie Karnac Books ePub

The creative insane have always been objects of fascination. One can get close to the edge and then pass to the other side. Aristotle said that no great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness. Madness. What is it? Can it be categorized according to the DSM-5? Is it craziness, oddness, abnormality, a loss of contact with reality, unsound, or an unhinged and darkened mind? What about when someone's a bit nutty or daft? Or is madness the same as psychosis?

We associate so many adjectives, ideas, and characters with lunacy, including brilliance, creativity, and artistic expression. There's the imago of a raving lunatic, the Madwoman of Chaillot, and the lunatic asylum at Charenton from Marat/Sade. Madman or genius? Sometimes a fine line separates the two, but where do we make the distinction?

“Is there a single individual in the whole of humanity free from some form of insanity?” asked Erasmus in the sixteenth century. He noted that a man who sees a gourd and takes it for his wife is called insane because this happens to very few people. Mark Twain expressed a similar sentiment when he said, “Let us consider that we are all partially insane; it will unriddle many riddles.”

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Chapter Six - Letters to Dearest Mother From Famous Writers

Zindel, Bonnie Karnac Books ePub

We lay aside a letter never to read it again and at last destroy them out of discretion, so dispense with the most beautiful, the most immediate breath of life.

—Goethe

Dear Reader,

I am writing to you about the magic of letter writing from long ago, an art that has all but vanished—the art of taking pen to paper, and with reflection, capturing innermost thoughts, raw and unedited, then sending them to another.

In this chapter we will read fragments of correspondence by five brilliant authors as they write uncensored letters home to their mothers—speaking eloquently of simple everyday experiences as well as significant emotional moments. The letters reveal the intimate, complex relationships that these literary figures had with their mothers. George Sand responds to her mother's harsh critique of her lifestyle. James Joyce speaks of his “villainous hunger” and the impoverished life of a writer. Flaubert, on a long voyage to the Near East, longs to be united with his mother. Proust writes a midnight letter to his mother sleeping in the next room. Some of the letters are loving, some angry, others disappointed at feeling unseen or unappreciated. Still others cause us to gasp at their audacity. Many of the emotions expressed have the intensity of an analytic session.

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Chapter Thirteen - Mothers of the Milky Way Part Two: Creative Nonfiction

Zindel, Bonnie Karnac Books ePub

Mothers of song, mothers of trees, and mothers of thunder. Here, we continue exploring the complex relationships we have with our mothers through an intimate collection of creative nonfiction. We offer a second glimpse into the complexities of mother love, the nurturing mothers and the mother of many shadows—those who disappoint, neglect, and abandon, who cause us pain and even hate. The stories are filled with delight and with sorrow. They capture mothers of all ages. The words evoke simple and peaceful moments, as well as the most startling and powerful.

I recently read an anonymous quote on this theme that touched me. It evokes the sense memories that a good-enough mother can offer—though, as many of these contributions suggest, some mothers fall very short. “Your mother is always with you. She is the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street. She is the smell of certain foods you remember, the fragrance of life itself. She is the cool hand on your brow when you're not feeling well. She's your breath in the air on a cold winter's day. Your mother lives inside your laughter. She's the place you came from, your first home. She is your first love, your first friend, even your first enemy. But nothing on earth can separate you—not time, not space, not even death.”

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Chapter One - Dreams as Poetry

Zindel, Bonnie Karnac Books ePub

You see things, and you say, “Why?” But I dream things that never were and I say, “Why not?”

—George Bernard Shaw

Dreams and poetry are the crown jewels of our imagination, springing from the creative unconscious and touching our originality, aliveness, and unknowable self. And whether a dream is a poem or a poem is a dream really depends on where you choose to enter the circle.

Some poems begin in us as children, long before we are able to speak, and even longer before we have the ability to write a word. Then, when ready, an unexpected gift arrives.

A writer once told me the dream is the most perfect story because it is all unconscious. It captures the unthinkable, uninhibited newness, and vivid images.

In this chapter, poets pull their dreams from a place of timelessness. Sometimes they write in a hypnogogic state—between awake and sleep—that dreamy state between our conscious and unconscious, the land where images, feelings, and reveries glide through, waiting to be caught.

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Chapter Five - The Art of Thomas Ogden

Zindel, Bonnie Karnac Books ePub

Thomas Ogden, a psychoanalyst in San Francisco, is among the most creative analysts practicing today. For him, psychoanalysis is an art and he uses poetry and writing as part of the analytic process. He suggests that we turn to both poetry and psychoanalysis with the hope of reclaiming human aliveness.

Recently Ogden has written two novels: The Hands of Gravity and Chance and The Parts Left Out. For him, writing is an essential part of life. “I always want to be in the process of writing, it enlivens me. When I'm not writing, I feel a tension in me. When I can't think of anything to write, I write anything—a sentence, an idea I cut out from a previous paper. Until I get past a certain point, I think of myself not as a writer, but as one who used to be a writer, or who will be a writer one day; but right now I'm not a writer. Until my writing goes out into the world, I guard it. I don't want input from anyone. What interests me is not what we know, but what we don't know. And sometimes we don't have the words yet or the mind to conceive it. Often I write twenty handwritten pages to yield a good sentence or paragraph. I can't be afraid of wasting time, because productive time couldn't happen without it. I create a state of mind. I live it and breathe it when I'm writing. The work suffuses me. If I get stuck, I wait until I fall asleep and then the answer occurs to me. When I wake up, I write it down. I know then that the process has taken hold.”

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