The “tortured artist” is one our society’s most toxic cultural archetypes. Not only because it puts forth an unsustainable identity framework for creative achievement, but because that framework isn’t effective for making great creative work possible.
It is true that abnormally creative individuals are more likely to suffer from dramatic swings in emotion. But to assume that those swings are what makes creativity possible takes away from an artist’s authentic merit.
The tortured artist idea is simply another offshoot of that even more prevalent conception of creativity; that great works are produced in an unconscious, unwilled flash of brilliance, rather than over large amounts of time wherein a huge amount of competency within a medium is established.
The 20th century hosted an abundance of great talent, doomed to die at a young age. These culture heroes fell victim to the modern phenomenon of extreme and quickly cultivated fame, as well…
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