Guest Contributions · TMOD

A TMOD session on a myth from the art world

TM Sanjana from Delhi hosted this power packed TMOD theme on a myth from the world of art. It is full of research, facts and quotes. Apart from being a great TMOD theme, it is also very enlightening. Have a look.

The dichotomy of fame

Does it seem weird that someone may curse his or her bad luck for not being molested during childhood or not having dead parents or not being fatally ill? If it does, you may be surprised to know that there may be people in your circle who may wish the same for themselves. The question is why?

To know the answer, let us travel 2400 years back to meet a philosopher called Plato. Plato was the first person who gave the theory that to create great art in life, you must suffer great pain. Shortly thereafter another great philosopher Aristotle validated Plato by saying “no great genius ever existed without a strain of madness.” And the theory since then caught wild fire, such that even the poet Oscar Wilde said “artistic excellence is one long lovely suicide.”

The central premise of the theory is that to create great art, the artist must suffer during his life. The type of suffering can be childhood trauma, failure in love, drug or alcohol addiction but most commonly mental disease like depression or bipolar disorder.

Thank God, being a Toastmaster does not require any of that. On that note, let me tell you how a toastmaster’s meeting functions. Our meetings are divided into three parts. The first part consists of the prepared speech section where members prepare a 5 to 7 minute speech in advance, get it mentored and deliver the same. The second part is the fun filled Table Topic session where anyone can come up on the stage to speak for 1 to 2 minute on a topic given by the Table Topic Master. And the third part is the evaluation section where our General Evaluator for the day will give a comprehensive report on the entire meeting. Please help me welcome our GE for the day TM Name.

Once the General Evaluator is done explaining his role, you can start the first session of the meeting. After this session is over, you may continue with the theme as under.

If the theory I mentioned earlier seems bogus to you, examples from the real world may surprise you. Famous painter Vincet Van Gogh whose painting recently sold for 81 million dollars was suffering from psychosis and ultimately committed suicide. John Lenon of Beatles was a drug addict who underwent therapy for childhood trauma. John Milton did not write his finest work “Paradise lost” until he lost both his eyes. In recent times, J K Rowling got divorced, had a miscarriage and lived out of Government benefits pushing her into depression before she finally crafted the universe of Harry Potter.

Christopher Zara in his book “Tortured Artist” broadly discusses how throughout human history, it has been people with immense sufferings who produced the greatest art, be it Walt Disney, or Jim Morrison or even the depressed addicted beauty icon Marlyn Monroe.

This theory has led to some unintended outcomes – an entire generation of artists now believes that being tormented is the only way to create great art. No wonder alcohol and drug abuse has become widely common in the creative community with some even romancing depression.

Before this gets any worse, let’s head to something positive – the Table Topic Session. Please help me welcome the Table Topic Master for the day TM Name.

Once this session is over, continue with the theme as under.

All the examples led me to ponder – where is India’s set of tortured artist. India has a long history and an even longer list of creative artists. Yet not a single name in the tortured list sounded Indian. When I dug the history of the likes of Kishor Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Khushwant Singh, MF Hussain etc. I couldn’t find their share of drug abuse or mental disorder. In fact throughout Asia, even in neighboring countries like China, the theory doesn’t seem to hold ground.

It was Elizabeth Gilbert who finally busted the theory in her bestselling book “The Big Magic” calling Tortured Artist a largely western myth. The book elaborates how any artist can create great art without drugs or mental disorder. Elizabeth for your information is the author of “eat pray love” a book that sold 10 million copies and was converted into a hit movie – all without any abuse.

On that note, let me now invite the General Evaluator for today to lead the final session of the meeting – the evaluation section.

Once the General Evaluator is done with his or her report, conclude the theme as under.

Despite Elizabeth Gilbert’s words, you might still be wondering – “how has the world seen so many tortured artist?” To uncover that, let’s do statistics. The world currently has 7 billion living humans while another 100 billion have already died. Statistically, if you pick any random set of characteristics, you will always find more than a handful of people to satisfy them, just like “depression” and “artist” are satisfied by J K Rowling.

For example – if you want people with average physique who killed millions, Hitler and Napoleon would satisfy that. If you want people with average looks who turned great actors, Nawazuddin Siddique and Irfan Khan would satisfy that. But making them a base to say average looks will make you great actor or being depressed will lead to great art is not just how co relation works.

In fact the western world itself offers many contradictions. For every blind John Milton, there are 100 perfectly abled Robert Frosts, for every depressed J K Rowling, there are 100 stable George Martins and for every addicted John Lenon, there are 100 sober Celine Deons.

So if you have a friend of family member who feels inspired by the struggles of these creative people, let them know that they too can create fine art sans any abuse or disorder.

It’s time now for the awards.

RELATED – To know how to creatively appreciate prepared speakers as a TMOD, look here.

Thank you TM Sanjana. This is a wonderful theme for a TMOD session. If you have any such creative theme for a TMOd session, do let us know here.

For more ideas on TMOD themes, look here.


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