10 June 2005

Born To Be In Rehab

Jim Carroll, c. 1968 Posted by Hello


So, to continue our conversation about the relationship betwen madness and artistic/musical ability, I submit the poet and musician Jim Carroll, who had prodigious talent in many areas, junkie-ism being only one. He was also a basketball prodigy and academic wizard. Notice the stunning resemblance to Leonardo Dicaprio who played him in "The Basketball Diaries".

Ted Kooser puts the "rock" in "Adirondack chair" Posted by Hello

Now, for comparison's sake, I submit Ted Kooser (aka The Kooze, Terrible Ted, The Ten Fingers of Doom, Sorry I Missed My Last Poetry Seminar Professor Kooser) current US Poet Laureate, abundantly talented old coot and retired insurance company executive.

So, beyond the argument that every wildly talented person is nutso-ballo, which may or may not be true, I further submit that artistic inclination (or talent, if that's a measurable thing) has nothing to do with how screwed up or un-screwd up you may be, and is in fact only a perception/expression issue. In other words, artistic inclination is a matter of expressive or communicative style, and not a function of emotional makeup or personality. To wit - on the obverse, fantastically talented poets who were neither nutso nor ballo, and held down regular jobs (mostly) in the private sector: Wm. Carlos Williams, William Stafford, Wallace Stevens. And now the reverse, fantastically talented poets who pickled their livers, took the gas pipe, or booted themselves to Palookaville: Dylan Thomas, Wm. S. Burroughs, Sylvia Plath. And finally, the control category, fantastically talented poets who were hit by dune buggies while vacationing on Fire Island and died at age 40 without developing a really serious substance abuse problem: Frank O'Hara.

As my optometrist is so fond of saying, "Better A - or B?"

So, brother of mine, tortured live = artistic talent is a fallacy in my book. It leads to that whole "if I could just drink/shoot/snort/skrog more, I could write better" line of thinking that even I have been heir to at one time or another.

Thoughts? Comments? Or would you just like to boot some smack while listening to Stan Getz and reading Allen Ginsberg? Or eat a hash brownie the size of Linda Hunt while reading Gertrude Stein?

Cheers, and give my best to Marie.

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