Sunday, May 1, 2011
Truly Passionate People Are Crazy
The story of Equus is simple and disturbing.
Equus is a play by Peter Shaffer written in 1973, telling the story of a psychiatrist who attempts to treat a young man who has a pathological religious/sexual fascination with horses.
Shaffer was inspired to write Equus when he heard of a crime involving a 17-year-old who blinded six horses in a small town near London. He set out to construct a fictional account of what might have caused the incident, without knowing any of the details of the crime. The play's action is something of a detective story, involving the attempts of the child psychiatrist, Dr. Martin Dysart, to understand the cause of the boy's actions while wrestling with his own sense of purpose.
However, all that has stuck with me through the whole of this is the fact that the doctor knows that he can cure Alan (the boy), he knows he can make him whole again and make him like the other boys, but in doing so he will be killing his passion, his driving force, the essense that is him. In some ways I have always felt that the doctor was a little envious of Alan because he still had the abillity to be something greater, envious that there is something in his soul that hasn't died, some sort of passion that can still create and believe when all the doctor can do is deem one normal and destroy.
And then I think of all the truly passionate people that I admire in someway or another, several famous people come to mind immediately:
JMW Turner: artist, laughing-stock through most of his life because his 'art' didn't look like 'art', a recluse
Edgar Allan Poe: wrote stories that were ahead of his time, died a penniless alcoholic
Vincent Van Gogh: perhaps schizophrenic, committed suicide
Virginia Woolf: novels, stories, essays vindicating women, committed suicide by putting heavy rocks in her pockets and floating down river (might I add)
and Frank Lloyd Wright. Frank Lloyd Wright is on the brain because of that blasted book, that I'm having a hard time finishing as it has, obviously, set my brain to wonder about such matters of love, and honesty, and passion. Curse, you Nancy Horan, curse you! *fist in air*
Anyway, while the kiddo played on the floor, a friend of mine, my husband and I watched the PBS documentary Frank Lloyd Wright and all I could think about as they showcased his early life and denoucement of his father, his inability to have a meaningful relationship with his children, his first wife, his second wife, his inability to grieve over Mamah in an 'appropriate' manner, his interviews on television in his 80s...all I could think about was his art (after all architecture is art), all I could think about was the fact that no wonder he sometimes designed whole lifestyles for his houses, no wonder his stainglass is so breath-taking, no wonder Fallingwaters leaves me at a loss for words, this man was crazy in the most wonderful sense, this man, great, wonderful and misunderstood at times, was full of passion in the Equus sense. I'm not sure how I didn't see it before, the only thing that I can think is that I was too mesmerized by his barrel chairs and windows and lights to notice.
The question I always find myself asking is if I count myself amongst the crazies and I must admit that there are times when I don't--when I pretend to be normal and go to church and go grocery shopping et cetera, there are times that I do and am ashamed of the fact that I give myself a little too much 'head' time, and there are times when I do gladly, arms wide open. You see, it takes a little bit of insane to do what I do and it takes a lot more crazy to do it with passion. I am glad that at the core of me is one mad, mad, mad gal.