The Trope Of The Tortured Genius- English Literary Club Meet

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The English Literary Club of GGDSD College organized a meeting on February 9, 2018 in the college premises, where an issue that is seldom discussed without the social stigma surrounding it, was talked about openly- mental illness and how it relates to creativity.

The President of the Literary Cub, Nimrat Dhillon started off the session by talking about the types of mental disorders that prevail in the world. She then went on to shatter myths regarding mental illnesses- encompassing common notions that mental problems can only affect a few, or that they aren’t ‘real’.

Aristotle’s famous quote, “No great mind can ever exist without a touch of madness” marked the shift in discussion to the main theme of the meet- creativity and mental health. Lord Byron was mentioned while introducing the concept that to make any real art is to suffer for it. The notion that one needs to take drugs to heighten their senses has been portrayed in characters like Sherlock, Hannibal Lector and the like. This was followed by a discussion on movies such as “A Beautiful Mind”, and the highly controversial TV Show “13 Reasons Why”, which both romanticize and stigmatize mental illnesses. Several artists such as Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf, Edgar Allan Poe, Ernest Hemingway, Marilyn Monroe were talked about.

The President however highlighted the other side of the coin and said that the idea of a mad genius might not be all that false. She quoted some behavioral and brain studies that suggest there’s a link between a creative and troubled mind.The research found that exceptionally creative people were 4 times more likely to have bipolar disorder. The studies had critics as well- there were several eminent creators who had harsh early life experiences, yet it can’t be said for sure that the two are connected. She concluded her talk with a question for all to ponder upon- it is a presumption that it is the madness that makes the artists. What if it is the very life of the artists that leads so many to the brink?

Pranav Kapil, the Advisor of the club took over the session next and began with an anecdote about Diogenes and Alexandre the Great. He added to the discussion random assortment of facts relevant to the issue being addressed- like the psychology student syndrome, the difference between disease and a disorder and how we deal with both. He said that in 98% of psychological disorder you can’t identify the cause.

He then expounded on Freud’s theory of accessing the unconscious- through dream interpretation, free association techniques, and hypnosis. The lives of Virginia Woolf, and Poe were revisited- Woolf survived the trauma of the Second World War, and Poe found ways to deal with his melancholy through poetry. There was a difference between being attracted to melancholy andhaving mental disorder, referring to a book by Richard Buston called, “The Anatomy of Melancholy”.

Another essay that was discussedin detail was by Roland Barthes- “Death of the Authors”.He said that any art that we see is assigned a value with relation to the creator. An artist is a capitalist concept- once you’ve killed off the writer, the value of the art begins.

The discussionwrapped up with him advising all members not to over romanticize artists.You do not need to have atragic life to create art. Some suicide helplines were displayed on the board for people to refer to. Pranav, in the end, gave a glimmer of hopeto everybody saying that things might seembleak, but they had a way of always working out in the end. “This too shall pass,” added Nimrat with a smile.

The cloud of solemnitygave way to an informal session next, where everything under the sun- from movies, games and TV Shows to music was discussed, concluding yet another successful meet by the club.


About the Author:

Vrinda Gupta (GGDSD College 32)

As you reap, so shall you sow-there’s no fairer judge in the universe than karma.

Hi, I’m Vrinda Gupta, avoracious reader and an avid-writer. Writing, to me, is a way to give wings to your voice, a voice which must not be constrained by conventions,

Or bogged down by have-to’s. There is

No substitute for hardwork; every ounce of effort one puts in, will eventually pay off someday. A

Considerate attitude and an open mind are key mantras to a successful and fulfilling life, and

These are beliefs that I live by.

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