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What of it?
Posted by: OConnor,CD (IP Logged)
Date: 25 July, 2012 10:53AM
We've all seen psychological problems in creative people: R.H. Barlow, Robert Nelson, Robert E. Howard, Sylvia Plath, etc. We've all heard creative writers or artists are more prone to mental health problems. How true is that? I know it is a pattern, interesting psychologists, but Clark didn't have, as far as I know, mental health problems. Could the overall assumption really be a bunch of hype?

Feel free to name other writers or creators you know of.

Re: What of it?
Posted by: A. R. E. Susin (IP Logged)
Date: 26 July, 2012 07:10PM
Interesting. It's hard for me to say personally as I am pretty young still. I know Phillip K. Dick (can't really think of any others off the top of my head....) was a little odd but as far as a generalization goes, I don't know.

The thing you need to think about is what in general causes psychological problems? Obvious answers include stuff like childhood abuse (sexual / psychological / what have you) or neglect (a form of abuse??) or abnormal mental conditions, etc. So - do things like these somehow correlate with how artistic a person is? Or vice versa? Probably not. I think I would say that psychological traits tend to stem more from life experience and would most likely have nothing whatsoever to do with artistry. I'm gonna have to go with "hype".

Those are my thoughts anyway, I'm interested to see other comments though.

Re: What of it?
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 27 July, 2012 03:45PM
If you are asking an empirical question, then, instead of relying on anecdotes, have a look at actual scientific evidence. For example, here (see footnotes), or here.

Re: What of it?
Posted by: wilum pugmire (IP Logged)
Date: 10 August, 2012 02:04AM
There's a wretched new book out called A HAUNTED MIND--INSIDE THE DARK, TWISTED WORLD OF H. P. LOVECRAFT. Lovecraft's "personal life is just as strange as some of his creations" the back cover tells us. Myths and lies concerning Lovecraft's macabre habits and troubled emotional state are not new, but by and large they have been adequately debunked by accounts of Lovecraft by those who knew him well, and by the wide publication of his correspondence. In A HAUNTED MIND, the book's sick author, Dr. Bob Curran, not only repeats all of the old myths, he tells new lies are are, quite simply, astonishing. Did you know that Lovecraft "...took to wandering the streets at night talking to himself and stopping at lighted windows to peer in and frighten children"? Good Dr. Curran doesn't give any source citation to tell us where he found this "fact," or any of the other lies that taint this piece of trash. Lovecraft was, for me, basically an ordinary gent who possessed an extraordinary imagination. Those who knew him well did not find him odd, although his sense of humor could at times be intensely macabre (as we know from the account of the young woman whom he terrified within a Providence burying ground).

I am too unacquainted with the life of Clark Ashton Smith to know if he suffered from any kind of mental disturbance, although from the little I know about his life it seems unlikely. That he had a unique life, in regard to his parents and his romantic trysts, may be suggested, but only that.

The main tragick figure of a great artist (perhaps our genre's greatest artist) being crippled as an artist by psychological dilemma, is Thomas Ligotti, whom I consider one of the sweetest, most intelligent mortals it has been my joy to come across.

"I'm a little girl."
--H. P. Lovecraft, Esq.

Re: What of it?
Posted by: Geoffrey (IP Logged)
Date: 11 August, 2012 10:36PM
wilum pugmire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Those who knew him [Lovecraft] well did not find
> him odd, although his sense of humor could at
> times be intensely macabre (as we know from the
> account of the young woman whom he terrified
> within a Providence burying ground)...
>
> > The main tragick figure of a great artist (perhaps
> our genre's greatest artist) being crippled as an
> artist by psychological dilemma, is Thomas
> Ligotti, whom I consider one of the sweetest, most
> intelligent mortals it has been my joy to come
> across.

I'm not familiar with the story of Lovecraft terrifying a young woman in a graveyard. Please share!

Also, please expand on Thomas Ligotti being crippled as an artist by psychological dilemma.

Lastly, your description of Ligotti as one of the sweetest persons you know both pleases and mildly surprises me.

Re: What of it?
Posted by: wilum pugmire (IP Logged)
Date: 11 August, 2012 10:56PM
Helen V. Sully visited E'ch-Pi-El in 1933; she was the daughter of Genevieve K. Sully, a married woman with whom Clark Ashton Smith conducted a romantic affair. One evening, during Helen's visit, Lovecraft took her on a walking tour of his favorite Providence sites, which included the sequestered churchyard of St. John's Episcopal Church. Let's let Helen tell the tale:

"It was dark, and he began to tell me strange, weird stories in a sepulchral tone and, despite the fact that I am a very matter-of-fact person, something about his manner, the darkness, and a sort of eerie light that seemed to hover over the graveyard got me so wrought up that I began to run out of the cemetery with him close at my heels, with the one thought that I must get up to the street before he, or whatever it was, grabbed me. I reached a street lamp, trembling, panting, and almost in tears, and he had the strangest look on his face, almost of triumph. Nothing was said."

# # # # # #


I don't wish to go into detail concerning Tom's illness, not really having the details nor wishing to discuss them if I did. Let us just say that he suffers from an emotional/mental ailment that keeps him from writing, much to his personal vexation. My dealings with him on a personal level have been extremely pleasant, and I find him a fine fellow indeed. He is, for me, the most important weird writer since Lovecraft; and, unlike Lovecraft, his work is free of "clunkers," is almost perfect in every way.

"I'm a little girl."
--H. P. Lovecraft, Esq.

Re: What of it?
Posted by: calonlan (IP Logged)
Date: 13 August, 2012 11:57AM
Helen Sully was also a very fine violinist and was recruited from Auburn by American Composer Ernst Bacon for the San Francisco Orchestra sponsored by the WPA - he also enjoyed a dalliance with the Sully girls as did CAS - The last time I say Helen was at Ernst Bacon's 90th birtday party - those of you unfamiliar with his work can find some performances on CD, most recently I think some songs recorded by Thomas Hampson - Bacon was a contemporary of Roy Harris and a major figure in American music in the 30's - founded the Carmel Bach Society.

Re: What of it?
Posted by: gavinicuss (IP Logged)
Date: 29 August, 2012 06:11PM
Ah, that would be Ernst "Lecher" Bacon, eh? (May 26, 1898 – March 16, 1990) And he also went for the Sully girls, you say? Dalliance is such a charmingly non-specific word, is it not? So good to hear that even back then there were a few hot times to be had, if you didn't Lecher Bacon burn, that is! (down by the old burn side)

Re: What of it?
Posted by: calonlan (IP Logged)
Date: 30 August, 2012 02:35PM
gavinicuss Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Ah, that would be Ernst "Lecher" Bacon, eh? (May
> 26, 1898 – March 16, 1990) And he also went for
> the Sully girls, you say? Dalliance is such a
> charmingly non-specific word, is it not? So good
> to hear that even back then there were a few hot
> times to be had, if you didn't Lecher Bacon burn,
> that is! (down by the old burn side)

Ernst was a great outdoorsman, one of the founders with John Muir (whom he knew) of the Sierra Club (once upon a time an organization of some value), he was also close friends with Carl Sandburg (along with his biography of Lincoln, a fair poet, and collector of folk songs (see Carl Sandburg's "Songbag"). And, yes, as one of the lion's of the music scene of the 20's and 30's, and young, virile (he had that same jaw as Beethoven), a dazzling pianist and innovative composer using folk themes, and American writers for his voluminous collection of songs, he had ready access to many of the fair sex. His first wife was heiress to the Crane Plumbing fortune (all of have tapped the kidney in a Crane ceramic); his second wife, Anna Lee Camp, was a famous student of Casals and a great Cellist in her own right - taught U of Fla for many years (two kids from each of these marriages), then married a piano student from South Carolina, Peggy, one lovely little girl whom he named for his sister, founder of the San Francisco Boy's Chorus; I never got to know his last wife whom he married quite late in life and produced one son I believe - "his eye was not dimmed, nor had his natural force abated" - quite a guy - we hiked up-state NY's waterfalls and canyons - and the high Sierras - he has two books that I know of that are really excellent - "Words on Music" and "Notes on the Piano" - and was a great admirer of CAS



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