The Artist’s Curse or Madness’ Cure?

While doing some TV watching via the interwebs this weekend, Miss Mussel stumbled upon a Horizon documentary entitled Mad but Glad that explores the idea of the mad genius. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem that is has become one of the most enduring tropes of any discussion of the creative arts:

Does madness breed artists or are artists predisposed to going mad?

nick-von-bloss-bbcThe main focus was the once-promising British pianist Nick van Bloss who suffers from Tourette’s Syndrome but the program also talked to musicians and artists with autism, hypergraphia and schizophrenia.

Horizon usually covers all the bases in its programs but one thing about this film struck Miss Mussel as quite peculiar: throughout the film, Nick doesn’t make a single sound that would be considered out of place in regular conversation. In an article in the Independent, Bloss wrote that,

I vocally tic practically each time I exhale and, at certain points during the day, I’m compelled to let rip with various mega-loud yelps, which tend not only to startle me, but everyone in my vicinity. I ooh and I ahh, I spit and I smash my jaws together, I flex, shake, contort and nod, I blow comical raspberries, some small, some huge, and I touch things and people.

It’s not that Miss Mussel is looking for unusual behaviour to authenticate his condition, it’s just that in a film about Tourette’s why would part of appears to be essential von Bloss be edited out?

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