Speech for sale! Are you interested in a talk about spiritual problems and their connection to creativity? I would be delighted to talk to your church, college, high school, arts group, homeschool group, etc. It is a speech I gave last night at Baptist Bible College in Clarks Summit, PA, entitled "Desolation and Creation." It was a much expanded version of this article I wrote for Comment.
Here is an audio/screencast recording of the speech as I presented it last night. I could do it again just like that, or I could make it a more lively interactive presentation with live performances/readings, or I could present just part of that long talk, or I could provide a closer literary analysis of a few pieces. Contact me if you want to discuss this!
Here is a summary of the material I covered:
Many shadows lurk in the corners of the human mind; there are many valleys of darkness the soul may stumble through. These bleak phases have haunted human beings for at least as long as they have known how to record their thoughts.The wild varieties of desolation, depression, and despair have frequently haunted artists. Yet, for as often as artists have lain silent and exhausted through long periods, stifled under the weight of darkness, as often have others turned their pens or brushes against the shadows, describing the grief, capturing the elusive twilight, or setting the night raging through their works. What makes the difference? When both are plunged into a dark night of the soul, what shuts the mouth of one and sets free the songs of the other?
I do not know.
But here are some stories of people who overcame the darkness or at least captured it in their works.
TAXONOMY: catagorizing kinds of darkness. Discussion of the DSM, the manual for diagnosing and labeling mental and social illnesses. Confusion between “spiritual desolation and creativity” vs. “mental illness and creativity.” Artists and mental illness. Kinds of spiritual darkness.
IV. Charles Williams and THE SCHISM
V. DESPAIR (Franz Liszt's “Czardas macabre”)
VII. THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL
The “God gene” and the doubt gene.
Providence and choice, or, How to read the signs.
Darkness from external circumstances
Makoto Fujimura's Zero Summer
Bruce Herman's The Crowning
Nietzsche: “one must still have chaos in oneself, to give birth to a dancing star.”